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Writing me ditty’s

March 10, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s funny how some things come together all at once, bit like buses. The first few months of 2019  have definitely been about songwriting and producing (admittedly writing with Access All Areas started back in September, but intensified in getting the show, Winged up & on in 2019). In particular, writing songs for others, which I have realised I love to do. So this blog is a bit of a sharing. A sharing of these songs.

In this period of time, I have found within myself a different style of song writing that has given me permission to explore and try new sounds, melodies & structures outside my comfort zone/usual style I guess. As always I continue to learn loads and always feel that one day I’ll learn to do it all “properly”, ‘Properly’ in the context of the playing & recording and in how I admire those who do all this well.

As I’m self taught, I always feel a bit inferior to those who’ve studied and know what they are doing. I do to an extent but…to use the proper  technique, starting point, language, use of tools in the right way. I know I’m professional, work hard and not too bad at what I do, but blimey do I always want to do it all so much better! I value holding  close Jenny Sealeys adage “we are here, we are in this moment, it’s the right place, find/feel that moment. So I try….

Listening to my self doubt around the notion that tere is such a thing as  “properly” (in my heart I believe of course there isn’t such a thing as one proper way, but many many different ways). With my self coaching head on, I can hear how I would say to another me, What is proper? of course the response would be believe in your way, there is no real ‘proper’ and if it works for you then it is the way. Then I stop beating myself up, overcome whichever problem I’ve technically encountered and enjoy the creative discipline until the next fekk up.

The tingle of..oh this sounds ok….even nice, drives me on. Of course then a different kind of nervousness comes about. What will those listening think?

I love artists who don’t care about what others think on their creation (even though I suspect they do a bit..?), but im still very much about wanting everyone to be happy/enjoy what is being shared.

So I get stuck in, check out for reassurance with friends, that that thought of “is this the best way”. Im so lucky that friends always return that reassurance with, thats a great way, fine, or try this…and so I create a few songs.

They are what they are, a marker to indicate a bit of where I am now, not perfect, but hopefully ok, could be better, but ok, the best I can now and not final, finished, they can always improve and change with age and new learning & time.

Funny when I started this blog, I just wanted to share a collection of songs  I’ve written that despite all of the above, i have enjoyed, loved, worked hard to create & shared.

I’ve loved working with some new companies to me.Circumference on the titled “delicate’ R&D, working with Access All Areas has been a very special time to me as they created/wrote/influenced each piece and they allowed & trusted in me. The songs we created had a place amongst a beautiful narrative, theatrical design & visuals, but mainly the experience was about being surrounded by beautiful people.

And then last week working with OCHI around R&D exploring the story of Medea, gave me even more opportunities to create, try, & share. Another weird coincidence, what is it with me & greek mythological stories?

So a few songs shared that I’ve written for these brilliant pieces of theatre. If any of you read this…Now I know what Ive done I can now do the songs again only differeny, gear 4 into 5, but I’m happy I gave it me best with these, where they are…for now xx

You can here them all & more on me soundcloud

(Sorry me blog turned into one of those YouTube instruction videos that goes on n on n on….so heres a track created yesterday, for me, for fun, nuffing serious, just experimentation).

Enjoy Sausages x Apologies for typos, will correct soonest x

#LittleDorrit on BBC Radio 4

December 29, 2018 1 comment

So, tomorrow, Sunday 30th December(& indeed next Sunday), I will be playing Mr Dorrit & the voice of Charles Dickens on yer radiogram.

Probably the only time I’ll ever be saying that one as a status!

Tune yer radiogram in at 3pm, BBC radio 4 with the brilliant Pickles Norman Liz Carr Jude Mahon Autumn Red Bonham-Cox Vikki Gee Jenny Sealey Narinder Samra Eloise Whitmore John Merriman recorded at the brilliant @CrownLaneStudios

It was a brilliant experience, I am grateful to have learnt loads & I really hope you enjoy it sausages. Let variety be the spice of life indeed!

The story set then is the story now. Yep happening now, political ….fighting injustice, poverty, accessible affordable housing, the crisis that is social housing, oppression, austerity, cuts, cuts & on it goes.

When will the quietest of our voices be not only heard, but valued and acted upon. Very Proud to be a small part of this piece and yet my heart screams more loudly, listen to the horrific experiences of those needing social housing & an end to poverty/oppression in Merton/London/all over the UK and we still wait and will never forget the need for #Justice4Grenfell


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Part 2: Setting Up The Kellycaster

December 14, 2018 Leave a comment

The easiest way for me a to break it all down here is to  a few screen shares. So heres the set up bit:-

Obviously from the screen share you can tell… I love Gawain Hewit, Charles Mathews, Jon Dickinson (he made the body), Drake Music, the clever Bela peeps, Novation, Ableton, Roland, my PA’s & many other friends & colleuges who are on this journey with me & this thing of beauty. #TheKellycaster

Blog in progress……obvs sausages!

