Monday, 3 December 2012

A Weekend at the Hunter with Kanga Kong

I've been enjoying myself in the beautiful sunshine and ignoring my blog duties for far too long so here is an update on my adventures so far.

Hunter Valley
If you thought there wouldn't be any way to top seeing the Blue Planet at the Sydney Opera House then think again.  North of Sydney is the very popular wine region, Hunter Valley, or 'wine country' as the locals (and I imagine Raol Duke) affectionately call it.  We woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove along the hot dusty road for a day of wine tasting, cheese tasting and dog petting.  Jen was our designated driver and so Jo and I were free to try as many wines as we liked; thanks Jen!  The first vineyard we got to was Petersons, a family-owned-and-operated winery.  The surroundings were stunning with undulating vineyards spreading into the distance in all directions.  But we were here for the wine, and so we quick-marched through the cellar door and a nice chap talked us through the tastings on offer.  Of course we tried every single one as our host regaled us with wonderful stories of wine and cheese, wine and sommeliers, wine recipes and the most exciting; when wine goes bad.  I bought a bottle of fizz that is apparently a great accompaniment to watermelon sorbet and we moved on to the next vineyard for much of the same.  Five vineyards, the smelly cheese shop and two famous vineyard dogs later and we were very merry.  Earlier this year I had discovered my love of Port but I didn't know that white Port existed-delicious.  The Semillon also went down rather well but the name (semi-on) caused much sniggering.  Eventually the vineyards shut up shop for the day and we made our way to our hotel which turned out to be an old haunted orphanage (and that isn't the cheese before midnight talking).
What almost occurred 

The next day we drove home via a National Park come mental hospital and after driving through some spooky woods arrived at a big stretch of grass.  We were here to see kangaroos and we weren't disappointed.  This was my first kangaroo sighting (if you don't include the roadkill) and I was positively terrified.  Stories of kangaroos disemboweling people, not to mention their tendency for boxing, rushed through my mind.  We spotted a big group out with their joeys to catch some of the good weather and watched them from a safe distance.  As we enjoyed their cute hopping and grazing I started to relax. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kanga Kong bounding up the road heading straight for us.  We started to walk back towards the car and he bounded towards us further.  At this point I started running- and wondering why these dangerous and blood-thirsty animals were allowed to walk around willy nilly.  It turned out he was just heading to his troop who we'd just been watching and we marveled at his size from the safety of our car.  Don't mess with the 'roos.

Next time. Melbourne Cup, Ben Harper in concert and Spit to Manly walk. Yes, there is a place called Manly!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Gardens were Botanical and the Planet was Blue

One of the best things about going to the Botanical Gardens is that Croissant D'Or is on the way and their almond croissants are some of the tastiest things on this earth.  I describe it as walking to a grassy paradise whilst munching on a pastry paradise (even though the pastry paradise is pretty pricey at 5 dollars (i.e. 3 pounds). The walk is great.  Walking along Macleay Street makes me feel like I'm in New York because of all the Art Deco architecture and Spanish Mission style apartments.  The streets are wide and the sun bursts through the overhanging trees.  I make my way down to Woolloomooloo Bay and walk along the wharf which was actually the largest wooden structure in the world in 1911. FACT! If you like a man in uniform then this is the place to come.  There are big naval ships parked up here and the crew are all milling around in their pristine white suits.  I'm pretty sure I saw Blackbeard amongst them. Eventually the wharf leads you to some old steps, along Mrs Maquaries Bushland Walk, past an outdoor swimming pool and an exceptional amount of joggers and finally into the beauty of the Botanical Gardens.

View from Botanical Gardens
As I walk through the entrance gate an old-looking Japanese man asks me if I will take his picture.  He stands in front of a very characterless patch of lawn and I snap him.  I head forward into the gardens and as I'm enjoying the beauty and calming nature of it all I feel a tap on my shoulder.  The same Japanese man is there and asks me to take another picture of him, this time in front of a bulbous and boring looking tree.  I do my duty and hurry off to try to put some space between us.  The gardens are enormous and have absolutely stunning views looking out to Farm Cove and Sydney Harbour.  Just as I'm about to settle down under the shade of a very old looking tree I feel another tap on the shoulder. "Another picture please?" I sigh heavily and tell him that this is the last time. Afterwards he scuttles off looking a little hurt and dejected, until he finds another tourist to help him increase the amount of photos of himself in front of all kinds of different but equally boring foliage. His poor wife.

