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More Than Kind  

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So it has been a while since we shared some new music and this is a bit of a quieter one with just me playing on it. I wrote this song after thinking about all the great people I have met and friends I have made from playing music particularly in Liverpool. So many people have made me feel welcome and at home here that I thought I would write a wee song about it. We used to run an open mic night down at the Lomax in Liverpool and before and after each night we would sit around a table and play each other’s songs. There were many of nights where we would be well into a song before anyone had the chance to introduce themselves, nevermind say hello. This has happened at many other venues places over the years where the staff have to kick us out at closing. It just so happens that Frank down at the Lomax wouldn’t kick you out but would come over and join in as well for a song or two so there is a little reference to him in there. Normally I can be one of the worst in the world for negativity but when I step back and think about it, I have met some amazing people over the years that am still lucky to call friends today. 

 

 

3rd Jan- The Atkinson - Southport 

What a lovely night over at the Atkinson in the company of Grateful Fred. A gig that was so last minute that we did not even have time to for the Like to assemble. For the first gig of the year to be in this venue is a good way to kick off 2018. But before we get to the fun of onstage we have to get to the venue. For those who are organised this will probably seem like nothing but for me, trying to get out the door was probably the hardest part of the whole night. Trying to get my guitar, gig bag, the baby, the pram and the changing bag down from the third floor was like some sort of military exercise that I did not if I was going to survive, but with relatively few tears we made and we were on our way. The baby was not going to the gig by the way. I am not having him upstage me! 

I got to the Atkinson while soundcheck was ongoing for Hannah Johnson and straight away knew it was going to be a fun night. A full on country band that sounded perfect to me. They play a mixture of originals and country standards. I believe they have played with Grateful Fred’s quite a few times and are the sort of band that look like they enjoy playing together which makes all the difference. 

But before we get to Hannah Johnson’s band we had an absolutely beautiful set for Rachel Jean Harris who seems to just continually up her game every time I see her play am if you have yet to see her play you are seriously missing out. She has an EP coming out in 2018 I believe and if it is as good as the live performances you are in for a treat. 

So we had a couple of groans for some bad puns about pick-pocketing but I stand by that joke. If those there did not find it funny that is not my fault! It is always nice to play in the Atkinson and the audience is so supportive (aside from their questionable response to fantastic puns) but we had a nice sing along to end my set. Thanks to Colin for thinking of me and having me down to play. Hopefully we can do it again soon. 

Streets of Belfast 
Hometown Boy 
Way I'm thinking 
Thought I’d have learnt 
This far at all 
Guiding light

16 December - Alice Laybourne EP Launch 

Now I know I am late to the party on this one but finally I am able to fill you all in on a good night of fun. First off this is a venue I had no idea even existed and it was an absolute joy to discover this studio in the Georgian quarter of liverpool so thanks Alice for introducing me to this place. Connor Evans opened up the night playing a mix of covers and originals. He also did a fantastic job accompanying Alice for her set as an extremely late substitute. Fair play Connor!

Next up I rambled on for a bit but then it got good again when Alice Nancy took to the stage. I am sure I have seen Alice play a bunch of times before but cannot place where or when but she writes such down to earth songs that I was instantly a fan and recommend you go listen to some of her stuff. I cannot comment on her punk band because she would not play any of those songs on the night.

Alice Laybourne closed out the night with a set of covers and originals of her last Ep and the reason we were all there, the new EP letting go. Alice was struggling a little bit with illness but I still think she has a great voice and I did not notice her struggle at all. She sounded great as she has done every time I have seen her play. It was great to see so many people there for her launch as well. I did not see too many disappointed faces . Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

The Way I'm Thinking
Hometown Boy
Thought I'd have learned
This Far At All
Let The Music Play On
Streets of Belfast
Guiding Light

Waves WIll Break   

Available Now 

Gary - This is probably one of our older songs as a band. I have no idea what is about. I think I was trying to write in a different style and this is what came out. I remember playing it once or twice and being ready to throw it away into the ether but Shane thought he could play something nice over it so Waves Will Break has stuck around for about 8 years. It has changed styles over the years ( I believe I have a very shouty, heavy version on a hard drive somewhere) This version came to me when I could not sleep and I was thinking of songs that might work with a shuffle jazzy type beat. The recording of it took a lot less time than a lot of our other sessions and it turned out the way I wanted it to. Also there is a little nod to Tom Petty from Shane's guitar in the song that I really like

Shane - This song has been a favourite of mine since I first heard Gary play it about 8 years ago. I've written a few different guitar parts for it which have given it a different feel each time. For a long time we played it as a much more driven song, but when we came to record it, Gary had that lovely drum line that has a great jazz / blues feel & so my guitar part just followed that feel. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, the interplay between the guitar & horns late in the song is really fun.

