Things I did recently and photos of me doing them.

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Launch 01 September 2014

Oooooooft. It’s been a busy auld time.  I won’t apologise for not updating in a while because if I did that every time I didn’t post for a while then I’d have to apologise every time. Cause that’s what always happens. Have I forgotten how to write? Possibly. Perhaps it’s because my brain is fried. Why? Well…

I’ve been busy playing lots of Yes and Pro-Independence events.

It’s not long now until the people of Scotland make a huge decision about the future of our country. If you’ve got no idea what’s been going on in the referendum debate then you’ve either been living in a cave or you’re the British mainstream media. HAAYYO! With the 18th growing ever-closer, there are Yes and pro-indy events cropping up all over the place and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to be a part of some of them. Most recently I played the Radical Independence Rally on Buchanan Street and the final National Collective Glasgow Session before the referendum.

My best bit was when I forgot how my own song started just as the TV guys got their camera set up. It’s a good thing I’m not called Reliable Miller.

It’s really exciting and inspiring to see so many people turn up to events like this, engaging with political debate and discussion (and on a Monday night no less!). Whether you’re Yes, No, or still undecided, it’s amazing to see people so actively involved in trying to create a better future for Scotland. There’s just over a week to go though so I’ve still got time to squeeze some more Yes events in! Tomorrow (Thursday the 11th) I’ll be performing at the Yes Pollok Campaign Base and on Friday you can see me at Oran Mor for Radical Independence’s International Rally. I hope to see some of you there.

I met one of my actual heroes.

As you can see, he was really excited to meet me.

This week I was at the Govanhill Baths for a talk on Independence as part of the Festival of Ideas. It was a really interesting evening with a great panel and although I’m already a definite Yes, I really enjoyed hearing some of the different opinions about the future of Scotland. Not as much as I enjoyed meeting the panellist in the photo above though, one of my all-time heroes, Billy Bragg! I obviously had to shake him by the hand and, of course, take a selfie with him. I reckon the sound of Billy Bragg saying to me, simply, “selfie?” will never leave my brain. My favourite thing here is that it looks like he’s taking the photo.

I played the launch of this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Launch 01 September 2014
Although Acute Cartoonhand is said to be a very serious condition, I’m staying positive.

Have you ever played a gig in a big gold room? I hadn’t until last week when I played the SMHAFF 2014 Launch. It was pretty special so it was. They have a really exciting programme of events coming up in October that I really urge you to check out. The guys are SMHAFF have worked really hard on it and I’m honoured to have the chance to be involved with such a great project. There’s a stigma around mental health issues that really needs to change and events like this make it something that’s easier to talk about. It’s a really positive and empowering thing and I’m proud to be even just a small part of that. Check out their website for more information about what they do and what’s coming up in October.

So…that’s why my brain is fried. But it’s fried in a good way. I’ll have some exciting news for you soon, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, let me leave you with this short video of Christopher Walken making a really bad joke. It’s totally Christopher Walken.

Hope to see you at a show soon! Til next time.

Shambles

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Pieces of Nonsense.

I…what? I’m sorry, I just don’t understand what you’re saying.

Hello folks. I’ve been busy preparing for my upcoming single launch of late. You’ve probably heard me going on about it, and it’s the reason for things like this press release and these professional photos of ma face.

Now, it’s not available for human ears just yet but if you’d like to hear the b-side, you can do so by listening to the most recent episode of the Edinburgh Man Podcast. The track is called Pieces. The podcast is full of great music, so it’s a win-win really. Unless you hate me. And music. In which case, I can’t imagine what you’re doing here. Is it like that thing where folk sort of masochistically keep an eye on people they don’t like? I kind of do that with Jessie J, I think. I find her quite annoying a lot of the time, but when I see her crop up on the telly I realise I’m sort of perversely happy about it, as if I enjoy being annoyed by her.

This dysfunctional cheery annoyedness used to be filled by Kate Nash. I found her voice and songs quite annoying, but that one about lemons and crap boyfriends and crack or whatever it was, that had a good tune. So how was I supposed to feel when one of my heroes did a song with her? I mean, if she’s ok with Billy…

…but then I saw that mad song she did recently. I think I’ve seen it summed up best by Claire Lim on Twitter, who said “My “so terrible I’d rather listen to the sound of cats farting” award goes to Kate Nash’s ‘Under-Estimate The Girl’.”

Ach well, it’s always good to try new things I suppose. I should know; after this single release I’m planning to record a bluegrass hip-hop concept album. On the moon.

Just kidding.

I’m recording it INSIDE THE EARTH’S VERY CORE, with an orchestra made up solely of MAGMA PEOPLE.

Sorry. I think that Kate Nash song has discombobulated me. To sum up, if you’d like to hear the b-side from my upcoming single release, head over to this lovely link.

Til next time!

love Shambles

x

For the Would-be Woody Guthrie

Hello folks, how the devil are you? Good? Glad to hear it. I’ve written a new song that I’d love for you to download (for free!) but first I want to tell you a little about it. It’s inspired by the fact that recently I noticed some of the songs I was writing were a bit…well…moany. They weren’t all bad, just not what I really WANTED to write. These songs are now mostly forgotten, just occasionally revisited chord progressions and scrap-paper lyrics.

What I really wanted to do was take my anger and my disappointment in a system that seems to be failing, and channel it into my music. I wanted to write about the pride and hope I feel seeing people taking action against said system. I wanted to vent my ire on any number of social and political subjects, but couldn’t seem to focus in on one theme.

This song broke me out of that funk, both by addressing my frustration and giving myself a kick up the arse, whilst harnessing how I feel about these other topics. There’s a cheeky reference to Billy Bragg’s comments on the need for music to get political again (comments that I feel many people have either misunderstood or misconstrued) and as you might have guessed, a nod to Woody Guthrie and his guitar (pictured above), as well as support for the global occupy movement.

