|Posted on 11 February, 2018 at 17:40|
Here's the latest video (with lyrics) from my 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' project.
|Posted on 4 February, 2018 at 15:20|
It was a pleasure and a privelege to see and hear the magnificent Ferryhill Towhttp://www.ferryhilltownband.orgn Band play a blinder at the Festival of Brass Contest at East Durham College, Peterlee, this afternoon - well done guys! It was also a great opportunity to sneak in a quick photo shoot to help promote our recent collaboration on the CD single 'The Durham Light Infantry' (1st single to be released from the forthcoming 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' project).
|Posted on 4 February, 2018 at 7:30|
The 2nd single to be released from my latest project 'From Coalfield to Battlefield', in advance of the forthcoming album, is 'Ballad of Lance-Sergeant William Stones'. It tells the true story of a previously-decorated soldier in the Durham Light Infantry, from Crook, County Durham, who was executed in 1917 for alleged cowardice during the First World War.
There is also an official video featuring Helen's illustration with lyrics : -
|Posted on 28 January, 2018 at 17:15|
On Friday 26th January, I had a great afternoon with my long-time collaborator and Whisky Priests colleague Mick Tyas at the Forum Music Centre, Darlington, with the pair of us recording guest vocals together for a cover version of the old Whisky Priests classic 'The Raven' (which I originally wrote for the band's 1992 studio album 'Timeless Street' and which also appeared on the band's seminal live album 'Bloody Well Live!' in 1993) by German folk-rockers 'Kings and Boozers' for their latest album 'Still Got the Booze' (due to be released in March 2018). The session was a hoot and we were very pleased with the results. Now, we can't wait to hear the finished article.
|Posted on 26 January, 2018 at 7:40|
Off to the recording studio in 10 minutes time, with my Whisky Priests co-lead singer Mick Tyas. We'll be at The Forum, Darlington, to record guest co-lead vocals on a cover version of my old Whisky Priests song 'The Raven' by German band 'Kings and Boozers' for their new album 'Still Got the Booze', to be released in March 2018. Further news, photos, and video clips to follow...
|Posted on 9 December, 2017 at 6:00|
Now available to pre-order on Bandcamp here - shipping soon! : -
Gary Miller & The Ferryhill Town Band 'The Durham Light Infantry'.
Limited Edition CD & Download Single.
Arranged and Produced by Iain Petrie.
Artwork by Helen Temperley.
'The Durham Light Infantry' was only the second song I ever wrote for The Whisky Priests (way back in 1985) and it appeared on the band's debut album 'Nee Gud Luck' in 1989. This new version features new lyrics and a special brass band arrangement performed by The Ferryhill Town Band.
This is the first advance release from my 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' project (as part of the 'When the Bugle Calls' DLI Collection travelling exhibition about the music of The Durham Light Infantry) - Other major platforms for digital download coming soon. One for the Christmas stocking filler?!
As someone who grew up listening to brass band music from a very early age (being born and raised in one of the mining villages of County Durham, having family members who were colliery bandsmen, being "forced" to listen to my father's many brass band albums, and getting goosebumps as I was taken annually to the Durham Miners' Gala, seeing and hearing the banners and the brass march past, whilst barely out of swaddling clothes, it was instilled in me and is very much "in my blood") and was hugely inspired by it (the influences are very clearly there in the very first songs and tunes I wrote for my band The Whisky Priests), it has been a long-held ambition of mine to record one of my tunes with a full colliery band, for the last 30+ years in fact. True, The Whisky Priests recordings throughout the late 80's and 90's often featured colliery brass guest musicians, but never a full band in its own right. Well, at last, after all this time, my ambition has finally come true, through my collaboration with The Ferryhill Town Band on the 'When the Bugle Calls' project (look out for a full-length album 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' next year). To hear my old song 'The Durham Light Infantry' renewed in this way has been an incredible and unforgettable experience - this was the one song I most had in mind for a full brass band treatment throughout those 30-odd years. I feel truly blessed creatively and am proud to be able to share the results through this new CD Single.
Pre-order 'The Durham Light Infantry' here.
|Posted on 6 December, 2017 at 13:45|
It was a fantastic evening last night at the Official Launch Event for 'When the Bugle Calls', a new travelling exhibition by the DLI Research and Study Centre about the music of 'The Durham Light Infantry' at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. Not only was it an honour to perform some of the songs I had written for the project but also to see such major coverage about myself and The Whisky Priests, as well as some of my wonderful partner Helen Temperley's incredible accompanying illustrations included as part of the exhibition.
I would like to extend my warmest and heartfelt thanks to Gareth Sykes, Andrew Potts, Steven King (all from the incredible Ferryhill Town Band), Mick Tyas, Iain Petrie and Jake Lucas for their amazing contributions to the performance of my commissioned songs.
|Posted on 4 December, 2017 at 18:05|
Well that was great fun! We had a special rehearsal tonight of 'Euphonium and Cornet' at the Ferryhill Town Band's rehearsal space in preparation for tomorrow night's performance of my commssioned songs at the launch event for the DLI Collection travelling exhibition 'When the Bugle Calls', at Bishop Auckland Town Hall. In attendance were Andrew Potts (cornet), Steven King (euphonium), Mick Tyas (on bouzouki and backing vocals), Jake Lucas (on drums), and myself (acoustic guitar and lead vocals).
|Posted on 1 December, 2017 at 14:15|
WOW! - Vocals recorded yesterday up in Spittal, Berwick-upon-Tweed (I almost crashed the car twice driving to and from Ferryhill, Durham, in the awful conditions!) at Awake Music!, produced and engineered by my dear friend, the amazing Iain Petrie, for my new version of 'The Durham Light Infantry' (first written in August 1985 when I was a stripling of 18 years, and original version recorded by my old band The Whisky Priests in 1989 for the band's debut album 'Nee Gud Luck').
