Spirit Level: emotive harmonic vocals and cleverly precise guitar – the new EP from folk/Americana duo Duffy & Bird

EP release date: 20th September 2019

Folk/Americana duo Duffy & Bird are Tricia Duffy on lead vocals and Al Bird on vocals/guitar. The duo’s blend of vocals with Duffy’s warmth and clarity creates a beautiful and emotive harmonic effect that is coupled with Al’s sensitive acoustic guitar. Betraying Al’s roots in rock, their songs combine fluid vocals with cleverly precise guitar arrangements.

Spirit Level is Duffy & Bird’s new five-track EP following the duo’s debut album ‘5 Lines’ released in 2017. The EP is available in both physical and digital formats.

Tricia Duffy: “When we planned the record we challenged ourselves to draw together a collection of songs that are genuinely diverse, while still hanging together as a set with some sense of commonality and feel. Combining Nashville-style story-telling in ‘Faking a Smile’ with a story inspired by WWII in ‘Born to Fly’ and 3 up beat Americana tracks that comment on cultural norms from luck to mental health, we think it’s an eclectic mix!”

Al Bird: “We want to show a breadth of musical styles while staying true to the raw simplicity of just voices and guitars.”

Duffyandbird_IMG_1366_credit Gemma_Redford

Photo credit: Gemma Redford

Now based in Chiswick, west London (Tricia) and Farnham, Surrey (Al) the pair hail from Portsmouth and Cardiff respectively, their paths first crossing in 2015. Originally starting out as two-fifths of a rock covers band they morphed into an acoustic duo performing covers of classic songs. However, putting a set-list together one day two years ago, Tricia confided to Al that she was getting a little tired of doing covers and wanted them to start writing their own songs. With Tricia’s natural gift for storytelling and Al’s intuitive feel for a strong melody the pair soon evolved into accomplished singer-songwriters.

Tricia’s trip to Nashville for a writing workshop in 2017 with songwriter, Verlon Thompson, and others meant she came back with new inspiration and a clutch of brand new songs. Their material began earning them a reputation on the live circuit, with some of their memorable appearances including 2018’s Weyfest and the Tamesis Dock floating barge venue in London. Duffy & Bird’s well-received debut album ‘5 Lines’ was released in November 2017.

“It’s all about stories with Tricia,” says Al. “She’ll get an idea from something someone has said, or she’s seen on TV, and that will percolate in her head until she can write 4-5 lines of a poem. That’s how most of our songs start.”

“Al is highly logical,” adds Tricia. “His musicianship is incredible but his inspiring skill is the way he listens. He hears how things are developing before we’ve even finished writing them and adds magic touches where you least expect them.”

“When I listened for the first time, my very first thought was I haven’t heard anything like this, since Simon & Garfunkel. An incredible duo.” Al Yardy – KB Radio on Duffy & Bird’s debut album ‘5 Lines’

“Duffy & Bird do it again with trademark sound of Americana goodness.” Music Talks reviews

Spirit Level Art Work-3000X3000Spirit Level EP – Track by track

1. Avenue of Luck – A stunning slice of folk/Americana ‘Avenue of Luck’ was also the duo’s recent single. Tricia: “Al and I had been chatting about the number of listeners we had on Spotify and he used the phrase Avenue of Luck – how do we get on to the Avenue of Luck? That sounds like a song, I said to him! I think we both have a shared set of values when it comes to that whole notion of luck. We consider ourselves lucky but we also both strongly believe that there isn’t really any such thing as luck – as the song says only opportunity and [hard] work. That started the theme for the song. We’ve found that Avenue of Luck is a fantastic live song for us and even though it’s still new, it’s been incredibly popular when we’ve taken it out.”