Declan - This a song that's gone through a few changes over the years, which isn't saying much as some songs of ours can change from night to night. This song, to me, is like an old coat. It's not clean and new and it shows its age in places, but putting it on feels comfortable. You might find some new rips and tears in it as time goes on, but they only add to the feeling that it's "yours". No matter how much this song changes, the core of it remains the same. A man's fight against his own mind.

My Top Ten Neil Young Songs 

There are two songwriters that probably had the biggest influence on me. Firstly, let us get to the most obvious one. Neil Young. I have been a big fan of his music for almost 20 years and although my listening has waned in recent years and I struggle to make my way through some of the albums that have come out when I play out it is the comparison I get most. I cannot hear it too much myself other than in the way I play harmonica but he definitely has had a massive influence on me and he is probably the reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place to ever write a song. He made it seem like anyone could write a song so without further ado here is my top 10 Neil Young songs. Some of these are what got me interested in his music and some are personal favourites, most you will probably disagree with but give it a lash. 

My Top Ten Neil Young Songs- Spotify Playlist 

Birds 

There was a copy of Neil Young’s After the Goldrush in our house from when I was a wee fella so I imagine these would be the first Neil Young songs I ever heard are from these album. Funnily enough not my the title track but by the a song “Birds.” I used to listen to that song on repeat and it is such a simple short song but that was the start of it for me. 

Helpless 

Next up it would have been the Last Waltz version of Helpless. There are so many great musical moments on that show but I was captivated by the Neil Young performance with no knowledge of what had to be done to include that song in the movie. (Google it) The “They got it now Robbie,” has made it into our vernacular, often quoted when someone realises that they have got something wrong. 

Rockin In The Free World- Pearl Jam 

Wait, is this cheating? It’s my website and I make the rules damn it. On Pearl Jam’s Touring Band release for the 2000 tour the collection ends with a fantastic version of Rockin’ in the Free World that has so much energy in the performance. This was my introduction to the song and one of the first songs I ever learned how to play and I have played this song in every band I have been in since. Unfortunately I cannot find the version I want for the playlist but you will have to make do with another live version from Weld. 

Powderfinger 

That ringing G chord, “Look out mama….” One of the first songs I learnt and one I still sit down and play from time to time. The story goes that Neil Young sent a demo version to Lynard Skynard for their next album but before they could record it, their plane crashed. The story in the song is fantastic and the imagery is great. There have been many covers and live recordings but the version found on Rust Never Sleeps is still my favourite. 

Tonight’s The Night 

Seen as a bit too dark and raw as a follow-up to Harvest the album was hidden away for two years but to me it is perfection and I could put the whole album on here. I thoroughly recommend Borrowed Tune and Mellow My Mind but it’s the title track that stuck out to me. There are two versions of Tonight’s the Night bookending the album. I prefer the first because of the piano-y smokier sound on it. I recently heard a 20 minute version of this song that I thought was phenomenal, not a bad feat considering the song has maybe eight lines. 

Ordinary People 

Quite a long one here, recorded and unreleased for almost 20 years during the blues phase. It can be found on Chrome Dreams which is an album that is probably quite difficult to recommend for much else on there. This song clocks in at almost 20 minutes and contains little snippets from various lives in between jams. I think it is a bit under the radar for Neil Young songs but I recommend you give it a spin. Some of the live versions are phenomenal so I have included a live version on here. 

Stringman 

Another piano based song. This one is a lot sweeter sounding the aforementioned tonight’s the night. I have only ever heard the version that can be found on the Unplugged album. “on his shoulder rests a violin, in his head chaos reigns.” An absolutely beautiful song and one I used to listen to on repeat. It is a very rare song to hear played live. I think it has only been played a handful times. 

