Stop Press. Our New album CATCH MY BREATH is ready to pre-order & will be released on SWND Records on 11th February – that means you can order the digital and get a track now, or the proper real CD . I am hoping that many people will celebrate with us and support your local musician ( that’s me ) in these crazy times. Pre-ordering really helps us make some impact on release day. There is a track with 32 choir members singing backing as is the single track you get todownload if you pre-order now.
All songs penned and played by Gitika and Andy and produced by Gitika -except one moody Psychedelic Fur’s cover -produced by Matt Glasbey. So much thanks to many people including Katie Tavini -mastering. Lukas Drinkwater – playing and mixing. Matt Glasbey, mixing, and other great mixers including Liam Ross.
In the last year it’s been head down and walking in circles mostly, watching the seasons change. In that time I have written and recorded a song every week. I have collaborated and co-written songs with 6 artists from the US, Canada, UK and Australia and reimagined 8 old songs into new cover versions – have runny weekly virtual choir for 9 months . We are mastering the 5th ‘3 Bucket Jones’ album – have almost finished an album with the marvellous Kirsty McGee – a project called ‘All the Bees’. I have eaten my body weight in dark chocolate and with the help of the most wondrous singers and film makers made 9 ( yes 9 ) virtual choir videos – have supported Andy through a heart attack from a clot 20 hours after his first jab, I continue to wail and weep about losing my mum, my choirs, my freedom to get on trains, my sanity, my friends but the birds keep singing and the rivers keep rolling. Please don’t ask me when we are going to sing again in person. I don’t know. I hope you are doing as well as is humanly possible and finding joy. Drop me a line sometime.
Acapella madness! So this is what lockdown has done to me and now all I need is everyone to send me hats! I really want a viking hat..not sure why..and if only there was a joke shop around..I feel large teeth coming on and moustaches. Oh and if you want to sing it with your choir you can get the music and audio on http://choircommunity.net
I have been meaning to post this since we had mum’s funeral in early November 2019 as I think it will help lots of people. There is not a lot of info about certain sections of the whole DIY Funeral as you do not have to use a funeral director. I have been led to believe that a very large percentage of directors in the UK are owned by large US conglomerates and their prices reflect that. The cheapest funeral I can find that you are able to be there is £1400 and we did it for £800 and it was beautiful and personal and I know our mum would have approved and chuckled a bit.
SO here are the things that made us anxious and here are the things you need to know. It is not as daunting as you think.
The first interesting thing we found out is that there really is no hurry. Once your loved one is in the mortuary they told us was could move forward at our own pace…after about 6 months they might start getting a little twitchy…At a time of grief some people shoot ahead, especially when using funeral directors. They imagine, like a wedding that all the best slots will be gone and you have to move fast. You don’t -and certainly I was not ready to move at all. We had to wait 14 days for our mum’s autopsy and then we spent a couple more weeks mulling ideas and having ‘healthy fallings out’ as my sister so aptly put it, about the best way forward. Mum had wanted to leave her body to science, but they would not take it (she had not read the small print) so we had to come up with a plan B ( as she did not have one) that we knew she would be happy with. She had been reading ‘The Dead Good Funeral Book’ for years and we knew she was not keen on the whole funeral director route.
We bought a cardboard coffin online ..beware that they come in two sizes but the size for your loved one is not the size of the coffin..we bought a 5ft 8″ which was actually 6ft outside ( for when you are measuring your transportation . We were worried about the hip width but it was fine. We bought some water based paints and painted her coffin in her kitchen as we continued to mull. We decided on an early cremation slot with just nearest and then a celebration later.
Brother put this together for us…he was amazing!
Make sure you get correct paperwork sorted out well in advance. Depending on where and how the person died, you need different documents to give to the crematorium. They talk about the ‘Crem 4’, or ‘Crem 6’ forms, which in Mum’s case was a form completed by the coroner. You’d have thought that they would find where to send it to, but they don’t. They just wait for someone to ask for it (usually Funeral Directors I guess.) I had to ask the coroner specifically to send a ‘Crem 6’ form to the crematorium, and they needed reminding, and actually didn’t send it till the day before the cremation. It needs chasing!! Crematorium won’t let you go ahead with a cremation without all the correct paperwork completed.
Cost of the cremation was £650, which is for a (less popular) morning slot, and 30 minutes in the do they call it chapel? If you want a more popular slot it’s £900, for which you get 45 minutes in the memorial room, or whatever they call it.
Transportation from mortuary to crematorium, they request that you have a suitably ‘discrete’ vehicle, preferably something where you cannot see there’s a coffin in the back, i.e. not just in the back of an estate car or on an open trailer( we did use a car but it did have smoked windows , but I am sure a cloth would suffice.) It could be a camper van, a transit van..a horse and cart…back of a taxi
Obviously check that you can fit the coffin into the vehicle, including any narrow doors!
If you do want to decorate the coffin, they ask that you do NOT use heavy gloss paints or lacquers. Water-based paint is best.
