I love my "Custom 22" I've had it a long time, it's so comfortable and easy to play!

I love my "Custom 22" I've had it a long time, it's so comfortable and easy to play!

"My Les Paul . . . wouldn't leave home without it"

"My Les Paul . . . wouldn't leave home without it"

"I've been using the Triamp now for years and never needed to change"!

"I've been using the Triamp now for years and never needed to change"!

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LEAVE TO TO MAN CALLED SMITH 

"Leave it to a man called Smith"

Many many years ago I owned a Gordon Smith guitar, A GS1 to be exact. After a pub conversation about guitars that I had enjoyed the most and then regretted selling, the story somehow got the attention of James at Gordon Smith Guitars.

I ended up having a conversation with James last November and he suggested that I consider getting another one, but allow them to make a few changes to my liking, so turning the clock back with a guitar I had so much affection for.

That guitar is now in the final stages of construction I am told and should make an appearance on a summer festival or two in the very near future!

Photos will follow soon!

BIRTHDAY WISHES 

I want to thank all fans who have sent me a birthday greeting to my site and my Facebook page yesterday.

It is truly overwhelming! . . . . Thank you!

A SUITCASE PACKED AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! 

I just love playing live, I love being on the road, I've missed it . . . . . so glad to be back touring let me tell you!

Anyways let's have a quick catch-up. The annual Smokie charity dinner for Leukemia was as always a roaring success, I am happy to give my time to such a wonderful cause, I am also proud that Smokie continue to give " A little bit back" Shame that a particular hotel manager couldn't get into the spirit of the occasion that is all about Charity!

It was nice to go back to Bulgaria, although the shenanigans of a tour promoter left some fans seeking refunds on tickets for a show that had been cancelled weeks earlier. One despairs!

Anois . . . . . . `that's Irish for "Now" . . . . . I've really enjoyed that last three shows in Ireland with Smokie, The Irish really know how to enjoy music and I am quite overwhelmed at the support that we receive in Ireland, I love Vicar Street, what a gig!!!!

GEAR

My TC G-System has been playing up a bit, I've gone through two in ten years, but felt that it was time to move on and have a change. I got myself a Line6 Helix system which is rather cool. I dig the reverbs and chorus sounds, but I've yet to nail the delays, but I'll get there eventually. 
The Helix is a modelling multi-effects unit but as most gear-heads who know me, are well aware that I go nowhere near all that shit! . . . . . let me have my valves to make those drive sounds (but shh . . .  never say never) It's taken me a couple of weeks to get my head round it and I think that I'll be very happy in the long run. Just a matter of persevering and tweaking over a few gigs that's all. I'm also tempted to put a line buffer in the chain, I must consult other gear-heads to gather a bit of info I'm thinking?

I'll share the story soon, but I pick up a new guitar soon down at British guitar builders - Gordon Smith. A GS1 specially made for yours truly, is being made as we speak. Always nice to get a new toy, maybe it'll give me a little inspiration . . . . . that is sometimes needed of course, maybe a killer riff will be born  . . . . yes!!

On a lighter note Toblerone has created a new Ice Cream I notice . . . .  FFS make no wonder I've gotta do eighty K's each morning on the bike . . . . Oh that reminds me, getting a new bike too!!!

 

GOODBYE 2017 

I enjoy reminiscing and taking a look back and the year that has just passed. 2017 for me was another year of milestones achieved and I continue to live the dream of playing music for a living. 

Quite literally on New Years Day of 2017 I got an email from Lurssen mastering to inform me that my new album “Under My Skin” had been mastered, with a link to listen to the actual album, as it would be. This is always an apprehensive moment and I’d got so used to listening to the demos - I’d got the “Demo-itus” bug of getting so used to the rough mixes that the new mixes kinda sounded . . . . Well just not right!

I’ve since learned that the trick is to not analyze them too much and live with it! 

