Graeme Clark News - December 2014
Performer, songwriter, producer and Wet Wet Wet Man, GC is never short of things to do
The first half of 2014 was a busy time with another EP released and a series of solo shows to follow it up
Thereafter it was production rehearsals as The Wets went back on the road for a series of summer shows at racecourses around the UK
Another couple of solo dates closed off the live work before heading back into the studio and spending quite a bit of time putting plans for 2015 together
"That's the trouble. If I'm not releasing music or out on the road, people tend to think that we musicians are sitting around with our feet up. It takes a lot of effort to get shows on the road and writing is never a quick process"
GC fans can expect news in the new year about 2015. Another busy year lies ahead.
And We're Off. July 2014
One hundreed degrees in the middle of summer. Blue skies and still only July. All good surely? Trouble is, it's not a beach with that lovely cooling breeze blowing in, It's a sticky rehearsal room and we're really feeling it.
But, I'm not a man to grumble unnecessarily. It's great to be playing again. And with my buddies by my side, well it's happy days.
Headline act at a racecourse event? That's not the usual recent Wets venue. Not of a dome-style arena in sight. Instead, we're part of a bigger event. Sure enough, we're the headline act. But there's a lot happening right through the day.
Actually, it makes a change from the tours we have done in the past couple of years where we are freezing our little butts off at Xmas time. We can arrive a early and enjoy a bit of what's going on for once.
And what's not to like about seeing thoroughbred race horses doing their thing? They are magnificent animals and it is something else to see them in real life
So, yes. A racecourse event it is. And I'm lovin it. It's all fresh and doing something different keeps you on your toes and lets you break out of a strict touring routine.
Haydock is the opener. I pitch up and just enjoy the atmosphere. And before I know it, it's 7pm and we're being collected to head for the show.
But you never know how it will be until you're out there. Right away I was geeling that energy within the band. Great to play again and it seems like the first time every time. No doubt about it, we're still sharp after the tour in December. In fact, I was enjoying it so much, that my mind wandered to another great gig early in the life of The Wets.
Glasgow in 1984- Nightmoves. A cold October night and we.re heading into Glasgow. Black bin-bags at our side to carry our instruments and, if things didn't work out, to put our hopes in the bin with. We were supporting a band who had a record deal. They had all the stuff you need to play gigs and everything we didn't have – amplifiers, PA system, good instruments and even a small road crew. But, we blew them off stage and came of age that night.
Last night, I felt a little bit of that energy again. I remembered why we are a band and why we're good together. But, Haydock was a slightly more sedate affair.
Back then in Nightmoves, a big, hairy-arsed guy jumped up onto the stage close to the end of the evening. Now, the hairy arse is an assumption on my part but I'm pretty good at making a fairly accurate assessment in such matters. And my keen senses thought that he was more likely to assault one of us than joining us on stage to discuss the merits of our musical ability. As I thought then - “he's wanting to have a go, punch one of us, or worse, mess up our hair. Remember - it was Glasgow in the early 80's, these things happened occasionally. Instead, he walked over to Marti and said, "D'you mind if I dance here Big Man?."
You couldn't make it up and we left him to it. Why not? He was having a good time.
And to this day I still can't fully describe the pleasure I get from playing with me mates and seeing a big crowd of people having a great time – even if they can't get onto the stage to dance.
A final thanks go to The Weather Gods who kept our record of never being rained off in an outside show. Praise be.
If you are coming to one of our gigs, enjoy.
Luv to you all GC XX
Granpa Blackwood - My Hero from World War 2.
Well, as you know, there's nothing yours truly likes better than a friendly chat with anyone who'll pass the time of day with me. Yes, it's great life. All sorts of people come up to me in the street and tell me they love the music. And one of the really big, unexpected perks of my solo efforts has been getting to meet so many people after the shows. It's never a dull moment but there's one recurring theme in the conversation. "You must have nerves of steel to walk out onto the stage with all those people just looking at you"
Now, as you are also aware, I'm an amiable sort of fellow. Not the type to argue or correct the other person's viewpoint. As a result, it's become a habit for me to agree with those lovely folks on just how brave I am to be able to do my thing. But it's also got me thinking and that little voice up above – you know, the one up above the eyeballs that tells you how it is – has been putting me in my place. "Brave?", it sneers. "Don't make me laugh" And I have to admit. That voice has got a point.
So, here's a story I'd like to tell you. It's about my Granpa.
Granpa Blackwood worked as a turner and fitter. The company he was part of supplied parts for those world-class ships my forefathers built on Clydeside. As a nipper, I spent a lot of my spare time with him in his flat in Yoker, on the edge of Clydebank, watching all sorts of ships being launched and sailing away down the River Clyde to another world. He was full of stories and memories of some of the greatest ships ever built. But this man was special in another way. He was a musician. Me and my mother would go down there. She would clean his flat, and I got my first musical performances in the back-room where his Bechstein Piano was. That's how we grew close. And that's where my music came from. Yet, there was an enormous piece of his life I knew nothing about.