They also stipulate that there is some absorbent material in the coffin, just in case of any unexpected escape of fluids( the coffin we ordered had an absorbent layer-we also asked the lovely girls in the mortuary to put our mums favourite brushed cotton pyjamas on which they did for us)..we also put lavender from mums garden in the coffin .
As with us, the mortuary will try to help with putting the body in the coffin, and the coffin in your vehicle, but they suggest that you provide someone who is willing/able to help with this. This we did so we had two of us and the two mortuary workers, and mum was by then in her pyjamas and covered in a light gauze so even though she had been in the mortuary for over a month it was not in anyway upsetting . You might want to get a couple of friends who are not as close to help. Give the mortuary a call…The 2 girls at ours hardly ever saw coffins and loved the one we brought in and were so lovely and helpful.
Likewise, for the crematorium, they ask that you let them know in advance if you want a trolley to help move the coffin from your vehicle into the final position on the cremator. We put mums coffin in the centre of the room , brought an iPod and speaker and just played some music, spent the half hour in contemplation..just 6 of us there. (A couple of weeks later we had a celebration in her local village hall with cake and music which was so beautiful .)
The crematorium will try to upsell you on all sorts of additions, vases for the ashes, dated entries in a memorial book, plaques, etc, etc,. but be aware that NONE of these are mandatory. For £650 you get the body cremated( the early slots in the day are cheaper) and the ashes made available in a double-wrapped cardboard box.It was very tasteful maroon and is now sitting next to me in my office , next to Fred and Georges ashes (it’s just the way it turned out..I am not an avid collector..really ) You have to tell them in advance if you intend to collect, and when, otherwise delivery is an extra charge. Brother just went and picked them up the next day.
I hope some of this will be helpful and if I missed anything out you could send me a question and I will try and answer it . It is a difficult time and it is easy to think you have to take the funeral director way, but if you have some support all of this can be done. Our mum died very suddenly and we were in shock at the time, but we got through it and looking back are really proud of how we managed it all. Thanks to Dave Ruth Andy and Siggy for being so incredible.
Hallo lovely people I hope all is ok in your world at this crazy time and you are all taking care of yourselves. So now we are in 2020 lockdown there might be time for you to get a spot of hobby out ( knitting , basket weaving , sandblasting-too noisy) ) and have a listen to this interview I did for the wondrous Welsh Connections with writing partner Andy ( the second interview he get a word in edgeways !)…I listened and did not do much toes curling ..there are some great bits of music too…. let me know …
I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected in this craziest of days. Hope the hobbies are going well. Let me know y how you are getting on. I wrote a blog for choircommunity.net , for choir leaders, but actually for anyone at this time and might explain why I am not running into an online choir fest anytime soon…love gitika x x https://www.choircommunity.net/blog/how-is-you-well-of-well-being/
“Look after yourself as you can only teach/look after others if you are well and your wells of wellbeing are full.”
Sent to me by a lovely head teacher of a inner city primary school that comes from Jenny Mosely and her Circle time model. I have been reminded twice by this particular head teacher to slow down and wait before returning to running choirs until my well of well being is full, and to be honest it really is not. I had a particularly full on first half of the year, what with one thing and another and had felt a bit like I needed a sabbatical after a wondrous end of term concert in July which I single handedly constructed with the 3 current choirs and a little help from a lots of people where we sang Keeping Faith. I was getting to the point where I felt like I wanted people to stop looking at me which is a bit tricky when you are at the front waving your arms around. ha ha .
I did not allow myself the luxury of taking care of myself enough, and preparations for the Autumn term were well and truly in place when my only mother became unwell and died so unexpectedly my whole world just crashed around me. It took at least 10 weeks for me to get out of shock and continuous crying and now I just miss her and Christmas is sort of cancelled – still cry everyday..that will be a curious day when I realise I did not shed a tear.
I was lucky to have so many people sending me love and prayer so was not alone, and was prepared to do the massively stormy journey that grief can take you – though I had no idea how stormy it was going to be. ( When is this ever going to end? is a cry many people who have experienced loss will recognise and the feeling of waking every morning feeling sea sick) The amount of grief can so be linked to the amount of love and I was very close to my mum and she would have been here with us at this time of year so like many people the time of year like so many times…( I even have a Thursday problem now) is poignant.
I am doing a slow re-entry back into choir land. Next term starts with one lunchtime choir so I don’t sink into some sort of hermit-land depressive place and am going to spend some time regrouping and writing and have some quiet time where no-one is looking at me and I don’t need to be the one doing the looking after. I can be quiet and wait for the inspiration to come to me, of which I have no doubt it will return . Once I have the energy again, as someone said, I will remember how much joy I got out of being with people and us all singing together, but for now, what with there being constant rain and no sun and everything seems to say hibernate hibernate I am doing just that. It is a lesson to be learned and as yet I have still not really learned the one of knowing what I need to keep the old well of wellbeing full. Will keep on working on it. If your work involves teaching or caring for others it is so important. In some countries teachers have a sabbatical every several years which makes so much sense, and if you have ever had a job which entails looking after others( which includes being a parent or a partner or a friend) you will know just how draining it can be if you are not looking after yourself so take care my friends, grab the oxygen mask first.