2. Topping Up – Pure Americana, with a comment on today’s cultural zeitgeist relating to mental health. We observe our friends and family struggling with their own judged perception of a perfect life, too much to do, to fit in, to try and achieve, but instead of taking something away, they relentlessly add more and more. And top up the excesses to cope…

3. Faking a Smile – Al: “This was a song we wrote in 2018, Tricia had started writing stories about this character’s life, using her time in Nashville in 2017 as inspiration for some of the imagery. She’d started distilling the story into a simple song around Autumn last year, when her house was burgled. Among the things that were stolen was her song-writing journal that had the original story in it and all her notes for this song. The chord structures and harmonics. Everything. All she had left was what was in her head and some audio recordings she’d made during the development process. When we sat down to plan the record she played me these extracts – with normal 4:4 acoustic strumming. I thought the the theme was very strong but the snippets weren’t hanging together musically so I suggested we re-write the whole thing in 3…”
Tricia adds: “When Al suggested re-writing Faking a Smile in 3:4 or 6:8 I thought he was taking the piss. I’d been really struggling after my break-in and having my journal taken had been one of the most devastating parts of the loss and intrusion (Tricia had intercepted the burglar during the terrifying incident). I struggled for weeks with the lyric re-write – but my friend Oli Deakin (AKA Lowpines) suggested I listen to the Bob Dylan bootleg volumes and in particular the alternate recording of Like a Rolling Stone which was first penned by Dylan in 3:4 and later re-written in 4:4. It was all I needed to inspire me. The heart ache and hard work was 100% worth it as it’s one of the songs I am most proud of. Not just on this record but of everything we’ve made.”

4. Spirit Level – The title track of the album, Spirit Level offers a relentless acoustic beat that drives this indie-rock sounding melodic Americana with the juxtaposition between haunting harmonies, layered acoustic guitar and a complexity that betrays the simplicity of a duo that consist of just two voices and guitars. The lyrics sneak up on you, tricking you into a sense of simple pop, but in fact they ruthlessly play on the idea of ‘spirit’ with multiple metaphors building cleverly throughout the song.
Tricia: “I wrote the majority of this song, while walking around the river in Chiswick with my dog one sunny autumn day. It takes 40 minutes to do a loop and by the time I got home I had the majority of the lyrics in my head and hummed into voice memos on my phone I added some basic chords and sent it Al for development. He added a huge amount of rock influence to what started life as an acoustic self reflective tune.”

5. Born to Fly – Soaring vocals over intricate guitar, this song was inspired by Mary Ellis one of the last surviving women pilots from WWII. She told a story of the preparations for D-Day, the flotilla of ships gathering in Southampton water. The female pilots from the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) were delivering aircraft built in Hamble and as they flew overhead they could sense that something was happening, but as civilians were unaware of exactly what. During these desperate times these exceptional, young, talented women entertained dreams of romance and Mary spoke of writing love notes, which they shoved in bottles and dropped over the water hoping they would reach the man of their dreams. They couldn’t have known what would happen in the days to come – both the horror and finally the end of the war. This song is a humble tribute to the incredible bravery of the women that ferried the aircraft in the most extraordinary circumstances and the service men they endeavoured to support.

Media enquiries to: Darren Johnson +44 (0)7799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com

Website: https://duffyandbird.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/duffyandbird
Twitter: https://twitter.com/duffyandbird

Spirit Level Flier

Dandelion Charm mark new single with double gig weekend in Worthing 13th and 14th July

Intimate Acoustic gig – The Charles Dickens, Saturday 13th July
54-60 Heene Rd, Worthing, BN11 3RG. Doors 8.00pm, tickets £5.00 on the door. Show your tickets for our band gig at Bar 42 on Sunday 14th July for half price entry

Band launch gig – Bar 42, Sunday 14th July
42 Marine Parade, Worthing, BN11 3QA. Doors 7.00pm, tickets £7.00  Book here

Ahead of their much-anticipated new album this Autumn, Newhaven-based duo Dandelion Charm release a new single on 14th July and are marking the release with two special gigs in Worthing that weekend.

Drawing from the prog, rock and folk influences of John Fowler (guitar and vocals) and Clare Fowler (vocals), Dandelion Charm’s critically-acclaimed signature sound is a luxurious blend of intricate harmonies, soaring melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Reflecting on the drip drip impact of a never-ending stream of modern media commentary, the new single ‘Afraid of the Silence’ delivers its message with an upbeat optimistic shuffle and overtones of Simon and Garfunkel.

Already familiar faces on the Brighton and Worthing music scene, Dandelion Charm have stepped up their live appearances over the past year and won many new fans, performing as a duo or trio and sometimes in an expanded full-band format.

