Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year Baby!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Magic in the Air

As the festive season is fast approaching, it's good to begin to take stock of the year gone by and start to look ahead to the coming year. For The Summats, January 2015 will see the release of a new single, 'You Could Be James Dean'. This track, featuring Becky Dawson on lead vocals, was completed in October and is just about ready to roll.

As mentioned in the previous blog, this is Becky's first lead vocal on a Summats release and she has given a wonderful performance, the track also features some outstanding and very haunting lead guitar work from John Kettle. We are so looking forward to you hearing it, however given the impending festivities, we thought a January release would be wise, hopefully it will be worth the wait.

Becky in the studio
We haven't recorded a new festive song this year, although we really did intend to, time just got away from us. Rest assured, there are new tracks on the way, and we will be looking to be back in the Christmas song song business next year.

Something new which is very much available this Christmas is a short ebook I have written entitled 'Christmas Magic in the Air'. The book, which I am incredibly proud of, covers the whole back story around the writing, recording and release of 'All I Want Is Christmas'. We have had such great success with it that I thought it was worth putting pen to paper (metaphorically of course, I actually used a computer!) to let you all in on what has been a roller-coaster ride since the day we wrote it. I've shared a great deal of memories and anecdotes from playing in our first bands together way back in the 80's, which included sharing a stage with Rick Astley and takes us right up to the present day. Primarily it is based around what has been a tremendously popular song for us but there are also some great tips for budding songwriters and hopefully you will find a few amusing anecdotes which will give you a giggle as well as a real insight into the songwriting process. The book is available from Amazon in the Kindle store, if you don't have a kindle eBook reader, not to worry, you can download the free Kindle app from the Amazon store which will allow you to read the book on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Who knows, some of you who have supported us from the beginning may even be mentioned. There is certainly a big mention in there for Tunecore who act on our behalf as both our distributors and publishing administrators, we couldn't have done it without you guys.

With the above in mind I would like to say a huge thank you to all you wonderful people who have supported The Summats from day one, downloading our music, reading and sharing our blogs and Facebook updates etc. As a very special thank you,  'Christmas Magic in the Air' is available as a free download for the next five days, after which it will go back to its usual Amazon store selling price around the world. I hope you will take the opportunity to download the book whilst it is free and if you enjoy it,  please rate and review it afterwards, that will certainly help it on its way.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing 'Christmas Magic in the Air, the writing process, as far as books go, is obviously new to me but it is amazing how much detail comes back once you begin trawling your memories, I can definitely recommend it. It is very time consuming, which is something I never seem to have enough of, however it was written over two summer holidays in 2013 and 2014, writing a story about a Christmas song whilst sitting by the pool in Italy was an interesting experience to say the least! Hope you enjoy the book.

Our friends over at Segal Gardens have done us proud in their Christmas video. Damo Cummings has been a big supporter of The Summats over the past few years and really has done a brilliant job using 'All I Want is Christmas' as the soundtrack, You can check out their video at Summats Songs

Also worth checking out our friends over at, the site is very supportive of The Summats and is also a great place to hear brand new Christmas music.

Good to see that Band aid is going all out to help worthy causes again this year, the track is possibly not as strong as in years gone by given the lyric changes and the new lineup, but, well, who cares! It's for a great cause.
On that note, I will sign off by wishing each and every one of you a fantastic Christmas and

Hope that you have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015.
Thank you  for your support.
Take care and keep smiling

Saturday, 1 November 2014

You Could Be James Dean

The end of October saw us back in the studio to work on a new single entitled 'You Could Be James Dean'. 

The track features Becky Dawson on lead vocals and will again be produced by the brilliant John Kettle formerly of Wigan band 'The Tansads' and now a integral part of 'Merry Hell' when he isn't producing.

It's almost a year since we were last in the studio and it is good to get back to producing music again. The song was actually written about four years ago whilst I was still living in Australia but has never been far from my mind, I have been looking for an opportunity to get it recorded, Becky has produced some great vocals on it, the song is available from all good digital stores! Worth noting that it is also a big moment for Becky as it is the first time she has taken lead on a Summats single. Go Becks!

John and his band 'Merry Hell' have recently worked on 'The Armistice Pals'. This is a wonderful recording and reworking of Pete Seegers 'Where have all the flowers gone' and is to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war. In addition to John and his band mates, some of Britain's finest folk singers have contributed to the track, they were all joined by the late Pete Seeger's sister Peggy. It is a wonderful piece of work and and all proceeds from the single which you can downloaded here, will go to some very worthy charities not least of which is the British Red Cross.

