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Guiding Light background  

Guiding Light came out a few weeks ago and I thought we would give you a little bit of background on the song. (available on the music page)

Declan - I originally had this idea for Guiding Light as I was walking home from Gary's house. It was hammering down as I passed by the Liverpool docks. At the time I was unemployed for a couple months and having some financial difficulties. To say I wasn't in the healthiest frame of mind would be a bit of an understatement. 

The song began forming during the trip home and when I got back, I started putting those words to paper. I had to get back up out of bed and finish it. It was one of those songs that just would not let me sleep until it was done. 

Guiding Light, for me, is a song about desperation. About seeing no way out of a situation and the only thing you have is hope, even if it's false.

Shane- One of my favourite experiences playing in this wee band of ours was playing this one night and having the audience singing the "oh ohs" at the end of the song. Gary has done a great job producing this track. It is much more complicated than our usual stuff. It's one of our oldest songs and it's been really interesting to see it evolve.

Gary - This is the first song of Declan's we have out since Blood. Another song of his that makes me wonder how many songs he has. I don't think we have had a recent song out of him recently. This is an older song that over the years we would play and then it would disappear and reappear. We have tried to record a number of times but it never sounded right. I think we got it right on this version. I have so much fun playing this with the band because we normally let it turn into a bit of a bouncy jam and because we are so comfortable playing it we can take it in a few different directions and we can add things in every now and again to try and throw the lads off. I think Claire's artwork is perfect and was blown away when she handed it to me. Claire also adds a lot to the song in the vocals so you do not have to listen to me the whole time.

Sept 23 Courtroom Cafe   Podcast

I was originally planning to do these all separately but it involved too many late nights and too many sugar highs
and sugar crashes that it all ran together a little bit. On Friday I hosted down at the magnificent Courtroom cafe for their open mic. We had a great array of talent playing all night. I do mean all night because it was still going strong after I left at 2am.I opened the night up the night with a couple of songs by myself and then finished that portion of the night off with the Like. In between we had so much good stuff. A particular highlight for me was hearing C-90 play. I thought he was fantastic with his loop pedals and am glad we got that recorded because he sounded great. I also had the pleasure of hearing the two sides to Futurejack with an acoustic set on Friday then an electric storming session the next night. I had not seen this iteration of the band before and they blew me away. Dirty, loud rock music and all the things I love. 

Ghost Town Blues
Learning to Live
When I was A Child

With The Like
Walk Home
Thought I'd Have Learnt
I know we played something else as well but I cannot remember now

I have uploaded a version of Thought I'd have learnt that we recorded from this set as well. All in all it was good craic. Thanks to Catherine, Alicia and everybody who played. The Courtroom Cafe is a kick ass venue and hopefully we can do it all again soon.

  1. Thought I'd Have Learn't

Cafe D'Arte 15th August Formby 

I am once again a little slow here on updating but hey-ho I finally made it. Thanks once again to Colin from Grateful Fred for having me play in a very warm and sunny Formby. I have been meaning to go to Cafe D’Arte for a long time and this was a fantastic chance to head over. 

 I got there early to a very stressed out Grateful Fred member doing battle with the sound. I think he got there with it and it sounded good by the time we got to show time. It was lovely to see some folks from the Southport gig again and they seemed to enjoy the solo set as well. I got to meet Brigid Mae Power and I am very doubtful that the next time you see Brigid it will be in such a small venue. She is completely in control of her voice and has a massive range. It was an beautiful and she is such a nice person. I managed to get a lift back to Liverpool with her and it was great having a wee chat with her on the drive back. Thanks to the Colvins we have video of the set as well as Adrian Wharton for their photography. Again, always impressed by their ability to make me look like one of them cool musician types. I had some really interesting conversations with folks after the gig and look forward to another Grateful Fred gig in the future.  

Waiting on The Flood  

This Far At All  

Thought I’d Have Learnt  


The Way I’m Thinking  

Faces & Names  

Open Road  

Learning To Live  

Long Way Home  

Streets of Belfast

New Single - This Far At All 

We have a new single available digitally from the 14th August called This Far At All so I thought I would share a wee bit about it before it comes out.

I started writing this song in February of 2015. It was one of those songs where the music and the first verse came instantly when I picked up the guitar. After that it took a couple more weeks to finish up. We have another song that may come out in the near future that uses the exact same chords that I started working on instead before coming back to finish This far at all. When I finished it I was concerned that it might be too personal to play out so changed a few phrases here and there to make into a song about a break-up. It didn't feel right and we are back to the song we have here.

We had tried to record this song a bunch of times but it never seemed to come out right but I think this version works really well. It is a quieter song and I think Claire's vocals add a lot to it. Speaking of Claire, she also put together the artwork for this and I think she has come up with a great interpretation of the song. I had no idea what the artwork should be for this one so Claire came up with this and it turns out it is what I wanted, I just did not know it.

