If anyone stumbles across this site and wonders if we all just called it a day in 2012, well we didn't.Â A brief catch-up on the last 7 years:
As you'll have seen from the previous entries, having released 'Centrifugal Bugle' in 2008, we began work on a new project in much the same way as before. However it was proving increasingly difficult to find time to get together to record, and even more difficult to getÂ together to add the overdubs needed to finish off backing tracks that we had managed to lay down. Marriages, children, and jobs meant we were finally slowing down a little. Still in the late 'noughties', we were fully intent on making a new CD for release in 2011 or 2012.Â
In these early sessions wereÂ 'Sofa Gofer', missing the keyboard & tambourine overdubs that would never be added, Â 'Your Drunk Uncle'Â (the original backing track finally taken out of storage and completed in May 2016 when lead vocals, backing vocals and handclaps were added), &Â 'Shankar's Daughter', as well as early versions ofÂ 'Holy Man's Hands', & 'Disintegration Machine'.Â It's About Time' Â a cover of a Beach Boys classic, actually dates from the 'Centrifugal' sessions, but was dusted off and added to the project as it fit perfectly with the feel of this album.
We then invested in a new recording machine with the hope that it would make recording simpler and quicker. 'Holy Man's Hands' and 'Disintegration Machine'Â were re-recorded, and completed except for percussion overdubs which would not be added. Â 'Sofa Bunny Love Fest', a song dating from around 2000, which had never been recorded, was laid down, and again in May 2016 had lead vocals, backing vocals and handclaps added, leaving it only missing the planned electric guitar in the chorus. 'I Wanna Hold Your Pizza'ÂÂ a brand new song, &'Train Driver'(which never did get its keyboards overdub) were also recorded at this time.
Our live shows were gradually decreasing in number over this period too. However the shows that were being performed were some of the best we'd ever done.Â Probably the best live show from this period came in 2010 at The Comedy Pub, and performed that night wasÂ 'Midlife Crisis',Â a song that we never did record a studio version of.
We played to their largest audience of this era, when we organised and performed a memorial concert for David Jones, the legendary Monkees singer, in April 2012. Â However things were definitely slowing down even on the live front. We played our last 'full band' show for over 3 years in February 2013, and our final acoustic gigÂ ever,Â at another Davy Jones tribute in the autumn of the same year.
As 2013 became 2014 we made the decision to abandon live shows. For some of the band, just booking a rehearsal room and jamming was the ideal, while others sought to have a goal..recording with a view to releasing an album. A compromise was reached, to record rough 'as live' versions of songs as they were learned. these would be raw, rough demos, warts and all, that would be put onto the album. Â Liam arrived with an album's worth of new songs, and we began rehearsing and laying down rough 'live in the studio' versions of some of these tunes. Over an intense six month periodÂ 'Time To Kill' Â 'First Wave Is Gone', 'Â Call To The Gods' 'Lord Clyde' 'Life In Suburbia' & 'Put Your Phones Away'Â were all recorded.Â
Demo versions of two Liam/Dan compositionsÂ 'Where Is This Going?'Â andÂ 'Check It Out Online', Â produced by Dan on his own, in this extremely productive year, were also recorded at this period.
In the summer of 2014 Â 4 further songs were created. Aiden, Liam and Saul met at Saul's house in Norfolk, and using an IPAD to record (how much easier it is to record nowadays) laid down 4 acoustic tracks Â 'Unexpected Simington In The Bagging Area' Â 'The Jester Of Goodwill' 'Stoke Newington Church Street'Â &Â 'Uncle Eric'
Â In October 2014, we decided there was more than enough material for an album and we hoped to finally release it in the winter, beforeÂ 'resuming rehearsing and recording in Spring '15 '. Â However ourÂ appetite for the hard work of actually finishing off and overdubbing the songs was far less than that for meeting, banging out new songs and recording basic tracks, so nothing was done.