Taking care of the business side of things for me was Golly Gallagher at GF Promotions. When he first heard the tracks he called me to say he was blown away and the relief for me was immense. Here I am with a new manager hoping to get my solo career on the move, and not knowing how that would go. 

Golly got to work on promoting the album and he delivered his promise to get radio airplay and the some of the best magazine interviews. 

Isn’t it ironic that I play in such a successful band yet it was my solo work that gave me the credibility to get in the music magazines that I have always wanted to be featured in? Blues in Britain magazine gave me the coveted center pages . . . how cool. 

The Blues/Rock chart is a European chart and is delivered by pulling together airplay and downloads etc. “Under My Skin” achieved a high of number 13 which I have to admit I was delighted with. Two tracks also featured in last weeks Rock-Radio “best newcomers and tracks of the year awards” 

Shame that once again I couldn’t do a few gigs to capitalize on the good work that Golly had delivered. 

Under My Skin was released on the 20thMarch. It was another achievement in my musical career and another milestone reached. 

I’d worked with a Grammy winning producer in Blue Miller, that for me was a great decision and I take those leaning curves away with me in the hope that it will benefit another project in the future! . . . . . . . “Work with the best you can” . . . . . Push yourself to be better” . . . . These are the things that should come naturally, but it’s easy to take the Easy Road, for most part I refuse to do that! 

The Smokie charity dinner (February 2017) for the Annette Fox Leukemia Trust was another time that I could stand proud. Dr. Parapia acknowledged the efforts of the band and we were presented with a tankard for 25 years of efforts, it was quite emotional to be honest and it gave me that lump in my throat as I held back a tear. 

I have always enjoyed touring the UK and the last one was no different. To tour the UK in the first quarter of the year seems to have been etched in everyone’s diary it would seem. 

The Inverness gig was brilliant, a stand up show that was rammed to the rafters, I was pleased for Martin too. His hometown supported him well. 

Just in front of me a fight broke out, and I’m always left wondering what’s wrong with these women? 

By mid April I’d had enough of the winter weather, so I got my flights booked to what has really become my main home now and ventured to sunny Spain. 

I dragged along my eldest daughter Kyrie too, it was really nice to have some quality time together, especially the fact that University takes up most of her time these days. We flew on Monarch Airlines, England’s longest running airline. Sadly it would go into liquidation a few months later and is no more! 

Since moving to Spain I’ve really got into riding my mountain bike, almost everyday, but a new friendship with a neighbor and now a close friend the two of us are pretty much addicted to road cycling. 

My morning routine has changed by starting with a 50-60 Kilometers bike ride, before anyone else has even surfaced out of bed. What a great way to start my day! I walk a lot more and go to the gym a little less, it seems to work better for me, although the weight is always a struggle, despite the exercise. 

I’ve discovered a couple of new places in Spain, one being Cabo De Palos near La Manga, great scuba diving so I think this year I shall get my Jacques Cousteau head on and get back into another sport that I enjoy, but have such little time to participate. 

In July my youngest daughter Nikita left school (How time flies) She’s a good bit more academic than her dad, and she now attends A-Level college in her quest to start the building blocks for her grown up life. (makes me realize I'm getting older too)

The Brexit referendum was a surprise to say the least, but I will always question! . . . . “Why couldn’t the EU find a way to promise reform before the vote? And perhaps the UK might just have stayed put”??? 

Terrorism again reared its head in Europe and I will always wonder why us human beings can’t just get on? The bomb at the Manchester concert full of kids was truly sickening. I’ve started to say, “Stay safe” when leaving friends, why should I have to do that? 

I found the summer travel pretty laborious this year, it’s a long way from southern Spain to the north of Norway let me tell you, and there were times when I was just fed up and it felt like groundhog day, but I do count my blessings always reminded by Annmarie, and I know that I’m lucky and should remember that I do actually enjoy my job. 

Smokie played a festival with Tom Jones in Ireland in August and although the rain almost threatened the day, we had a great reaction. I stayed and watched Tom Jones, he is truly brilliant - what a voice! . . . . And a great band too! 