The single will be available on Itunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and from our website from the 14th August.

17th June - Derek King's Album Launch 

What a great night at Liverpool Acoustic and Derek King’s album launch. It was one of those nights that reinforce why we play music. The atmosphere was great, we had fun playing and talking to old and new friends alike. If you have been to Matthew Street on a Friday night you know it can get a little intense. The View Two gallery is tucked away above all of the chaos and offers a little peacefulness in the middle of the craziness. I am surprised when people let us in, never mind give me a microphone in an art gallery. I hope I did not swear, but cannot be too sure. 

First up was a new one for me with Nicola Hardman playing. Nicola has a fantastic voice and her song “Little Fish” is one you need to hear. I think she is playing in Liverpool again in July so you need to get on that. 

Up next was our wee band, without Claire this time but with Decky filling in with backing vocals. He did his damndest but come back soon Claire, we need ye. We once again proved as a band that being in sync is just for dirty dishes but I think we had fun. Nobody liked the round table joke. Fans of Derek King clearly do not get such “sophisticated” humour! We ended with a bit of a singalong which was fun. I always get scared when it comes to crowd participation but you all sounded so pretty. 

The man of the hour was up next. It was the first time I had heard Derek play with a band. Stuart Todd donned the hat and shades taking up bass duty and the hugely talented Rachael Dunn sang along with him. Her voice added so much to Derek’s songs from both his first and second albums. The Seasons song is a particular standout and I am looking forward to sitting down and playing the full album later today. I hope everyone picked up a copy of the album, they were on the piano by the way. 

Thanks to Derek for having us, Stuart Todd for the sound and Graham Holland for all the excellent work he puts in at Liverpool Acoustic and in answering so many of my questions. Massive thanks to View Two Gallery for being an awesome hideaway on Matthew Street and a big “cheers hi” for everyone that came along and helped us get Seasons up and running with a good wee launch night. 

Streets of Belfast 
The way I'm thinking 
Thought I'd have learned 
Hometown boy 
This far at all 
Guiding light 

Next up I am off to Glasgow to play some songs by myself on Tuesday.

New setlists & Videos 

A couple of new updates on the site. Quite a number of videos added to the video section after our wee gig at the atkinson from the 1st June including "This Far at All" and as always Declan spends most of his time lurking in the shadows. 

SMART NI Single 

Stephen McElroy Appreciation and Remembrance Team. 

Last year we lost a wee fella who was only making his way in the world. Stephen McElroy was a cousin of mine who passed away at 11 with his whole life ahead of him. I didn’t know Stephen that well. I moved to Liverpool he was 1 and would only see him at family events. Any time i spent with Stephen he was always happy and up for a game of football. He was (almost) better than me. As talented as he was i will argue that the 2 or 3 times he rounded me with a ball at his feet were a fluke. His family  have set up the charity SmartNI to remember Stephen by raising money to build a football pitch and Stephen’s primary school as well as for Cruse Bereavement Care, who offer free counselling and support to families who have lost someone. 

Black Jeans & Cigarette Smoke 

We are hoping to help raise a bit of money by putting out this song and all money made will go to SMART NI. The song was written about Stephen’s uncle who passed away in 2013. It seems like a nice fit to use the song about his uncle to raise money for Stephen’s charity and keep our Seamus’ memory alive at the same time. There will be two versions of Black Jeans, an electric version with the band and acoustic version recorded just by myself. Both will be available to download or stream from Itunes, Spotify, Amazon and google play as well as the other usual places. It is available on our music page  for download with a pay as much as you like option with a minimum amount of £2.00 for both songs. All money raised will go to SMART NI.  So get involved, If you are going to use Spotify to give it a listen then leave it streaming all day. Either way give it a listen and raise some money for a very worthwhile cause.

Keep her Lit 


Been away Too Long 

Hi All
Wish I could say we have been busy over the past couple of months. Things have gotten a little bit quiet. On the plus side we have now got enough songs to get stuck into a new EP. It is just a case of getting ourselves together and recording it. Also, we have something else that I hope you will be supportive of coming up in the next week or so. We will let you know more once we get everything finalised. Until then, here is a video of one of the newer songs recorded by Chris Everett for Riverside Sessions a while ago. 

18th May -Sound, Duke Street 

After quickly running across town from yoga to get to Sound, we had a great night of banter, Cups of tea and hot chocolate. It was the first time I have seen Stuart Todd play with the band. I really enjoyed hearing the bass player on them songs. Great sets as well from Jamie Clague who is very energetic and plays a very pretty guitar. Great to hear Cal Ruddy again who is taller than I remembered. First time I heard Pete King as well. Derek King puts on a great night. It is every Monday night and there is open mic as well so get down there.