Very sad to hear of the passing of Alvin Stardust earlier this week. The 70's glam rock star always seemed to be a thoroughly decent guy as well as great live entertainer and hit maker. His cover of 'Pretend' in 1981 was a brilliant track and one of my favorite singles of the 80's. Very sad to see him go before his time.

Last year the lovely people from Segal Gardens, which is a specialist residential and care facility in St. Helens, Merseyside, used our track 'Happy New Year Baby' in their festive video. Recently we were contacted again by Damian Cummings from Segal Gardens to ask if they may use 'All I Want Is Christmas' in this years video. We were more than happy to allow our music to be used and will share with you once Damian has completed work on the video.

The story of our Christmas song and the success we have had with it is the subject of a book I have written titled 'Christmas Magic in the Air'. It will be a short Kindle eBook and is scheduled for release in December if we can complete the final drafts and editing. The song has done some amazing things for us and gone to heights we could have only dreamed of, hopefully it will make for both a entertaining read and a interesting insight into the songwriting process, particularly for any budding songwriters out there.

Look out for both the book and the new single 'You Could Be James Dean' soon. Until then...

Take care and keep smiling


Monday, 30 December 2013

Happy New Year Baby!

The end of year post, a time for reflection and looking towards 2014 with hope and expectations for the future.

The year is ending on something of a high for The Summats, All I Want Is Christmas - Single  had another awesome festive season, the views racking up on YouTube and the song continues to sell well across the world. People have been very kind with their comments and appreciation and seem to love this song more every year for which we are very grateful. DJ Dave Monks from BBC radio Merseyside also played it on the 21st December, our first BBC airplay, to say we were delighted would a huge understatement!
Our new festive track,  Happy New Year Baby  is also performing wonderfully, the single is selling really well across the globe with downloads coming from the UK and all the way across to Australia and the United States, we have high hopes for new years eve!

The song features Sam and Becky on the vocals and was produced by John Kettle at Jaraf House studios in Wigan. John was formerly the driving force behind Wigan band The Tansads, he is now a member and primary songwriter for the excellent Merry Hell, check out his work, you won't regret it.

We were very humbled when Damian Cummings from Segal Gardens, Berry Bridge & Oakwood - HWCGS Care contacted us to enquire if he may use "Happy New Year Baby' as a backing track for his festive video, we were delighted to be included, you can check out the vid here Segal Gardens.

 Our special thanks also go to Sammi Walsh at SJW Photos. Sammi along with her best friend and able assistant Amy held a Summats photoshoot in December, see left. One of Sammi's shots was also chosen as the cover for Happy New Year Baby.

Sammi is a extremely
talented photographer, who primarily specialises in music pics but can turn her hand to just about any other genre. We are hoping to work with her again for a new single early next year for which she will also be helping us out with the video.
Check out her site and drop her a mail if you would like to work with this amazingly talented young lady.

We would also like to thank each and every one of you for your support throughout this year, we appreciate you all and we certainly hope we have entertained you along the way.

Take care, keep smiling and may we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very safe, healthy and Happy New Year Baby!



Saturday, 17 August 2013

It's only rock n roll.....Cardiff

We made our first visit, both to Cardiff and more specifically, the Millennium stadium recently, here's the lowdown. 

Second Severn Crossing
My daughter and I set off around midday on the 23rd July for the 3ish hour drive to Cardiff. The reason for the journey, Bruce Springsteen and the E street band were in town for the latest show in the Wrecking ball tour which has now been running since early 2012. The highlight of the drive was undoubtedly the Severn bridge crossing which is a magnificent piece of engineering by anyone's standards and is a very impressive way of crossing from England into Wales.  Norman Haste, was the man who led the construction of this iconic structure.
We arrived at the Premier inn, Caerphilly, which is around 9 miles away from Cardiff, around the 3.30pm mark, we had no choice other than to book into a hotel outside the city as the ones in town were either full or had hiked their prices to an extortionate rate due to the event. However, this wasn't too much of a problem, the lady on reception couldn't have been more helpful, after checking us in she asked if we were here to see Bruce Springsteen which was answered in the affirmative, she then gave us advice on getting the train from Caerphilly to Cardiff and even booked us a taxi cab to get to the station, lovely staff, great service!
The cab dropped us off at the station and I asked the porter when the last train was going to be heading back from Cardiff that night, for anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few decades, the length of Springsteen's shows are the stuff of legend, generally on this tour averaging around three and a half hours, although in Helsinki, he played for over four! The porter gave me the 'off the record' nod that officially the last train was 11.15pm although there is a further and extra 'last train' at 11.50, we were very pleased to hear this although why it was such a secret is anyone's guess.

