Tag Archives: New Music

Sleep Tonight

It’s a beautiful sunny lazy Sunday out here. I’m sitting outside in the garden, enjoying fresh air and coffee. While drinking coffee I’m suddenly thinking about something that happened this week…a story worth to share.

Thursday… a beautiful sunny day. I worked in the morning and I was on my way home when I saw an old lady with a rollator standing at the sidewalk. She was looking around and seemed confused. Our eyes met, she started to smile and asked me if I knew where the nursing home was. The nursing home was close, just a few streets away, but instead of explaining her how to get there, I decided to walk with her. She seemed so confused. I told her that I would walk with her. That’s not what she had in mind, she didn’t want me to walk with her and apologised for bothering me, but I ignored her protesting and started walking with her. Along the way, the old lady kept talking. It turned out that she had left home early to go to her physio therapist. Usually a friend would bring her by car, but that day she decided to walk because the weather was so beautiful. On her way back she got lost and didn’t know the way back to the nursing home anymore. She went on telling me what she was up to that day. It was nearly lunch time and then she had planned an afternoon of playing bridge with friends. We soon got to the point where she could see the nursing home. She looked at me and while breathing a sigh of relief she thanked me for walking with her, said that I made her day and again she apologised. I told her not to worry at all and said that I enjoyed that 10 minute walk with her.

While walking home I kept thinking about the old lady… she was so confused. I don’t know how long she had been walking around that morning before I stopped and helped her, but I was glad that she made it to the nursing home safely. Situations like this make me stop and think. We all take so many things for granted, but how fragile we actually are… health, both physical and mental, is something so precious and valuable…

Mental Health…something you read and hear a lot about at the moment. It seems that people are talking about it more and it seems that mental health awareness is increasing. It’s still not enough though. For various reasons, too many people aren’t getting the help they so much need and the stigma around mental health is still there.

Which brings me to the music…
The title track from Robb Murphy’s second album, Sleep Tonight featuring The Ulster String Quartet is being released with the support of The Samaritans. It aims to raise awareness for mental health and the importance of communication rather than suppressing the condition. The single will be released on the 1st of June, all proceeds will go to the Samaritans Belfast. ‘Sleep Tonight’ the single, is already available for pre-release through the following links:

https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1377026483?ls=1&app=itunes

https://robbmurphy.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-tonight-feat-ulster-string-quartet-single

The animation video of the full album version created by Maria Becvar was released last Monday to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness week.

To celebrate the release an event (in support of The Samaritans) is planned on Sunday the 3rd of June along with the Ulster String Quartet, to help raise awareness of mental health issues through video and song. This event will take place at 101 Donegal Street, Belfast. Support by Randall Stephens Hall and Brigid O’Neill. Tickets are available now through the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/robb-murphy-the-ulster-string-quartet-tickets-45552811686

Time to end this long blog…
Not with a song, but with a bit of news.

‘Sleep Tonight’ was track of the day on Hotpress!
Click on the image to read the article!

Hotpress Track of the Day: 'Sleep Tonight' by Robb Murphy

Again, below are the links to pre-order ‘Sleep Tonight’. All proceeds will be donated to The Samaritans Belfast.
https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1377026483?ls=1&app=itunes

On Bandcamp the single comes with an extra track, ‘Bound For Your Arms’ – live for Sessions In The House.

Of course we hope that a lot of people will download the single thereby enabling the Samaritans to do many more great things!  And, we are hopeful that many people will watch the video, showing them the way to help. We ask you to help spread the word… so please tell your friends and your family and ask them to pass it on too!
Thank you for sharing the music!

 

 

 

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Hello 2018!

holiday

Someone please turn back time… Tomorrow I’ll be back at work after a 2 week break and I’m far from ready… I can already see myself waking up tomorrow morning totally confused and wondering why my alarm went off in the middle of the night… It may take a minute but then reality will kick in… Break is over, the new year started, no more pyjama days and no more sleeping in. Back to work it is!
Hello holiday blues! 😉

It’s good to get back into some routine though. Being off for a while is good, but laziness kicked in and I lost my productivity at some point during my 2 week break.