As It is winter solstice I am scattering our Winter Solstice song everywhere I can as it is the only day really that we can sing it with utter here and nowness. take care x
Just managed to put finger to keypad as the last 2 months have been really grim. My mum died suddenly and I was so not ready. It has been full time grieving here in between arranging a DIY funeral ( more about that later, contact me if you want more info), a full on village hall celebration that I arranged almost single handedly, driving over 2000 miles ( not me as I don’t drive..thank you Andy..and I am worst passenger ever having spent most of my life travelling on London Buses at 8 miles an hour) . It was just as mum would have liked it – her folk choir sung, the dementia choir she helped with sung, me and my siblings sung, but she was not there and I have been utterly devastated and continue to be. I am staring loss in the eye and not shying away from the feelings, as I know that feeling them ( and not caring that perhaps I should be smiling by now and everyone is bored of my grief) is really important for me. If you are about to have your first Christmas without someone you loved deeply I think it is important to acknowledge the loss properly. I can’t be doing with people saying ‘they would not have wanted you to be upset’. I feel losing my mum has, as the next in line to meet my maker, I have permission to do and feel what I want. And I will if I can.
Reading a great book about being an Adult Orphan by Alexander Levy and do really encourage you all to be ready for the eventuality when a second parent dies that it might completely take you but surprise. Also having that feeling that your parent is strong and sturdy and will live for ever, then they just leave.
But more to the point after 2 months of solid crying and depression and all last night managed to finish a video that I filmed before mum died and am putting it out and hope you will get a chance to watch it and share it and have a look at some more cheerful videos on my 3 Bucket Jones youtube channel and even ……SUBSCRIBE
Here is is…it feels apt for the current climate and the feeling of being surrounded by crazy narcissists . Also posting the one before which still make me shed a little tear which I videoed at the same time with the wonderful Siggy. And just to say no mascara in fact no make up of any kind was harmed during either of these videos..one day I might fancy a bit of slap on…my choice really. take care all x
New Video in One Take.. Nothing fancy…we did 8 takes, some in half speed some in slow motion some in normal speed.. and I was gonna spend a couple of days picking
all the best bits and I came to take 5 and went…yes! it is practically perfect in every way…Had just the right amount of stillness and emotional quality the song needed
One take is a magical thing in film or in music and so much of our lives we don’t do much in one take, we correct , we edit , we ‘grammerly’ ( when the frog did that become a verb..I don’t by the way!).
There are certain bands that used to swear if you don’t get the recording on the first take the magic has gone… I made an album in 2003 where did every vocal in one take because I wanted to have that performance quality to it..Lots of people would not notice the difference. It may be very subtle and just arsey rather than arty… Maybe you agree….In love with this video today like a new born baby….
Good day. Trying to spread the word these days is quite a bumpy ride. You can completely inundate, or people just don’t receive news – even with bombardment or algorithms.
Even though I posted the video yesterday. I wanted you to hear how beautiful the choirs sounded without any of the video and to encourage you – my lovely blogees to share this song with all and all and then some..
I cannot thank the singers enough, and know they would be happy for their voices to be taking this message around the world. Here are some quotes from them about how singing this particular song made them feel. ( Gratitude Again)
‘Music often lifts the soul but this song is special. There’s a feeling as you sing it, an awareness of those around you, singing as one, minds and voices in a musical prayer for the sanity of the world’
‘The power we all have individually, and how that is magnified when we are many. Whether it is voices or ideas or revolution. Singing this song gives me goose bumps, makes me feel hopeful, positive and filled with light. Truly burning bright. No matter how dark the days might feel’
‘It is easy to get disheartened and feel we are making no difference when we are campaigning/protesting. The song made me feel that we do count, that we are keeping that flame (however fragile) alight in the world.’
‘Singing this song reminded me that we all have a role to play in the guardianship of the world we occupy and of the neighbours we share it with. That ‘enlightenment’ has the power to dispel demons however they may appear.’
‘A song of quiet strengthening: working at both an individual and, of course, a group level. Refreshingly different to the ‘usual’ community choir fare. ‘
I’ve been singing in Gitika’s choir for many years and this is one of my favourite songs. I have young onset Parkinson’s which brings many daily challenges. I find singing at choir very therapeutic and it helps me in so many ways. It’s been particularly apt for me to have sung this beautiful, uplifting song this term as I have been struggling with my Parkinson’s as it progresses. Singing with my lovely choir led by Gitika has been one of my candles, helping me to keep faith through some dark moments. Thank you Gitika!
Today as my sobbing subsides over the kitchen sink ( it’s been a long, amazing but terrifying year of choral directing, repertoire planning, arranging, music leading ) I remember, it is in fact exactly 5 years to the day that the CDs for our first album was released on a sunny day unlike today.
