Powerful grace : Ben Watt Band live at The Haunt Brighton 23 Oct 16

Ben Watt kicked off his current UK & Ireland tour in Brighton last night and he did it with both style and substance. Joined by Rex Horan on acoustic and electric bass and well as harmonies, Makoto Sakamoto on drums and the guitar master Bernard Butler, Watt moved from electric to acoustic guitar to Wurlizer electric piano while delivering a well sequenced set that was a satisfying balance of light and shade.  The tunes were mostly from Watt’s last two albums ( this year’s Fever Dream and 2014’s Hendra) but there were also some Everything But The Girl songs as well as a few early solo works.

Asked how I’d describe Watt’s music I disinterestedly came up with the almost meaningless alt-folk but then I always think if you can describe someone’s music with a short slick label then it’s not up to much. Watt’s own description is “folk-jazz and distorted, strings-bent rock” which is pretty accurate if not quite “EMO” in brevity.

Ben is an engaging host: inviting us to enjoy ourselves and often explaining the context or genesis of the songs. His pitch perfect but unornamented vocals and Butler’s cutting guitar float and bob on the rhythm section’s lithe dynamic pulse and it feels complete: the right mixture of the familiar and the fresh. Watt’s jazz influences are especially apparent in the older songs and this is a nice contrast to some of the more recent material which tends to rock more. Deep songs, dramatic guitars, pulsating bass and drums coupled with energy and purpose – yes we have some quality music here.  Onstage at 8:30 and leaving us at 10:15 it made for a very enjoyable Sunday night and a great start to the tour. Props to the engineer as well as the sound in the venue was pristine.


Something’s Gotta Give

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlZN-uw1Dr0 I wrote the song back in 2008, I remember well she was one of twins – the other song called “Nothing Feels The Same Without You” will be the next single. Those two songs have always been a pair and indeed I ended up recording them in the same sessions last year. Anyway I write them 2008 and looking to write something a little slower than ” Counting The Days” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCZZGAU39gg or “Download Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyrSvfaasZk for example. 2009 was taken up with lots of things not least the birth of my daughter and the release of my debut solo album “21st Century Bluez”, the gigs I did 2009 were made up of material from the album. 2010 rolled around and I found myself back in Ireland and  rolled out “Something’s Gotta Give” for the first time at The Roundy in my hometown of Cork. That was a good gig and I recall clearly the song going over well, which was good, my agent at the time an American eccentric mentioned that it was one of the highlights of the set.  The only other time I’ve played it live was in Sheebeen Chic, Dublin in the same year.  I knew the song was good but getting a finished recording was going to take longer than planned – life gets in the way.  I think I had about 90% recorded at home by the 2012 but getting a vocal I was happy with as well as being involved with other distractions meant that I didn’t bring it to my friend and producer/engineer/video director Raymond Beggan till mid 2013. Having recorded various songs including “Heartache” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQyn5pT1JXk and “Counting The Days” with Ray he was someone I knew could help develop the track with.  Ray came up with a great idea for the keys for the chorus and we worked up that great Van Halen-esque to get it sounding full. I played in some garagey drums and after a few mixes we had a loose but banging track. You can find the version we did here  https://soundcloud.com/barryhawkmusic/somethings-gotta-give-belmondo …. Loving the track but feeling that it needed a tighter mix I started looking for another mix enter James Darkin…. (tbc in next post)Image


Wow it’s been over a week since my last blog, full moon fever indeed!  Over the past week I’ve auditioned for a Rock N Roll Roots band – first proper rehearsal tonight. Been deceived by the Dublin bus digitally deceptive bus stop read out and busked a little. I’ve also been looking at David McWilliams.com . Thought: “Money should be a servant, not a master.”

Present, Past or Future? Where do you live?


I’m reading a book The Time Paradox, by Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd. It’s an engrossing read full, as you might guess, of paradoxes. According to the book I’m a present-hedonist. Living for the moment in general leads to being happier than being either present or future oriented, so it seems.  Thing is, sooner or later there’s some price to pay. Is it worth it? Where you you live Past, Present or Future? What’s it like there? Comments please

Mindless Mondays and everyday!…Choose a human, it’s quicker

I’ve just come back from a short trip to the local supermarket, short, happily being the operative word as I chose to be served by a shop assistant – for whom there was no queue- instead of getting in queue to use the checkout machines. What are we coming to when we’d rather wait in line to self-serve using a machine instead of interacting with another human and avoid the queuing? What indeed?!…Was in Marina and the Diamonds who sang “I am not a robot”, unfortunately I think she’s fast becoming a member of the minority.