It’s also time to get things going again with the music. We have a lot of plans for 2018. Last year was all about setting the foundations. Like Robb mentioned in his newsletter, for us 2017 has been a year of planning and preparing for the new things to come in 2018. We have been writing, recording, upgrading (studio and brains), creating online content, and collaborating.
This year we’ll be sharing a lot of what we’ve been working on and we’re really looking forward to it!

Just in case you’ve missed things on social media, here are a couple of updates:

A new website is one of the things we’ve worked on last year and it’s live now. Check it out! You’ll find news, pictures, music, videos, blog, tourdates and more!

http://www.robbmurphy.com/

Let us know your thoughts about it! Do you like the website? Is there something missing on the website that you would like to be there? We would love to get your feedback!

Also, we’re now using Bandsintown to announce gigs. Track Robb on there to stay updated on upcoming live shows.

Upcoming Tour Dates

 

It’s 9 pm and I’m going to relax a bit and think of the good memories made in the past few weeks before going to bed.
Time to end this blog with a song… ‘Headstrong’
I definitely “need my headstrong” tomorrow!!

 

Il dolce far niente

“Il dolce far niente” is an Italian saying literally meaning “the sweetness of doing nothing”.
It doesn’t mean being lazy, but refers to that good feeling you can get from being idle and living in the moment. “Dolce far niente” is thoroughly enjoying the taste of that good cup of coffee, it’s taking a walk and breathing in fresh air, it’s watching the sunset, enjoying a nice home cooked meal with family; it’s meditating, but it’s also staring out the window or spending time with friends…it’s basically anything you like doing that gets you relaxed, makes you feel good, brings energy…seize the day, live in the moment. It’s something a lot of people aren’t great at (including me!!). The Italians however embrace “il dolce far niente” – they know the art of doing nothing, they see it as an important day to day activity and there’s a lot we can learn from that.

This summer we went to Italy again. Same place, same apartment as last year…arriving at the apartment felt like coming home. We were welcomed by the owners, who’s hospitality and kindness are absolutely great; providing us with fresh fruit from the garden and homemade prosecco. Being there again, made me realise how much I missed the place, the views, the sun and the beautiful sunsets.
“Dolce far niente” – it pretty much sums up my summer holiday…
Spending time with my family, meeting up with friends, watching the sunset, enjoying a glass of wine, enjoying the Italian sun and beautiful weather, walking barefoot on a sandy beach, feeling the wind, seeing the moon and stars at night, swimming in the sea, eating pizza, watching the geckos chasing bugs, being in nature, visiting ancient medieval towns, playing cards and board games and so much more…
Good times always go by way too fast, but the memories will last. Memories of joy and laughter, memories of funny and awkward situations, memories of feeling good and relaxed… Oh yes…I’m definitely having the holiday blues!

Back to reality it is now…holiday is over and life is turning back to ‘normal’ again. It’s very easy to get caught up again in the busyness of everyday life, so I made a promise to myself…I’m going to practice “il dolce far niente” much more than I already did. It’s a fact that mindfulness, consciously focusing on the present moment, will increase energy levels, bring clarity of mind and greater focus, but it’s so easy to forget about this… Time to adopt the art of doing nothing, weave it into my days and make it a very important daily activity!

“Dolce far niente” is also a lyric from Robb Murphy’s new single ‘Italian Dreams’ which he released in July. The perfect song to end this blog with… The song was written during a long summer in Italy. It’s a lighthearted song with a 60’s vibe, a hint of The Beach Boys. The single is supported by an animated lyric video created by Italian artist Marco Burani.

Watch the video:

or stream the song on Spotify:

Space cake…episode 2

People who are looking for a space cake recipe…I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t find it in this blog… Space cake…I can almost hear you say “If there’s no space cake recipe, then what’s this blog about??” 😉

Well…I’ve been writing blogs about everything happening behind the scenes with Robb Murphy (singer-songwriter) for two years now and ’Space Cake’ happens to be one of the most viewed blog posts in the past few years. Every time I see that someone viewed that particular blog, it makes me giggle and think that it’s probably someone who was looking for a space cake recipe… Space cake tells the story of customs mistaking the Dutch spice cake (ontbijtkoek) I took with me on a trip to Northern Ireland for drugs… If you’re curious, go and have a read. It’s one of the many funny things that happened in the 4 ½ years I’ve been working with Robb.