I felt it was a landmark worth marking by posting a sneaky preview of the newest song just for a ‘how are we doing 5/6 years on?’ moment..a moment of reflection as the rain beats down and the thunder crashes overhead.I am deeply tired from giving out a lot of energy this year, so just have to wait patiently for a bit til I get my inner mojo back…would love you to have a listen to the new track which I am fond of as a well behaved baby .” I Remember (The Simple Things)”
And then thought it would be good to post the first song we wrote almost 6 years ago…the song that started this wonderfully crazy , bumpy journey. But then what’s a journey without a few bumps on the way…
I wrote this post below in January 2012 and am adding to it 7 years later
I have to say that I cannot but wonder about parts of my life. When cleaning out the fridge today 7 and a half years later, I found that I still have the aforesaid jar of plums looking a little worse for wear, which probably says more about my levels of hygiene that the poor plums themselves. Now I am blogging rather than throwing many other concoctions which also look like they may have been there as long as the innocent plums… AND I am still wondering… can I still eat them?
THIS IS WHAT WAS GOING ON IN JANUARY 2012 ( I was arranging Paradise!)
And my mind! Seriously, someone is messing with my mind. A few days ago I mentioned the fact that a jar of umobushi plums went missing. I looked in all the cupboards, had everything out of the fridge, went through the bin…you would too, as a jar of umobushi plums is like £12 ! It is no picnic looking after your digestive system, I am telling you. In the end I surrendered to the fact they must have gone in an old bin and went back to fresh and wild, whole food mania, or what ever it is called and bought a new jar. I opened the jar a few days ago, and it has been in and out of the fridge a couple of times. So last night I go to the fridge and wonder what the jar is behind the UPs? No blinking way! The old jar of UPs! What is happening here? I have only one possible explanation. Someone is breaking into my flat, stealing japanese pickled plums and then putting them back a couple of weeks later, just to make me seem as if I am going slightly mad ( no help necessary)…The only explanation. So I am asking you nicely to stop it please.
Today I saw a pair of woodpeckers in the garden and while I was singing all the parts for Paradise -which is finally finished, a cat walked in front of my window, stopped and listened to me singing ha ha ! The list on my desk is going down a bit, so new things can arrived, I am sure.
SONG OF THE DAY A New Song which did not exist 7 years ago..every day of 2011 , I posted a song from youtube…now I can post my own songs hurrah!
Hallo ..Today is a day …Notre Dame is in flames and I finally finished the video for our newest song. It is a very special song because 36 of my singers over 3 choirs ( UCL Staff Singing Club, the Tubthumping Chorus, and The Old Bishops Community Choir) took up the challenge to sing the chorus into their phones while listening to their track on computer laptop with headphones and send me the result. It is hopeful and melancholic at the same time.There are 4 mixes on the new EP on bandcamp , one has the choir featured more heavily..but if you know they are there you definitely can hear the beauty they add to the song. Am going to do this again..so get your headphones ready, as you could be next..,thanks everyone.
I am quite excited about our impending front room gig which we recorded in Auntie Molly’s front room. Emma Drabble on cameras and Liam Ross on sound joined us for a day and we sung everything we had performed at our November gig so we can put it out, and you can watch it with tea and biscuits in the comfort of your own front room. Just thought I would share the first little snippet…busy arranging songs for choirs next term..the theme for the Bishops is BLACK AND BLUE and the tubs are looking at sky and light and beacons and the UCL choir will be singing more lush stuff….
Its been a rip roaring summer..singing under canvas and at the Guildhall Summer School. Yesterday I wrote and recorded this..My idea of a lovely day..plugged into a pair of headphones and Logic X for some considerable hours, on my own. I am a bit of an ‘ants in my pants’ type of person, but once I am absorbed with writing and recording a new song…I am glued to the spot.
Love you to give it a spin…. right now am arranging it for a choir…that bit is always a bit trickier…hope you are having a good day x
yes! A DONATE PAGE (Click on it to find it ) Finally managed to work out the buttons. A couple of people in choir have said they would like to help, and I have been trying to get a patronage page together with lots of help and support of my friend and Choir member Sarolta who runs https://www.dreambuildingstudio.com .
But in the meantime, now is as good as any time so, abundance I invite you in !!!
It’s a beautiful day out there, and I am, like many other people – inside. I am singing, so not all is lost. Here is the newest folk arrangement rendition of a song I have been listening to my entire life..it’s in my bones. And if you want to sing it with your choir, let me know.
Well good morning me and a Happy Birthday to me.. I made it! Another year on the planet..I am right now tucked up in my cave in London eating chocolate for breakfast, preparing for first choir session of the term which is this evening..Such a good thing to be doing on your birthday.. Just had a couple of weeks, ‘so called’ off and realised as usual I was not idle. I wrote and recorded the song above, sent it off for two pitches, which it was rejected as not being commercial enough..I cried the first time. That’s ok, still have work to do with rejection, having lots of practise at the moment.
I wrote 2 -2 minute multi layered ‘ Hans Zimmer, Eric Whittaker ( my husband -ha ha)’ pieces, which I have sent off to another pitch. I arranged Perfect Day and 3 Northumbrian folk songs (as well as arranging ‘it’s all I got’ for my choir) for acapella. Me and Andy recorded extra vocals on a couple of tracks which I pitched for a duet request and we got Melting passed on to the next stage of a potential movie pitch.