My second weekend in Sydney is another sunny one and we head to Surrey Hills Festival in the morning for some breakfast.  It's a smallish festival with loads of food stalls and a stage pumping out loud Hip Hop to some enthusiastic teenagers who already look tipsy at 11.00am in the morning.  We watch in amazement as some very muscly girls pole dance and I look down at my pancakes and feel a little guilty. But this is not the main event of the day, this is just the starter.  We make our way to the Sydney Opera House to watch The Blue Planet live in Concert (shouts of "OMG!" were continuously heard throughout the day's proceedings).  This was my first time in the Opera House and it's size is staggering. The orchestra starts playing as we find our seats and local celebrity, The Bondi Vet, comes out to introduce each piece. He's not quite David Attenborough but is quite amusing (and slightly more pleasing to the eye).  The experience is incredible and it's amazing to think that it has been touring since 2006.  The only way to finish off a day like that is to head to karaoke and sing your heart out until 2am, which is what we did!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Take Me to My Beach

Bondi Beach
After all those noodles a girl needs a day on the beach, and what better beach to laze on than Bondi?  The weather is getting warmer and although everyone refers to it as 'Spring' here, the temperatures are those of a British summer. God only knows how hot it will be when Summer actually hits; I'll probably have to go into hiding.  My first Saturday in Oz sees me rise early to a grueling abs workout followed by a step class. The instructor has more energy than a can of dog's piss and sings along to the tracks whilst busting out the moves we need to follow. It's amazing how many people are in attendance at 8.00am, and not a hangover in sight. After a glorious shower and applying double layers of sun cream, I head back towards Oxford St en route to the beach.  I find myself momentarily distracted by a cool outdoor market in Paddington selling all sorts of fried, tasty morsels and handmade jewelry. I'm enticed to a stall which is selling real honeycomb in a jar and offering out free samples (sadly this would leave my hands sticky for the best part of the day).  I leave the market and catch the bus to Bondi along with 100 other sweaty people. "Blimmin' tourists," I grumble as I struggle to find a seat. 
Fork it

As Bondi comes into view I'm slightly stunned by how blue the sea is and how golden the sand is.  The beach is stunning. Groups of sun-kissed bods are sprawled around BBQs or playing games of sandy bowls.  I take a walk along the shoreline and watch the surfers; the waves are small today and so they aren't getting much action.  I dip my toes in the cold water and suddenly think "SHARKS". My gaze is taken out to sea but I can't spot any protruding fins.  All this fish thought is making me hungry so I head to a fancy looking restaurant on the beach front and order sashimi and avocado salad.  Note to self: next time someone offers you chopsticks to eat a salad with say no and ask for a fork instead.  I finish the meal with an incredibly tasty coffee, at last! I'm a winner today.

If you can't beat them...
Appetite sated I walk to the next beach which is amusingly called Tamarama.  This is actually pronounced Ta-ma-ra-ma although Jen has taken to calling me Tamara-ma.  The walk along the cliff's edge is windy and refreshing and Tamarama, although smaller than Bondi, is just as beautiful.  There are lots of interesting looking objects on the beach which, as I get closer, turn out to be 'Sculptures by the Sea' which is a regular installation on this beach.  I pass some tough looking sumo wrestlers (see picture) and head towards a sculpture in the middle of a beach.  This sculpture consists of a collection of long rectangular mirrors that have been bunched together to make a cube shape.  It seems to be the most popular sculpture on the beach, mainly because you can take a picture of yourself in the reflection; so of course I follow suit and quickly take an awkward snap of myself.
After a bit more walking and sun-bathing (in the shade) my old friend jet lag kicks in again and so I bus home and dream of sumo wrestlers eating Toblerone with chopsticks. To read more about the cool beach sculptures go here.
My money's on the fat one