In April 2015 Aiden and Liam got together and, again using the IPAD, recordedÂ 'Japanese Group Sound'Â
By late summer 2015 with no band contact (other than a Christmas Curry social) in a year, we began to feel that The Shorty Blackwells were perhaps reaching the end of their natural life. We decided to do something to mark 25 years of the band, and then retire gracefully. Everyone supported the idea of finally getting the CD finished and released in the anniversary year, and also to play a 25 year anniversary concert. Â Reinvigorated, work on finishing the CD began again. In October Â Aiden and Liam began mixing the handful of unmixed tracks, and overdubbing where they could. This work continued over several sessions, with bits of studio chatter added between songs for colour, and the final overdubs and mixes were completed on 21st May 2016. Â Finally, the album scheduled originally for 2011 was deemed ready to release.
With it's mix of run-throughs, live cuts, demos, acoustic tunes and partially finished tunes it is a bit likeÂ an Artist's sketchbook. It may not comprise fully completed works, but it certainly gives an insight into our creative process.
Album complete,Â we then performed a 25 year Anniversary gig in July 2016. Â A special celebration of the 25 years since Michael, Aiden, Liam and Saul convened at Keele University to record 'Elephant Sings The Blues' in 1991, and then made the decision to retire.
But the story doesn't quite end there. From 2017 onwardsÂ Aiden, Saul, Liam and Dan have taken to meeting annually inÂ August to jam up 3 or 4 acoustic songs and record them. It's a rough and ready acoustic project, originally never meant for release, and badged as 'The Shorts' .Â
At the start of 2019 we received the devastating news that Mal Tanner, our guitarist in the late 90s, had passed away from cancer.Â He was a huge contributor to our sound whilst he was in the band, and wrote some great songs.Â RIP Mal.Â
In Summer 2019, however, we decided to compile these acoustic recordings and release a Shorts CD, purely for our own pleasure..and to perform a few songs as The Shorts (but featuring all the Shorties), at Aiden's 50th.Â
November 3rd: The Shorty Blackwells have officially announced that they will be recording and releasing their seventh studio CD in 2012.
This reverses a previous decision to abandon recording and focus purely on performance.
The band have continued to write and perform new material in the 3 years since the release of their last CD 'The Centrifugal Bugle' and among the tracks that have been suggested as candidates for the new album are:
Your Drunk Uncle, Disintegration Machine, Holy Man's Hands, Shankar's Daughter, Midlife Crisis and Train Driver.
Lost Shorties Classics 'Sofa Gofer' and 'Sofa Bunny', neither of which has seen official release are also rumoured to be lined up for the new platter.
Nothing has been heard from the band since their well-received 20th anniversary concert in May this year. Sources indicate the band met in late October to jam, kick off the cobwebs and decide on next steps, and the announcement of a new album has been the most immediate result.
(Pics: Dan and Michael at the October jam session)
Just a short note to say we hope to see as many of you as possible at Thursday's show (That's Thurs Oct 28th)
We're making our debut at The Enterprise in Camden, London
Full addy is
2 Haverstock Hill
On Stage 7.45
We're doing a full hour and without giving too much away, we'll be doing 'Fat Nora', 'Green Lanes' and 'Bob Dylan' amongst others
Here'a a MAP
See you there
On Fri January 29th, we played our first gig of 2010, at The Comedy Pub,
in Leicester Square.
Head over to youtube and you can see the full gig (and tons of other
Shorties content) at
We came to an arrangement with the promoter that meant we could play for
an hour, rather than the usual half hour. This made the whole evening so
much more enjoyable than usual. With the half hour shows you rehearse
for weeks, get all set, go down for a quick soundcheck and then get, if
you're lucky, 9 songs crammed in. You daren't tune the guitar if it goes
out, as you'd lose another song. With a full hour to play with, we knew
we could really enjoy ourselves. We upped the number of songs, but only
to 14. This meant we knew we wouldn't have to be rushing, could banter
between songs, re-tune if need be, etc.