3 Bucket Jones also got a support gig in London on the 2nd June with The Skyline Drivers ( more information later) which you can all come and it looks like I shall be piloting a new lunchtime staff choir at UCL for the summer term. I also sat on a on cottage on a mountain in Wales for 36 hours and read a funny and inspirational book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird about writing and saw some real stars.. So all in all, a good time was had and the Summer and a New Year starts today. Have a good day everyone.
So finally there is a couple of weeks for me to tidy my desk and have a bit of time to reflect on the then, the now, and the later on…
I am quite good at embracing the concept of rest and recovery, but its a bit like 100pmh to 0mph..which seems to suggest I always leave it a bit late and the recovery happens when I am in crash mode…nope..actuall feeling pretty darned good and ready to take on another term of lovely singing starting 23rd April.
It has been a glorious term and even though my term off did not go according to plan ( there was a plan? ) I feel I had a chance to appreciate how much my choirs mean to me and what an important part of my life singing with other people is.
Here is a wonderful version of Single Sky that I wrote and recorded with Andrew McCrorie-Shand as part of my 3 Bucket Jones life. Arranging it for my singing tribe, and the Bishopsgate Singers embracing it and singing it so beautifully feels likely creative dots are being joined, if the makes any sense. We also sung another Bucket Song in the Tubthumpers Chorus but yet to record it..Thanks to Bob Karper for filming it. I feel a string quartet moment coming on….
Yay! How about that..the illustrious Tom Robinson mentioned you on his mix tape programme…I got 60% of a three minute song played… I wrote, recorded, and put out in 2 days played, so that was an all roundly exciting moment for us all! There are some great pieces of new music on the hour long programme too.
2 AMAZING things are happening tonight..Sunday Night/ Monday Morning 18th 19th March 2018
A new radio station begins TONIGHT MYSTERY TRAIN RADIO champions of singer songwriters and great music, Alex Huskisson has played many of our tracks when the show was a Sunday night thing and now its a 24/7 radio show and is going to be fantastic. Not only new music but legendary shows will be aired again….it starts at 10pm tonight…And we ..thats 3 Bucket Jones are having our first airplay on Radio 6 on the BBC INTRODUCING SHOW at 2am which is completely wonderful and all came about from replying to a tweet from Tom Robinson who is another champion . It is on a podcast with all the info HERE so you can listen later too. I am thrilled that the track that was chosen was strangely written and recorded in my cave/bedroom in London and I mixed produced it all on my own…funny turn of events really.
The little triangle on the photo of the train, when pressed, plays a song….Well we are not snowed in in London. And right now the sun is in my eyes. I am having a great term – after having a term off to tidy my bedroom ( oops forgot) I am back running my choirs. There has been a bit of belt tightening going on (the freelancer’s dilemma) which means our last two SINGLE OF THE MONTHs have been recorded and mixed in the Tiny Studio in Holloway where I also sleep….aka ‘the bedroom’. Here is a photo of me in same room in 1996 with a chunky 8 track reel to reel.Yes there is music in the walls. I have sung every choir song and written literally hundreds of songs in this spot. Its a very special 8ft by 7ft.
It’s always great that people listen to the music – It didn’t happen at all in the days of cassette demos when we spend months making an album just to be thwarted by the first A&M man who said they didn’t like it. Buying music these days has become an enigma for most people, the young at heart can always find a way to download it for free and laugh at the idea of paying for music, and the more mature can’t see the point, if its not something you can hold in your hand. Some do and I thank you. You have a very special place my heart and you know who you are.
Anyway all feedback, apart from nasty stuff, gratefully received.
I laughed the first time I heard Will I Am say that on THE VOICE.
I thought he had made it up! It was a polite way of saying someone was out of tune. I used it in choir and we all laughed. How we laughed..’pitchy’ ha ha ha..And then last week, I had sent this track to someone and the feed back was “If there is any comment I could give you it’s a bit pitchy”…Now the boot is on the other foot and I am laughing and spitting, but also questioning our current need for ‘absolutely tuning’…Now there is a device that everyone uses to ‘tweak’ vocals so almost all commercial vocals are bang on. It means if we listen to that type of music, we are getting so used to it, that the old human voices of yesteryear ( remember Mark Almond?) are not really what our ears want? OR are we wanting to hear vocals with rough edges?…It’s a bit like airbrushing the voice..taking the wrinkles and the lines out…I will say that our first two albums I did not tweak one note …During the ‘singles ‘ once, I had a great take and there was a note that made me squirm and I tuned it…but it is like first aid…not cosmetic surgery…useful for the occasional little zit on an emotional face.
So then I listen to my track just for the tuning and not for the emotion…that is sad and I think well there might be a couple of notes that are not ‘bang on’ but they are gone in a minutiae and they are part of the song….
Its a dilemma…because once you start with the vocal airbrushing, when do you stop? Its maybe vocal botox…ha ha . So I just have to laugh.
So here is the offending track…No-one has asked me who the people are on the cover yet….
