Mondays gig! Came last minute, the owner (Ian) of the venue (Music Cafe Stratford) called me in the morning- “what are you doing tonight? Can you play?” “Sure,” I said. I was out in Winchester busking and hiking the weekend before, absolutely knackered, but why not?
…with a quick busk in Newbury – I drove through it, and was like …. yeah this looks great, lets go play; … that was a great busk, I picked up a gig, and the market stall owners seemed not to mind 🙂
Usually the gig at the Stratford Music Cafe are sold as background music vibes, while people eat (the food here is incredible, all plant based too! Win!). But the second half led to a more attentive audience. Forks were put down, wine replaced the plates and people watched, clapping to the ending of each song. I looked up to see all eyes on me – yikes – but so great!
I was asked to play because the chef was coming for drinks with her friends, ‘get that guy again… James? He’s great!’. So that was pretty cool! She sat with her Jazz singing friend (who later gave me some practice tips). And on the front row were a couple who came specifically for music, they drove up from South London to escape to Stratford for a while – their Son: a comedian out in Australia, a similar age, and a similar energy (apparently), so their respect for creatives playing in bars like this was their reason to come.
The first time I played here, the owner immediately asked to book me again for another 4 dates! That’s slowly grown 🙂 the first video I posted from my gig here granted a gig over in Stroud;
…which has now led to more gigs in Stroud.
It’s really amazing what connections you can find here on the internet. Social media is great place to post videos, document the journey, and connect with others 🙂 Don’t be afraid to post! Do it, doors will open 🙂
On route to becoming the travelling composer and writer that I wish to be; I have set a task to do regular livestreams amongst trees. Welcoming – Woodland Jams: set up in some beautiful natural space and live stream on a social media platform. The above video was taken yesterday during an Instagram Live Video. Full video below;
My plan of action so far is; Monday – Reddit Live Tuesday – Instagram Wednesday – Facebook Thursday – TikTok Friday – YouTube
I’m yet able to do TikTok or YouTube live, because the requirement is 1,000 followers/subscribers. So that is another thing that must happen, but that journey, that search for followers is a fun one – most likely a long one, but I’m in it for the long game.
This morning I went live on Facebook, which I’ll post up on here tomorrow 🙂 I wonder if you could do WordPress livestreams?
Before playing in the woods, two rabbits froze as I entered their hideout, they looked at me, I played a single note on the guitar, and they sprang off away through the brambles and into another forest; or another world. I disturbed them again, or perhaps that was the wrong note? Or maybe…. they rushed off to get all their friends, and by the time they got back I had already gone… I should wait longer next time, dammit!
On todays livestream I noticed on the camera a few dog-walkers poking their heads into the trees to find the source of the noise. I am sat quite close to a main path though. Unexpected noises in unexpected places.
The unexpected is quite beautiful, and always very nice.
Golden and Blue. I think those are the correct colours to describe todays day. Sun so bright, molten gold; shining down on everything and making it all explode with brightness. Everything is gold in this sunlight. I can picture what Australia must be like, and it excites my very core, because one day I’ll travel there or better yet tour it! The sky = ocean blue: expansive and lovely to stare up into; sheltering my eyes from the golden rays.
Days like these remind me why I ran toward busking. I think 2018/19 were some of my best years so far – a freedom of traveling and busking absolutely everywhere… it returns soon! Unless the world shuts down again, which I am constantly fearing, but also preparing for just in case it is true.
The improvisation above was a happy accident during my first set, but I had no documentation of it. So I tried again during my second. There’s something there that needs working on – it’ll be on June’s album for sure! May’s Album is available here – only 40 left!
Sometimes I really don’t know what to write. But I throw my fingers across the keyboard and see what comes out. The same applies to my music playing and composing. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing while busking; but I am taking more time for practice to understand what it is that I am doing and what I want to be doing – scales, chords, melodies etc. Improvising has always been something I thoroughly enjoy doing. I learnt it from the master himself – Steve Lawson;
He taught me back in University and opened my eyes (and mind) to what is possible with music. That meeting completely changed my perspective on music composing, playing, and careers within.
