‘New Midland Sounds’ compilation released

Source: ‘New Midland Sounds’ compilation released


Strings In My Mind

The guitar was an instrument I was never going to play. But, that being said, at one time I never intended on playing any instrument other than my voice. I was a vocalist. I would sing and others would play. Then, I turned 16 (many years ago) and things for me changed. Suddenly, I wanted to write. I went to the piano because it’s what was there. There was a piano available and I could play it well enough – just about – to use it as a songwriting tool.
I’m not sure when it all changed for me – where I got tired of looking for others to accompany me – where I wanted to be free to perform utterly solo – but the change happened. And, from somewhere inside, I heard the piano call to me. I sat down. And. I. Played.
I would laugh when people would call me a pianist and when they would speak glowingly of my playing. I’m a vocalist, I would say. I heard the piano giggle, too. We had our secrets. But, I finally realised I wasn’t just a vocalist anymore: I was a proper musician – I’d just taken the long way ’round.
What other instruments could I play? I began to pick the odd one up… can I make this sing?
The djembe.
The Native American flutes.
The lyre.
And, we sang while the old guitar (that belonged to my husband but he didn’t play either) gathered dust and I avoided frets like I avoid making a phone call.
Oh, every once in a great while I’d pick it up and ‘try’. But, I wanted it to be easy, of course.  And, I didn’t want it to be painful. The guitar is neither easy nor painless.  My nails would have to go, too.  Fuck this.
But, I’d write guitar songs.  I’d write them on the piano and then have a guitarist friend play them.
Then. Earlier this year, a chance invitation from someone had me inexplicably attending a ‘build your own ukulele workshop’.  And, in an afternoon, I was playing the ukulele as if I had done all my life.
I thought, ‘Hmmm… I can manage these frets…’ I looked over at the dust covered six stringed beast, just sitting there taunting me.
Understand this, musical instruments have souls. They have personalities. It’s why I name all my instruments.  And, I may be crazy, but I’m not off my meds and I’m NOT delusional…  musicians know this: instruments have a way of communicating with you. The guitar was smug.  It was taunting me.
‘I’m out of your reach, old woman.  Can’t teach you a new trick.’
Long story much greatly shortened, we grappled with each other but eventually reached an understanding; a truce was called.  He let me in.  I discovered he needed a bit of help in order to help me play him. So, I had his action lowered and we set off teaching an old girl new tricks after all.
This is the result.
I’m proud of this; I’m excited to share it.  And, I’m grateful.  Grateful for this musical journey which has done so much more than add versatility to my performance as a musician; it’s gone deep, affecting the very fabric of my being. I’m selling this short EP of acoustic guitar and rich vocal songs for just £2, but to me it’s worth so much more…this experience has been priceless. May you enjoy the fruits of my labour – and my precious friendship – with the guitar.
Lesson: sometimes, some things are worth the pain.

Charnwood Minstrel Part 4: The Songmistress

I was featured in Paul Carden’s Charnwood Minstrel Blog! I like the way that sounds: ‘The Songmistress – Charnwood Minstrel’. Yes!

Pardon, Mr Carden

Autumn at Queens Park2.jpg
Since her first appearance there, Autumn Dawn Leader has become an integral member of the Loughborough Acoustic Club family. She has a rich, powerful voice and plays piano as well as the lyre and various other instruments. Her songs include beautiful piano ballads, delicate harp songs and the occasional happy song which sneaks in when she isn’t looking.
She has recently released an album called ‘The Other Side‘ which was produced by Amos Parkinson and features Amos on drums, Bob Breeze on guitar and Asher Rossell on bass.
Autumn is originally from Chicago, grew up in Florida, and moved to the UK in 2004.

Not only is Autumn a terrific solo performer but she was also lead vocalist in a band called The Chairs. She performs in a duo called String Theory with Mark Pimperton on guitar and vocals, and has recently been collaborating with Steve Cartwright in a…

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Lists? We don’t need no stinking lists! Or do we?

Today’s Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List

Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness — go silly or go deep, just go list-y.

Who doesn’t love a list? Me! The satisfaction? Really? They are too organised for my chaos. They are too constrictive to my natural free-spirited, impulsive nature; they go against my spontaneity. The only lists I regularly make are set lists for my gigs (and those not as regularly as I’d like…grrr…but, I digress) and song lists for when I lead praise and worship, like this:


I even have trouble making shopping lists. Honestly, I kid you not, I just attempted to type the word “lists” and it came out “lusts”. See, lists and I just don’t get along. I’d obviously rather be writing about lust than lists! Well, who wouldn’t, really? (And, I’m sure someone just answered that question with, “Well, I’d much rather write about lists…” AHEM, moving right along…).

It’s not that I cannot see their benefit or that I don’t use them when absolutely pressed to, but the idea that everyone LOVES a list? Come on! Not I, I say. I’m just a rebel that way. 😉 Maybe we do need them on occasion, but love them? Puleeeeze!

I’m not even going to “categorize” this post. If any post should be “Uncategorized” it should be this one.

