Snow (double haiku)

Snow on the Dyke-backs

Prophesying its return

And see, it comes now

For those who might not know, the dyke-backs are the sides of the short hills or ditches which, in winter, never get direct sunlight. As a result, snow takes longer to melt on these small sections of Northumbrian landscape. Around here, is taken almost as a given that seeing the snow remain on the dyke-backs, when it has melted everywhere else, means that it will likely snow again before the weather improves and the world gets warmer on it’s path towards the spring.

And while it stays cold, the frost can do strangely wonderful feats to your car…

Frosting cold and white

Nature’s stencil on metal

Accidental art

A year of books (October-December)

Can you believe it? 2020 is over, and what a year !

No gigs since March, continuing to carry out my music therapy work in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, while the world is turned on it’s head… But there have been books. Previous installments of this series can be found here:

Even in my time not working, stuck at home, I feel like I’ve had less time to read (children take up your entire day if work doesn’t). So unlike some of my bibliophile friends, I’d sy I’ve read less in 2020, compared to previous years. Despite this, I’ve certainly enjoyed taking stock of every title I’ve read (with the exception of music therapy and psychotherapy books – I might provide some recommendations from those fields in a specialist interest article in the future). I well might continue this habit in 2021.

But for now, here are the non work-related titles I managed to read in the final quarter of 2020…

What we talk about when we talk about books: the history and future of reading by Leah Price (2019, Basic)

An interesting rebuttal to the common cries of “print is dead”, highlighting the ever-changing use of the book as an object and as an idea. The book is full of interesting information. For example, did you know that self-help books from local libraries are prescribed by the NHS in Wales to help treat depression? Price turns this tidbit into an entire chapter, although whether or not this needed an entire chapter is up for debate. The chapters feel like a compilation of essays which feel like they’ve been extended to make this ‘book worthy’. And for a book about the history and future of reading, padding out the chapters with repeated information feels like the author is doing her subject an injustice. This short book could have been even shorter, but less repetitive, and no less interesting as a result.

Finally, the middle ‘interleaf’ chapter uses the interesting device of running the text across both pages before starting a new line. This takes a little getting used to, not least because the text doesn’t always line up correctly between the left and right pages. Interesting, but perhaps only for skimming through.

Bue remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds (2012, Gollancz)

I’ve read a few science fiction novels by Reynolds, such as the brilliant standalone book House of Sun’s. His experience before becoming a full-time author – namely his PhD in astrophysics and his work with the European Space Agency – mean that he can add an element of realism to what is obviously a fictional piece of work. Indeed, he has been quoted as saying he prefers to stick to writing about only the future technologies he believes to be possible (so light speed travel rarely makes an appearance in his work). This first novel in Reynold’s Poseidon’s Children trilogy sticks largely to that sensibility, while still encompassing some brilliantly fantastical elements such as off-world settlements and trans-human experimentation.

Set around a century or so into the future, the two main characters are brother and sister, heirs to a large family dynasty in Africa, now one of the world’s main centres of economic power. The death of their grandmother leads them on a trail away from Earth, to colonies on the Moon, as well as Mars and its two moons. Utopia, mystery and afrofuturism are combined in an intelligently written and well paced novel. I’ll be adding the next two novels in the series to my ever-expanding ‘to read’ pile…

The mirror and the light by Hilary Mantel (2020, Fourth Estate)

I’ve been waiting a while to read this, not least because the release of this novel, the final of Mantel’s ‘Cromwell Trilogy’, was pushed back more than once. But then, if the first two instalments of your historical fiction trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies) both win the Booker Prize for fiction, you want to make sure the last book is the best it can be. I can confirm that this novel is as good as it’s two predecessors.

The first book looked at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to become the senior advisor of Henry VIII, the second continued his survival at the top while accruing further positions of high office. This final novel deals with the last four years of Cromwell’s life, starting at the exact moment Bring Up The Bodies ended – the beheading of Anne Boleyn. It shouldn’t be much of a spoiler to say that Henry VIII turns on Cromwell – history suggests that he seems to do so on almost everyone around him, given enough time. Yet even though you might know (or could certainly guess) the ending, the journey there is so wonderfully written that you won’t mind. Mantel employs a [articular style of first person that can be a little difficult to get used to, but it’s worth persevering as it soon becomes normal, and fits the story (told from Cromwell’s perspective) perfectly.