Clare Fowler: “We love playing in Worthing and we wanted to do something extra special so in addition to our launch gig at Bar 42 with the band we will be playing an intimate trio gig the night before downstairs at the Charles Dickens Pub on Heene Road. For those die-hard Dandelion Charm fans advance ticket holders for Bar 42 can get into the acoustic gig for half price.”

John Fowler: “Afraid of the Silence is a comment on Western society. So many of us just want to be told what’s worthy of our attention, what isn’t, what we should wear, what words we should use and so on. We absorb whatever the media spews out as if it’s our own thoughts, disregarding whatever was in vogue last week. So many people are terrified of not having all this stimulus and media guidance. They are afraid of the silence. People spend their time coveting whatever product is marketed to their demographic, and get a small dopamine release when it’s acquired, then they’re on to the next thing. This seems to be how many of us exist. I wonder whether such people reach old age and feel like they haven’t actually done anything – whether they feel as if they haven’t really lived.”

Dandelion Charm’s debut album ‘Tiny Drop’ was released in 2015. This was followed by a five-track EP ‘Riding The Flood’ in 2018. Following the success of ‘Riding The Flood’ last year and appearances at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, the Cropredy festival fringe and a support slot for prog icons Gryphon, 2019 is promising to be even more of an exhilarating ride for Dandelion Charm with an appearance at the Cambridge Rock Festival in July, a return to Cropredy in August and a string of gigs along the south coast. A second full-length album ‘Maybe Dreamers’ is scheduled for release in November 2019 in both CD and digital formats.

Afraid of the Silence cover art

Media enquiries to: Darren Johnson +44 (0)7799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com
Website: https://www.dandelioncharm.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dandelioncharmmusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dandelion_Charm

New single: ‘Afraid of the Silence’ – an upbeat yet thought-provoking slice of prog folk from Dandelion Charm

Single release date: 14th July 2019

“Dandelion Charm have the songs and talent to appeal to not only prog and folk fans, but anyone who enjoys strong songwriting with blissful vocals and melodies” – Get Ready To Rock

Ahead of their much-anticipated new album this Autumn, south-coast duo Dandelion Charm release a new single on 14th July. Reflecting on the drip drip impact of a never-ending stream of modern media commentary ‘Afraid of the Silence’ delivers its message with an upbeat optimistic shuffle and overtones of Simon and Garfunkel.

Drawing from the prog, rock and folk influences of John Fowler (guitar and vocals) and Clare Fowler (vocals), Dandelion Charm’s critically-acclaimed signature sound is a luxurious blend of intricate harmonies, soaring melodies and heartfelt lyrics.

John Fowler: “Afraid of the Silence is a comment on Western society. So many of us just want to be told what’s worthy of our attention, what isn’t, what we should wear, what words we should use and so on. We absorb whatever the media spews out as if it’s our own thoughts, disregarding whatever was in vogue last week. So many people are terrified of not having all this stimulus and media guidance. They are afraid of the silence. People spend their time coveting whatever product is marketed to their demographic, and get a small dopamine release when it’s acquired, then they’re on to the next thing. This seems to be how many of us exist. I wonder whether such people reach old age and feel like they haven’t actually done anything – whether they feel as if they haven’t really lived.”

Dandelion Charm - High Res for print-71

The release of ‘Afraid of the Silence’ will be marked with a special launch gig at Bar 42, Worthing on 14th July.

Dandelion Charm’s debut album ‘Tiny Drop’ was released in 2015. This was followed by a five-track EP ‘Riding The Flood’ in 2018. Following the success of ‘Riding The Flood’ last year and appearances at Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, the Cropredy festival fringe and a support slot for prog icons Gryphon, 2019 is promising to be even more of an exhilarating ride for Dandelion Charm with an appearance at the Cambridge Rock Festival in July, a return to Cropredy in August and a string of gigs along the south coast. A second full-length album ‘Maybe Dreamers’ is scheduled for release in November 2019 in both CD and digital formats.