After locking up the villa in October, I knew the autumn and winter touring schedule would soon become full throttle. Touring Israel was I have to say, the highlight of the year for me. Great gigs and the weather wasn’t bad ether. 

Gigs in Ireland continue to sell out too. The Irish have really supported Smokie, year after year, they are amazing! 

A couple of weeks ago when I arrived back in he UK, I had a football week, watching Huddersfield, Chelsea, my beloved Leeds united. I even went to Old Trafford the home of Manchester United, to the annoyance of one or two Leeds United friends. My starvation of football forced me into needing a “Footie Fix” . . . Enjoyable yes, but I think those cold terraces may well have been the thing that my Flu-bug needed to start its intrusion of my body and scuppuring my enjoyment this Christmas! 

I’ve had a great Christmas in Ireland, (Yes I got socks) I’m back home now in the UK to get ready for my trip to the Czech Republic tomorrow and I also plan to set up my studio once again in the New Year and hopefully get some inspiration to write some new songs and maybe do a few YouTube videos? . . . . It seems these days every guitar player is performing from home and sharing sounds and guitar riffs . . . . So why not? 

Happy New Year friends!

WINTER HAPPENINGS 

Winter Happenings

In recent weeks, I've done gigs in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev as well as gigs in Romania and Poland. Mild climates not! . . . . but they are currently surprisingly warm for the time of year, with little or no snow. Normally we would have disrupted travel plans and have to wear two pairs of ski socks etc. etc. However; on arrival back to the UK this week I see only what I would describe as, the winter wonderland that only a sprinkling of snow can create . . . . It gets me in that Christmas mood every time . . . .  A happy man! . . . Apart from having a bout of un-wellness in the from of a sore throat and a cold that is!

New Guitar

Gordon Smith the UK guitar company have agreed to build me a replacement for my old GS1 that I sadly lost due to a very bad broken neck. Hopefully some pictures to follow. I am hoping that this may well replace my Les Paul "Gold Top" that has been my main live squeeze for many years now and has done well in excess of 1000 live gigs.

New Pedal Board

Another piece of equipment that has come to it's end of shelf life is my trusty TC Electronics G-system, There are times when gear just kind of gives up!

Not sure as yet as to what I plan to do, but I need something that is portable for the amount of fly gigs that we do. It needs to have ease of set up, so that any guitar tech can get  to grips with it. Another factor is have something that is versatile that can cover all the bases. . . . . . . Needs to sound good too of course!

One More Show

Smokie have their last show of the year on the 31st of December, so I've a few days off now and can enjoy my Christmas holidays. I shall, as always give a review of the year past gone as I usually do., so please come back next week and check that out!

In the meantime, enjoy your holidays whatever religion you follow . . . . stay safe, be kind . . . . . and have a great time!

 

SUN, SEA AND SAND . . . .OH AND A BIT OF CULTURE! 

I've always enjoyed my travel, whether near or far. This last week in Israel though, was particularly enjoyable, and I think will prove to be quite memorable.

I walk miles each day, not just for the sake of it, but to keep fit and explore my surroundings. Staying in the Sheraton on the beachfront in Tel Aviv for a full week meant that I could get myself a little routine going on. . . . . Breakfast, walk, coffee in the old town of Jaffa, more walking, a jaunt up to the rooftop pool, a couple of chapters of my John Grisham book, a bite to eat, bath and a shave and get ready for the gig!  . . . . A day can pass quickly when your having fun.

On our first gig in Be'er Sheva, Israel, I could see the gig from miles away on the highway, when we arrived the big colourful spire was part of the stage, it looked rather cool and I thing the ampi-theatre setting just added to the occasion. Great gigs great vibes, can't wait to go back!

 

The gig in the Haifa Congress Centre was, as usual a rowdy night, we''ve been here a few times now, so the audience know the deal.