Goin’ Home 

Appearing on the underrated Are You Passionate. Yes I admit some of the songs on here are throwaway but Two Old Friends is as good as Neil Young has got in the 2000s. However I am going with Goin Home. The album was recorded with Booker T and the MGs after a failed attempt to record the songs with Crazy Horse. However Goin’ Home survived as the only Crazy Horse song on here. One of those that you have to turn up as loud as possible and let it thud along. 

Bandit 

Not too many songs from Greendale would make it onto a greatest of all time list but these are more my favourite songs so I get to put this on and give it a bit of love. Falling from Above is another good one on there but for me it’s Bandit. The din of the string rattling it’s way through the song while the lyrics tell the story of a struggling artist trying to sell his paintings. 

Fallen Angel 

Being a huge Pearl Jam and Neil young fan I had so much expectation when I got my hands on mirrorball, the collaborative album between them. The main take away is that Neil Young turns Pearl Jam into Crazy Horse. There are a couple of decent songs on here and the addition of The Long Road would have really helped but alas, no. I’m the Ocean is a cracking song on there but I have gone with the Pearl Jam-less song played on an organ. Fallen Angel is easily the shortest song on the list at 1 minute 15 seconds or thereabouts. I love the simplicity in the music and the lyrics.

 

Anything I have missed or what would you include or take off my list? Let me know

Waiting On The Flood Artwork 

Hi All 

Our new single is out next Friday (21st July) and I thought now would be a good time to share the artwork with you and give you a little preview of the song. Once again the artwork has been painted by the incredibly talented Claire Smith and I think it looks great and suits the song perfectly. She paints so many that we normally have quite a few different canvases to choose from. I debated whether or not to put the song title or the band name on the front but I am not smart enough to do that without ruining the image so I left it as it is.

We have been playing this song for around the last year or so and I was not sure how to record it. I thought it might work as a bluegrass kind of song but I could not get it to sound right. Anyway I am very happy at how this turned out in the end. This is probably my favourite bit of bass playing from Declan on any of our stuff. I think it is because it is a bit of a bouncier song than usual and even with my best distraction techniques he still nailed it one take if memory serves me well.

It is also one of the rare occasions that I can remember playing this out for the first time. It was in the courtroom cafe in Liverpool and for some reason I was playing by myself but the Like were still there. Once I finished my set their feedback was how I had managed to rip off both The Weight by the Band and Hey,Hey My,My by Neil Young in one song. I can tell you now that the chorus was originally a lot more wordy when I began the song but got shortened and now I have no memory of what it used to be. 

Waiting On the Flood is available digitally from 21st July

Zanzibar, Liverpool 12th May 2016 

This was our first gig as a band in a long time even if our Claire could not make it down unfortunately. It was an absolutely stacked line up of great bands playing in support of our good friends Cascadia Fault Line and as always the Zanzibar treated us well and made us sound great. Some of the puns were that bad that Shane threatened to quit the band onstage. At least I found them funny and that is all that matters. We were not as prepared for this gig as I would have liked to be but we still had fun and most importantly, I did not fall asleep thanks to the caffeine and sugar.  

Jenny Kermode opened the night with just herself and her guitar and sounded excellent dishing out a few covers in her set of mostly her own songs. Very moody stuff and I hope to play with her again. Also on the bill were Indigo Tree who just keep sounding better each time I hear them as well as Dassler Jacks who were another new one for me. I had to leave before the main event of Cascadia Fault Line. Parenting a newborn leaves you extremely tired (Who knew) I thought getting home would allow me a little more sleep but nope, the wee man had other ideas. He decided to sing his wee 1 week old lungs out all night. Rock n Roll!  

South out of Town  

Let The Music Play On  

Taking No Hurt  

This Far At All  

Hometown Boy  

Thought I’d Have Learned  

Guiding Light  

Next up myself and Cascadia Fault Line are off to London to Harrisons on thw 26th May with Ugly man records

21st January 2017- The Brink, Liverpool 

It had been a very long time since I played at the world famous brink stage. We are probably going back a couple of years now at least so it was great to be able to play here again. I managed to squeeze onto the bill because the band Derek in mind (the fantastic Mondegreen) were not able to play. So a few days before I warmed up and got ready to be subbed on. As I mentioned it was Derek King hosting the day and as always he delivered some great songs to kick it all off. He also hosts the Liverpool acoustic open mic at the Courtroom Cafe every Tuesday. You should all go there  

This was followed by David Barnicle who has a new EP out at the minute so you should give that a spin. I was also absolutely blown away by Alice Laybone and in particular her newest song which I think was having its first outting. It was phenomenal and because I have the memory of a goldfish and it has been a few weeks I cannot remember the name of it. Truth be told I really enjoyed everyone who played that day.  