A few months back someone had a terrific idea to look into my Granpa's army record. Why not? After all, perhaps climbing part of the family tree would offer up a view that I hadn't seen thus far. It's 2014 – 100 years after the start of The Great War and all across the continent people have found themselves trying to discover their relative's war experiences. Maybe we'd find out something of interest.
It wasn't long before the tales of my dear Granpa started to unfold. The story passed down in my family was that he ran away to join the army when he was 16. Not quite. Granpa actually enlisted in The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as an 18 year old. Private John Blackwood took The King's shilling on 19th January 1918 but it was against the wishes of my great grandparents. I'm liking him more already and I'm wondering if that's where my rebellious and sometimes argumentative nature comes from. Not only that - I'm knocked out that he was a World War One soldier.
Well, that could have been the end of his military history. But no. There's another few chapters to write. Fast forward to World War Two and he's back in the frame. At the relatively mature age of 39 he was called up to serve because he had a set of skills that were needed. This time it's Lance Corporal Blackwood who's enlisted with The Royal Engineers.
September 1939 sees him shipped out to France as part of the British Expeditionary Forces. Granpa is right in the middle of what's known as The Battle of France. Apparently this was an intense and mentally gruelling fight inside French Lines with Germans on all sides leading up to the British exit from France. It was being fought out by excitable young men with guns who must be terrified at the prospect of dying. Somehow it's difficult to get the head round this in our comfortable and safe world but my bet is that I'd have been scared stiff.
Against this backdrop, Granpa's army record shows him going Absent Without Leave at this time. Surely not? Not my Granpa. On the other hand I was thinking “good on you”. Part of me thinks that I'd want to leave it behind. Back then I have a picture of Generals sitting in comfortable, warm offices enjoying a cigar and a single malt as they encouraged Granpa's comrades to “dig in lads and fight until you can fight no more!”. Could you do it? I don't know if I could and it certainly puts a new light on bravery where a stage is concerned.
But a second look at the documents reveals that the AWOL incident is scored out. The family folklore that got passed down to me was this - he arrived in France and, in the ensuing chaos, he got separated from his battalion on 17th February 1940. Rather than hiding away, he stole a motorbike and set about trying to find them. Along the way he manages to get taken in, fed and watered by a sympathetic French family, and then, on 22nd February he turns up ready for action. From then on, he keeps his nose clean and his battalion are shipped back to England in July 1940 as France falls to Germany.
A simple war record has really got me thinking. His story is no doubt very similar to thousands of others who endured horrors, hardship and worse in the wars. . The only difference is that this is MY Granpa's story. The personal story of a man I knew so well. The man who sat me on his knee and showed me piano notes, made us all laugh hitting a glockenspiel and tapping biscuit tins with drumsticks. The man I have always admired because, in working class Clydebank, he was a musician who could play piano, bagpipes and almost any instrument he chose to pick up. Yes, it's really got me thinking.
I've spent most of my adult life promoting myself or the band. Just as we hit the heights we were bundled onto a plane, Memphis bound to record with Willie Mitchell. We were so pleased with ourselves when we came back to Glasgow. I felt I'd really achieved something and perhaps that we were a little bit special. I hope I've kept my feet on the ground but you just never know how others see you, or how your perception can be changed. But looking at what I've done – the hits, the music, the travel – to me it's all in the shadow of Granpa. He was prepared to give up his life for a cause. He showed bravery and courage that only I can imagine. Yet, unlike me, he didn't feel the need for newspapers to tell his story, or to go on Top of the Pops.
There's a big lesson to be learned from Granpa and his generation. Aren't we all just a little tired of those familiar faces that are always on the front of magazines, newspapers or certain tv shows? Is anyone newsworthy because they've had their eyeball tatooed, split up with their equally shallow partner, or been seen in the ASDA carpark without makeup and looking like a badger's arse? Do we really need anyone else on the planet to write a story about themselves and their fame?
So, take a look around you and look for your very own Granpa Blackwood and listen to their story. It will surprise and inspire you. I promise.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to be a musician. Those early years left a track right through me. Granpa couldn't be a full-time musician so he got a man's job, supplying components for Clydebuilt ships, fought in two wars and made a better life for his kids. His sacrifices created a world that allowed me this wonderful life.
Next time you think the school run is a "nightmare", or that slow service in a restaurant has ruined your birthday, take a breath and have a think about it. It might try your patience for a wee while but you won't need a kindly french family to see you through and you won't have it on your record if you hide away from something you don't like, just remember Granpa Blackwood.
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GC 5th June 2014
Graeme Clark - Dry Land Tour Update June 2014
With only 4 shows remaining on this leg of Graeme's Dry Land Tour, it's an exciting time for everyone. This week sees the man head for Scotland with shows in Glasgow, Irvine, Dunfermline and Stirling.