Beauty Is A Beast

First of all, I want to thank those of you who have started following my blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to read (and sometimes even comment) on what I take the time to write. I recently moved my blog from Posterous (which was more like PREPOSTEROUS) to the lovely WordPress here…and, well, it’s been a good move. And, I wanted to mention and say thanks to you who are coming along for the ride. If you have a moment, I’d be thrilled if you’d check out my music and, if you have the evil Facebook, if you’d “like” my Facebook Page I would be seriously delighted (encouraged, happy, my day would be made).

Anywho (enough of my gratuitous shameless plugging), today I want to talk about the ugly business of beauty. Don’t worry, I’m not going to lament about the media and sterotypes and all that stuff (which I, and others, have lamented long and loud on many occasion in various ways and sundry manners) but, rather, talk about some practical matters to do with the mop on my head known as… hair.

In my (too) many years on this sphere, I have worn my hair in a number of different styles. Some have been good, while some others have been not so fabulous (the 80’s have a lot to answer for). I think it was most popular, however, in the times when it was very, very long (but very very long and very very young always seem to go together…and I’m no longer even young, let alone very very). Every time I got a wild hair (pun intended, of course) and decided to cut it short I ALWAYS regretted it (with many tears) UNTIL my asymetrical cut. With it, I finally found a short cut that looked…well, good, actually.

Now, then…comes a couple of months ago and my husband says something to me that lets me know he’d really like me to grow my hair out again. I literally panicked. Growing hair out of a layered short cut is an ugly nightmare. It goes through what feels like ages and ages of stages (rhyme not intended but, oh well, free poem, no extra charge) of varying degrees of U.G.L.Y. (you ain’t got no alibi…other than you are growing out your hair, of course…). I thought, surely, growing hair out of an asymetrical would be an even worse case of dishevilled wreck until it would look anywhere close to decent again. However, I was saved from actual decision making by having no funds to go to the hairdresser to get my hair done. I steeled myself: I was going to have to embrace ugly.

However, I have some rather shocking news to share with you. Since deciding to (or being forced to decide due to necessity – when I say I am a starving artist, I mean it… food and clothes for the kids are more important…do you feel guilty yet for not checking out my album, singles, etc… what are you waiting for? Oops, sorry…gratitutous plugging – pathetic pity party – creeped in again…I do apologise profusely…moving right along), I have actually had more good hair days than bad ones. Oh sure, now, ugly has visited… but, so has creativity and ingenuity….and, I don’t just mean hats and headbands…although, those are good, too.


So, a little over a week ago, I donned a headband and thought… hmmm…ok, this works. But, then…ouch! I got a headache from the thing pinching the sides of my head.  But, I suppose, it’s like the pain from wearing highheels, isn’t it? Beauty is a beast.

So, then we come to Friday night of last week… and I have a “suddenly moment”.  I’m sitting on the sofa, and I run my fingers through my growing hair… and I essentially do what might be considered the female equivalent of  “the comb over”.  I flip my part to the other side!

The Flipside

The Flipside

I picked up my phone to see my reflection and thought, ‘Ooh, that’s not too bad’, and I snapped this little visual. When an ad break finally caused my husband to turn away from the TV to look at me, he exclaimed (with a certain look that I love in his eye), “Oh! Hello there!”

I smiled back… seductively, as is my wont to do when he looks at me that way, and responded, “So, you like it then?” To which, with conviction, he said, “Oh, yeah.”

And, I knew… I had it! The way to survive a bit more of the beastly growing hair out experience.

I wore my flipped-out-comb-over hair to church on Sunday and got a compliment off of someone who has exceptionally high beauty standards (his wife is gorgeous, and so is he for that matter) U’h, here I am sure I should put in a reminder that God does not look at the outer appeareance but, rather, at the heart…  it was just really nice to get that surprise compliment from someone so sparing with praise of that sort.

I think this is the first time I have “flipped out” and had it be a positive thing.

So… do I recommend an asymetrical? Yes. By all means. It’s funky and cool. It’s also surprisingly not so horrendous to grow out of (when the time comes to do so…all good things, and all that).

Do I think beauty is hard work? Most of the time, yes; it can be painful and frustrating and down right demoralising.  But (and I do love a big but, don’t you?), sometimes, just sometimes, the beast’s teeth are slightly less sharp than at other times, and we should celebrate and be thankful for those times (thus this post, which I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I have enjoyed writing).

Oh, yeah, and last point: isn’t it good to know that not ALL “comb overs” are a bad thing?

I had a bottle full of dreams…

I never believe the people who claim to have no regrets. I look at them and think, “What a load of bullpoo!” (being polite as I can be here). I will freely admit that I have (loads) of ’em.

“Bottle” is me at my most autobiographical. I wrote this song in all of about 10 minutes one night as part of a “songwriting challenge”. It’s what I would call a lament. I’d also say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written, and certainly a personal favourite…definitely, simply, personal.

What have you filled your bottle with? Have you spilled your dreams out to stain your world the colour of “what if” and “I should’ve” and filled it up again with everything and anything else?

If, like me, you have a cracked and battered bottle, once full of dreams, now full of regrets, and you identify with the song (because, hey, I know I’m not alone out there), the album version is available to download all over the interwebz via CD Baby, i-Tunes, Amazon and Bandcamp, etc.