Two years and many blog posts written…
Today I was reading some old blogs….there’s so much I wrote about! It’s good to read it all again, because I forgot a lot of the funny things that happened in the past few years. Reading the blogs brought back a lot of great memories!

Over the past few years the amount of people visiting the blogs increased, this year in particular. In the first months of the year I wrote blogs to introduce you to the band members. They were sent a very long list of questions to get to know them a bit better…and they all took time to answer the questions….without complaining…except for Robb, who complained that I sent him 9 million questions to answer 😉 I’m glad that they all took time for this, because these blogs were read a lot! Until the end of last year Space Cake was on top of the stats, but every blog I wrote about the band members were viewed a lot more! Kevin is the man though! Sorry Robb, Al, Rick and Dave…I think that Kevin has some secret admirers 😉 because his blog is the best read blog so far!

If you didn’t read the ‘Introducing’-blogs yet, click on the pictures of the band members below, that will guide you to the blog posts.

Robb Murphy Rick McKee Kevin Carlisle David Bennington Alan Ladd

Two years of blog writing…thank you all who’ve been reading my blogs!
I’m sure that there will be many more blogs to come, keep an eye on here or follow us on Social Media.

Those of you who are reading this blog for the first time…Robb is a singer-songwriter from Belfast and if you’re a music lover and like acoustic music with elements of pop, country, classical and folk, check out his music!

 

The Darker Side…the story behind the song

It’s Saturday, the weather is beautiful and I’m sitting outside with a glass of wine… and coffee….life is good! Wine, coffee…sunset…perfect moment to write a blog. Writing this blog has been going through my mind for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time to get it out of my head and get the story written!

A couple of weeks ago Robb Murphy’s song ‘The Darker Side’ was added to a playlist called ‘Music to Grieve to’ on Spotify. A playlist with beautiful songs from well and less known artists:

This got me thinking about the story behind this song and that it would be nice to share a bit more about it and write a blog.
The Darker Side is the only song from the album ‘Sleep Tonight’ that was not written in Italy. Robb wrote the song in May 2013. Around that time he was preparing the recordings for the album Sleep Tonight. He wrote blogs about the songs for the album and shared a lot of demos. I remember that Robb told me that he wrote The Darker Side, it came together very quickly and when he shared the demo with me I remember him saying that it was kind of a heavy song. I listened and loved the song right away. I could relate to the song, it’s a song that brings comfort. Shortly after Robb wrote the song, he shared the demo online, not being aware of the effect that this song would have on people and what this song later on would mean for himself, because a couple of weeks after Robb wrote this song, his mother unexpectedly passed away.

In the past few years we received a lot of good feedback to ‘The Darker Side’, but not only that. More than once people have shared their personal stories and told us how much this song has helped them while dealing with loss and grief or going through dark times. Those stories make us aware of how powerful a song can be. Robb writes a lot of songs, all written, composed and created from the heart and for himself. Only a small amount of songs make it to an album or EP. Sure we hope that people will listen and will like the music when an album, EP or song is being released, but we’re not aware of the effect that a song may have on other people at that time. That only happens when people share their stories and tell us how a song has touched or affected them. Whether a song has made people do a happy dance, has put a smile on their face, helps them through dark times or people simply can relate to a song…it’s special to hear those stories and it shows the power of music.

Back to ‘The Darker Side’. It’s a song that has developed a lot over the years and there are a lot of different versions of the song to find online, but it all started with this demo:

Robb and the band started playing this song live, but it wasn’t until 2014 before the song was recorded as part of the album ‘Sleep Tonight’.

Robb finished the recordings of the album at the end of July 2014. It was sent off for mastering and right after that he and his fiancée (now wife!) went on holiday. During their holiday they filmed several acoustic videos of songs from the album Sleep Tonight. One of those songs was ‘The Darker Side’. A different version of the song was born.