We'de made a huge decision the night before to change the after show rider and Instead of the usual pizza, we opted for Swharmer . . . . to most folks that's a Kebab! . . . . . i don't think anyone of us were shite-ing through the eye of a needle the day after, so we had Kebabs backstage every night after that . . . . . I know my way round a pita bread as good as I know my way round a Les Paul Gold Top let me tell yer!

We played our first ever show in Jerusalem this time, which was rather cool. If you get a chance to go to Jerusalem, take it. Atmosphere is very different to Tel Aviv for obvious reasons, but as a "left footer" (Catholic) There is so much history here. . . . . . Although if I'm being honest I'd rather read a Leeds United match-day programme that the new Testament!

To play in Tel Aviv for two nights at the Cultural Palace was a real coup for the band and we had every reason to feel proud. Also; Playing 15 minutes up the road also meant that I could have breakfast, go for a walk, stop for coffee in old Jaffa, walk a bit more, hop up to the pool . . . . . Yes it's becoming a bit like groundhog day!

When I turned up at the first gig soundcheck in Tel Aviv I was introduced by my tech Brendan to a local Guitar Luthier, Lee Oren from Infinity Guitars who wanted me to have a look at his creations. I checked out his Les Paul-esqe guitar, very nice woods, well made and obviously these guys have a real passion for what they do. They spend weeks and weeks building a single guitar!

 

Lee Oren from Infinity Guitars Israel

Lee Oren very kindly offered me this guitar free of charge (zero bucks) yes a very kind offer I know, but believe it or not? I'm Not the type of person who just takes and I felt that I wouldn't play it enough to give him the benefit that he perhaps needs.

 

My last day in Tel Aviv involved a haggle with a Jewish trader over a Shamaq (Arab Headscarf) . . . . . Guess who won? . . . . yep 15 shekkels bagged me my prize!

Anyways, I've got to go now, I'm looking for a band-aid or bandage for a blister on my big toe that's as big as an Elephants Bollock!

 

 

A NOT SO FINE SUMMER 

Well folks, I'm finally on a summer break from Smokie gigs. A nice well earned four week break and a chance to recharge the batteries as they say!

I play a lot of festivals in the summer, but the word summer has now come into question. Living in Spain I get to see a lot of sunshine, I wear shorts and a vest most of the time, bottomed off with a pair of Jesus boots, but everytime I seem to have got off a plane, the heavens have opened, I can't remember a summer with so much rain?

I'm glad to say that the gigs are great as always as are, our enthusiastic audiences, but FFS . . . . my Ray Bans have hardly been out of their case!

I was sent a photo by my guitar tech at the weekend and I couldn't help feel that this sums up really well the summer that has nearly passed. Anyways I thought I'd share this with you. Not a nice view from my standpoint let me tell you . . . . I think you see what I mean!!!!!

A WEEK IN ENGLAND 

I took time out of the touring schedule to have a week back in the UK . . . . I love going to my own house, sleeping in my own bed, having Fish & Chips a Kebab, an Indian Curry night and attending the quiz at my local pub (My amigos think I'll know all the answers to the music questions) how wrong they are!

Anyhows . . . .I penned and recorded a couple of songs for Smokie whilst in the UK  that will be listened to and hopefully make the cut if we can get our shit together and finish off our planned album release (Watch this space) We are constantly talking now about getting on with it.

CAR COVER ESCAPADES

I bought a new car in March of this year, but because I live in Spain, it is not being used at the moment. I decided to buy a Stormforce cover for it, so as to protect my investment from the wind and rain (believe me there's plenty of it) and the sun when ever its shines. However I wish I could have video'd myself trying to put the damn thing on . . . . it was quite windy and at one point it became a parachute . . . . can you imagine "The future of rock guitar could has taken a giant leap forward as another guitar slinger gets blown away whilst holding onto his new car cover"

Last couple of weeks have been quite busy and I will look forward to our mid-summer break after our show in Holstebro in Denmark this weekend.

I am fully aware that my dates on here haven't been updates, I shall do that before we head out back on the road.

Enjoy your summer my friends!

Mick