The Manx Sound Exchange: Gigging in the big bad world
THERE aren’t too many singer-songwriters in the Isle of Man who are able to carve out a full-time job by gigging.
Maybe local musicians were able to earn a pretty penny during summers of yesteryear, in the bars and hotels during the island’s tourism heyday, and there are certainly Manx performers who have spread their wings to earn their livings playing around other parts of the world, but a limited number who are able to do it totally on-island.
In that sense it was nice to meet Ian Thompson, one man and his acoustic guitar who has been quietly plying his trade and building a reputation.
He has however been attracting more attention recently, having completed recording of a quite magical album, Utopia, with Simon Harvey’s Skatandah Studios in Douglas.
Merseysider Ian said: ‘I’ve been in the Isle of Man a couple of years, and now my full time job is gigging, most Friday and Saturday nights.
‘The gig scene here is fantastic, it has been great for me. There’s a different feel than the UK, there’s more competition there.’
He added: ‘The Queen’s Hotel is a good gig, The Union in Castletown, and Bar Logo and The Mitre in Ramsey, but I don’t mind where I play.
The first 12 months was just going round with CDs, asking for gigs. I’d get more and more venues, and I’ve never cancelled a gig yet, so I have a decent reputation.’
The Utopia record will do no harm to that reputation.
The 12 original acoustic tracks have greatly benefited from the collaboration with Skatandah’s Simon, who has added layers of dynamics and instrumentation.
The happy marriage between writer and producer is clear on tracks like Stone and Big Bad World, introspective, honest and emotionally performed.
Ian arrives at every gig with a hatful of CDs, and the album can be heard in full for free at www.ianthompsonmusic.co.uk
‘It’s a good thing they sound different to the live versions, it has a modern feel,’ explained Ian. ‘I can be a bit old fashioned, but the album got across what I wanted to say, but with a fresh look at the songs.’
He continued: ‘Simon has been brilliant. I just play and sing, he’s great at the technical stuff. It has come out really well.
‘It was written over the last few years, but finished in the Isle of Man, and that’s where the name Utopia comes from. You might not think of Utopia on a Saturday night in Douglas, but on a summer’s day the place really is beautiful.’
One track from Utopia was actually recorded away from Skatandah, Tomorrow is Another Day, which was laid down at Lee Morgan’s Factory Lane Studios in Peel, which brings me neatly to my next nugget of musical news. Organisers of Amber’s upcoming Battle of the Bands have revealed that, in addition to the cash prizes for first, second and third place already announced, the winners of each of the two categories, solo and originals, and covers, will win a free days recording (six hours worth) with Lee at Factory Lane. There is also some prize money for winners and runners up of each heat and semi final weekends. See www. musicfanonline.co.uk for more on the Peel studio, and contact Shri Naik on 464827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter your act into the competition.
• Lee Brooks’ ramblings on the rumblings of the island’s music scene. Help support the scene by emailing email@example.com or calling 695674 with Manx music news, reviews and photos
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Weather for Isle of Man
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west