Somewhere in between all of this I played a quick 4 song set myself and had a great time doing it  

Let The Music Play On  
Thought I'd Have Learnt  
Faces & Names  
Guiding Light  

Most importantly for me I got the chance to speak to Ian Hall who is a great poet but an even better person just to sit down and have a craic with. I learnt about what David Bowie stuff to try although I am still not convinced it's my cup of tea as well as a few phrases in Cornish. He was also kind enough to write a review of my wee set and made me sound like I know what I am doing.  
http://www.liverpoolsoundandvision.co.uk/2017/01/22/gary-maginnis-gig-review-the-brink-liverpool-2017/  

Thanks Ian and thanks to the brink for putting on a great day of music open to all ages. Thanks also to Derek King for thinking of me after hundreds of other acts were unavailable! 

My Favourite Songs of 2016 

One of my pet peeves is when people say “music was better in…..” It is normally some time or age where they have either ignored, or time has eroded the memory of, the awful music that also came out. This is probably a ranting post for another day but needless to say there is still great music being made. People have given 2016 a hard time because of celebrity deaths, Trump, Brexit, my previous blog, etc. but it was not all bad. So here are ten of the best songs I heard in 2016 to show you that it was not all doom and gloom. I have also put them together in a playlist on Spotify (aside from one which is not available yet), but please give them a listen and let me know what you think. Hopefully you find something new in the bunch so in no particular order.

https://open.spotify.com/user/bigironbar/playlist/4XY5Wc15Dj51Sq8GDUnwJ2 

Hard Working Americans - Ascending into Madness 

I think this is my most played song of 2016. Todd Snider has been playing this solo in his sets from 2015 but it was released in 2016.  I was hooked on the opening lines of this song and yet it keeps getting better and better as it builds. The band do such a good job in emphasising the lyrics and creating the perfect atmosphere for this song. I’ve heard Todd Snider play this on his own, and as you may have gathered by now I like to hear a song stripped back to nothing because it lets it stand or fall on nothing but its own strength. However, I prefer the full band version of this track and can easily recommend this one to anyone. 

Joe Purdy - Kristine 

Very similar style to the songs of the great John Prine. With a bass plodding along like a Waylon Jennings song, this is a stripped down country song. I am not sure why I enjoy this song so much other than for the honesty. Nothing particularly fancy - just a down on his luck songwriter driving across the country with his dog. 

Metallica - Atlas Rise 

This is full-on Metallica. The first time I heard it I recognised it as Metallica within a second of it blaring into my ear. Metallica can be hit and miss for me, especially over the last decade or so. Sometimes it seems like they are trying to be “Metallica-ish” and it can sound like they are trying too hard. But this song holds up against any of their great songs. 

Lydia Loveless - Longer 

A song written from about the death of a guitarist and friend of Lydia. The chorus “Just give me a little bit longer to get over you” over the guitars gets stuck in my head for days.  If you have not heard any of her stuff before, it’s kinda heart on the sleeve southern rock music. I first heard of Lydia Loveless last year when I heard her 2011 album Indestructible Machine. The new album is a lot more polished sounding, which I am not sure on just yet. I like the rougher edges of the older albums but Longer is still a cracker. 

Futurejack - Wish I Was Beautiful 

Completely different from anything I had heard from Futurejack before. Alicia normally writes very strong powerful songs but this one has a lot of vulnerability in it. I remember first hearing it at the Courtroom Cafe and when everyone had left I asked her to play it for me again. I like the version that is on the EP, but the version I heard in an empty cafe late at night was perfect. 