It is like gathering different ingredients for cooking a meal – and once you have all the ingredients you can experiment with the flavours. With music, the ingredients are different techniques, scales, chords etc. So it’s a simple trip to the supermarket (the practice shed), grab your ingredients (sounds), and get cooking (improvising). So I guess I need to do more shopping.
This tiktok is a snippet from the main video above. And I’ve tried experimenting with adding captions; trying to get that 1k follower mark so I can start doing some weekly TikTok livestreams 🙂
It is interesting what people say to me sometimes as I play. Especially when someone throws in a coin and says ‘thank you’… that will forever blow my mind… I’m out here doing something I love to do, and people are thanking me! ahhhhh SUPER GRATEFUL! GOLDEN AND BLUE!!!
Many more days of busking to come, I’m sure of it. Very excited for that.
During a long drive last night, I had this overwhelming realisation – one that made me burst with emotion and tears – Life is Beautiful.
I was screaming with joy at how grateful I am.
Before me was a skyline that looked just magnificent; a war between clouds, fighting over space, climbing across each other, their individual colours and shapes moulding in ways I’ve never seen before… or perhaps I just haven’t been looking. Those whites, blues, purples, silvers of skyline, were contrast to the stretches of forest along the motorway. A beautiful palette of colour presented itself, and it sounded amazing.
I want to live with my eyes open. I don’t want to sleep walk. I don’t want to sleep talk.
I think this entire year, as well as 2020, has been emotionally intense for most of us. My life at the moment is almost contrast to what it was. I believe I needed that dark time to find this light. This fire and passion. A passion for music, and for all that it involves.
I think I want to live this life with endless creativity, an open mind, gratitude, patience, passion, and good relationships with family and friends. I don’t want to stress, or feel unnecessary anger, or put myself in places that I don’t want to be. I want it to be hard, I want the challenge, to overcome, to grow, to learn; to become a better person, a better musician, creator, writer, friend, brother etc.
but most of all…
I want to live, with the greatest intent.
Busking gives me that. A feeling of living with the greatest intent. I am stepping out into this world, following something I believe worthwhile, and presenting it to the world. It excites me so much.
Just create, don’t worry about being inefficient, do not dwell on that. Just be efficient.
Is this Wizard screaming “aaaaah!” as in: what the damm have I just created with my magic? – Not thinking that he might open a portal to another world. or! “Ahaaaa! I have just opened up a portal to another world – step inside now”. ?? Either way, the Wizard has had the power to create this dimension door; and what a power that is!
I have always felt that Imagination is Magic – by reading words from a fictional story, our mind conjures images inside; we convert words into entire scenes, colours, people, images etc… so how could it not be magic? It must be right! The same as when our imagination pulls us to create something – so we create that something. We have in a sense pulled something from nowhere and made it into A SOMETHING! It is like the classic Magician trick – pulling a rabbit from a hat – when we imagine, we are pulling something from our mind, shapeshifting it. This act, gifts us in so many ways; it is a form of entertainment, a way to understand new and difficult things, a form of expression to help us understand ourselves and the world we are told to fit into, it is something we can feel emotions towards. This sweet nothing – with the guidance of our imagination – turns into a something that can inspire others doing this process: transformations of Nothing into Something.
‘Twitter Voice Notes’, an interesting way to create and share an audio documentation. I have just discovered this, and I like the idea of sharing sounds found on trips here and there. It allows the audio to play in the background whilst you scroll across the Twitter world; which also works on this Blog Post! Incredible – probably the easiest way to share audio snippets, ever. I think this will add a new dimension to both this blog, and the whole documentation of this music/writing journey.
I take a lot of audio recordings anyhow with my iPhone or H4N: tapping metal poles to catch their tones, birdsongs, squeaky doors, the hums of odd electronic devices, cafe/street ambience, and so on (Manipulating them on audio software is a lot of fun; it also gives a new texture to my compositions). Being able to document this, and share even more audio – well I’m excited.