Media enquiries to: Darren Johnson +44 (0)7799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com

Website: https://www.dandelioncharm.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dandelioncharmmusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dandelion_Charm

Afraid of the Silence cover art

Fine Soft Day: Contemporary progressive rock from folk-rock roots

New album: ‘You Are Here’ released 1st July 2019

You Are Here is the brand new album from Manchester progressive rock-influenced band Fine Soft Day. Fine Soft Day are Mark Sweeney (keyboards, vocals); Jeff Gascoyne (bass, guitar, violin, vocals) and Martin Hanbury (guitars, vocals).

Originally formed in 1996, Fine Soft Day were regular performers across the folk rock scene. The band’s live sets featured a mixture of traditional material interspersed with self-penned songs. Their eponymous debut album was released in 1998, picking up local radio play and a memorable live appearance on Sky TV. In subsequent years families and careers forced the music to take a back seat. In the summer of 2018, however, the band reformed with the intention of trying out some new material and to record some of the older songs which had never been committed to the studio. Over the following 12 months, Fine Soft Day’s new album, You Are Here, was written, arranged, recorded and mixed by the band themselves.

The new album incorporates strong influences of progressive rock, containing elements of early Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd to name a few. The band’s original folk roots were now replaced by soaring guitars, sweeping keyboards, strident bass lines and rich, complex vocal arrangements.

Mark Sweeney (keyboards and vocals): “It was in 1996 that I was invited to join a band with Jeff and Martin. It quickly became clear that we had a musical understanding and we got on famously. It was bizarre that a Celtic rock band consisted of three frustrated prog rock enthusiasts. But we were at that stage in our lives when families and careers meant that our music had to take a back seat. Years passed, children grew and we all simultaneously felt that craving for creativity. So, in 2018, when Martin called and suggested we spend a couple of hours trying out some new material and recording some of the old songs, the spark was reignited. We started on the old folky stuff but it was clear that our new material was very different to the old stuff. I didn’t want to rely on my flute to the extent that we used to. Jeff felt the same about the fiddle. So our new music was much more based on progressive rock and the style was now leaning towards our original influences. Over the following twelve months You Are Here was born.”

You Are Here is a concept album, unashamedly. Built around a themes of hope and humanity stretching across two points in history but connected by a single point on the earth – the weaving together of time and space. The album features lyrical and musical motifs that recur throughout the material, in different guises, leading to the culmination of the 14 minute epic finale, Roll Up The World (Part 2). The band wanted the album to allow listeners to follow on a journey, in a similar way to classic albums such as Dark Side Of The Moon and Close To The Edge had done before. But alongside the progressive influences, there are elements of country rock, lending a flavour of R.E.M and Neil Young amongst others. The band are hugely proud of the album, which will be released on digital platforms worldwide on 1st July 2019.

Jeff Gascoyne (Bass, guitar, violin, vocals): “When my dad bought a cheap violin I jumped at the chance to learn. He always had an eye for a bargain and bought the whole record store at a 1971 school fair. What he didn’t realise was not all the records were classical. So at a young age I enjoyed Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Motherlight and Two Ounces Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle. This opened the door to Genesis, Yes and ELP. The violin didn’t lend itself to playing this music but I soon discovered Fairport Convention and Dave Swarbrick. After college a friend said the cricket club band were looking for a fiddle player. I’d never been in a band before but was invited to the next practice and the next. As the line up changed it was clear that, much as we loved the Celtic music, at least three of us were frustrated prog-rockers. As family and career edged out the music I turned to leisurely solo composition without expectation of ever hearing it played. Then came the call from Martin…”

Martin Hanbury (guitars, vocals): “I had a hippy phase, a punkish phase, an Indie phase, and a folky phase. At the end of it, I settled on the folkier side of things because it was home-grown, accessible and invitational. Crucially, it honed the craft because there’s nowhere to hide with a bare, stripped down guitar and your voice. I was writing more and more songs and all I needed was a piece of wood with six strings and the breath in my body. My meeting with Jeff allowed me to expand the sounds I was hearing beyond the confining skills I had and when we teamed up with Mark the possibilities blossomed. So Fine Soft Day was always going to happen in a way; we just didn’t know what way. Now, looking back on those experiences and influences I can trace the tones and textures of my early heroes. Harrison, Hackett and Howe in a relay with Gilmour, Page and Declan Sinnott as each part of my playing steals the baton from one or another of them.”