The album ‘Sleep Tonight’ was released in March 2015. Not long after the release of ‘Sleep Tonight’. Robb was invited to perform an acoustic version of ‘The Darker Side for The Arts Show (BBC TWO). The producer of the show had seen the acoustic video recorded in Italy and said that that version would be a good song to replicate. Below the result:

Due to the great feedback Robb received on this performance he decided to record and a release a new, stripped back, acoustic version of ‘The Darker Side’.

While rehearsing and playing the song live, it kept developing. The next version of the song was recorded during a live session for Live uit Lloyd, RTV Rijnmond in Rotterdam.

‘The Darker Side’, a song that can be played in many ways, full band or just stripped back with only a guitar and vocals… a song that has touched and helped people… It was nice to see that ‘The Darker Side’ was added to the ‘Music To Grieve To’ playlist on Spotify. Hopefully the song will reach and help a lot more people in the future.

The Darker Side – lyrics

When the night falls in and the nightmares come
When there’s fading light and the day is done
I will fight you ‘till the morning comes
I will guard my heart and steady my head

‘Cause there is hope for all mankind
If we let go of the darker side
There’s nothing here to hold us back
And everything is open wide
If we let go of the darker side

Down the hill and through the pastures
To the old stone smokey house
I’ve not been here for years
Afraid that I will not confide
Not let go of the darker side

Here I am I come to you
With an open hand but life’s tattoo
I will fight you ‘till the night turns day
Everything is open wide
If we let go of the darker side
If we let go of the darker side
If we let go of the darker side

The Darker Side

Introducing Alan Ladd

Kevin Carlisle, David Bennington and Rick McKee all have been questioned and introduced. Many people have been reading the blogs, but if you haven’t read it yet, go check them out…there are some interesting facts to find about the band behind Robb Murphy!

Next up is Alan Ladd, a.k.a. Kid-Al, another multi-instrumentalist in Robb Murphy’s band. Al plays keyboards/piano, strings and with gigs he sometimes plays bass as well. Al is also the man who wrote the strings for the album Sleep Tonight played by The Ulster String Quartet.
Al’s wife, Louise, is also very musical. Louise has a really beautiful voice and you can hear her backing vocals on multiple songs from the album Sleep Tonight. A very musical family!!

al-louise

Besides being a very talented musician, there are more reasons why Al is such a valuable member of Robb Murphy’s band… Al is good company and he’s good with left-overs.
Left-overs…this requires an explanation…When Al is around you don’t have to worry about wasting food. If you can’t finish dinner/lunch, just pass it on to Al and he’ll eat it. Food magically disappears when Al is around! 😉
While I was going through photos to use for this blog I saw something I forgot about…something about poo… Another interesting fact…Al ended up witpooh poo on his set list…

This happened during one of the tours of The Netherlands. Band members often write down some notes for themselves on set lists and while making notes Al suddenly started laughing, saying that he had poo on his set list. This is what happens when silliness takes over from tiredness during tours…and believe me…that happens a lot!

To get to know Al a bit better, he also was sent a list of questions. Here’s what he said:

Tell me a little about yourself in one rambling, run-on sentence 🙂
Born in Yorkshire (England) and now living in Northern Ireland married with two kids, I play keyboards and occasionally strings for Robb Murphy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkgeg1GFKg4  (you can see both Al and Louise in this video) but I also write software for financial trading platforms by day and I fit in a lot of running around my job, music and family, however, I also love travelling which probably stems from my time as european tour manager for the band Forward Russia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGWxJDFd_cw

Coffee or tea?
Irish Coffee, Yorkshire Tea. I’ve definitely shifted mostly to coffee these days.

How did you meet Robb and where?
We met at Queen’s University Belfast which to be honest is a bit of a blur. I think we met on the first day of our music tech course and soon after started writing songs together, first in a ill-fated four piece guitar group, then as an acoustic duo then finally a three piece band. I still think some of the songs we did back then would fit well with the current tunes as if it’s all come full circle. Of course we’re a lot more mature now…

Describe one perfect day…
Lie in; Ulster fry; Something outdoors in good weather with the kids; A meal out followed by a gig/concert/film/show.

Cats or dogs?
Cat singular. We had two cats that didn’t get along and it was not fun. I’ve no time for dogs at all.