While I wait my turn to busk in Stratford, Max Stockin sings classics from The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and many more. Patrons at the surrounding cafes smile and tap their feet to the tambourines beat. Children pause in amazement. The wanderers of Stratford slow their steps to watch a little longer, as if they’re on autopilot to explore the entirety of Stratford without fully stopping – a strange thing we humans do, why is it sometimes so odd for us to stop and stand still? 🤷♂️ Maybe because there’s so much to see and do, so stopping slows our hastened consumption of all the things. And all the things… are a lot of things. But it is okay to stop still for a moment of two – as a previous blog speaks – Ma.
Then sometimes, all we wish to do is sleep. This idea to the right was written during that sleepy late afternoon phase. It’ll be coming up on a new music release – which I’m recording today, somewhere in a forest I think.
It’s always great to see Max. He’s been busking longer than I have; and being in the same area, we often cross paths, share tips, talk busking stories, and suggest new busking pitches. During all the lockdowns Max stuck it out, he played just as he would if the world wasn’t silent; and I think that’s brilliant, I wish that I had done exactly what he did, and not kept myself stuck inside: working in an array of dusty factories (though, this did give me time to realign and refuel the things that I want in life).
As long as you’re creating content and building your brand, you’re building future opportunity.
Crush It, Gary Vaynerchuk, pg.47
Crush It. A quick read and filled with many chapters that make you realise how possible it is to do anything that you love and make a living doing so. What I love about documenting such a journey across many platforms, it means that any new fans who discover me have this entire backlog to go through – if that interests them. It’s also a great way to – one day – show my children/grand-children, “look, this is what I used to get up to at your age”: I think that’s the biggest motivator to document and post content online. This video by him, will always inspire me.
Why not take a shot at what you love?
As the sun wakes and fills the streets with golden rays, I began to play. A Saturday high-street is extremely busy, which often frightens me, as the large crowds can be uncomfortable – a reason why I avoid London… though I am currently in Oxford, and I forgot how busy this place is, and slightly regret coming here for the weekend – but the city is marvellous to wander through.
As my energy increases, the sounds and joy emitting from the performance turn more eyes, eventually forming small crowds that last only a minute or two. Behind me a girl, aged 2 maybe 3, stops and stares right at me, an expression that suggests – WHAT is that noise? I have never heard this. The small blue and yellow turtle toy she is pulling along stops its rotatory feet, and her stare continues. Her mother laughs. Other people notice this and point it out, smiling and laughing. The girl continues on her way, and stops every few steps, to stare again: always at my face, not the guitars, as if she thinks the music is coming from my head – which I suppose it is, the brain controls the hands, and the hands control the music, but is the music really coming from me, or from the creative Genius/Daemon?. Eventually the girl continues on her way, trailing the blue and yellow turtle along with her. Her mother waits to see if she’ll stop, but she doesn’t, so her mother throws in a coin and rushes off after her now running child. The crowds attention turn from her to the boy now bobbing up and down in the middle of the street: between myself and the cafe’s outside seating. He bobs slightly faster than the song, so I try to catch up, but he keeps on changing, as if he doesn’t quite understand rhythm just yet, but loves to dance/or bob/or whatever this move is. This dancing child brings more attention, there are cameras videoing it, and women clapping their hands with joy: turning their husbands attention from the autopilot-see-everything-walk.
Street Art – the many wonders of it.
I can’t imagine any other job would grant such moments like these. And I’m so glad that I can do this everyday from this day onwards ❤
thank you for reading/watching/listening, by James Chatfield.
‘Her branches will always shelter us; no matter the season, nor the height of the sun, nor the darkness of the night; always.’– Seyanna, a Druid of the Elder Tree.
New Handmade CDs are on their way. Work in progress. Limited supply (100 CDs), each hand drawn, unique one of a kind designs. If you’re interested, drop me a message on here, email me, find my social media’s and message me… (I need to figure out how to create a shop page).
All Wizard themed. Because, Wizards are users of magic, which is a sort of imagination, which is where music and writing comes from? Art is Imagination… Imagination is Magic? …and Wizards are cool?