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Media enquiries to: Darren Johnson 07799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com

Website: https://www.finesoftday.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/finesoftday
Twitter: @finesoftdayband

Thunderstick reveals his new gigging lineup for 2019 – new live dates announced

Drummer Thunderstick has always been one to champion change for his band. Both recorded material and live work have seen many talented musicians take their place with him onstage or in the studio so it is with fevered exhilaration that he excitedly announces Thunderstick ’19.

Barry Graham Purkis: “I can’t wait to put this band onstage, in my opinion it is the strongest lineup I have had since the bands formation back in the 80’s. Vocalist ‘Raven’ and guitarist Mike Gibbons have added something unique, something that goes beyond that of just being fantastic musicians. All of us are totally in ‘sync’ with each other, the creative chemistry between us all is something that for a musician happens very rarely if at all in a career. Their absolute love of theatrical rock/metal meant they were the perfect fit for Thunderstick and we have some great shows lined up. We’ll also be recording new material for a four track EP this summer I really feel very excited about this reincarnation.”

The full Thunderstick lineup is:
Vocals – Raven
Guitar – Mike Gibbons
Guitar – Lee Quenby
Bass – Rex Thunderbolt
Drums – Thunderstick aka Barry Graham Purkis

Raven started her career as a solo singer over a decade ago working the many small venues across her native Kent by putting in the performances she soon attracted enquiries from rock bands that had heard of her powerful voice and enigmatic stage presence she started guesting with many performing rock covers, as well as continuing her solo work. She now joins Thunderstick…’The Raven has landed’.

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Mike Gibbons has been on the Thunderstick radar for a couple of years indicating a strong interest in joining the band but the opportunity hadn’t been there…until now… professional UK-based session guitarist and songwriter he has played alongside major names including T’Pau, Richard O’Brien( Rocky Horror), Mike Pender, Brian Pool, Mike D’Abo and The Supremes amongst many others. He has as long list of TV and advertising credits as well as his stage and studio work. Aside from his work as a guitar player he is also a songwriter and composer, one of his songs ‘Butterfly’ featuring on the closing credits of the zombie horror PC game Paradigm Shift. He now brings his considerable talents to Thunderstick.

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Barry Graham Purkis aka Thunderstick became the figurehead of the newly emerging NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) scene in 1979, playing both with Iron Maiden and Samson (alongside Bruce Dickinson) and then with his eponymously named Thunderstick band. A songwriter, lyricist, arranger and producer in his own right he furthered the band’s career throughout the eighties until the band played its last gig in Tunbridge Wells in October 1986. Then a little over thirty years later he went back into the studio recording his songs that became the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album. Released in July 2017 it attracted enthusiastic reviews worldwide. In 2018 he put a live band together performing Thunderstick shows the first in more than three decades. Now Thunderstick ’19 are ready to ‘Steal your Rock ’n’ Roll Hearts’

Lee Quenby is a Kent guy through and through. He was lucky enough to score his first gig with Margate legends Vigilante before forming Mr Scary with two of his best friends, Mik Gaffney and Paul Delo. He never lost his love of that flash and showiness that the metal bands of the 80’s had.

Rex Thunderbolt another familiar face from the Kent music scene, bass-player Rex has been part of the reborn Thunderstick band since 2017, playing on the well-received album ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and subsequent live gigs when Thunderstick returned to the stage.

Live dates confirmed so far are:
Sun 02 Jun 2019 – Mearfest – Slough
Fri 26 Jul 2019 – Leo’s Red Lion – Gravesend
Fri 02 Aug 2019 – New Day Festival – Faversham
Sun 29 Sep 2019 – 4 Sticks Weekender – Amersham Arms, New Cross
Sat 05 Oct 2019 – British Steel Festival (Bands consisting of ex Iron Maiden Members)- Fismes, France

Thunderstick group shot 2019 a

All media enquiries to: Darren Johnson (+44) 7799 731 682 darrenjohnson@crowfliescommunications.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thunderstickofficial/

All photo credits: Blake Cowell – visit his website here