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Greetings and a happy new year to you from an unseasonably warm Brighton (see yesterday’s sunset).
I will be playing solo at the How Does It Feel night at the Buffalo Bar, next to the Highbury & Islington tube in London on Thursday 26th January.
A Little Orchestra will also be playing and we will revive the versions of “Scottish Pop” and “The Reservoir” from last year’s show in Brixton. Apart from that I will play Spearmint and Shirley Lee songs completely different from previous solo gigs, if you see what I mean…
Full details are on the How Does It Feel site or here on Facebook.


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» Brighton, Solo Gigs, My Album


(Soundtrack John Coltrane “Lush Life”)
Top notch Le Tigre event here in Brighton on Saturday night, very refreshing and inspiring. In fact, I might get in touch with Riots Not Diets and offer my services as a support act. I am sure they will be delighted!
Yes, we have been in Brighton for six months now, which has flown by. It has been a difficult time in some ways, but the town remains as brilliant as ever, and the perfect place for vegan/veggie lefties to settle. The music, theatre and film scenes are great and the pubs are (rather too) excellent. I have been working in London, but am looking for something locally.
I have done four solo gigs so far. The first in Leeds was hard going, but I was happy just to get through playing solo and survive it (thanks Mark). The second in Brixton with A Little Orchestra was better, and had some moments I was genuinely proud of (thanks Ian). The third in Lille was fantastic, my first living room gig, and the perfect way to play solo, because people are obliged to sit and listen! (thanks Nicolas) The fourth, in London, had some good moments (thanks Simon), but I can’t really expect folk to listen attentively to very quiet stuff in a pub on a Saturday night – all learning for me… I will continue to play the odd solo show, as I do feel it is leading somewhere. There is something about being totally exposed, with just the songs to work with that appeals to me. Nothing to hide behind.
Meanwhile, we have been writing for the next Spearmint album. Jim and I have written quite a few songs together, and Ronan has created a set up whereby he can add drums at home and then mix the tracks. So far he has just worked on a couple to establish the process. I am hoping to go over there next week and sit with him to nail one of these tunes. Would really like to get the album out next year, but I feel it is only half written so far, so work needs to be done. We need to love it, or there is no point.
Bridie and I are watching a lot of films at the moment, ramping up our top 100 of the year. Saw Miranda July’s “The Future” last week, with a nice Q&A, and it is great, darker and more akin to her writing than the last film. Other favourites so far include “Blue Valentine”, “My Dog Tulip”, “The Inside Job”, “Attack The Block”, “Tyranassaur”, “La Quattro Volte”, and “Midnight In Paris”. Have read some great books this year too: “The Laughing Policeman” by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo, “Tony & Susan” by Austen Wright, “The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters (who did another good Q&A recently), “Under The Net” by Iris Murdoch and “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras amongst the Lee Child/Peter James/ Ian Rankins and the Bret, Murakami and Donna Tartt re-reads. Also read “The Count Of Monte Christo”, and the first volume of Sherlock Holmes, which are both superb.
I hate the way I write favourites and a squiggly red line appears under it, telling me I am spelling it wrongly. Why did America take our language and then willfully get 1% of it wrong? Can I change this on the laptop so it works in English? I worry that people who use spell-check are learning to spell certain words wrongly.
As I say, it is very easy to be Vegetarian or Vegan in Brighton, which is a treat. I have been vegetarian for thirty years now, and hover somewhere between it and veganism. I have got rid of milk now. After all, drinking the birth milk from another beast is a disgusting idea, yes? And the way they keep the cows pregnant and giving birth all the time, just so they constantly produce milk, but then they kill the male offspring is obscene. The thing is, you grow up being told that you need this stuff to be healthy, and then when you look into it, you don’t, it is all just a marketing campaign by the companies who make money out of selling milk.
I am reeling from the success of my album – I didn’t think an album could sell so little, or be so poorly received. I guess I set out to make an album that takes at least four or five listens to get into. All the albums I have really loved over the years are like that: they sound bad on the first listen and then gradually open up until you love them and get years of pleasure from them. So my double-album will never get good reviews, after all what reviewer would listen to it four times (or even once?). Oh well, I am proud of it, it’s got some of my best stuff on it. I hereby award it a 5-star review, simply because it is the album it was intended to be. I can’t ask for more than that. I remember we got a similar reaction to “A Different Lifetime”. It’s tough, and you have to bounce back, and move on. Which is exactly what I will do.

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» Gigs, Live Tunes, Interview


GIGS +++
More solo Shirley Lee shows are confirmed:
Saturday 1st October: Lille – “Domino Boomerang” (I will be playing for around an hour at this “living-room” gig. If you are interested in attending, please email Nicolas: )
Saturday 15th October: London – Wilmington Arms (with The Bitter Springs)

Go here and here to see me performing The Reservoir and Scottish Pop live with the splendid A Little Orchestra at last month’s How Does It Feel shows.

Here’s an interview I did with the estimable Eric Stephenson, firstly some chat about the new album,

Then about “A Week Away” and “A Different Lifetime”, and finally Eric’s Top 10 Spearmint tunes.

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