It is noted that most of my friends and I are working on the ‘coal face’. That seems to mean that are doing ‘real work’ in our communities and no-one in the world of the media has noticed us yet, or shined a light, and no-one, apart from the people nearest to us accolade us with more than golden chutney awards ( for which I am most grateful) or says we are we are ‘the country’s favourite bla bla bla’, or what ever. It is great work. We connect people. We have lots of fun. There are people in my choir who met and got married, became friends, send me photos of them on their holidays together while I am working my butt off making music for them in my little cave in Norf London. Its brilliant! Its badly paid and really hard work.
Then I find trying to get my own music played in the world of the media almost impenetrable. I have been trying hard for decades. Sometimes it feel creatively like being underground in a mine and not being able to get to the surface. Stuck in the pit, covered in soot with no way of getting to the light however hard you try. Just like my Grandfathers.
I have been thinking about the coalface a lot recently, as I am fast approaching the age that both my Grandads died from working down the mine. I joke that emphysema runs in the family. I am sad I never got to meet either of my grandfathers, but it also makes me think about all the things I have been able to do with my life and how I have to carry a light for them. I am very lucky.
Maybe I will continue to work really really hard doing what I do and no-one, apart from my close knit community will see it, and maybe that is actually real life and the shining light of fame is a load of old cobblers. I found this postcard on the internet and love it! So this year ahead I shall be thinking a lot about working on the coalface and how we get back up to the light, and what the light actually is or whether the lantern and the canary are all we need.
I have been working hard this week, setting up all the songs for the gorgeous choirs. In between we managed a song, recorded wrote it in 2 days at home…and its a cracker! Just press play …..Bandcamp is a great place to buy music and its worth a go, as you can pay what you want ,or just listen to it..and the artists gets a good percentage .
I used to blog everyday in 2011 and now I tend just to post up when something has happened that I am excited about or I would like people to look at . I am excited about my choirs and excited about writing songs and recording them.
I supposed there is no reason why anyone else should be excited about me writing and recording songs, lots of people tend to shuffle about a bit and seem almost embarrassed by my second career, that is something I have to do to stay sane. Always was a songwriter from a very early age, that’s how I arrange acapella.
I was talking to someone the other day about people not saying stuff, and how you end up imaging the worst because they don’t talk to you . For instance 4 people out of my over 100 choir members download my tracks, which is a positive and lovely thing..the rest do not, and I hear nothing, so I imagine the worst…they hate what I do…I run choirs..I should bloody well stick to that..I am a show off…My music is shit, my voice is shit, I’m too old, big headed, shit…etc etc bla bla bla bla bla bla
It might be it’s not their type of music, they are too busy, they don’t know how to download bandcamp, they listened to something I did a long time ago and made a decision then that it was not their thing. .They listen and like it but just imagine they don’t need to tell me, because I already know. I imagine most people don’t really give my songs a chance..If you hear stuff on the radio there are very very very few songs that hook you the first time you hear them..they often get you the second or third time…but imagine most of my friends don’t give me that luxury, and the chances of anyone I don’t know doing that is even less…
My mum decided long ago she did not like my voice..so thats the end of that..I suppose at least she told me so I don’t have to imagine the worst…ha ha
Its a curious old thing…
So here I am again..exhibiting my wears once again to the deafening silence of the world wide web…I stopped reading this about two paragraphs ago..and possibly only the stalkers and the sociopaths are probably left ( thank you ladies)
Bandcamp is easy to manoeuvre and you can download the track for free…It is not rocket science..needs must as with all things…anyway…must get on with that room tidying and thank most kindly the 12 people who have, during the last 10 months have bought our music…..One day it will be the ‘best kept secret’ ..oh shit! it is x x x x
the christmas single is on its way too and the video is being made on Thursday
SO , while I should should have been tidying my room and recording songs for a very important songbook I got carried away making a video for our October Single of the month…it is fun and lovely and see if you can spot the Hitchcockian moment .
Tough old time..dear friends passing ..end of a long busy choir year…sometimes the bit between feeling better and resting up is unbearable.
We keep on keeping on and have to be resolute, that whether you listen or not, we will continue to release a new song every month –
with the hope of developing our craft and having something beautiful to listen to. I am loving all the singles we have done so far which are all listed together on the 3 BUCKET JONES website
So the next 3 months is about having a break from my beloved choirs..which is already hard, to tidy my bedroom,my mind and my spirit. To find some time to write and arrange songs for 3 Bucket Jones and the Choirs and maybe both together.
I am really happy that we are now about to release out July single and are still on track for releasing a single every month for the next year. if you have missed any of the songs since march , here is them all in a handy page for you to have a listen to and even buy .
The New Term starts next week. There are spaces in both the Monday and Tuesday choir for tenors and basses. Contact me if you might be interested in joining us, or have a look at the LONDON CHOIRS page .
As I lie in a darkened room unable to move far, apart from occasionally to tears ( most teachers will understand this end of term thing, you have to be built like godzilla not to end up feeling like this at the end of term – especially if it has been quite a lot of work, new challenges and you don’t resort to alcohol..ha ha ) . I am at present joined by a sleeping orange cat ( who has been renamed the orange slug) who does not even belong to me, just visits for food and quiet. I am recovering from one hell of a brilliant term of singing, the lovely emails keep coming through to reflect that, but it takes its toll. I wish I had someone who could bring me food …..now…please.