The Rummer Tavern
Leaving the train at the Queens street station, to be honest, it looked like the city centre so we got off, we were originally heading for central. First impressions strolling around the city centre were good, this is a very nice city! After a long journey it was time for a wee drink and the first port of call was the' Rummer Tavern', according to the pub itself, The oldest in Cardiff no less. (We won't mention the Irish bar just up the road which made the same claim) However, the pub is three centuries old, a good old boozer, lovely atmosphere inside and the barman was more than helpful in providing us with directions to the Millennium stadium. I was tempted to go for one of the cask ales on the bar but it was a beautiful warm  summers day in Cardiff so we opted for a pint of Carling, which at just over £3.25 wasn't the most expensive drink we've ever had. I did have reason to visit the WC during our short stay, which provided ample proof to me that the pub actually was over three centuries old! Without allowing that to cloud judgement, the Rummer Tavern is a very nice city centre pub, definitely worth a visit if you are in town. You will find it directly opposite Cardiff castle which is right in the heart of the city. A Rummer is a toasting glass for wine, believed to have originated in central Europe in the 16th century.

We made our way towards the stadium, the barman was spot on with directions. There are a a number of very good bars, cafe's etc around the stadium but we settled for 'Revolution' which I'm sure later in the evening is a bustling bar full of the beautiful people, but early evening it looked like it was a comfortable place with lots of space to get something to eat. We went for one of Revolution's signature dishes, which, believe it or not, is a vodka pizza. As gross as this sounds,  it was delicious! The service could have been better at Revolution to be honest, we were told there would be a 25 minute wait for food which wasn't a problem with us, however the beers arrived after the food, which certainly was a problem, they had actually been given to another table. However, the waitress was very apologetic and that aside, the food was excellent.

We made our back out into the street and up the road to the stadium, the first thing which became apparent was the distinct lack of vendors selling unofficial 'merch' outside the stadium, not sure if this has been a conscious effort by the powers that be, maybe someone could enlighten me.

Prized Possession!
After handing over the much prized tickets and the lady's bag had been thoroughly searched! (check previous blogs for that reference, we entered the stadium.

The 'official' merch stands both inside and just outside the stadium were all out of medium sizes which was a bit of a downer for me, the sizes which were available were pricey, 25 quid a pop, (man of the people?) my daughter picked up a great ladies t-shirt for ten pounds! Best value by a mile from any gig we've been to over the past few years or so we thought, days later when she checked closer, the shirt was from the gig in Coventry back in June which should absolutely have been pointed out to her when she bought it. Whoever is responsible for running the merchandising for the 'Wrecking Ball' tour, shame on you.

Once we entered the main area of the venue we could see that the stage was at approximately the half way line, and the stadium roof was closed which would certainly assist the acoustics. We were able to walk around the left hand side of the main crowd and ended up with a really good view, about 60 to 70 feet from the left hand side of the stage, result!

Bruce and the band took to the stage at 7.40pm to 'This little light of mine' following up with 'Long Walk Home', my favourite track from the 'Magic album and one of a number of surprise inclusions along with 'Tougher than the rest' and 'Ramrod'. A sign request for 'TV movie' was duly delivered, the first and only time this track has ever been played live! 'Because its ridiculous!' said the man himself.
'Hungry Heart' and 'My City of Ruins' was delivered before Bruce was joined onstage by Eric Burdon from 60's group 'The Animal's' for a tremendous version of 'We got to get out of this place' which was delivered such a volume by the crowd, it would have done the usual inhabitants of the Millennium stadium proud! Great to see Eric Burdon, one of the few genuine British blues singers, still going strong. If you don't know the animals stuff, would definitely recommend checking them out. Most Of The Animals.
The night rolled on with the band in top form, 'Pay Me My Money Down' was a joy, then the lights came up for the final segment of the show and Bruce instructed anyone left in the place who was still sitting down to 'get up off of your welsh asses and lets see what you got!'. 'Born To Run', 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-out', and the pure theatre that 'Dancing in the Dark' has now become came and went in a blur. More than three and a half hours had passed when the band left the stage to leave the main man alone to close out the show with outstanding acoustic versions of 'Janey, don't you lose heart' and the simply stunning 'Thunder Road'. 

