I was asked recently, “How do you actually put a show together..?”
To start off with, it may come as a surprise to you that I’m not listening to music 24/7. I do have a day job that has nothing to do with music (that’s what pays the bills). It’s in an open plan office with 14 other people and the radio is on constantly. And I loathe it.
First, it’s usually on Radio One, or similar – inane chatter and manufactured dross. Luckily it’s turned down fairly low, so I can usually fade it out mentally. Second – when I’m working (day job), I don’t want to listen to music. When I listen to music, it’s because I want to listen to music. I want to be in the mood, open and ready. Music deserves my attention.
What this means is that when I’m listening to music to decide whether to include it in the show, it has my full attention. As I’ve said before, I only play music on the show that I like. Roots & Fusion is me playing you music that excites me, and hopefully, you’ll like some of it too…
Roots & Fusion goes out live on Wednesday evenings. Thursdays I take off from what has become known in my house as “show stuff”. It all starts again on Fridays.
I finish my day job early on Fridays, so I’m usually back home by half one in the afternoon. I’ll then start going through the music submission emails and also the CDs I’ve been sent. I never forget that each piece of music sent to me is someone’s hard work & effort and therefore should be treated with respect. At the same time, if it doesn’t grab me, it won’t get played on R&F.
Truth be told – I rarely listen to all of every track of every album sent to me. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Plus, I can usually tell whether I’m going to like a piece of music enough to play on the show within the first minute or so. This may seem harsh, but if the track starts with a drum roll and then a guitar riff I’ve heard many times before that repeats four times for instance, I’m probably going to get a little bored.
I drop tracks I’ve decided on into a playlist and then see how much time I have left. Each show is 2 hours long. Experience tells me I’m going to need approximately 103 minutes of music (I talk a bit) and by late afternoon / early evening I’ll have the bare bones of a show.
This is where I start re-arranging the tracks into an order. The show has to flow, it needs to makes sense. Each piece of music has to have some relevance to the piece before & after it. I love the journey, I love linking music together. It’s one of the things that makes the show special. At this point, I don’t really know where it’s going to start & finish. I move the tracks around like pieces of a puzzle until I’m happy. Sometimes I need a linking track from the back catalogue, and occasionally I’ll roll out an R&F favourite.
For instance, in a recent show I had Well, the brand new track from Craig John Davidson craigjohndavidsonmusic taken from his forthcoming album Motherstar, a singer / songwriter from Aberdeen I really like and a country flavoured song from an new artist to me, Jill Jackson, “All I need is hope & gasoline and to see out of this windscreen” – a country anthem if ever there was... These two almost went together, but didn’t quite fit. I listened to both again and then it came to me – R&F favourite & sing-a-long track Top Of The Mountain by Colin Clyne. Perfect. colinclyne/top-of-the-mountain
Occasionally, There’ll be something I’ve been sent that I think is wonderful, but is a bit left field and nothing I’ve sent that week is anywhere near. It these times I have to make a choice – do I hold on for a week or two and see if something else come in that’ll work, or do I build part of a show around it using older music. I usually go for option two, because I’m so excited about the music that I want to play it to you… So I’ll lead into and out from it using music I’ll have played before. The music of Orcastratum is an example 0rcastratum – I was so blown away by the mix of African textures, subtle jazz and classical overtones that I needed to play it straight away. Mid 80’s Baaba Maal to lead into it and then late 70’s Orchestra Baobab to finish off with. Made perfect sense.
And that’s how it works. Some weeks there’s more new music than others, but usually it’s the new stuff that’s the bones of the show, fleshed out with music I’ve played before.
By the end of Friday, I’ll have the show together and I usually advertise the artist list on Facebook & Twitter over the weekend.
Come Wednesday night at 9pm UK time, I’m out in the cabin in the garden with my laptop & internet connection, Play It Live software, Ice Blue mic and a two hour show ready to go…
That’s how the Roots & Fusion journey rolls.