November is an exciting month for me. After winning the vote of judges from Woodland Creature’s gig this month, I am now performing at the already-sold-out EH6 Festival Leith.
Being someone who has become familiar with Edinburgh and its neighbourhoods, I can’t be more thrilled to know that the birth place of many an Irvine Welsh novel and the fought over and slightly controversial town that is currently under threat of modern development for banal, impersonal things like student housing. Having its own festival brings with it a certain significance as people congregate and spread news of protests such as #SaveLeith. Leith may have a shabby chic image, although my older or more disillusioned friends may roll their eyes at the “hipster” appeal of such a place – there is something to be said for the independent businesses, music cafes such as Sketchy Beats, charity shops, community spaces, and even the derelict buildings are reused as venues or haunts for the sentient thrill-seeker.
It wasn’t long ago, I made a very public post about my time busking at the Kirkgate shopping area, which is basically the Leith “high street”. The funny thing was, that although I was nervous about busking in Leith initially, as it seemed a little less refined and lacked the quaintness offered by the tourist city centre, I was surprised how well I was going down by passers-by and local businesses. I made more money busking with no amp in Leith’s Kirkgate than I had done anywhere else in a long time.
Even beggars put money into my case and offered me a beer or cigarette.
It seems that sometimes the towns that seem less likely to be busking friendly, can actually be the very places where busking is absolutely welcome. I’m not going to lie – there is a grimness to and a knowingness that the birthplace of
“Trainspotting” would not be hard to deny….. I will talk more about my time busking in Leith and what happened that made me stop, in my other blog. Keep updated with my blogs and I will fill you in on the story so I don’t get sidetracked!
EH6 has got everyone talking. Artists like Jake Bugg, The Coral – who are basically in the same ilk as Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. Tickets are 40 quid for one night and weekend tickets a hundred and something.
I don’t even know if I’m getting paid! But I don’t care. To know that I am actually on a lineup with these aforementioned names makes me feel like my music career is going somewhere in the conventional sense.
There was that terrible situation with Ralph Mctell and Annie Lennox last year (wait for the blog, I will update you with the story on that) where after singing in choir alongside those two worldwide stars, I was singled out and asked to play, by Annie Lennox herself, in her place with Mctell for the BBC gig in aid of homeless charity “Crisis”. The song was Mctell’s famous “Streets of London.”
- Find out more about Crisis homeless charity here:
I also did play a solo performance representing Annie Lennox at Crisis at the Cannongate Church that year with significant political and social figures present – Ruth Davidson, for instance, was in the audience. THe host informed us that Annie Lennox was unavailable and I would be singing in her place. According to the audience verdict I “gave Lennox a run for her money”. And was to duet with Ralph Mctell. However, the BBC fucked things up. And maybe I did too. (read the blog, it will be out soon).
I thought that this situation was the Lucky Break I’d been waiting for. I also thought that doing Celtic Connections twice would be, I thought that getting to the final non-televised series of The Voice would be the lucky break. I thought that when a television crew for SKY stopped and took footage of me busking and interviewed me, it would be the lucky break. I thought when the guy who heard me outside his office and invited me onto ITV Edinburgh, it might be, I thought that when newspapers and magazines started writing about me and my music and my story – it would be that lucky break, or when various people have told me they want to sign me, they want to be my manager, or they want to and will make it happen for me, but you know what – it just hasn’t happened. Yet. Or maybe it IS happening, just really, really slowly.
Maybe each time I get an opportunity, it’s more like a test. A test of how I handle it or go about it. Maybe for years I kept sabotaging my success because my confidence in myself outside of music was in tatters, despite the wildness of my lifestyle and my consistent stage performances.
It could be that I wasn’t at all ready for what it meant to be successful, past being a success to myself, and to all the people who have approached me over the years and said “that song has changed my mood/my mind/my life/perception on things.”
I guess I have learned to view myself as a success in my own right, regardless if I have an army of people insisting that this is a registered fact. Do I need that? Does anyone ever need that?
I feel famous when I sing. Alone, or on stage, or to just another person. I feel famous for how I have lived my life, because I know all the songs I have written about things I’ve done and seen, and stories that are being written. I know I’m sort of creating a legend of myself all by myself, and it would be nice to have a following, but I’m not fucking Jesus. But then it’s sort of required, isn’t it?
I recently just booked a gig at Bar Brigg (known as Brigg Bellow – as the gigs happen in the basement) – and the guy said “to play here, you need a following.” So I decided I would host my night instead – I host a night called BEATNIK SUPPER. (blog will be coming soon – for now check Beatnik Supper on facebook) Beatnik is my signature night, and has been an ongoing success, as have been nearly every night I have organised and hosted – I feel at ease putting the work in when it’s for the good of the musical community, as opposed to tiny me, Roelle Blue. I feel it should be someone else’s job to put the good word in, but that’s not the culture we live in.
I know I can get tickets bought and create a hype, but I’m terrible at promoting myself, so that’s why I like to host nights, because I can successfully create a great night, and of course I will perform and host and organise it – but it becomes removed from myself, it becomes a separate entity, it becomes about getting other musicians seen and heard and an audience that isn’t so specifically directed at me.
So a lot going on this November – keep updated and come along, follow on facebook and I will keep you in the loop of all things Roelle Blue!