Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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.

 

 

From Kingsmeadow to Westminster & thoughts on me cold!

January 5, 2015 2 comments

WTID. COYD.

Tomorrow, proud, resilient Disabled People head back to Westminster to continue the fight to #SaveILF . This video has nearly 1000 views, please share & see if we can get it to 1000 to show support for tomorrows lobby of parliament & to let more people know whats happening.  You can make the difference by simply sharing it in your face-tube–tweetspace network! Thanks to everyone who has or does, you will become an honourary (uk spelling has a ‘u’ yeh?) Rockinpaddy sausage xx

And finally my thoughts on having the flu!

You Remember Dreaming About Doin It On Top of the Pops

May 1, 2012 2 comments

There I was on Saturday night on the side of the stage in Harpenden thinking “I’m ere watching the band I dreamed about being with and watched on Top of the Pops wishing”.

This blog is just to mark me singing on Saturday night with the Blockheads. So when they lock me away in some care home cause they’ve closed the ILF and taken away Direct Payments and any hope of living an independent life (which is well on track you tory boys n girls), I can say read my blog from 2012, its there, I did do it…… when I was free.

So lucky and honoured that I am, It wasn’t my first time singing with the Blockheads (third for those counting) but I really enjoyed this one (obviously I’ve enjoyed them all but I didn’t need the lav for an hour beforehand this time or feel sick with nerves), it was fun and felt very…. well lovely and so brilliant to do.

I mean like I wasn’t so nervous that I could actually concentrate on trying to do a good job on the Lemons. Don’t get me wrong it still felt like I was dreaming, like it wasn’t quite normal land but it felt really good.

I can’t really capture all here what happened cause you had to be there and its the small things significant to me that wouldn’t make sense to most, you know…the little detail that I get stuck on as big.

Writing here is never gonna pull it off, its in my heart forever. Yes there were a thousand moments that I’ll never forget, examples:
Arriving at the same time as Del (my cuppa tea buddy and lully man) and heading in backstage, the dressing room, my Lee hug and handshake chat (lully man), the sound check moments with silly grin on my face watching on, wondering on and of stage freely, learning the secret code to the backstage door…..hit it n shout “Open the door you ****” apparently, Lofty chatting about how I have my mic stand (he is a lully man and remembers detail), the pizza, Johnny chat, john n Terry chats, tea, coffee, beer, the gig, ringing a friend to hear the song, my lully welcome on stage, the lovely heckle of “fair play brother”, doing the song, the dressing room, finishing off the last two beers off the Blockhead rider with Chaz, meeting the crowd after, including Reasons crowd (lully), the nearly at Minhead gig text and then going home with me Basher both of us wiv silly grins on, hitting the sack and dreaming it all over again!

See I told you I see detail that won’t matter to anyone else and would probably pass most buy, but it was important to me. The Blockheads are a stunning band and just as important as that they are lovely lovely fellas. Thank you Blockheads……ok enough of the sentimentals……..let’s do…………

Top of the Pops sausages xx

R2Bcheeerfuuuull: Day 66, Allo London

March 29, 2012 1 comment

So here we are….flippin London Hackney Empire.

I have to be honest, I started the day mostly in the bathroom. Nervous, not cause it was London, but nervous cause I didn’t want nerves to ruin me day!A sausage sanger set me right and we walked down Hackney Road onto Mare Street and then a very long walk down to the Pire.The sun was out n Ackney waz looking very good indeed.

Saw me phizzog on the side of a wall and I guessed this must be it. This was confirmed by a few passers by who said “hey that’s that fella up thereon that poster”, first time that’s ever happened to me.

The Empires got history. Charlie C (The Chaplin that is), Mr Laural and of course Ian have all rocked this place. Even the house stage manager had gigged the Blockheads, West Endies, Jesus and the 12 apostles! So it was a big day, we did sound check which I smiled all the way through. I even had an asparagus tart for lunch, which was well more poncey than I usually ave, but flip it,I’m living the dream (I did have a sausage roll as back up…neither tart or roll got finished as I forgot, I’ve lost all ability to eat properly or sleep properly.

We are using 3/4qtrs of Status Quo’s rig in this show, the other quarters in me dressing room, so the sound rocks, big time. The theatre holds 1300 and when our lovely crowd got in, we all ‘ad it.  There’s a big rake (slope not gardening tool) on the stage which has created a few new challenges for Gaz & I at ‘Ackney.  It almost beat me tonight when I lost all position on Wake Up, flying towards the Bar Phone, luckily all the others are Pro’s n me lully Jude covered it beautifully by thrusting on the floor like it was all meant to be…..which it was of course!

Bar confusion at the end, but we still got plenty in. Fanks to me many lully friends for comin and joining the fun tonight.

bed now sausages.

xx

R6BC: day 43, I’m comin huurm!

March 5, 2012 2 comments

Ok, travel day today, it’s few days of time so sorry this is short but…………….Hull n shows n shots n fun n frolics have taken their toll…so in a nutshell, Chinese Laundry Retro Shop, spent too much on nice gear, taxi train, power stations, pickles in-accessing my needs wiv bubbles, bizarre first class waiting room toilet moment at Kings Cross, taxi, home, cuppa, phoned loved ones, quick blog, bed….hibernation, next blog when I come round in the next few days.

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep sausages, it’s been a blast and there’s more to come.

R2BC: day 42, just one more time in the Truck

‘Ad it in Ull!

Nuff said except to say thank you lovely people and friends in and around Hull, we’ve had a right giggle and a few too many shots!

Great shows n memories I’ll cherish.

Up the boys in green sausages x

RtoBC: Day 41, 2 a day keeps the Dr away

Oooh two lovely shows today, friends in the growing audiences and lots of fun n shenanigans. This blog is short n sweet not because there’s not lots to say, but because I’m completely jiggered. Eeeer went to Nandos wiv the gang..what’s that all about……….Nandoooos?

It’s been great here in Hull, Trucks a great venue, lully people, nice places to frequent, although after the bad head of the night before I stayed away from Propoganda last night even though I love it there too, £1 a shot is the equivalent of a sign reading bad head mornings bought here, especially with ‘Teccy Dan’ buying a tray full of shots on each visit to the bar. So I was kinda sensible for one night, mainly cause I’d given it my all in the two shows and didn’t want another head.

You see, that’s me job, largin it up with the lemons. Each of those songs are pretty physical, I mean, you have to do them properly (technique-wise) in order to give every ounce of breath to the tunes, that’s what they deserve and what I feel I have to do every night (and matinee). ‘avin achy neck n shoulders after a gig is the sign I’ve given it all and last night I had those signs everywhere all pointing to the middle of me neck.  It’s not a bad achy, it’s a good achy, if that makes sense.

A JD n coke and then I was finished, so staying away from Propoganda was a good move me finks!

Keep Truckin sausages x