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Noodles at Night and the Case of the Missing Dumplings

Follow the light
I've been in Sydney for a week but it feels so much longer.  Maybe because the jet lag has almost dissipated or maybe because I have crammed so much stuff into my first week.  My first trip into central Sydney was for the sole purpose of buying running shoes and seeking out more good sushi. Town is a 15 minute walk away from Jen's apartment and I was guided by the tower of Westfield shopping mall like the star of Nazereth leading the Shepherd's to the baby Jee.  People are always surprised to learn that I love shopping malls but I'm not ashamed to admit it.  The first time I saw one was when I was living in Tokyo.  It was a tourist attraction to me then; all the weird and wonderful Japanese items all under one roof.  No one quite does shopping malls like the Japanese, but the Aussie's Westfield comes pretty close. On the way I pass some incredibly large birds. Later Jo informs me that these are called 'Brain Suckers' and I'll come across them as regularly as pigeon or crow.  He also told me it is 'swooping season' in Australia.  This is when the crows in the trees swoop down upon unsuspecting pedestrians and peck their heads.  The motorcyclists even wear special helmets to prevent being swooped on.  I find it hard not to stop and stare at this brain sucker bird in wonder and am perplexed as to why nobody else is doing the same.
There is actually wildlife here on the streets, like the kind you see on the TV!

I stop at a small coffee shop on the way (but won't name and shame it in case I get sued for libel) and have the worst coffee and chocolate croissant I think I have ever had in my life.  My croissant has been microwaved within an inch of its life making the pastry stale and the gooey chocolate inside deadly hot.  The coffee does little to make up for this and so I slump off into the much yearned for world of shopping mall heaven.  Jen told me that Aussies are real coffee snobs so I'm not looking forward to telling her about this culinary shitstorm.

Now, I've always like shopping. Partly, I imagine, because it's inherent in the fairer sex but also because it's always more interesting abroad.  You get different shops, different food and here you get summer shopping because "'tis the season to be jolly".  But after spending the best part of 2 hours deliberating over two pairs of trainers, jet lag got the better of me and I staggered out of the mall and into the burning sun. Ouchy!
Noodle Market
The next day I'm up at 6.30am and wide awake.  I spend the day mooching around my local area. Head left out of the apartment and you pass some lovely cafes and reach Woolloomooloo Bay. Beautiful.  Head right and turn the corner and you hit the red light district.  This street is full of strip clubs and bars that stay open till 10am. I pass an old beggar man holding out his hat for coins.  A minute later he is rolling all over the street, shouting at his hat and kicking it like it was his pet dog that had just shat on the new carpet.  These are the scenes I will come to know and love.

Winged Phallus
That night Jen and I meet up on Oxford street, yes Oxford street.  It is not at all like Oxford or Oxford street though. Why? Because it is better than both of those things. It has lots of cool bars and art galleries, one of which we meet at to listen to an installation by the musician Sarah Blasko.  Sadly she didn't turn up to play, which is what we were hoping for, but there was another gallery next door with a winged phallus in the window (pictured) so it wasn't a complete wasted journey.  We then head towards the centre to 'Hyde Park' (seriously guys, stop copying us) where there is a big Noodle Market in full swing.  It's more of a mini festival really with live music and a noodle theme.  I wait for some dumplings which seem to take forever to arrive and we sit on the grass slurping noodles and listening to a Jack Johnson look-a-like play Michal Jackson covers. What a great place this is.

I can't possibly fit my whole week into this blog so stay tuned for more ramblings soon and answers to such questions as: Will I ever shift this jetlag? Will I get a decent cup of coffee? And will I be swooped upon by a brain sucker?

Music to shop to:
Karine Polwart: His Earthly Spell
Agent Ribbons: On Time Travel and Romance

Thursday, 18 October 2012 last!