Here is one of my favourite moments from the term that happened on Tuesday night at the Conway Hall LONDON. Paul had a single camera at the back..thank you..soon Bob’s fancy version will come through…. Need more tenors and basses for next term..check out LONDON CHOIRS in my pages up top…enjoy!
Very excited about our next gig with the choirs -the tubthumping chorus, the old bishops -who need a new name and special guests broomdasher – a 16 piece acapella folk group with Sally Davies at the helm who runs the Cecil Sharpe Folk Choir, also 3 Bucket Jones -the trio gitika is in who performed with the choirs last year art Cecil Sharp House will be making an appearance. it is at the Conway Hall in London near holborn and there will be 2 50 minute sets of splendid acapella song with a little bit of acoustic song thrown in for good measure.
Even though there is a lovely version of the choir singing this at Cecil Sharp House, I thought you might like to see the version that we did at St George’s in Bristol as part of the 3 Bucket Jones tour this summer with members of the Tredegar Town Band.
But somewhere in the mists of Autumn this video reminds me of the September sunsets where the whiff of summer was still in the air. We listen to the track a lot and still love it and think it may beat Robbie William’s Angels to good songs for playing at funerals…
Just recovering from the mammoth tour – we organised everything ourselves with the help of amazing folk from around the country who said yes to singing and playing with us. So big thanks and here are some of the photo highlights of the shows.
‘glorious sonic depths that you’ll want to explore time and time again’ – Acoustic magazine
‘they gel so well, it’s as if they have been jamming together their entire careers’ – The Musician
3 Bucket Jones – Make a Splash for Water Aid
3BJ met at a songwriting workshop at Monnow Valley Studio in 2013 and formed a band on the first day they met and wrote a song. They are all experienced musicians and producers all born in the 1950s – their musical diversity is the thing that makes it work – composing music for kid’s TV, producing with Trevor Horn and teaching 5000 children a song in the Albert Hall are included on their list of musical endeavors.
Their second album – 8th July coincides with a song from their first album ’All at Sea’ being sung by 1200 singers in Bath for SING FOR WATER WEST – an event which raises funds forWater Aid – arranged and conducted by Gitika. They decided all their tour and album sales during would go to WATER AID.
Their tour takes them to Monmouth, Bristol London, Sheffield and Brighton. Every gig involves local musicians – In Bristol, at the beautiful St George’s – Gitika ’s brother’s sea shanty group -The Roaring Troman, her mother’s (85) folk choir and members of the world champion Tredegar Town Band. The London Cecil SharpHouse gig has a 70 strong community choir on backing vocals & they will also be singing songs about water.
3 Bucket Jones are Andy Mcrorie-Shand on stringed things, Gitika Partington on ‘sky-scraping vocals ‘ (the MU review this month) Garry Hughes in the studio, and featuring Bruce Knapp on guitar and dobro for the tour. Their music is ‘heart-on-their sleeve’ dark folk-pop. The tour will be a delight.
So to celebrate I am posting the newest video to help the release of our second album TAKE THESE GHOSTS 8th July. Made with footage up a hill in Shropshire with glamorous walking boots, rainbow socks ( you have to watch until you see the rainbow socks) a video phone and no stylist . It was a blast making it….Love you to watch it please.
So here is my contribution to the day of celebrating the struggle, and it is often one. The Tubthumpers Chorus sung a great rendition of ‘I’m Gonna be an Engineer” last term and we just got the blessing of the remarkable Peggy Seeger to post the video of our performance. The song was written in 1970 and it is really interesting to mark the differences in how things have moved on. We did not sing all the verses which I am posting below the video.
I AM RUNNING AN ALL DAY SINGING WORKSHOP THIS SATURDAY 12TH MARCH AT THE BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE ‘SINGING IN HARMONY’ 10.30-4.30PM AFRICAN AND FOLK ACAPELLA FOR ANYONE WHO LIKES SINGING IN HARMONY,,,LOOK ON THE BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE WEBSITE.
I’m gonna be an engineer
When I was a little girl I wished I was a boy
I tagged along behind the gang and wore my corduroys.
Everybody said I only did it to annoy
But I was gonna be an engineer
Mamma said, “Why can’t you be a lady?
Your duty is to make me the mother of a pearl
Wait until you’re older, dear
And maybe you’ll be glad that you’re a girl.
Dainty as a Dresden statue, gentle as a Jersey cow,
Smooth as silk, gives cream and milk
Learn to coo, learn to moo
That’s what you do to be a lady, now.
When I went to school I learned to write and how to read
History, geography and home economy
And typing is a skill that every girl is sure to need
To while away the extra time until the time to breed
And then they had the nerve to ask, what would I like to be?
I says, “I’m gonna be an engineer!”
“No, you only need to learn to be a lady
The duty isn’t yours, for to try to run the world
An engineer could never have a baby
Remember, dear, that you’re a girl”
She’s smart — for a woman.