I think this is the third time we have played as a full band this year. I wanted to try playing newer songs and songs we dont normally play. This would usually mean the songs either trip us up or there is a reason we dont play them but they worked a treat for the most part on Monday night. Now we just have to get out and playing a bit more and keep at it.

Black Jeans & Cigarette Smoke
I thought I'd have learned
This far at all
Let the Music Play On
Taking no hurt
Guiding Light

Why do I play music? 

I am sure everyone would give you a different answer if you asked them. I am sure people's reasons for playing change over time. Some people do it because they love performing, some people do it because they want to be a star, some people play because it's a hobby and something to put the evenings in doing. Some people, infinitely cooler than me can say they "do it for the music."

When someone who isn't a musician asks about it sooner or later you will get "So, how much do you get paid?" If you play original music I really doubt anyone would answer the above question by saying they only do it for the money. I normally make enough money to get home again, if the venue is within walking distance.

I was talking with another musician on the Liverpool scene who I had not seen in a while about what they had been up to and like me, they had not been playing out as much as they used to and we started talking about why. For most of us this is a hobby and the empty rooms, the cliques and the politics of it all can take away our motivation. . At the very least this can become a good excuse you tell yourself so you can sit in the house all night and do nothing. It is right up there with "I don't have time anymore." I was telling myself that but still managing to squeeze a couple of games of Fifa and watch an hour or two of TV.

Realistically though it is has a lot more to do with confidence. When you lose belief in yourself playing is absolutely no fun. Confidence is not the only thing that goes away though, the love for music can also disappear. Most of us are writing and performing our own songs because music is a big part of our lives so it can be tough when it makes you doubt yourself. All these things mixed in with some personal stuff going on meant I was not playing out as much I and starting to drift away from music which leads me to back to the question "Why do I play music?"

For starters I have met hundreds of different people that I probably would not have If I was not out and about playing music. Most of these people I now call my friends and it is great to run into them or find out you are playing on the same gig. The impromptu jams that have taken place before or after gigs have been tremendous. Sometimes even before you learn someone's name you can be ten minutes into playing a song. I also love hearing other people's interpretations of life and how they tell it through original songs. I've had the privilege of jamming with some incredibly talented musicians while trying to learn, and not mess up their songs.

I know people getting married who met on the local scene. Even in our wee band we have Claire and Declan who met at a gig because they were both on the same bill. Claire now plays in our band and I have gone from being the third best, to the fourth best musician in Gary Maginnis & The Like, even though my name is first! These relationships are formed because you meet like minded people in pubs and clubs starting out talking about music and then whatever else. This is what make it worthwhile. You can go through life and never meet these people and end up closed off from their ideas and their songs.

I have had people come up to me after sets and talk about how a song reminded them of someone or they really related to a line in it. Then they tell you their stories and sometimes these can be incredibly personal. This has been really helpful for me and hopefully I have not bored the arses off them. I have had some of the most interesting conversations after a gig and learnt a lot from this.

The other reason I play is because of the situations and places I find myself in that I would have missed out on. Some of them good, some bad and some you are just happy to get out of but these all turn into stories. Be it sitting in with a Scottish trad band with no idea on how to play the songs but having a great time anyway, to having older men offering to take you home or missing your last train home and talking shite on a long walk with someone you have just played on the same night with.

Because I don't drink it can be very easy to just stay out of bars and clubs. With music I have not only had a reason for going but I have been made welcome by everyone even as I sip my glasses of water. There are some cafes I would never have thought of going to, but they had live music so in I go. There have been bars I would have passed by but if someone I know is playing I am going to drop in. I have played in art galleries and historical buildings and have seen rooms I did not know existed. It is cool to play in a basement bar but is equally fun to play in a room surrounded by monuments and paintings. Most importantly though I have open invitations to go back to so many different places and I might have to take people up on that sometime soon.

It can be really easy to doubt yourself when you think no-one is listening. When you lose confidence in what you are doing and questioning why bother. Stop and think about all the experiences that you could have missed out on, the people you might never have met, the people you now call your friends. At least that is what I am going to try to do.

Hayes Carll put it very well in a song
I meet some wild people out here
Some that I pretend to know and others more sincere
A few that downright scare me and some that I hold dear
I meet some wild people out here

I started writing this blog as a bit of a general viewpoint but I may have gotten more personal than I expected to so I might as well finish it with something personal. My wife has heard me working away on some songs over the past few weeks and she smiles and say it is great to hear me playing guitar again.

So that is why I play music. Maybe it would have been cooler to just say"I do it for the music."