Thankfully this blog entry is a lot more cheerful than the last because I have safely landed in Sydney, Australia. It is absolutely awesome here but what a journey-it took over 24 hours and not a wink of sleep.  Leaving the UK at 10pm on Monday evening, I finally found my seat on the plane next to two young London lasses. They were on their way to Sydney, then Asia, to work and travel.  They'd only saved a grand between them and I was a little skeptical about their chances but, after watching their blagging skills in action on the plane, I could see they'd be just fine. I've never seen anyone consume so many packets of complimentary nuts in one sitting!  After 12 hours, 3 films, 2 curries, and an unidentified baked object we arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport.  We had a '5 hour' wait for our connecting flight to Australia so I wandered around the fancy boutiques and happened upon the 'rest and go' area. There were massage chairs aplenty here and I wondered why 'rest and go' areas weren't mandatory at all airports.  The resting was excellent but the going was not so good--if only the plane seats could massage as well.

view from Jen's apartment
On the flight to Sydney I was sat next to an old Nepalese couple.  They had flown from their mountainous homeland to see their "22 year old son" who had migrated to Sydney from Nepal a few years ago.  We introduced ourselves to each other but I won't pretend I had any idea how to say their names let alone spell them.  My name brought the usual confusion:
"Tomorrow? Your name tomorrow?"
"Ta-ma-ra. Ta-ma-ra"
The wife's English was very limited and so her husband acted as translator (I use that term very loosely here).  Every now and then the wife would tap me on the arm and ask me "how long left?".  I would hold up my fingers and thumb to show her how many hours were remaining until we were due to land.  Once we got down to 3 hours it became apparent that she had been excluding my thumb in her counting and so she was probably a little disappointed when she realised it equated to an extra hour.  Perhaps the thumb is inferior in Nepalese culture?  She was rather sad for me when she realised I was not married and would occasionally lurch across her husband to reach out and stroke my cheek or hand murmuring "beautiful".  This was a little unnerving to say the least but I smiled and took the compliment.  They were very charming really, and if I ever visit Nepal I'll be sure to look them up (as they insisted I do so for most of the journey).

9am Wednesday, Aussie time.  Finally I had landed in Sydney, but that wasn't quite the end of it yet.  There was still passport control and customs to get through.  As we queued a Korean chap tried to sneak his group under the barrier.  He was quickly reprimanded by security who hollered "No, mate. NO!". They sent him and his group to the back of the queue as a warning to us all. "Good," I thought. "A country that knows about queuing." I filled out a bunch of forms declaring that I was indeed carrying my body weight's worth in Toblerone, and having my bags thoroughly sniffed by a pooch, I was out.  My friend Jen was there to greet me and I've never been so happy to see my old chum.  After dropping me off at her apartment I committed the cardinal sin and slept for 7 hours waking just in time for Jen and Jo to take me out to a dinner of sushi. There was only one thing for it: consume all the beers and hope that when bed time came I'd just pass out.

Let the journey begin!

Films watched on plane:
Prometheus: Disappointing
Waitress: Don't bother
Rock of Ages: Seriously losing the will to live

Music listened to:
Post to Wire by Richmond Fontaine
Post by Bjork
In Your Honour by Foo Fighters

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Eurotour Part Twee: Tour Cancelled

Sadly my second update of the tour isn't quite what I wanted it to be. On Tuesday night in Utrecht Tom's car got broken into. Luckily, no guitars were taken and everything else was insured (funny they didn't take the sat nav, they must've known it was broken) but we decided to cut the tour short and come back to England to sort things out, especially as we now had a whole window missing on the passenger side. We'd had a blast up until this point, returning that night from a cool gig in Cafe Camelot in Nijmegan. A big thanks to Pete for sorting out the tour and looking after us, especially for helping us get back on the road with lots of boxes and bags to cover the window.  And a big apology to the promoters of the last three shows, we were so looking forward to the rest of the trip. We have lots of footage of the good bits so I'll put a little film together soon and, as always,  thanks for all your support.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Eurotour Part Een: Antwerp, Middelburg, Utrecht, Leeuwarden

