RAINTOWN – MIDWINTERFEST XTRA
A diary by Raintown
Day 1 – Travel
“Sorry Mr Bain we cannot guarantee the seats that you and your wife paid for, we will put you on standby.” WHAT?? You cannot guarantee our seats?? Not a great start to a few days that we had been looking forward to for some months now.
However, after much discussion, pushing and prodding, EasyJet’s Customer service team booked us on a flight leaving later from Edinburgh. We would make a quick point here – while it is ridiculous for EasyJet to deliberately overbook the flight in the first place – their Customer Service team have been excellent.
We arrive in Bristol some 4 hours later than planned where Alan West, Steve ‘Blacky’ Black and our very own Stevie Lawrence – who had made the earlier flight – were waiting. After some parking barrier issues – we won’t say anymore Mr West lol – we headed down to Axminster, our home for the next couple of days. Blacky was the perfect host; in truth he went above and beyond in terms of hospitality – we remain very grateful.
The plan was to write a song over the next 24hrs and with luck, one good enough that we could perform at the following night’s acoustic performance. To be honest, we did not know about the ‘performing it at the gig the next night’ part at the time, maybe that was best. Stevie L and Claire retired after a quick bite to eat while Blacky and I stayed up – way too late – talking music and song-writing. During the conversation I said, “You’ve got to let it shine.” Blacky said, “That’s the first song tomorrow.”
Day 1 – Song-writing Session:-
Why is it your body-clock still kicks in regardless how late you get to bed? So it was for us the next morning, but the full English that Blacky had cooked set us up for the day. We chatted over breakfast, discussing ideas and talking about current events. With a fresh cuppa brewed, we picked up the guitars and started playing about with a little idea that had come to me in the morning, a few lines jotted down quickly and that was it, we were off. The positive energy in the room was tangible and that ethos – led by Blacky – allowed for a potent cocktail of creativity that just a couple of hours later resulted in our first song.
An up tempo, positive and hope filled song called, ‘When it Shines it Shines.’ It emphasises the fundamental message that we should all let our own light shine and embrace the best parts of our personalities. It’s going to be a cracker with the full band going!
Break time and an opportunity to explore Axminster in the beautiful April sunshine. It was nice to relax and enjoy our surroundings in the knowledge that the synergy of writing styles and diverse ideas had already borne fruit.
Claire had been on fire in the first session – she has such a great ear for melody – and was keen to move on to the next song. Stevie L had brought with him an idea with the chord progression pretty well constructed, but no real story developed. As a group we started kicking about possible routes and lyrical ideas, without much happening. Blacky, maybe sensing an impasse, introduced a writing technique that he uses and it really got us flowing. The method is not how we (Paul/Claire) normally write and we loved it for that very reason – we had learned something new that will improve our writing forever. Quickly the story unfolded and we joined a very pointed conversation between two parties that left one of them in no doubt of the reason for their predicament. We had just written ‘Baby, it’s You.’ Something very different for Raintown and we are excited to let you all hear it! Now it is only at this juncture that Blacky tells us, “By the way, you are performing these songs tomorrow night.” Uh Oh!
Two songs created from the combined efforts of everyone involved, it had been such a successful day and we were not finished yet. However, it was time for dinner and some downtime – well for an hour at least. It is fair to say that Alan and Blacky’s idea – to create these writing workshops – had paid dividends already; perhaps more than we had all dared to hope. Over dinner Blacky said that he had the first few lines of a new song that he thought we could develop together. He was not wrong!
Sometimes it takes a while to get in to a groove with new people when writing and then there is what was happening here. No egos, no nonsense, just four people coming together to chip away at some ideas to reveal some new gems.
And so it was to the last song of the day – an idea for a beautiful ballad. There was no need to develop the story beyond the captivating verse that Blacky had written, anyone who has fallen hard for someone knows this tale. The song – as so many good ones do – seemed to write itself, with lyrics streaming and the story evolving to reveal a stunning new ballad. Claire took the lead vocal and nailed it! Her delivery was hauntingly delicate and so full of emotion that we all feel that we have created something special. As the last ray of sunlight disappeared to give way to a star filled sky, we finished the final song of the day, ‘In Your Heart.’
Three songs in one day – we were really pleased with the return. Blacky and I stayed up a bit later and he played me some amazing tunes that will appear on his new album. An outstanding story teller, with such a positive and personable way about him; I had enjoyed every second of the writing.
Day 2 – Gig Day.
We decided to use the second day to prepare for the gig at night at Winston’s in Seaton. We knew that people had travelled from London and Cardiff to see us and wanted to give them something special. We worked hard on the new songs and some interesting arrangements of well-established tracks.
We had a nice brunch with Blacky and before we knew it was time to travel over to Seaton. It is always great to hear Alan, Blacky and Adam Sweet do their thing. Great stories, great musicianship and performed in a very engaging manner.
Our time had come and we kicked off with Writing on the Wall and in what seemed like a blink we were at ‘When it Shines it Shines.’ Deep breath and we were away. In quick succession it was ‘Baby It’s You’ and then finally ‘In Your Heart.’ We were so grateful for the incredible reception and the feedback on the new material. All too quickly a great night was over – we had met new friends, caught up with others we had met along the way and shown a very different side to Raintown.
Back at Blacky’s we reviewed the last couple of days – we were all beyond happy with the results. However we are also extremely grateful to both Alan and Blacky for all their efforts in making this happen. We respect them both greatly. With just over an hours sleep we got ourselves together – Alan picked us up and we headed up to Bristol to catch our flight home. Job done!