Well, the first three months is behind me. What started out as the conclusion to a story is in fact the start of a new 12 month project ending in Autumn 2019.
With some fine help handed to me, an idea sprouted a couple of months ago. It went like this: I was running a bit dry of photography inspiration and through the powers of social media some kind soul planted a seed in my head. He wrote a comment along the lines of ‘Join a band on the road and document what it’s like to be a jobbing musician, surviving from gig to gig, with little money and having the craic. Get loads of candid photos of a band in all their unglamorous glory. Show it as it is. And, turn it into a BOOK!’
And that was it…….
One of my favourite films is Almost Famous directed by Cameron Crowe. It’s a story about a young boy named William Miller (Patrick Fugit), starting out as a music journalist. He latches onto one of his favourite bands called Stillwater and, despite his young age and inexperience, he talks himself into landing a job with Rolling Stone, covering a tour by the band across America. It’s a great coming of age story about the trials and tribulations faced by our naive protagonist as he battles between his teenage adoration of the band, and living life among them with all the rich realities that accompany a group of musicians on the road.
The idea posed by my friend on social media appealed to my still youthful inner William, and the seed started to germinate.
The first thing was to find a band I could latch onto. In an amazing coincidence my friends John Fairhurst and Toby Murray were just about to release details of a tour they were embarking on in early October. It was a tour of Belgium and Holland. The plot just received a great big dollop of cornflour. I had the subject for my book.
John was the first Musician I ever photographed properly. I went to his gig at the Left Bank in Bristol in 2013, and I became an instant fan. It was the first time I saw him.
I had taken my Leica M6 to take some shots of him as I thought film would complement the aesthetic of a grungy blues player from Wigan. Among the 36 exposures I took, I got a photo of John and his pal Joe Strouzer on harmonica; it’s still one of my favourite pictures and sits in a frame on John’s fireplace at home.
As mentioned, the first three months have come and gone. I’ve been in the studio in London with John and Toby recording their new album, and accompanied them on tour in Belgium and Holland. The duo are involved in a UK tour at the moment and I’ve managed to see them on a couple of occasions including a notable expedition into Cornwall at the amazing Maker Heights. We have plans to shoot some video soon as well.
One of the things I was struggling with for a while was a name for the book, but that was resolved one day when I was listening to his album Saltwater again. The title track is about a personal struggle with nature. It starts with the line ‘If I was a winner, surely I’d have won’. And the name for the book was born.
The eagle-eyed amongst us will notice that the word Saltwater is almost an antonym to Stillwater, the band that William followed in his epic tale of enlightenment. Surely that coincidence means I’m on my way to a winning idea, and Stillwater will be enriched with Salt. Or, as it is not quite an antonym (Fastwater is perhaps), then maybe the question of winning will remain unresolved.
Despite this question, the photobook ‘If I was a Winner’ will be self published by One Drunk Horse at the back end of 2019.
News will be forthcoming about how you can follow my progress with the project, become involved in it and even help take it over the winning line.
With love and good vibes….