The CDs will be a collection of acoustic guitar songs + some double guitar + some electronica. To create an hour of relaxing music, something to drive too, to study too, to venture through forests too… to pretend to be a Wizard too?
We find our voice: project by project. Subject by subject. Observing in happy amazement as a new ‘us’ pops out each time.
The Artist’s Journey, Steven Pressfield, pg.113.
I have loved this read – The Artist’s Journey – Each page is almost a tiny essay on differed subjects relating to the creative process, and the life of an artist. This one quote explains very briefly what an Artist’s Journey involves: Working with one idea, then the next, and discovering ourselves through this process. It is also the kind of book that will inspire your creativity; it will pause your rush to ‘make it’ and instead make it (it = your art). Because I think ultimately it is the journey that is the most important part, and also the most beautiful part. The act of trying, of exploring, and discovering yourself.
My intention for the Handmade CDs (above) is to release a new kind each month (project by project ), almost like how a collectable comic-book subscription works. I’ve always been inspired by collectables, I spent a lot of time and money on Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh/Magic: the Gathering cards when I was a child. So to shape the joy of that into my music excites me, and knowing that the journey is everlasting, amplifies that joy. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on that process – subscribe to this blog or join my Patreon : there is a tier called ‘Postcards and Letters’, at £15+ a month, you’ll receive postcards, letters, and one of each release of these Handmade CDs.
I continue to venture through forests: below is a short video of complied snippets from a certain walk with a certain dog called – Roxy. The free video editing effects on TikTok are brilliant fun to mess around with.
The wondrous morning wakes us. Cold mist rises, and falls as the sunlight slices it between the trees. Bird songs, tree creaks, distant moos, and hums of busying road. Beauty, beauty everywhere. Sometimes we forget to look, sometimes we forget it’s there… but it is, it is always there.
As my friend told me yesterday (who makes the chillest of music, here) – Ma. A Japanese concept that translates in many manners; but his idea – a deliberate pause in time. A pause in time… so that everything before that deliberate pause and everything after, makes a little more sense, and can be appreciated more. The simple step of 10 minutes of ‘pausing’ can have lasting positive effects on your time afterwards. It makes sense, of course it does. If we see the beauty in stillness, then we can begin to see the greater beauty in movement.
Ma, is something I should look into more. The first thing I found was the symbol of Ma;
…which combines, ‘Sun’ and ‘Door’. A door to the Sun? The Sun’s door? The Sun grants us a moment of peace once its door has opened? Or should we open our door more often to witness the beauty of the Sun? We should pause at each door, we should pause at the reflections that the sun paints across everything there is.
We should pause.
…and after we pause, we should do things we enjoy. Especially early in the day. For me, that is reading, writing, walking, and guitar. So I do my utmost best to fill that in each morning – as well as doing it throughout the entire day.
Below, is a live video of me walking through the woods while playing some very minimal guitar. I have recently purchased a tripod, and found a way to attach it to my guitar; I must have looked ridiculous to other dog walkers (which thankfully there weren’t any at 6am). The Forest Gnomes were not happy though, I believe I woke them up… they weren’t home in the Ent’s nest; but they’re small tricksters that are easy to miss, especially in their home environment. Listening to this live stream may make more sense of that last sentence…. but seriously, watch out for the Forest Gnomes.
Posted on TikTok, we got a duet with a very brilliant singer, who has a hilarious song about the video…
This past week has been filled with walks. Each day I have ventured out for an hour or more; walks down the rivers, taking paths I usually don’t, heading to new forests. And each day brings more light to life, the beauty of the natural surroundings makes me pause. And pausing is proving to be most beneficial. I advise it.
thank you for reading/watching/listening, by James Chatfield.
A blank page was nothing but potential, pointless until it was used.
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings – Part One, pg.119
I read two books at once – in the morning, it is usually something non-fiction: relevant to creativity, writing, music, or generally a topic I am interested in (currently ‘The Artist’s Journey’, next, ‘Sapiens’) – in the evening (and spare time) I’ll read fiction, ‘The Way of Kings’ currently – as the quote suggests. A large Epic Fantasy, the first of said to be ten books!