What’s your favourite piece of music at the moment?
Piece of music to me suggests classical but at the moment I don’t have time to sit down and appreciate classical music. So I’d have to say the debut album by London Grammar (“If you wait”). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMEHJPuggHQ

Do you dance?
No apart from on rare occasions I’m made to at wedding receptions.
Sorry Al…maybe you forgot, but you do dance…and…there’s proof of that…click on the link to watch!
Al dancing

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be and why?
Malta – interesting place and good weather this time of year.

Favourite place in Northern Ireland?
Antrim coast or the Mourne mountains. Since I’m an Antrim man now I’ll go for the coast.

What or who is your biggest influence as an artist?
Radiohead. They have spanned so many different styles there’s probably always a Radiohead song lurking in my mind somewhere. Oh and Brett Domino! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xIUeNJIrak

True or false: “Music is my first love”
False.

Silliest thing you’ve done this past month?
Signed up for an ultra marathon (39 miles) in April.

What is your most valued possession?
My passport. I have to get away from time to time. Music-wise my viola which is 98 years old!

Future plans?
Lots but it’s all a juggling act. I’ve some running challenges this year and I’d like to record some music soon. I also have plans for my own business at some point.

If a penguin wearing a sombrero walked into your room right now, what would you do and why?
Take the hat and wrapper off and eat it right there. I’m a chocoholic.

How many instruments do you play?
In chronological order – violin, viola, piano, bass, acoustic guitar. If it has strings I’d give it a go.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
Hardest part is practising. Best bit is seeing the work pay off whether it be live or in the studio.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion?
It has to go beyond the sound. You can be playing great faultless music but if it looks like you’re not into it then you’ve lost half the battle. As musicians it’s really difficult to remember that when you’re playing. It’s almost better to make mistakes and smile through it. I remember watching back a video of my first ever band gig and cringing about how static and serious I was.

As a pianist and string player, how do you feel the classics help the modern music scene?
Everything builds on what’s come before so you can relate most things back to classical music even if it’s not obvious.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
Ha – all my parts in Robb’s songs. It might not be exactly what he intended but I always hope it’s as good if not better than what he was thinking. If he laughs when you play something you know it’s good. It took me a long time to realise that!

Big Bird or Elmo?
Elmo and Andrea Bocelli (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv38j4lPzd0 ) ha ha.

Top 3 places you’d love to play live
Leeds town hall, Ulster hall, Glastonbury festival

What surprises you the most?
My kids. Almost every day.

Favourite song from high school?
Toughie again. In early high school I liked Jamiroquai. Hearing ‘Everything in it’s right place’ by Radiohead was a big shift in my taste but I’m going to choose ‘Flying’ by Death in Vegas. The song reminds me of the first gig I went to with schoolmates at Manchester Ritz. It was 9-2 on a school night. Good times. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jMCQh8aBj0 )

What inspires you?
People achieving things they thought were not possible.

Thanks very much for this Al!

You can follow Al on Twitter. Stop by and say hello!

Introducing Rick McKee

After the introduction of band members Kevin Carlisle and David Bennington we know that the drummer is in charge and that it’s all about that bass, but the introduction of the band is not complete yet. Time to introduce Rick McKee a.k.a. Rick Star, guitar and mandolin player.

Of all band members Rick is probably the most quiet one, but (he wouldn’t say this himself!) a greatly talented guitar and mandolin player!
Rick is good company and even though he’s quiet, he’s someone to keep an eye on…never underestimate quiet people. You’re probably wondering why I’m saying this…well…there’s a story behind it.

I don’t know what it is with this band, but there’s always something with sharpies… We use those sharpies a lot…to write/change set lists, sign albums etc. When the band comes over for a tour sharpies are nowhere and everywhere and no one knows how that happens. A 10-day tour also means 10 days of chasing sharpies. Last year the band went home after the tour and later sent me this photo… Just when you think you have made it through the tour without losing sharpies…
rick-1
I would have expected any band member to fool me, but not Rick! 😉

To get to know Rick a bit better, we also sent him a list with questions. Here’s what he said:

Tell me a little about yourself in one rambling, run-on sentence J
Okay, I’m 36 years old, live in County Down, N Ireland.  I work for the Health Service and as well as being Robb’s guitar and mandolin player and also involved with the music team in a local church.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Definitely coffee!