We are in Europe! 2 shows down and 4 to go.  Tommy and I left on Friday morning on his beloved bike (yet to be named, but Tom and I think Wrongfellow is quite fitting) and broke down on the Oxford Road for an hour which meant we missed our ferry. We ended up killing time in Clackton services while we waited for the next one.  Out of all the services I've had the good fortune to visit, this was probably the strangest. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, we seemed to have entered an alternate universe and it had the vague whiff of Twin Peaks about it.  Anyhow, onto the ferry and smooth sailing to Dunkirk. Off we zoomed to Antwerp, Belgium, remembering to drive on the right side of the road at all times. Tom met us there (he also missed his ferry) and we explored the various waterholes including my favourite, De Vagrant, a gin bar where you can get every flavour of gin imaginable, including blood orange (yum) and kiwi (ugh). There is a beautiful 12th century cathedral in Antwerp called 'The Cathedral of our Lady'. It was supposed to have 2 towers of equal height but one is unfinished.  The second tower wasn't finished beacuse of a large fire inside the cathedral's interior (and not just because of laziness or gin-hangover as we first presumed).  Tommy informed us that there is also a very famous pissoir up against the side of the cathedral near McDonalds if you're ever caught short in Antwerp.
Map to Utrecht..?

On Saturday morning we headed northeast to Middelburg which was no easy task after our Sat Nav (named Lewis because Lewis is just not as good as Morse) decided that now would be a good time to stop working.  After a frustrating half hour Tom punched it in the face (let's hope the people from TomTom don't read this when he tries to return it) and we resorted to following the wind.  Driving around the Netherlands is great though. It's flat and very green and very very far so good.

Middelburg fact: it used to be a major trading city in the 16th century. We wandered around some beautiful town houses and the historic centre is surrounded by an old moat and a few surviving gates. After watching Tom and Tommy consume a lunch mainly consisting of melted Camembert, we played our first show of the tour here in a kind of green house in the centre of a cool bookshop called De Drukkerji. Our audience were lovely and listened to us quietly whilst eating cake and supping  Belgium beer. One lady was kind enough to draw us a map to help us get to Utrecht.  We appreciated the sentiment but had a feeling the map wouldn't get us very far...

So, onto Utrecht. Tommy followed us on dear old Wrongfellow but was rather cold and battered by the wind.  Tom and I looked on with sympathy, of course, from the warmth of our car. In Utrecht we were met by my good friend Pete who is the reason we are here for he kindly organised this tour for us. Not only that but he is lending us his apartment for the week. We love Pete!  Utrecht is awesome with some stunning architecture.  It is also host to the largest university in the Netherlands. So, lots of great bars for us here then.

Some of our lovely audience in Leeuwarden
Sunday cometh and we are back on the road to Leeuwarden to play a show for Mijn Ouders (which seems to mean 'my parents' in Dutch...?).  The venue is on a street covered in graffiti and the building is an old school which has now become a large community of young artists who live in the building's 16 rooms.  It has a very creative vibe about it and we are greeted by Koen who takes us to his living room where the gig will be held. It is a very very cool venue.  After being fed and watered we played a song in a bath tub for Mijn Ouder's 'Bath Sessions' in front of a small audience. See below.  Definitely one of the more bizarre places we've played but great acoustics. The gig itself was so much fun. We were supported by a local band called Cosmic U who were very quirky and experimental with a touch of Bjork to their style.  The audience were very welcoming and attentive and it will be pretty hard to top this gig.  In fact, it was probably one of my favourite shows of all time.

Today we have the day off so after saying farewell to Tommy (sad times) we plan to drink a bucket load of tea, make a few recordings and eat some sushi.  Tom has just gone for a jog round the canals, let's hope he doesn't get lost. Tomorrow we head to Nijmegen for a gig in Cafe Camelot so more to come soon. Tot straks!