I wonder how she got that way?
You get no choice, you get no voice
Just stay mum, pretend you’re dumb.
That’s how you come to be a lady, today.
Well, I started as a typist but I studied on the sly
Working out the day and night so I could qualify
And every time the boss came in, he pinched me on the thigh
Said, “I’ve never had an engineer!”
“You owe it to the job to be a lady
The duty of the staff is to give the boss a whirl
The wages that you get are crummy, maybe
But it’s all you get, ’cause you’re a girl”
Then Jimmy came along and we set up a conjugation
We were busy every night with loving recreation
I spent my days at work so he could get an education
And now he’s an engineer!
He said: “I know you’ll always be a lady
The duty of my darling is to love me all her life
Could an engineer look after or obey me?
Remember, dear, that you’re my wife! ”
As soon a Jimmy got a job, I studied hard again
Then busy at me turret-lathe a year or two, and then
The morning that the twins were born, Jimmy says to them
“Your mother was an engineer!”
“You owe it to the kids to be a lady
Dainty as a dish-rag, faithful as a chow
Stay at home, you got to mind the baby
Remember you’re a mother now! ”
Every time I turn around there’s something else to do
Cook a meal or mend a sock or sweep a floor or two
Listening to Jimmy Young – it makes me want to spew
I was gonna be an engineer.
I only wish that I could be a lady
I’d do the lovely things that a lady’s s’posed to do
I wouldn’t even mind if only they would pay me
Then I could be a person too.
What price for a woman?
You can buy her for a ring of gold,
To love and obey, without any pay,
You get a cook and a nurse for better or worse
You don’t need a purse when a lady is sold.
Oh, but now the times are harder and me Jimmy’s got the sack;
I went down to Vicker’s, they were glad o have me back.
But I’m a third-class citizen, my wages tell me that
But I’m a first-class engineer!
The boss he says “We pay you as a lady,
You only got the job because I can’t afford a man,
With you I keep the profits high as may be,
You’re just a cheaper pair of hands. ”
You got one fault, you’re a woman;
You’re not worth the equal pay.
A bitch or a tart, you’re nothing but heart,
Shallow and vain, you’ve got no brain,
Well, I listened to my mother and I joined a typing pool
Listened to my lover and I put him through his school
If I listen to the boss, I’m just a bloody fool
And an underpaid engineer
I been a sucker ever since I was a baby
As a daughter, as a mother, as a lover, as a dear
But I’ll fight them as a woman, not a lady
I’ll fight them as an engineer!
Words and music by Peggy Seeger in 1970
Copyright Stormking Music, Inc.
Recorded by Frankie Armstrong- Out of Love, Maccoll & Seeger – At
The Present Moment
My three weekly choirs are enjoying a lovely autumn term…Bishoosgate Singers going Acapella Soul and Funk, The Tubthumping Chorus doing mostly protest songs and my primary school choir loving Space Oddity.
I am having a very creatively balanced time at the moment, because when you run choirs or anything where you give out a lot, it is important to do something creative yourself. Before secondary music teachers had to work so hard they all were in bands , orchestras etc as it feeds you so you have more to give back. Now its harder, so I am lucky…
I am making pop videos now for my new band 3 Bucket Jones…here is the first one..that I mostly filmed, much on an iPhone and I edited it all too. Would love you to watch it and share it. It is gentle moving and atmospheric. The song is called Draw a Line in the Sand. Let me know….
The new book is out by myself and the fantabulous Alison Burns. The book is mostly acapella songs, but there are chord symbols and several optional piano accompaniments too. One of the wonderful features of the book is the audio. When you buy the book you get a cd with 156 tracks of every individual part. Also you can audition all the songs www.oup.co.uk/companion/cvw as FULL PERFORMANCES of them sung by myself, Sheena Masson, Nickomo and Andrew McCrorie-Shand
Nicola said it was the favourite song we ever sung with the choir. We sung it about 3 years ago. One of my favourite songs and a proper challenge to arrange for 5 part acapella, which of course I could do as the song has been in my bones since it was released 37 years ago . It is a lovely time for Running Up that Hill to make a comeback through its insertion in the Stranger Things ( Netflix) series 4 and it has one to the top of the charts again. Very please we have the song and all the audio parts for a song ( yes really) you can hear the whole song on this link. https://www.choircommunity.net/downloads/running-up-that-hill-sheet-music/
We are delighted to announce the release of our 5th album and we are very happy to be releasing under the wonderful umbrella of the Welsh Independent Record Label https://www.swndrecords.com/ The abum has taken more than a couple of years to finish. Lots has been happening for us all during this time and we are […]
Stop Press. Our New album CATCH MY BREATH is ready to pre-order & will be released on SWND Records on 11th February – that means you can order the digital and get a track now, or the proper real CD . I am hoping that many people will celebrate with us and support your local […]
Pretty grim round here due to Gitika losing her mum and we are all very sad. Here is our new video that we did actually finish 2 months ago but been too raw to post. So now it’s posted everywhere in the crazy social media flurry you have to do, so sorry if you have […]