Well, I can't recall when I last enjoyed a gig so much. As usual our
loyal fans turned out and roared us on, and the banter was flowing back
and forth. Performance wise, I think we nailed it also. The soundman
did a great job, and we did our bit, really hitting the pocket on most
of the songs. Although Dave could not make this gig, Saul performed
with us for the 3rd gig in a row, which was an enormous joy. It's so
great that he's fully re-engaged with the band. Realistically, (and I
know I've been saying this for 15 years) I'm not sure how long we can
keep going, so it's fantastic that he is taking the opportunity while
Equally exciting, making his Shorties live debut, was Dan's brother
Richard. Richard has posted here several times before, and is as groovy
a guy as you could wish to meet. He came by to watch a rehearsal, but
being a great guitarist, we ended up roping him into the gig. He helped
us put a new slant on songs such as 'Che Guevara and Me' and 'Maggie and
Hopey' and he tore up the joint with his solo on 'Pismel'. We hope he'll
work wih us again in the future
The set list featured a few golden oldies returning (We haven't played
'Che' in over 5 years, haven't done 'Pismel' or 'Maggie and Hopey' for,
maybe 3-4 years) and we also debuted a brand new tune written by Liam
and I, 'Your Drunk Uncle'. We eschewed some of the crowd pleasers that
we felt we just needed a break from, so there was no '40 Years' 'Holy
Man's Hands' or 'Lottery'. Thankfully the crowd showed no signs of
missing them, and gave us a great response.
We were by no means perfect. I think Chiswich felt a little rushed, for
example, but it was certainly one of our better performances and some
songs (Che Guevara and Pismel) I can't recall ever sounding better. more
importantly, perhaps, I (and i think all the band) relished the relaxed
atmosphere and the sense of fun and joy that pervaded the whole event.
Roll on the next gig...
The setlist was:
Maggie and Hopey
The Fish And The Tambourine
Your Drunk Uncle
Che Guevara And Me
It's The End Of The World As We Know It
Wedding Day Blues
When Your Girlfriend Asks You If You're Gay
Drown, Laugh And Float
Chiswick High Rd
PS: remember Head over to youtube and you can see the full gig
(and tons of other Shorties content) at:
Meanwhile, here's Part 1 of the gig...
On November 23rd I turned forty, and unbeknownst to me my wife organised a surprise party. She enlisted all the other Shorties, all seven of them, and they worked up a 14 song set (7 originals and 7 covers). Saul had arranged to meet me for a drink, and then when we arrived at the pub he had suggested we go to, I was greeted by a large crowd of friends and family shouting 'Surprise!', and by the news that the Shorties would be playing at the party. There was even a costume for me to wear.
The party was great, and doing the gig was amazing fun. Sadly it wasn't video-d but as you'll see from the photos a great time was had by all. I can't remember a previous occasion when all 8 shorties have appeared on the same stage, and I just wanted the night to go on forever. A huge thank-you to my wife Collette, and to the 7 remaining Shorties for organising the party and rehearsing so hard. It was an amazing night that I'll never forget
The setlist was:
All Muddled Up
Drown Laugh Float
Holy Man's Hands
Bad Moon Rising
Brimful Of Asha
It's The End Of the World As We Know It
Is This The Way To Amarillo?
I'm A Believer
Great News. We have decided to make Longevity, The documentary covering the first ten years of The Shorty Blackwells, available to all via the magic of You Tube.
Showing in seven manageable parts, if you haven't seen it the documentary is a no holds barred, behind the scenes look at the first ten years of The Shorty Blackwells, featuring interviews with all the main players, and some amazing archive footage
Additionally I've added a couple of small segments of Liam and I, dressed as Davy and Mike from The Monkees, on ITV show 'The Time The Place', and the final segements of my Blockbusters appearance, so plenty to enjoy.