Our choice of car tunes so far:
Antwerp to Middelburg: Bethany Weimers: Harpsichord Row, Richard Walters: Regret Less
Middelburg to Utrecht: More Weimers and some Joanna Newsom. System of a Down: Hypnotize
Utrecht to Leeuwarden: Elbow and Spinal Tap
Leeuwarden to Utrecht: Iron Maiden and Guns and Roses

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Video of our set from Oxford Castle-Live & Unlocked gig

On Friday 14 September Tom and I played in the crypt at the Oxford Castle which was pretty scary, but very fitting.  Pier Corona filmed our whole set. What a legend!  Here it is in case you wanted to hear the songs again or you missed the event.  There's a rumour that they might organise another one of these nights in December so keep your ears to the ground.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tour, album, more recording and finally....a holiday.

Hello! Sadly I've been neglecting my blog because things have been so incredibly busy recently. As you know, the Martyrs and I finally finished recording our debut album and it is now being mixed until everyone is happy… This could take some time, so we have decided to postpone our album launch until the New Year. Also, I’m buggering off to Australia and Bali for a few months to have a little rest, experience a summer, and write a few songs about kangaroos and my love of HRI, so it seemed best to hold off until my return. We will be releasing a single from the album soon, though, so you will get to hear a little taster of what we have spent the best part of 2012 creating.

In October, Tom and I are venturing off to the Netherlands and Germany to play some shows as part of our Eurotour. Sunshine and beers here we come! We'll have camcorder in hand to create a little video of our journey and shows, so if you really can't make it to Europe, you'll be able to watch us from home... Thinking about being on the road again makes me feel all nostalgic for our long drives in America. Not so much for the ones where we didn't see a gas station for 15 hours, though. Huck and the Handsome Fee R.I.P.

Speaking of the Fee, do you remember that fellow Huck? Well he has just finished writing a concept album and has started to play some gigs around Oxford before he begins recording it next year. The Huck Duo (including Tommy Longfellow) played their first live show last night at the Bully, and it was great. Tom and I also played a little set earlier in the night; it was good to have all the Martyrs onstage again, even if it was in our solo guises. Huck's next appearance will be in the bar of the Phoenix Picturehouse this Friday 31st August, while the Duo play again at the Wheatsheaf on the 17th of September.

 And if that isn’t enough then I’ll leave you with the good news that I’ve finished writing my solo album, which I’ll begin recording next month.  Come and hear some of the tracks on Friday 7 September at the last 'All Tamara's Parties' night in the East Oxford Community Centre.

Monday, 23 July 2012

New song and video: 'Tess'

Here is a video of my new song 'Tess' which was edited by Ross Williams. This song will feature on my solo album which will be recorded in the New Year.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Going to the Chapel...

No one likes getting up early on a Saturday. Especially when it is earlier than they would normally get up to go to work.  But this wasn’t any Saturday. This was the Saturday we would record…members of Brasenose College Choir.
My Producer came to pick me up at 8.30am sharp and we headed to Brasenose College. A big thank you must go to Mr David Balch for meeting us there and helping us set up the recording kit in the chapel.  I use the term 'us' very loosley here. I can wind up a cable but I don’t know what the hellah I’m supposed to plug it into. And what does this button do? Oops!

By 10.00am the choir had arrived and we had set up 16 mics and a whole lot of cables and wires. Jonathan Newell, Director of Music at Brasenose, gathered the choir around the piano and they all started humming their parts.  This is the first time I had heard it in person and it was so exciting.  When I thought of recording a choir for the album I imagined making it happen would be very unlikely.  Where am I going to get a choir? Where will we record it? How will I organise this? Who do I think I am? But it did happen and in the most beautiful and authentic setting. 

By 12pm we had managed to record all their parts a number of times so we could layer it on the final recording. This was all captured by Sam King who floated around the room in his socks filming and snapping pictures of the day. You’re going to have to wait a couple of months to hear the full track, but some of the pictures are here and the footage will be up soon to give you a little flavour of the awesomeness that took place that day.  A huge thanks to everyone involved who gave up their time to make this possible, especially the choir who are made up of very busy Brasenose students.