It's Boss Time!
It's incredibly difficult to explain the impact of a Springsteen show, the almost life affirming quality of a evening spent simply being part of this rock n roll extravaganza is hard to put into words. I've spent most of their lives trying to explain how good this band is live to our daughters, now both of them have seen for themselves what I was going on about all that time. Our eldest daughter, this time making the trip with me for her first Springsteen gig, left the stadium without a voice after singing and dancing the night away to many songs she was hearing for the first time. If you haven't seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform, do yourself and huge favour and catch them while you still can. I would also like to make special mention of the venue, very organised and comfortable environment to watch a show at what is essentially a sports arena, first class work Millennium Stadium

We headed to Central station and didn't have to wait long before the 'secret' last train arrived and we boarded for the journey back to Caerphilly. The only drawback of the secret train was that it was so secret, the local taxi drivers didn't know about and the taxi rank was completely deserted at the station. However, the nice lady from the premier inn had also given us a business card for a local taxi company, so the wait wasn't too long.

One of the best blogs I've picked up on over the past few months is Burgers and bruce, a food and travel blog with a strong leaning towards the boss. The lady who writes the blog actually got to meet the great man recently, well worth checking out.

The Summats single, 'Nothing's Changed' is doing very well, many thanks to everyone who has downloaded the track, you know we appreciate each and every one of you. We expect to be in the studio in September working on a EP and we are very excited to be working on a new festive song for 2013!

My songwriting partner Toe (Tony Brown) has finally picked up royalties for Australian TV airplay of All I Want Is Christmas, back in 2010,  I unfortunately have not, my royalties, I think, are with Tunecore who handle my publishing admin. The upshot of all this is I need a tax code from the U.S., Uncle Sam, I'll be in touch from blighty so sharpen the pencil!. Seriously, trying to get our royalties, PRS, publishing all worked out over the past couple of years has been a interesting journey, with some really good lessons for any new songwriters out there, but that most certainly will be subject to a blog all on it own! In the meantime, if you need advice now, this article will be very useful to you as a starting point

Till next time, take care and keep smiling!


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Camden Town

A weekend in the capital.... 

We visited London a few weeks ago, primarily to see The Fratellis at the Electric ballroom, but also to spend some time in the still, oh so very cool, Camden Town, here's the lowdown.
After a pleasant morning road trip from the North West to the South of England we arrived in London, capital of our green and pleasant land. Mistake number 1, don't drive into central London on a weekday, one reason, you'll be stung by the congestion charge and another, 25 quid a pop to park is no chuckling matter by anyone's standards. Well OK, if you are HRH you probably don't have to pay the congestion charge and your house is in the middle of town with a parking space, but if that's not you, don't do it! Park and ride in or take the train. I already knew all this as I tend to spend quite a lot of time there these days, so no excuses for me!

Following food and a couple of wet ones in O'Neill's, which is very fine establishment close to St. Pancras, it was back to the hotel for quick shower, change and out again, Took the northern line from Kings Cross, St. Pancras to Camden town station. The Electric ballroom is located at 184 Camden High Street,  a 30 second walk from the tube station, but even at this short distance it becomes clear that Camden is no ordinary town, the place was buzzing, people...some very strange people at that... were everywhere. The mandatory touts outside the venue to be ignored, one guy busking Oasis songs, quite random I thought outside of a Fratellis gig and lots and lots of very interesting shops.