Categories: Rockinpaddy

Pie n Mash Podcast

November 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Episode 1.

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Part 1 of however many it takes: The story of #TheKellycaster – A Thing of Beauty

March 17, 2018 Leave a comment

The Prologue.

So it’s about time I actually wrote in my own words, what The Kellycaster is (the best way I can), its story so far and why it’s so important to my future journey? I think for sanity and to keep the blogs not too long, see this as part one of however many it takes.

The Kellycaster shadow with orange/red backlight.

The Kellycaster purs away at home.

Recently someone very kindly wrote “Mary will introduce John Kelly to the stage as someone who has already helped us re-redefine the electric guitar working with DM Labs to produce the KellyCaster”.

Wow, to ‘re-define’ seems a massive statement which I was/am blown away about. However, keeping myself as grounded as possible I don’t take in so much to get carried away into the lovely things people say and write about my performances, songs I write or cover, voice, gigs or words.

Of course, I really appreciate and do not dismiss those nice words that someone has taken the time to give. I gratfully acknowledge them, feeling luky for them, but in my head, I always feel; what have I learnt from tonight, ah I have a lot to learn, long way to go, I’m not bad at this but many others sing sweeter, play better, articulate much better and so practice, practice, work hard, head down and continue working hard and hope I improve. I can be content in the comment or in the moment and enjoy it but not complacent in wanting to make my songs or singing or playing better.

The Kellycaster was in the big papers almost immediately the first sound was made on those three strings strung on an old throw-away Telecaster guitar body that we (Charles/Gawain & myself) cut up for a Hackathon on the Southbank. You’ll notice from the picture the strings doubled to 6 as to keep with convention.

Telecaster guitar body with kneck cut, wires and bulldog clips

First Prototype

And the interest has stayed and grown, the BBC ….then articles in Italy, Spain, The States…short films for The British Council….and of course things written by Drake Music colleagues, friends and other colleagues who have blogged, tweeted and shared such supportive news about its development. To all I am hugely grateful and somehow indebted too, I owe them more than a pint anyway!

A musical breakthrough says The Independent just a few days after we made the first sounds.

Guitar breakthrough – The Independent, 2015

At that Web We Want Hackathon little did Charles & Gawain (see below) know that we’d be taking my Guitboard (my first choice name for what is now The Kellycaster), on a big journey from that Southbank room (below) with no windows and lots of soldering smells. This was the first hack taken from my concept presentation shared at a DMLab meeting a month or so earlier


We started with a hex pickup and plugs for each individual string. The string signal sent to a max/msp with a 6 input soundcard to convert into sound and on that day we used an OSC app to change three simple chords.  There was a fair bit of latency but I could compensate on anyting under 90 BPM, perfect for Ride On! the first tune I played to share in the very public Clore Ballroom.


In writing this, I’ve just realised my lovely mum never got to see this beautiful thing that’s come into my life. I’m sad about that because she knew how important music is to me and she loved the craic and fun of the gigs I’d be involved in. She was so supportive to me pushing and doing whatever I enjoyed and succeeded at. I’m glad she at least knew it was happening, although I smile at what she’d thing of all the new extra gear I now carry around from gig to gig. She used to joke “jaysus, couldn’t you have got a job with a desk where you wouldn’t have to be pulling and tearing gear in and out of the house every night”, then she’d laugh, “sure we wouldn’t be happy then though’.

So…I knew what I could physically and musically do & of course I had dreamt from childhood of playing guitar. Rocking it out to a crowd, belting out a tune, playing with others sweating from the energy and emotion. Equally I’d dream of singing in a corner somewhere playing a guitar to myself (ideally in an irish bar obviously). Of course the journey had a few twists and turns and we had to work thrugh complicated bck to complex.  Complex is what makes The Kellycaster an instrument to be learnt.  Its prettty simple to get a sound out but practice and more practice is required to play it with skill, I’m still praciticing btw.

guitar with leads all over it, a nintendo controller, ballpoint pen and gaffer tape.

From complicated to complex. The birth of the Boogie Bar (nunchucker, bluetac and ballpoint pen).

Like any classic childhood guitar dreams the reality came in the shape of a snooker cue (i preferred this to the traditional tennis racket although I dabbled there too). I mention the snooker cue because that’s really over the years how I figured I could strum, pick n pluck…and also I could do left hand stuff as long as it was a button here or something there that would do the chord shape.