Photographs by Sam King

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Tamara and the Martyrs Album Cover Competition

That's right, we are inviting you to design our album cover. The winning designer will receive a free copy of the album, a t-shirt with their design on it and be invited on stage at our album launch gig to be personally serenaded by the band. Tom said he will also buy you a beer. To enter email and we will send you more information.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Recording of recording:

Oi oi! Here's a little clip from our weekend's recording. So far we've laid down the drums, bass, guitars and almost all the vocal tracks.  The next two weeks are dedicated to finishing the vocals and getting some "proper musicians" in to record some cello/violin lines. If all goes well we might actually have managed to record an album in 2 months -- something I never thought possible.  Once we have it all mixed up and ready to burn, we aim to celebrate with a big old release knees-up in June. We'll keep you posted!

Tom and I are opening the Punt tomorrow at the Purple Turtle at 7pm! We'll be busting out some FRESH solo numbers, so don't miss it. There are some great bands going, check out more about the line up here.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Rain Schmain!

Happy May Day! Respect to those of you who stayed out all night in the rain. I got caught in a thunderstorm on the way home from the pub and a friendly milkman gave me a lift. A real milkman in a real milkfloat. Soaked in nostalgia I almost starting singing Doris Day into a gold top as the rain poured down.

But not even a bit of rain can break my mood this week. I had a great day in the studio on Sunday recording my guitar parts for the Martyrs' album. Tom came along to spur me on but instead spent the day swimming in tea and lamenting his hangover. We decided to celebrate the day's success by heading down to the O2 to see Blood Red Shoes, who somehow I'd never heard of. I had to slap Tom for not telling me about these guys sooner…AMAZING! 

Their set up is minimal: drums, guitar, and 2 vocals. But their sound is huge. They can really play. And sing. And basically do everything to the point at which, while you’re watching them, you feel sick with wonder and envy and realise that these things might be possible if you just spent a little more time practicing the guitar and a little less time watching Come Dine With Me. Godammit! Then I saw that ‘Lover’ had received a great review in Nightshift and Karma had been playing its part. Last week I fell off my bike, this week I got a good review. The balance is restored. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Loft Sessions #1 featuring Mark Cope

Here is the first Loft Session with Mr Mark Cope of Candyskins and Nine Stone Cowboy fame. Filmed in front of a very small live audience. Enjoy!

Loft Session #1 : Mark Cope & Tamara Parsons-Baker : Lemonade by Mark Cope from AdamPellinDeeve on Vimeo.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Party Time!

Picture by Pier Corona
Well, what an amazing Easter weekend. Friday night was ‘All Tamara’s Parties’ and the East Oxford Community Centre turned out to be a pretty awesome venue. We set the room up with candles and fairy lights and the audience brought the buzz. The acts were shipped on and off stage by George Chopping, Torquay's answer to Jules Holland, and undoubtedly on a fast-track to 'National Treasure' status. If you missed the party then you missed some great performances from ToLiesel, Ben Walker, Jack Grace and The Old Grinding Young. I also played a few new songs from my soon-to-be –recorded solo album. The next All Tamara’s Parties looks like it's set for Friday 1 June, so stay tuned. A big thanks to all the musicians, everyone who came along, and Pier Corona for catching the night with his magic box. For pics and videos go here.

The first Loft Session has been filmed, and we had a blast! With a small audience and a couple of beers we had a mini-gig in the comfort of our own home. The footage is now being cut up and taped together, and I’ll be able to post the first video soon.  You can view some pics from the night here in the meantime.
The Old Grinding Young pic by Pier Corona

The Martyrs began recording last week. We’ve been in the studio laying down Tommy’s drums and Humphrey’s bass. Now all that’s left is guitars from Tom and me, and then finally the vocals. So…not much then!! I've also been working hard writing the new tracks for my solo album. It’s almost finished though, and I will soon be back in the studio before to long to start recording them.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Hardy Times

Lots of things are starting to come together in the TPB/Martyr's camp. This weekend we film the first Loft Session with a very special guest. We've been preparing for this for a few months and have finally got our asses in gear. The video should be cut and polished within a couple of weeks.