The Mirror And The Light is a rich novel, full of detail, intrigue and a huge cast of characters. It marks a wonderful end to a fantastic trilogy of books. It remains to be seen if Mantel can get the ‘Booker hat-trick’ with this novel, but prizes aside, this book should be required reading for all fans of historical fiction, literary fiction, or indeed just good old-fashioned fiction.

Dave Brubeck: a life in time by Philip Clark (2020, Headline)

This newly-released biography of the famous jazz performer and composer was a Christmas present, and as a result, I haven’t finished it yet! However, although I’m only a third of the way in, I’m finding it an absorbing read so far. I believe fans of the jazz genre would be similarly interested in this book, which shows how much more there is to Brubeck beyond his most famous piece, Take Five. Sometimes dismissed in the past by jazz lovers who prefer who improvisation of bebop legends Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and so on, Clark’s tome will help with the current restoration of reputation Brubeck (or rather his life and body of work) is currently experiencing. Brubeck was an devotee to music as an art form, and a lifelong anti-racist. Given the circumstances we find currently ourselves in, a renewed respect for Brubeck couldn’t come at a better time. I’m looking forward to quickly finishing this book in the first few days of 2021.

So there you have it. That’s around twenty books I’ve read in 2020 (that aren’t related to music therapy). Having counted them up, it definitely feels like less than a typical year – but then, 2020 has been a far from typical year!

As always, I’d love to hear what all of you are currently reading, as well as your thoughts on any of the titles I’have mentioned in these summaries.

Happy new year and happy reading!

Reblog: Freeze – The Nick Gladdish Band

A brief view of the recording project I’ve been involved in, told by bass player from the same band (and dear friend), Groovebox Adam:

Freeze – The Nick Gladdish Band

I feel like my entire musical career has been an endless challenge to do what I can under unfavourable circumstances. So when the pandemic hit I couldn’t believe how many of the bands I played with went into total hibernation, vowing to get back on it when things blew over at some hypothetical moment in […]

Freeze – The Nick Gladdish Band

‘Freeze’ by Nick Gladdish is available online NOW, in all the usual places.

New single ‘Freeze’ released this Sunday (20.12.20)

The Nick Gladdish Band are finally releasing the second single from our upcoming album, Last One Get The Lights, after a little over two months of recording, overdubbing, mixing and mastering!

The song is called Freeze, and will be available via all the usual online streaming outlets such as Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Deezer, etc…

This record has been delayed because of COVID19. The first lead single for this album was released last year! But somehow, in the middle of a pandemic (and adhering to social distancing rules), we managed to get the other ten tracks compeleted. I can’t wait to start sharing them with you!

In fact, after you’ve searched for Nick Gladdish and found the song, why not save him / follow him? We’ll have a new single coming out on the last Friday of the month for the first part of 2021, until the album Last One Get The Lights is released in April or May!

Listen to the first single, Blurry Lines, here on Spotify.

Back in the studio (part 4)

The final piece of the album is now in place. Backing vocalist Shannon Powell has added her amazing talents to the new Nick Gladdish Band album.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with Shannon’s vocal prowess would do well to check out her project YUMA (a collaboration with NG Band drummer & producer John Timney)

Cover art

Nick also revealed the main painting being used for the album cover, created by Kristin Designs

Album cover art for ‘Last One Get The Lights’

Next steps

We’ve already reviewed the ‘first pass’ of the mixed tracks, and discussed changes. The second attempt is currently ongoing, now with Shannon’s vocals added, which gives us the full picture. To my ears, these tracks need very little fixing now. Most of the big tweaks & redos have already been taken care of.

Once the mixing is finalised, the next step is mastering the overall album. After this, the first single can be released. Details to follow soon…

At the same time, the cover art and lyric booklet are being designed and formatted. However, this is a slightly less pressing issue because the album won’t be released until the start of 2021.

Earlier installments in this mini series

More updates as they happen…