We handed over the tickets and the ladies bags were thoroughly searched! We made our way down the ramp into the bowels of the venue, which incidentally, the local council keep trying to demolish, apparently they need to extend the tube station, seemed big enough when we passed through it! The venue has a bar off to the right of the stage and another one right at the back which we made for. The merch stand was selling t-shirts at 15 quid a pop, nice one Fratellis. Service at the bar was excellent, and with a smile, well done Electric Ballroom, good customer service doesn't take much and makes all the difference.
What a cracking place to see a rock band it is, all the attributes and atmosphere of a old school rock n roll hall which no matter how hard they try, the O2, Manchester Arena or similar places will never equal. The venue, which dates back to the 1930's, has seen a veritable who's who of rock n roll playing there, U2, The Clash, Phil Lynott, The Boomtown Rats, Joy Division, Oasis, The Smiths, Madness, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Public Enemy, Blur, Supergrass, Garbage to name a but a small few. Wings and Led Zeppelin have also used the place as rehearsal rooms! fancy that! I was very impressed to say the least and very pleased to have added this awsome place to the list of rock venues we have visited.
The Electric Ballroom, which was originally known as the Buffalo club, dates back to the 1930's when it was purchased by promotional  legend Bill Fuller, Fuller, who among a number of other places of note, e.g. San Francisco's Fillmore West, owned the club right up until his death in 2008 at the age of 91. The venue has also always been popular with the local Greek community, using it to hold wedding recptions, George Michael's sister held her's there.
The Fratellis took to the stage at approximately 9pm, opening up and rocking the rafters with 'Henrietta' quickly followed by 'Creeping up the backstairs'. we've seen this band now on numerous occasions, in various cities, even various countries and they never disappoint, they ripped through the usual set taken from their first two albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in, or at least they were new to me.'Whisky Saga' and 'This Old Ghost Town'.
So, perfect venue, stomping rock n roll band ripping up the place, what more could you want. Well
actually, you could do without the coked up tools who insist on wasting money buying tickets for gigs, then spend the whole event out of their faces spoiling everyone else's enjoyment. After about 40 minutes of trying to see around a constantly swaying pair of no marks in front of us, we retired to the bar, where we could still see the band and have a drink at the same time, this was after the pocket dynamo known amongst other names as my Mrs, had delivered a few strategically placed digs to the ribs of the aforementioned tools, that's my girl! Now you may be thinking it was just because we are getting past rocking it up in the middle of a crowd, however, the three twenty somethings we were with followed us to the bar ten minutes later! Despite the issues with persons in the crowd, The Fratellis were brilliant yet again. Top band! 

The next day was spent at Camden markets, what a treat this place is. We've always loved spending time walking around markets, but this is something else. Alternative fashion, vintage clothing, music, you name it, Camden Market has it in abundance. You could easily spend a whole day there walking around the stalls and shops. I picked up a vintage jacket for only ten of the Queen's English pounds, the label in it said made in Yugoslavia, can't get any more vintage than that, the country hasn't existed for over twenty years! The only dampener was the weather, it was lashing down, but as a lot of the markets are covered it wasn't too much of an issue. However, we will look forward to going back when the weather is fine to spend the whole day there.

After a hard days shopping it was only right to go the pub for lunch! We first tried the World's End which is a pub roughly about the size of a football pitch and worth a visit all on its own! Unfortunately the kitchen was closed for refurbishment and we were starving, so after downing a quick pint we headed across the road to the Camden Eye, a lovely pub right in the heart of things which has almost a goldfish bowl like feel, the curved high windows allow you to look out onto Camden High Street, people watching, as you sup a fine ale and tuck into a pizza from the wood fired oven. The customer service, food and atmosphere of the Camden Eye is first class. A top place to hang out, highly recommended.
Later on in the evenng we were passed on the street by Julian Clary nipping into Sainsbury's, Clary has had a place in Camden for many years and has retained it even after all his much deserved success, which kind of tells you how very cool this town is.We really wanted to say hi to him as we've been big fans since way back in the dark ages.. or the 80's as we called them then, however, he looked in a rush and we didn't want to bother the guy so alas no pic for the blog.

We had dinner along Camden high street in a lovely mexican restaurant, Ay Caramba which has a really fun atmosphere, great food and lively typically mexician/Americas music playing. The place was packed when we arrived and we fully expected to be turned away as it was Friday night and didn't have a reservation, but the waiter asked us to wait for two minutes, then proceeded to squeeze us expertly into really nice table before bringing us sombreros to wear, which was a fun touch. Again first class customer service from another establishment in Camden. All in all, we thoughourly enjoyed our visit to Camden Town and will most certainly be back in the near future.

The Summats new single 'Nothings Changed' is out and available at all good online stores for download or streaming, very pleased to report that the feedback we have received on it has been first class to date. Nice to get a new track out there, there is definitely an EP to follow before too long! The track also marks the debut for the latest addition to The Summats line-up, Becky Dawson on backing vocals along with Sam. Watch out for a track titled 'You Could Be JD' featuring Becky on lead vocals which will be on the next EP

'Nothing's Changed'  was produced by Fractured Calm aka Danny Wyatt who has done a brilliant  job for us with the mix, please check out Danny's own work at soundcloud, we certainly hope to work with Danny again soon. The artwork for this single, was created by blogger extraodinaire, photographer and now budding artist  MrBen09,  we think it is an inspired piece of work. You can check out the video for the single at this link on Youtube

If you enjoyed the post or have listened to the new track, please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Until next time, take care and keep Smiling