Anyway, I don’t want to explain away the song too much, so here it is. I hope you like it.

Thanks for listening. If you liked it (or know someone who would) please feel free to share it. Just click on the little arrow if you’d like to download it and feel free to embed it anywhere you like.

Til next time folks,

love Shambles

x

(When this post was originally published, the version of the track on the page was an earlier demo version. To hear that original, click here)

Argos Barks (but ma dug can write)

Hello folks! You’re looking positively refulgent, you classy devils. I’ve been busy writing (the good kind, not the other kind) and doing plots and plans and schemes and things. I’ve also taken to wearing a very small hat. It’s a crazy time. I also took some time recently to make a wee playlist for Argos Barks, featuring some of the braw folk who make braw folk and can regularly be found making my ears happier. Some are more obvious than others, given that my usual partners-in-crime are featured, but so are some heroes and people I’m resigned to admiring from afar. The playlist is as follows:

  • Andrew Lindsay – The Boat Outside
  • Reverieme – Weans
  • Beans on Toast – Coke
  • Where We Lay Our Heads – Wondering About the Fall
  • Daniel Versus the World – One Night Hug
  • Kitty the Lion – Split Ends
  • Laura Marling – My Manic and I
  • Loch Awe – The Ocean in Me
  • Second Hand Marching Band – A Dance to Half Death
  • Shambles Miller – Things That Make Me Angry
  • Loudon Wainwright III – Motel Blues
  • Emily Barker – Fields of June
  • Julia and the Doogans – Borderline
  • Billy Bragg – Waiting for the Great Leap Forward
  • Bruce Springsteen – Thunder Road

A mighty bag’o’tracks to be sure. Mr. Barks (as he will always be known in my mind) also says some lovely words about me, which I’m very flattered by. He must be wise and handsome. To hear the playlist in full, head over to Argos Barks right this very minute! Your ears would thank you, if they could speak, but they can’t. They’re ears. They have neither the agency nor ability to do so.

In other news, I have gigs soon! I’m playing a couple of shows with Dave Arcari and it’d be great if you could make it along, the dates and times are below, along with the facebook event pages where you can also find links to buy tickets online! Hope to see you there!

Oh and I recently updated my bandcamp with physical STUFF, so take a gander. And yes, the picture of my dog, Dusty, is only really up at the top of this post because of a rather tenuous “barks” link. It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want. Put the kettle on since you’re up, would you?

Til next time folks,

love Shambles x

There Is Power In A Union.

Hello folks, it’s a pleasure as always. Well, for me it is. I hope it’s not altogether unpleasant for you either! I can’t be sure of course. One day I’ll e-mail all four of you and see what you think.

A couple of weeks ago when I was confined to my sickbed, I received a fantastic pick-me-up in the form of an e-mail from folk legend Billy Bragg. He was replying to a message I sent him, letting him know I’d rewritten “Which Side Are You On“, the song penned by Florence Reese in the 1930’s and rewritten by Billy himself in the 1980’s in support of the miner’s strikes. My version deals with the recent student protests and ongoing Coalition Government cuts. I was touched that Billy took the time to reply to me and I must admit, relieved that he liked my version. When one of your heroes tells you that you did a good job, it’s a fairly unique feeling.

Incidentally, if you didn’t catch the video the first time round, you can see it by clicking this angry young link.

I was reminded of the song this week when I spotted Billy tweeting an article by Billy Hayes on the importance of students and workers supporting each other in struggle, especially during this time of drastic government cuts. It’s an interesting article and obviously a concept which appeals to me, given that I’m a student and I work for the libraries, one of many public services facing harsh cuts in the coming months. Click on this link to read the article.

Now, I’m aware that some people don’t look kindly upon striking workers (or student protesters, for that matter). Perhaps this is because of their personal politics or because of the way the mainstream media tend to report on such matters. Or perhaps it’s simply because sometimes it all just seems a bit too much. When you work 30-40 hours a week, have bills to pay and ends to make meet; when you have your own problems to deal with, these sorts of issues must seem like things you just don’t want to have to think about. When you come home at the end of a long day and turn on the news, only to see some students indulging in vandalism when they’re supposed to be protesting peacefully, you might well feel angry, or fatigued at yet another issue. And when you try to get out of the country for a week or two on a well-deserved, long-awaited holiday, only to find that airline workers are on strike, inadvertently spoiling your plans for a relaxing break, you’re unlikely to see their actions in a favourable light. You just wanted to go on holiday.

For some people, it takes energy just to really care about these issues, never mind to act. Can we really blame them?

Sooner or later however, some of these same people have no choice. When your pay is slashed and your hours cut; when you’re faced with the possibility of losing your job, sometimes you have no choice but to stand in solidarity with your fellow workers and fight.

In his article, Hayes encourages more young people to join trade unions and perhaps soon, they will. He goes on to point out:

“Neither trade unionists, nor students should forget the impact the cuts are having on the most vulnerable and least organised sections of society. The unemployed, people with special needs and disabilities, and benefit claimants have all been singled out for heart breaking cuts in services and living standards. We must make the case for supporting those least able to defend themselves.”

If and when this happens, it is important to remember why people protest. Why they strike, why they take action. It’s not for more money. They fight because they have to.

Whenever I hear strikers or protesters being criticised because it looks like they’re “just trying to get more money”, I’m reminded of a line from a song by Evan Greer.

“We’re fighting for a better world, not just for better pay”.

That’s what a union represents. Solidarity with your fellow man, your colleagues, your friends, in the fight to make things better.

Thanks for your time folks,

til next time,

Shambles

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