The book itself is uniquely illustrated, with concept drawings of creatures, people, and characters, and of course world maps. From what I’ve heard the book takes a while to get to the main points, but it is an Epic Fantasy and it is one of ten, so it’s in for the long ride.
I discovered Brandon Sanderson while searching YouTube for ‘Creative Writing Lectures’ – Brandon Sanderson on Writing – and here he was with hours of valuable content for writing, more attuned to Science Fiction and Fantasy, but great advice for all-round writing. So from enjoying these lecturers, I figured it was time to read a book of his.
I really enjoy the quote (atop the blogpost) – a blank page is potential. Which fits in with a previous blog post I’ve written; Make a Mess. The blank page/canvas/song/space etc, is potential for a whole lot of mess to be made, but also for something wonderful to emerge from. A blank page inspires us all differently, we approach it in our own unique way, we see different things on the page before it arrives. It is a vessel for imagination, and imagination is magic. On its own, it is that – pointless – so even if you have made a mess on the blank page, it is no longer pointless, it has served a purpose.
Each morning, over the past week, I have done two things with writing. During the first hour – after stretching, water, coffee, reading – I open up the laptop or notepad… first I write ‘my subconscious spiel’ (everything that comes to mind), I write without stopping, until I filled an entire page. I haven’t re-read any of it, because it’s a way to clear the mind, and probably utter garbage. Secondly, I write towards my current story project, at minimum one page – always starting with a blank page, I have discovered that a blank page is a great inspiration to start. I see it as the quote describes – Potential.
Below is another quote from the same book, around a similar subject.
In drawing a portrait, her medium was the soul itself. There were plants from which one could remove a tiny cutting – a leaf, or a bit of stem – then plant it and grow a duplicate. When she collected a Memory of a person, she was snipping free a bud of their soul, and she cultivated and grew it on a page. Charcoal for sinew, paper pulp for bone, ink for blood, the paper’s texture for skin. She fell into a rhythm, a cadence, the scratching of her pencil like the sound of breathing from those she depicted. – Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings – Part One, pg.117/118
Get excited about the blank page, get excited about creating afresh, because the beginning – the blank page – has unlimited potential.
I didn’t find much time for music yesterday, but above is what I did discover. Written after watching this video;
You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander.
Anne Lammot, ‘Bird by Bird‘, pg. 283
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, and there are many quotes I can pull from it. This one in particular, well… I love it, so I had to share it. The image of writers building sandcastles from words, ahhhh. And the thought of releasing our imagination from our mind’s world into the physical world, ahhhh again!
As a writer builds their sandcastle with words traveling from mind to fingertips, there comes a moment when their sandcastle’s door swings open, and out wanders their imagination. Taking the form of tiny explorers from another world, they step curiously across the beach, stare at the ocean, watch the humans gathered with their ice-creams, and towels, they ask questions, they laugh at the world, they discover new ways to look at it, they contemplate it the most unusual ways. After a while, the imagination steps back into their sandcastle (which is no longer the writers, because the imagination has now taken over), report their findings and map out plans for conquer… soon a whole empire of sandcastles arise, and before we know it the imagination has taken over this world and built anew. A Kingdom of Imagination. From the beginning words to the ending of the world.
And this is another reason to write: people need us, to mirror for them and for each other without distortion – not to look around and say, “Look at yourselves, you idiots!” but to say, “This is who we are.”
Anne Lammot, ‘Bird by Bird‘, pg. 287
The more I read, and the more I write; the more I discover how important books and the act of writing are/is. Because it is that – which Anne writes – a way/a place for people to understand ‘who we are’. Fictional characters (that we agree or disagree with) teach us, through the wonder of imagination, who we are, and who we are not. Because it is equally as important to learn who we aren’t, as much as it is, who we are.
From this book, I have again discovered more reasons to read and to write.
So I suggest that you read this particular book. But I also suggest that you read any book that you find of interest. And most importantly, that you write. Even for just yourself, to write out your thoughts, feelings, ideas… anything really; because the act of writing is incredibly important, and you’ll notice it as you begin and then as you do more.