How are you doing?
It seems such a long time ago that I left the Sprit of Discovery in Tilbury, Essex and drove to Bournemouth, where I now live with my fiancée Hilary. At first it was fun. We were due a holiday anyway and it was fantastic to have time to relax - not that I did much of that for the first 2 months. In fact I dived right into writing and recording songs for a new album, which was long overdue. The creative juices flowed and it was lovely to work with other friends/musicians to produce a collection of no loess than 14 songs for the album 'Discovery'. You can listen to samples of each song on my newcd page.
For the last 10 years I have performed as a full time musician. It started in a duo called Serendipity in June 2010 on the Oceana. In 2013 the duo split up and I was forced to go solo, initially working between the Balmoral and Arcadia. When those doors closed the Saga door opened and that is where I have performed since December 2016. I have always had a captive audience and fairly regular pay until March this year. Although I have always done a monthly Newsletter, maintained a FB page and web site, I haven't before had to try to expand my contacts on Social Media or try to earn any money by working on line. About 6 weeks ago I signed up to a Social Media course, aimed at independent musicians like me and that has been helpful. It has lead me to do live music streams on Facebook - something I shied away at the start of lock down. The thought and the actually doing, is still quite nerve-wracking to be honest. All my life it has been hard to talk about money and I still hate to ask for it, but my audience and supported have been so amazing in giving in response to my performances by throwing money into my 'Virtual Guitar Case' - basically a PayPal Link, or even sending cheques or paying directly into my bank account. Whilst this is nothing like the amounts I usually earn on board, it is still a generous amount and each week I am touched by everyone's willingness to support me.
How are you doing? It's a questions I am interested in, so do let me know. It is also a question I ask myself. What are you doing? What are you going to do? Lockdown is now easing in so many areas of life but not with cruising. The earliest cruises being talked about for Saga are in November now and time will tell whether or not that materialises. I have wondered about getting another job but that is clearly much more easier to say than to do. There are sadly so many people out of work that I have to wonder if I would even get a 'normal' job. What would I be able to do? I spent over 30 years in my working in Insurance, most of that in the City of London. I used to commute for 3 hours a day, from Colchester to London Liverpool Street. The thought of going back to an office job like that does not fill me with excitement.
Then there are the wonderful people that listen to my live streams, my YouTube videos and partake in the online events. I get such lovely feedback and responses from people who simple enjoy the connection through the (currently fortnightly) Newsletter. So many email responses from the Live Streams and lovely comments and messages through Facebook. The response to the new album has also been amazing. People really enjoy the songs and it has touched everyone who has bought the album so far as well as raised over £250 for The Silver Line charity.
So as I sit here at my lap top, it's Sunday morning. Hilary and I listen to church on line and reflect on the week. We will think and plan the week ahead too, particularly the Friday Live Stream. We have to plan, rehearse, record videos and advertise on Social Media in an effort to get noticed above everything else that is going on on line. How are we doing? Well we are doing pretty well really. We are eating well. Exercising daily. Getting out occasionally to spend time with family or friends, which is important. We do seem to have our routines and that makes the weeks fly by. However do spare us a thought if your life is returning to 'normal' because we are still facing at least another 3 months without our usual work on The Spirit of Discovery.
One possibility is to try and reach out to the hotels, restaurants and bars in the area of Bournemouth. There are a lot! Live music will probably gradually start back and that could be a possibility. We would need a new car if I had to transport my keyboard and guitars though. I think I would also need a new PA as I don't currently have one of my own. When my duo started I worked hard on marketing and advertising so I do know what is involved. It's something worth thinking more about and perhaps I will push some doors and see if they open. There is no great announcement in this 'chit chat' post - just an honest ramble and a small insight into our lives at the moment. As always, I love to hear what is happening in your life too. You can email me at email@example.com Or if you have any ideas or insights that would be great. In the meantime, I hope that coming out of lockdown is working for you and helping you move forward in life. I guess if you are reading this you are already connected in some way and so I say thankyou for reading this. Thanks for your friendship and encouragement. Stuart