Inspired.

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I don’t have a CD player in my apartment, and I have never owned an mp3 player. Sometimes a full week will go past and I wont have listened to music at home. I’ve always been the type of person that finds a band or artist and then obsesses with them for a while. This happened to me with Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, The Frames, Sigur Rós, The Strokes and Damien Rice just to name a few.

Since relocating to the U.S I seemed to have moved away from that pattern. Every now and then I will hear a single from a new band that draws me in, but I never really take the time to sit down and listen to their music. Like most people I will never have as much free time as I did when I was at University in Belfast.

Then something changed. I was gifted a record player for Christmas… and I couldn’t have been inspired more by a single act of kindness. Like a student again I have been taking the time to sit down and listen to albums, from start to finish. Classic albums like ‘Into the Music’ from Van Morrison and ‘Everybody Knows this is Nowhere’ by Neil Young. I have borrowed a few records from friends, and picked up a few myself in a little store in Park Slope called ’5th Avenue Records & Tapes.’ Just last week I picked up my first James Taylor record. It was 50 cents and it was little dusty, but when I cleaned it up it plays like a dream.

I am not afraid to admit that I have never taken the time to get into The Beatles. Like most people I know all the singles, but not all the album tracks. My good friend Alan just gifted me ‘Let it Be’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘The Beatles.’ Can’t really go wrong with those three to be fair. The best thing about owning a record player for me is that I am going to open my ears to a lot of music, particularly older recordings, that would have passed me by otherwise.

With plans set in stone to record my debut album a few months from now I have been writing a lot. I know that music consumption has changed so much in recent years, but I still believe in the power of a good album. I want the songs to sit well together so that people like me can enjoy listening from start to finish, and who knows maybe i’ll get a few printed on vinyl…

John xo

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Some live footage

I’ve been sitting on this footage for quite a while. Recorded in May of last year at the Training Up My Soul EP launch in Rockwood Music Hall, this is It Slows Down.

Thanks to everyone who made this show unforgettable, and to everyone who has picked up a copy of the EP to date. You guys rock.

This Wednesday, I am doing a solo set at Ceol in Brooklyn. Situated at 191 Smith Street in Cobblehill, Ceol has a really great open-mic night every Wednesday. This week I am honored to be the featured performer. 8pm stage time. Should be fun!

John xo

Hello 2013

2012 was my first full year away from home. I phone my Mum and Dad most days so I am fairly up to date on everything that is going on with my family and friends, but nothing compares to sitting around the open fire with your folks at Christmas time. So I couldn’t have been happier to be home for two weeks.

Unlike New York, Ireland pretty much comes to a stand still for the holiday season. When Americans tell me that they only get one or two days off work I am always shocked. They definitely work too hard, and I don’t care what anyone says, we eat just as much as Americans… and we make it last for two weeks.

Port 2

Port 1

On December 28th I was back in the Cellar Bar, Draperstown for a show. I was joined on stage by dear friends Zarah (cello) and Matt (electric guitar), and with support from the very talented Junior Johnson. At first it felt weird to play without my US band mates, but after a few songs I really started to relax and enjoy myself. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out and making it such a great night. There is a buzz in Draperstown that will always draw me back.

I didn’t really expect to do an encore, and it was only as we sat backstage after our set was over that I released that we had to do one! Luckily I have the worst memory in the world, and Zarah reminded me that we hadn’t played ‘It Slows Down’, and so we did just that. In a way it made perfect sense. Of all the songs I’ve written this is the one that I would say was most influenced by time spent in Draperstown, particularly with the Rural Key Project, a Glasgowbury initiative for young people.

Cellar 3

Cellar 1

As I returned to New York a couple of days ago I could not have felt more energized. Despite the fact that I had to relive 5 hours of my day due to the jetlag, I couldn’t wait to get to my apartment, unpack, and take out my guitar and work on some ideas. My friend Michael made a very valid point recently. He said that the good thing about visiting the USA for an Irish person is that they are able to get out of bed in time… I hope this keeps up. I even went for a run this morning at 7am… if my Mum could see me now.

Brooklyn 2

To everyone in the United States I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, and thank you for making 2012 so amazing. By coming out to a show, picking up an EP, downloading a song or two, or even just shaking my hand and asking me where I am from, all of you make it that little bit easier to be away from home.

Early 2013 will see me record my debut album. I have a million ideas that I am sifting through right now; some old and some new, but it is all coming together nicely. I want to make an album in the same way in which the Training Up My Soul EP was made. I will stand in a live room with great musicians around me, and jam. With four EP’s under my belt already I know exactly what type of record I want to make, and I cant wait to share it with you all when its done.

I’ll be posting some more show dates very soon, and for more updates you can Like my bandpage on Facebook, or follow my twitterings on Twitter. (@buildingpics)

Rock on
John xo

Los Angeles

Last week I took my first trip to Los Angeles. I’ve made a lot of friends all over the world since I started making music, and quite a few of them reside in LA. When the Hollywood Hills called, I jumped.

I think you all know this sign.

LA from the Griffith Observatory

I wish they made em like they used to…

I was gifted a signed guitar of Ben Harpers to write with for a few days.

Venice Beach.

In-N-Out Burger… quite possibly the best fast food burger I’ve ever had.

The Paramount Ranch, nestled in the Malibu Canyon. Felt like Clint Eastwood for an hour.

Malibu Canyon

Next Show is December 5th in Brooklyn. Details coming soon. xo