3 songs on your playlist right now?
Bloodbuzz Ohio by The National
Mary-Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bittersweet Me by R.E.M.

How did you meet Robb and where?
We go way back! We went to school together – which is a frighteningly long time ago now!  But yeah, we grew up in the same town, went to the same school and were in many of the same classes. We soon discovered we had similar tastes in music and the rest is history!

Describe one perfect day…
Not being at work.  Not having to rush or sit in queues of traffic.  Just having a day of being with those I love, drinking fine coffee and listening to great music!  It’s the simple things in life, right?

Cats or Dogs?
Dogs! Definitely dogs and it’s not even close! Really don’t like cats…

Do you dance?
No! And the other guys can vouch for that! (we’ll ask them 😉 )

What song would you choose to play for the Queen and why?
Not sure, I’d probably try to do a contemporary arrangement of some old traditional hymn or something.  Something timeless that wouldn’t cause Her Majesty any offence… I’m not sure – what type of music is the Queen into?

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
You know what? I’m a real home bird.  Places mean less to me than the people I’m with.  So as long as I’m with the right person or people it doesn’t matter where I am. There’s this old monastic site about 5 or 6 miles from where I grew up though, it’s one of those places that is just always so peaceful – it’s a great little place to escape to every so often.

Favourite place in NI?
Co Down. It’s hard to specify an exact place within my home County, but there’s just so much to see and enjoy – we have countryside and coastlines to escape to as well as a lot of nice little towns with cafes and bistros.

Who would you be nervous to meet?
Bob Dylan. He’s a hero of mine – and a true legend! They say you should never meet your heroes though, right?

True or False… is it really all about the bass?
Ha! Dave would say so! And as a part-time bass player I’d probably have to agree…

Silliest thing you’ve done this past month?
I don’t do silly things – I’m much too boring!

What is your most valued possession?
That would be my (main) acoustic guitar. It’s handcrafted from start to finish by a local luthier and is a work of art!  I love it!

Future plans?
That’s a big question! Who knows?? Haven’t thought that far ahead – I struggle to organise the present from time to time, so allow me to sort that out and then I’ll get back to you about the future!

If a penguin wearing a sombrero walked into your room right now, what would you do and why?
I’d wonder who spiked my coffee with what!

Name one thing about music that drives you crazy?
The industry that surrounds it. It’s a popularity contest – style over substance etc… It actually hinders real, hardworking musicians – and that’s not just me being bitter at the fact that I’m in my mid-thirties and haven’t “made it” – whatever that means!  I think most real musicians would agree with me on that one.

Can you share some of your thoughts on the music scene in NI?
Yeah, that’s a weird one – ’cause despite being involved with it I kind of feel a bit out-of-the-loop too!  There’s a lot of great talent out there, but because NI is quite a small country the local scene has become pretty saturated.  It’d be great to see more local acts break into the main Irish/UK and international music scenes though.

I know you have quite a collection of amazing instruments… is there a favourite?
There are a couple of favourites.  My handcrafted acoustic that I mentioned earlier and my Fender USA ’52 Reissue Telecaster – I’ve had it for years and it has seen a number of tweaks and mods, but for me it just sounds, feels and looks right – I love it!

Batman or Superman?
Batman – better car!

Top 3 places you’d love to play live
Later with Jools Holland, The SSE Arena in Belfast and the O2 in Dublin – all pretty ambitious I guess!

What surprises you the most?
That I keep getting asked to play for people!  I honestly don’t rate myself that highly as a musician but I keep getting opportunities to play with some hugely talented, great musicians – I guess I must be doing something right!  I have a t-shirt that has “World’s Okayest Guitar Player” printed on it – that honestly sums up how I feel about myself as a guitarist – I know I’m not terrible, but I am pretty okay!  I’m so thankful I get the chance to do what I do though!

Thanks very much for this Rick!

You can follow Rick on Twitter. Stop by and say hello!