BJ Barham - Unfortunate Kind 

For those unfamiliar with him, BJ Barham fronts a band called American Aquarium and in 2016 he released a solo album of quieter, acoustic-based songs. I think this is the quietest one of the lot. It reminded me of Jason Isbell’s Speed Trap Town although this one is even more ‘down to the bones’ of the song. You can tell how much I love a story in a song by how pissed off I am when it ends because I want to hear more from the characters involved. Heartbreakingly beautiful song. 

Guy Clark - Just to Watch Maria Dance 

This song was written and recorded, I believe, in 2009 and did not find its way to release until 2016. The version that made it out sounds like a demo recording of just Guy and his guitar. Some of you may know that Guy Clark is a big influence on how I try to write a song and I think there is a definite difference between songs that came before and songs that came after my first hearing of Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues. This song sounds so simple, yet the phrasing and the lyrics roll together so nicely. He died in 2016 and left behind great songs and I would love to hear more demos come out over the next few years. One of the best songwriters I have ever heard. 

Wynonna & The Big Noise feat. Jason Isbell - Things that I Lean On 

“God's grace when I’m walking down a dangerous path/12 steps when I need to find my way back.” 

This is the first and so far only Wynonna song I have heard. I have not been able to get much further into her stuff because I keep getting pulled back to this. Jason Isbell’s backing vocals add so much to the soul of the song. 

Mondegreen - Life Goes on 

Another local one to me and I may be a bit biased as one member of this band plays with ourselves but I stand by it. I remember sitting in Claire’s living room as she played this for the first time and I was blown away.  As soon as she finished I asked her to play it again. I must have asked her to play it 4 or 5 times repeatedly.  Hearing all three members of Mondegreen sing it together is even better. An absolute gem of a song and I hope they release it soon so that you all can hear it. Luckily for me I have a version recorded from a live set and it resides on my phone so I do not have to ask them to play it over and over again anymore. 

The Record Company - Off the Ground 

This is a little different. I do not know that much about The Record Company other than they sound like a kick-ass jam band. The song comes bursting in on a great riff which carries on through the song. The lyrics bounce over the top of the drums and it sounds like something from a different time. I am normally stuck on how good the words are for a song but this is all about the music and the catchiness and the dirty jams. 

So there you have it. 2016 might have been a rough year but there are 10 reasons why it wasn’t all bad. There were plenty of other great songs put out in 2016 (hint, give our music page a look) but those ten were the pick of the bunch for me. Give them a listen and let me know what you think.

Strange Anniversary - Mental Health 

I was not sure whether to share this one or not and if I did how much detail and how personal I would get with this. So this is a strange anniversary and one that has got me thinking. It is roughly two years since I got help for the third time for my mental health. 

Some of you might have noticed (or not noticed) that I am not as active playing out and about over the past few years. Weirdly when I am playing music I feel perfectly fine but that the bits before and after can sometimes be a little too much for me so sometimes I tend to sneak off into a corner and keep my head down. Other days I will ask far too many questions and annoy the hell out of you! I have a couple of songs written about this time that I would love to use to raise money for people who desperately need funding to keep up the services they provide. Without these services there is a strong possibility I would not be here to write this today. If you have any ideas please get in touch and we can see what we can do. 

This blog isn’t a music-y based one so bear with me. I will put a song at the end for those that make it through this one. It is not an easy one. 

So time for some context The first time I went for treatment for mental health I believe I was 12 or 13. Honestly cannot remember too much about it now other than missing History class and grabbing a sausage roll on the way back to school. I had my ups and downs over the years but  I thought it was just how my head works and there was nothing more that I could do with. It would pass. 

These up and downs were manageable for a long time until I started working in a more stressful job. Now, don’t get me wrong my old place and managers were incredibly accommodating and understanding. Over time it took its toll on my mental health. So now we go back for round two of therapy. But, truth is, the counselling sessions took place during work hours, so I always had half a mind focused on that. So that one didn’t work out so well. 

So things got worse over time and I was not doing anything to help it. As far as I was concerned I had two choices. Try to cope with it as best as I could or give up. Well, the second time around I was leaning closer towards the latter. My wife talked me into going back to the GP again and I went back for her. I knew I was struggling but in my mind this was now normal. 