Although I learnt to play guitar sort of….it was on an open tuning of E, just like the old blues masters who could always go much further than I. it never went the way I wanted to play in my head. I learnt “you’re cheatin’ heart” on it and wrote “just a dream” and I could do a bit of the old boogie woogie 12 bar riff, that I am now spending hours trying to embellish and hone on The Kellycaster.

So I’d learnt the basics on piano, could blow the old trumpet (three valves, 3 faster fingers, perfick). As some of you will know I’ve played keyboards for years, using a single finger to play most of the chords and learnt 100’s of songs. Last count my little book had 170 something songs in it. So the keyboard was kind of ok, as far as I thought it would go. i could write, jam along and play well enough to please an audience. But in that old head of mine, I knew those single finger chords were still limiting and somehow locked in.  Anyone playing along with me had to fit in with what was happening.

Silhouette of The Kellycaster body shape with The Kellycaster logo on neck and inscription "This Machine Kills Oppression" on body of guitar..

This Machine Kills Oppression.



I Don’t Fit In A Box, You Don’t Fit In A Box, We Don’t Fit In A Box!

March 9, 2018 2 comments

Thanks to Drake Music for commissioning me to write this song for We All Make Music 2018, an Anti-conference celebrating the Right to make music in Education.

Woodie Guthrie would say a living song; a song that make you take pride in yourself and your work & a song that protests about the things that need protesting about.

We want Inclusion & Disability Equality so that all our narratives, stories & songs can be heard, not just the few with the Power button or are the loudest.

Inclusion, Equality & the right to make music seem a pretty important thing to create a living song about. Enjoy, share, download, join the movement for Change, don’t let it all pass by unchallenged.

We Don’t Fit In A Box

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Sophie Partridge xx

June 11, 2017 3 comments

I haven’t known what to write. There’s a very big bit of me that it hasn’t all sunk in. My drafts n words don’t even touch the surface of all the things I want to tell the world about how important Sophie Partridge was to us all…and me. 
I’ve kept busy cause that’s what I do. I surround myself with lovely people and be creative, do stuff and I feel blessed/lucky as a result. Since last week Soph has made me realise we always need to do that, bring lovely friends together and be close to each other and be happy, life is brutally short. 
I’ve seen so many beautiful and true things written or posted about Soph by all who would equally as I rightfully say they were close to Soph. That’s because that was the reality of Sophie. she had so many close friends because that’s what she did…made you feel close..important…happy…joyous..listened to..loved….cared for…special and I will miss that feeling, I already do. I already miss the security of Soph not being around to check out with. [note: Soph would hate n poke me for using special or care in describing her but I mean both words in there truest meaning here,…. plus me n Soph could be naughty with the crap words used around us and have a little fun/giggle wiv em], so deal wiv it xx. 
I guess simply it could be explained as true friendship and love that I always felt around Sophie a friendship and love I I feel I’d fail to give back as well as Soph ever gave to us all. I saw her do all this in awe of her at work and at home with our tea n hula hoops or any of the times we spent which now I know we’re always to short. 
 She would be there, to chat too, to have a laugh with, to do world changing things with, to have a cuppa with. She had that way about her that was the way to really listen, make sense of stuff, cut through the bullshit and say the right thing, the thing that needed to be said. If it needed to be fought for because it was right then she was there, stronger than any. 
Then if you complimented her on any of it she’d dismiss it in that kind of ‘Sophie way’……”Yeh….i don’t know..I don’t know really…yeh…lets have tea/tinkle time”  
I’ve felt close to Soph on many times and felt all that stuff above everytime, but one time that mattered was when she asked me to help with writing/exploring music for Semmersuaq. It was during the time the ilf battle was going on (another time Soph was at her strongest, fighting). There’s loads I’d want to say about this time but my words aren’t really expressing it all. It was everything. It was time, ime with Sophie, being creative, making music, tea, hula hoops, being at home, being filmed, then private then panicking I hadnt captured stuff well enough for what Soph desreved. 
It was just a flavour of what we had hoped to do with that lovely show Soph had created. I’m gutted we can’t carry that and many of the journeys we had planned on. Your drum, everything……
I came to Carlow for work the night after Soph passed, rang close friends to speak the best I could. Coming here felt right. It was beautiful, creative and the work all about peoples value…in fact the show was #whatamiworth..which took me straight to Soph, it was the right thing to do. The show reminded me of when me n Soph discussed and helped creat #BecauseWe_R_WorthIt as a retort to the Tories closing the ilf. 
We all know what Soph is and always will be worth and I’ll miss you. Sorry I’ve been so crap at expressing it. 
Love you 
Mijohn always xx

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