"You can rehearse as much as you like but things only really take shape when you're out performing. But be warned. Our Scottish fans have a lot to live up to after the reception we've had all around England."And, as everyone knows, GC likes nothing more than being on stage
"Now that we've been doing the solos shows for a few years, we've a much bigger set of songs to choose from. And it allows us to build a much stronger relationship with the audience."e
"Venues have helped too. We've hand-picked every spot to find places that we love"Graeme's dates are all on the Dates page. Catch a show while you can!
Graeme Sets Release Date for New EP
Dry Land is Graeme's 2nd EP within a year
Containing 4 tracks, it will be available as a Limited, signed edition on April 30th exclusively from the GC Shop.Dry Land can be pre-ordered right now. Those orders will include a personal signed letter from Graeme Clark
Leading up to that, a different track will be available to listen to on the website each week. The first track is now available on the Song Notes page.Click here to go to the Song Notes Page.
And don't forget, you can catch Graeme on tour throughout May and June
Graeme Clark Plays Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre 20th Feb 2014
As the new year is now well under way, GC is delighted to be playing Buxton on 20th February.Click here to buy tickets.
It's a beautiful spot and GC is looking forward to the show along with ID & GD.
Solo Shows Announced for 2014
Graeme is delighted to announced a series of UK shows in May and June 2014.
Once again, the shows will be intimate and acoustic with key allies - Graeme Duffin on guitar and Iain Duff on accordion and piano- joining him on stage for all the shows.
As Graeme's career progresses, his loyal fans are seeing how his music develops, showing just what a talented musician he his. As ever, these shows will allow GC to sing new songs, play the now familiar GC favourites, and dip in and out of the past to play the music of Wet Wet Wet and some others!
Tickets are now on sale for all the shows. The venues and dates are listed on the dates page and you can click there to go direct to the ticket sales for each show.
Tickets are now on sale at all the venues which are listed on the dates page. Click here to see a list of the shows
Graeme Clark Confirms Mugdock Festival, Glasgow, November 2013
GC will play The Mugdock Festival on Saturday 9th November 2013. The venue at Mugdock is intimate and special as the festival goes from strength to strength.
"We're so pleased to play the last night of Mugdock and it's my final solo show before The Wets' Tour. It's a busy year and we'll be working hard to make this a special one."
Tickets will be on sale from 1st August and we'll update you with the details
Graeme Clark to play The Bull Theatre, Barnet. 27th July 2013
"I'm really excited to have found another venue that suits our music and, most importantly, I think our audience will like. The surroundings can make a big difference to the ejoyment of the evening for everyone."
Tickets are now available from the venue and from the GC Shop.
Latest News. GC Announces Launch Show for New Mini Album
In front of an invited audience of press, fans and friends, GC will give the first public performance of his new material at a special show in Bar Brel in Glasgow's West End on Wed 27th March.
Already everyone who has heard the new songs loves them. It's another step forwards for the man that is now carving out a name for himself and a singer and songwriter in his own right
If you would like to join Graeme at the show, get in touch through the CONTACTS page
Graeme Clark Catching Fire EP Released on 25th March
The wait is almost over. Graeme Clark has announced the release date for his brand new EP. This set of songs prove what his loyal followers already know - that Graeme's creative star is rising and that Catching Fire marks another stage in a solo career that's going from strength to strength
You can pre-order Catching Fire by clicking here. Your copy will be personally signed by Graeme and sent as soon as it's available
Graeme Clark Live Shows April and May 2013
Graeme has announced 4 shows to promote his forthcoming EP, Catching Fire. Graeme will visit Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton and Belfast performing his acoustic set. As usual he will be joined on stage by Graeme Duffin - acoustic guitar, and Iain Duff on accordion and piano.
As audiences up and down the country testify, GC's acoustic set is quite special and something that's not to be missed.Click here to get details and tickets for Graeme Clark Live Shows
Graeme Clark's Brief Biography
After 20 years as a cornerstone of the highly successful Wet Wet Wet production and song-writing phenomenon - which saw a line of 30 hits including 3 number 1's over that period - you'd think that Graeme Clark would be ready to take it easy for a while. But, there always was much more to Graeme and to him, sitting around is quite simply an alien concept.
Over the past 7 years Graeme has been involved in a number of collaborative efforts writing songs and music for various people and projects as well as giving others the benefits of experience in the form of advice and direction.
Throughout this period there's been a growing recognition that he also wants to do his own thing. "Writing and producing for other people is always difficult. You have to try to fit into their way of thinking and of performing" he says.
No surprise then, that there's been a gradual but inevitable drift towards Graeme writing songs for his own use. This year sees Graeme recording and performing his own material - a collection of songs written with an eclectic mix of people he's come to know over the years - to audiences up and down the country.
Naturally, it's a world away from the arena sell-outs The Wets have flourished in. But it's an intimate environment that demands no less skill or talent. Either way, it keeps Graeme close to his first loves - writing songs and performing music in front of an audience.
Welcome to the world of GC.