Unthanks Day2/3

I neglected to post a blog entry on Tuesday due to my jazz-promoting duties at Sandbar. I’d planned to sneak out early and record my thoughts, but I got side-tracked watching guitarist Dan Brew be better and younger than me…

So, Day 2 was the first full day.  We spent the morning singing a cappella sea shanties and old English folk tunes (which was filmed as well, a clip turning up on BBC Breakfast Wednesday morning).  I’m not a singer by any stretch, but there’s something quite special about hitting harmonies in a group like that, and a few people commented that everyone should start the day with a sing-song.

The afternoon was challenging for me, we split up into groups to work on songs for the show on Friday.  It’s a very different way of working for me, everything else I do there’s usually a leader (sometimes me) who sets out quite defined roles for the musicians, or else it’s totally improvised in the moment, with everyone on an equal platform.  I found it difficult to find much to add to what was already presented, testament to how good the songs already sound, so I’m on the more subtle tip and I think it’s coming together ok.  Adrian (Mr. Unthanks) has been a great help and very encouraging, so I’m gratefully taking on board what he’s been saying.

Day 3 started much the same (sans BBC cameras this time) with a group singalong to blast the cobwebs/hangovers away.  A couple of the tunes are sounding really good, with some simple arrangements, and some improvised harmonies (not just when I make mistakes by the way, some of the real singers are improvising…).  Hopefully these will feature on Friday night, it’s obviously an important part of Becky and Rachel’s music/life.

The rest of the day was spent working on two tunes from the Unthanks repertoire that we’re all playing together.  Lucky Gilchrist is taking on a Steve Reich feel to it, with some nice 7/8 patterns, and The Romantic Tees pitches a 5/8 looped melody over 3/4 chord movements.  All very effective at creating a slightly unsettling modd, a quality which I think drew me in to the band when I first heard them.

Still feels like a lot to do, but it’s coming together nicely and I think Friday’s going to be a really nice gig.

Paul Liddel leading a performance of one of his tunes.

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