Work on my solo album is going well. Half of it has now been written, including a new song I finished last night about Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I came up with a melody whilst reading the book and waitied till I finished it before writing the song. If you have read the book then you will know how harrowing the story is. I am a big fan of Hardy's novels and actually wrote 'I Stuck it Out' after reading Jude the Obscure last year. I might keep the theme going. So, any ideas of which Hardy novel I should read next? It has been suggested that I should write a whole Hardy EP, called 'Hardy Times,' or 'A Hardy Rain's Gonna Fall..' I think you guys can do better than that. Answers on a postcard please...

The Martyrs start recording next week and, what seemed like an impossible task creeps into the realms of feasibility. We are hoping to start gigging again at some festivals over the Summer period and then, when our album is complete, organinsing the album launch.

Stay tuned for videos and pics of the Loft Session...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Albums Galore

It's been too long since I last put mind to screen here and not because I've been lazing around on the couch drinking fizzy pop and munching crisps..oh no! The band have been busy rehearsing and writing. We're going to get into the studio in April to start recording our debut album. This is the first time I've ever been involved in recording an album and I'm really enjoying the process. I especially like jamming the songs and writing new parts. The boys have been flexing their vocal chords too and seem to have formed a kind of ghoulish barber shop trio behind my back. Still a lot to do but we are getting there..

My solo EP 'lover' has had a couple of lovely reviews and Tom (Sharp) and I have been working on this material to form a duo set. I write a lot of songs that would never see the light of day with the Martyrs and so working on both projects has been really fulfilling. You might have heard about my three colour EP series, well, the idea now is to release one of these a year. So it'll all be a bit more spread out than first envisaged. First I'm going to record my debut solo album. It will hopefully be ready in the summer and will feature loads of unheard material and a few other Oxford artists.

If you want to read the reviews that have recently been published about the EP then walk this way.

Get ready for more music soon...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Yes! I finally have my own website that links to everything I do, solo and collaborative.  You can check it out here.  My new solo EP also recently got a review from Music in Oxford blog. Read it here.
EP II is all written and ready to be recorded. The Martyrs start recording our album on Sunday and we can't wait. Phew! Blog will resume its normal volume of banter soon.

T x

Monday, 9 January 2012

Amazing Radio: The Other Woman Show

circular disc with gray border containing the text: played on amazingradioLast night I got played on The Other Woman Show, hosted by Ruth Barnes, along with some fabulous songstresses. If you missed it then you can listen again here.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year!

My Dear Friends, Happy New Year! I hope my first missive of 2012 finds you very well indeed. I had a most refreshing Christmas vacance, taking in a little sea air and watching too much Poirot, it would seem..
While I was away I wrote a song called 'Waiting for You' and made this little video of it.
Waiting for You from Tamara Parsons-Baker on Vimeo.

It's still in its early stages (written and recorded within a few hours) so let me know what you make of it. I was thinking some cello might sound good on it..

Photo by Pier Corona
I've already played my first gig of the year. It was the Pindrop acoustic night at the Port Mahon on the 2nd January set up by Seb Reynolds. There were loads of great acts including Joe from Borderville, the Epstein, a band I saw first a year ago, Swindlestock, and the people's favourite, Huck, of course, with his new brand of baladeering. Huck's forthcoming narrative, cross-genre album of intoxicating Americana, 'Alexander the Great', is shaping up to be something quite else. You can see videos from the night here.

Swindlestock by Pier Corona
I'll be taking a little break from live performance for a month or so. I want to concentrate on recording and writing new songs. Plans for the Martyr's album are finally coming together. I can't wait to get back in the studio with the boys, o the boys.. I'm also looking forward to recording my second solo EP at the end of the month. O yeah! I have a fresh batch of my first solo EP, 'Lover', waiting to wing their way to your door. These solo EPs will form a sneaky little series. You can order the first, the white disc, from the store if you haven't already got a copy. It is available to purchase online from here. It'll also be available on Itunes "soon". I'll keep you updated..

Although I won't be performing live for a while I will be starting work on another new project "The Loft Sessions". These will be live acoustic sessions, recorded in my attic, featuring collaborations with a whole host of Oxford's finest. The first session will be up by the end of the month (fingers crossed) featuring a very talented chap I met up with before Christmas. So, till then keep on feeding "ze little grey cells, n'est-ce pas?"