I did go and broke down when I tried to explain everything as best I could. Luckily there are people a hell of a lot smarter than me who recognised what was clinical depression and anxiety. We talked about the causes and we talked about suicide and if I had any plans. This was very difficult to talk about because it was a very private thing to go into the details. The doctor referred me to what is known as the Crisis Unit and I would have an appointment with the Mental Health Unit at Broadgreen Hospital. The doctor then told me that this is something that with medication and therapy would take 3-6 months before I would start to feel ok and recommended signing me off for an initial 6 weeks with 2 appointments a week until the therapy sessions started. I was still of the belief that this still was not a big deal, even though we were talking about how I was suicidal. I went with being signed off for 1 week. I could not comprehend that this was something that could be helped if I worked at it. 

Now I am sure if you think of someone who is suicidal and planning to kill themselves you imagine someone who is an emotional wreck but for me it was not like that. There are three times that it went beyond a thought, (I think we all get that way from time to time) beyond a plan (things are getting a bit risky) to the point of being ready to go. On those three occasions I remember feeling, for the first time in what felt like forever, completely relaxed and more than a little relieved that it would soon be over. On the third time I phoned the Crisis Unit and they set me up with an appointment within the hour. If I did not attend, they would phone me and if I did not answer the police would be sent to my address. 

At the appointment they recommended I speak to my wife and see if she would be able to meet me to ensure I would keep myself safe. Now for an insight into my thought process at the time. They had to convince me to phone her because I did not want to be an inconvenience and worry her. I remember the mental health worker looking at me like I was an idiot. “Gary, which would be more of an inconvenience, leaving work to meet you or you being dead?” Well even I couldn’t argue with that logic. 

The medication part of this took me a long time to get used to. No matter how many times those people who are a lot more educated in mental health would ask if I broke bones would I take a painkiller. Accordingly it’s the same thing. As logical as that sounds I still struggle with this. To convince me I started off on the tiniest of doses. Well that didn’t work so it kept rising. The side effects are hell for a few days, both physically and mentally and to this day I do not know if they work. 

I know my mental health is better now than it was but is that due to the changes I have made in my life? I have left a very stressful job and take better care of my mental health and am a lot more aware of mood changes and getting myself out of stressful mindsets. It is probably a combination of both. 

A couple of things I have learnt. 

  • This idea that there are good days and bad days. A day seems like a far too long period of time. As I am sure anyone know knows me can attest to it changes a hell of a lot quicker than that. I can be having a great laugh and out of the blue it is gone and I do not want to be there anymore. It feels instantaneous. 
  • There are not always triggers so it is better to not ask what “triggered” it. Sometimes the anxiety picks up and there are no obvious reasons why. My head can be completely blank and my heart rate will just go batshit for no apparent reason. Same thing with depression. 
  • More weird than that is I have caught myself in a good mood and my mind has kicked in with “oh crap, I am doing ok, what have I forgotten?” I think this is down to feeling low and anxious for so long that it became my default position. 
  • It is ok to be down, just don’t let it take over your every perception 
  • You have to look after your mental health. It is not going to magically get better. You have to work at it. 
  • If you need it, get help! It is what these services are for 

So there you have it. That was the beginning of a long road that continues over 2 years later. I had a health worker visit me at home every friday for about 2-3 months. I had counselling for what felt like most of the year at 3pm once a week. I had a couple of medication specialist appointments. I still see my GP every 4-6 weeks and have a lot of phone numbers saved on my phone. Luckily I have not needed to ring it since that story earlier. 

Thanks to everyone in the NHS who has helped me over the past two years and to friends and family who have put up with me and continue to support me. Thanks to Charlene for keeping me focused and for how she continues to keep me on the middle of the road even when I steer off into the ditches from time to time. Most importantly thanks to everyone who supported and helped Charlene when I was not able to. 

Some contact information for anyone that might need it. 

Talk Liverpool:
www.talkliverpool.nhs.uk 
0151 228 2300 
talkliverpool@merseycare.nhs.uk 

Calm 
www.calmzone.net 
0800 58 58 58 (5pm to Midnight) 

The Samaritans 
www.samaritans.org 
116 123 
jo@samaritans.org 

In NI - Mind Your Mate and Yourself 
http://www.mindingyourhead.info/service/mymy-mind-your-mate-and-yourself 
028 4372 7549 
mindyourmateandyourself@gmail.com