I can't seem to embed the first part of the doc currently, so here's the URL:
Well it's certainly been a while since I posted here. Lots has happened in the meantime:
We've played alongside Loyd Grossman's band at a charity benefit in January, which was great fun.
Saul took to the stage for the first time in five years at our most recent gig in July and although the gig was not our best, it was wonderful having him back and performing with us, and great to dig out 2 of his songs which don't get a live airing very often. I thought they both sounded great.
Chris got married to the lovely Michelle (for some bizarre reason he didn't have us playing at the wedding) and enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon
I intend to post pics from these recent activities soon (except Chris's honeymoon!)
I also went through one of my periodic phases of wondering about the future of the band, hence why it all went quiet on the blog front. As usual Dan came up with some great ideas for moving things forward which have reinvigorated me.
Pics to follow in a few days
Our CD launch gig on Friday 3rd October, at our usual haunt, 'The Comedy Pub', was not without its troubles (when are they ever) but overall it was a positive experience on several levels.
We knew from the outset we would be without Dave, but our keyboard player Mike had to pull out at fairly short notice and so we wondered how we would sound. Despite limited rehearsal time we had managed to get the songs sounding great, but could we re-produce it on the night?
When we arrived at the venue we were shocked to discover that the 2 other bands on the bill had both pulled out, something I've never experienced before in 15 years of gigging. This meant there was a solo artist, who had only brought a handful of people, and us (who'd brought 25). So the room was quite empty looking and quieter than normal. It also meant we had the longest souncheck we've ever had, which was great as we were able to iron out a few of the inevitable rough patches you'll get when trying as many new songs as we were going to
We opened strongly, powering through 'Disintegration Machine' and 'Kirsten' which both got a great response, and then followed up with 'Wedding Day Blues'. At this point we were doing great. 3 songs, all new or newish to the audience, all well received. However the middle part of the show took a bit of a downturn. Ironically it was 'Richard Brautigan', a song which we've played a number of times and which we should be able to do with our eyes shut, that started the rot. We stumbled and bumbled our way through it. A strong performance of 'Nazi Dog' got a luke warm reception, and when Dan broke a string during 'Only Hicks' things could have gone downhill.
We rallied, however, and gave great renditions of 'Sofa Gofer' (making only its second live appearance) and 'Consume'. Making its last ever appearance, for obvious reasons, 'George W Bush' brought the crowd back to life, and the reception of the night was saved for the brand new 'Holy Man's Hands'. Within the group, everyone had recognised, from the first rehearsal, that Dan's new song was something special. It speaks volumes for our view of it that we made it our set closer, despite no-one in the audience having heard it before. But the audience agreed with us, and agve it a fantastic response. Even after the set people were approaching us raving about 'HMH' so it will be a set closer for some time to come.
Given the small crowd and the broken string and the reduced line-up, I think the gig went as well as could be hoped. If we'd wanted more crowd reaction in the middle we perhaps could have put 2 old faves in, rather than 2 we weren't yet bored of. But if you start trying to pander to and second guess the audience, that way disaster lies!
We sold 6 copies of 'the Centrafugel Bugle' and overall it would have to be considered a very good night
Apologies it has taken me so long to post here. However I'm back with our latest news.
On Friday october 3rd we play a gig at The Comedy Pub, 7 Oxendon Street, Piccadilly Circus, SW1. We're on stage at 8.40pm (doors open at 8pm).
It's only our second gig of the year, and the main reason for that is we've been hard at work finishing off our latest album 'the Centifugal Bugle' . The album will be officially launched at the gig. It contains 16 great tracks, all the songs that have been going over so well at our gigs over the last couple of years are featured, including '40 Years', 'Drown laugh and Float' 'Green Lanes' and 'The British Trust For Conservation Gay and Lesbian Clean Up At Mile End'
The CD will be available at a special reduced price at the gig, so don't miss out. See you there!!