This new version features new lyrics and an incredible backing track by The Ferryhill Town Band and is part of my 'From Coalfield to Battlefield' Project with my soul-mate partner Helen Temperley, for the DLI Research and Study Centre's 'When The Bugle Calls' 12-month travelling exhibition, to be launched at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, County Durham on Tuesday 5th December. I am so proud of what Helen, Iain and me have achieved between us to-date, with the contributions of so many wonderful friends. This is a project very dear to my heart and I feel we have already achieved something truly special, against the odds, with much more to come (with 4 songs in the bag we are working towards a full album throughout the coming months - 'The Final Letter of Jimmy Durham' is one of these songs I am particularly excited about).
I was only approached in late October about permission to use my original version of the song for the exhibition. I immediately saw the opportunity to develop things further but was told by Durham County Council that, although they would support us in spirit, the budget was spent and no additional funding was available (this is the UK arts, remember!), so with my creative mind "on a mission" there was no other recourse but to fund it myself (too late to approach alternate funders in time) and even though my lovely partner Helen is apt to say "we haven't got a pot to piss in but we're happy", we have persevered and I am truly proud of where we have gotten with this so far. Helen's illustrations are especially phenomenal.
And all this within a matter of weeks, during which time we have suffered the tragic loss of Helen's mother, the insprirational and irreplaceable Val (who I know has been there in spirit pushing us on, as I have felt her presence on numerous occasions), as well as other major distractions, such as the release of the 'Mad Martins' 3xCD & Book (following many unforeseen delays), a fantastic trip to Durham's twin town of Tübingen to promote the 30th anniversary of the literary twinning between these two lovely regions, due to the efforts of Keith Armstrong and the launch of a superb 30th aniversary anthology of works by artists from both regions (including 3 pieces by myself), and the ongoing illness of my own elderly parents.
There has barely been time to draw breath! So, please, if you are in the area any time, check out the exhibition (launched at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on 5th December where it will spend 4 months before travelling the whole of County Durham throughout 2018), give the song a listen on the soundpost ('Euphonium and Cornet' is also included), and look out for the CD and further news as we post it.
In the meantime, Helen has just completed this fantastic illustration to accompany the song : -
|Posted on 27 November, 2017 at 15:05|
I'm so proud to unveil Helen's finished illustration to accompany my song 'Ballad of Lance-Segeant William Stones' for the 'From Coalfield To Battlefield' project for the upcoming DLI Research and Study Centre 'When The Bugle Calls' exhibition about the Music of The Durham Light Infantry. In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's recording session with the Ferryhill Town Band, when they will be recording a full brass band arrangement for my song 'The Durham Light Infantry', in the wodnerful venue of Mainsforth and District Institute, Ferryhill, with my great friend, producer and arranger Iain Petrie engineering.
Listen to my solo version of the song here.
BALLAD OF LANCE-SERGEANT WILLIAM STONES
My name is Joseph William Stones
The life-blood of Durham ran deep in my bones
A miner from Crook standing all of 5' 2"
Deemed too short to fight, fit only to hew
But I then joined the Bantams in 1915
A volunteer in the Durham Light Infantry
A lance-sergeant decorated for extreme bravery
Shot at dawn as a coward in 1917
The terror of the guns I bravely defied
The horrors of the trenches I somehow survived
Only to face death by a different name
Stripped of all honour, butchered in shame
Though my superiors cast glowing testimonies
I was guilty as charged, my Court Martial decreed
British Army justice, so cruel and so vague
The brutal tyranny of Bloody Butcher Haig
As the sentence was passed my stomach turned weak
But they’d given me no permission to speak
I simply stood there as my glazed eyes gazed through
The blank faces of my judges who no mercy knew
The ambulance driver’s head hung in shame
Driving us to our doom at the dawn of the day
Blindfolded, manacled, two lance corporals and I
Each tied to a post, sentenced to die
A farmyard near Arras, the last place I saw
So quiet and peaceful amid the horrors of war
Thirty-six bullets and thirty-six men
Twelve for each prisoner, how could they fail then?
Yet not one of those men fired a shot that rang true
Afraid of guilt’s burden, what else could they do?
As the firing squad officer his pistol he drew
And our brains and our souls to eternity blew
“Braver men I never have met”
Were the words of the chaplain who wrote with regret
How he’d prayed with us before that fatal dawn
And how we were murdered on that terrible morn
There were no birds to sing, no bugle to play
The Last Post as they carried our bodies away
Just a sad mournful breeze to usher our souls
To the Great Unknown, where no guilty bell tolls
Oh Lizzie, my Lizzie, you were victimised too
"There’s no pensions for coward’s widows", they told you
As they left you to rot and go quietly insane
Alone with your memories, your loss and your pain
Three hundred and five others were damned just like me
To walk the Ghost Road through eternity
These doomed youth an anthem and peace were denied
Unjustly condemned, shot by their own side
My name was erased from the family line
To be rediscovered and restored after time
Now eighty years after I was slaughtered in shame
The local memorial at last bears my name
A Royal Pardon was granted at last
Ninety years after the sentence was passed
And even though the conviction remains
I suppose we must welcome any small gains
Now they call it Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome
A cause that in my time was simply unknown
And though no-one else should suffer like me
From the evil of War we will never be free