Getting set for the year ahead

Musician Derek Allan.
Musician Derek Allan.

Northumberland musician Derek Allan, of We Steal Flyers, continues his weekly diary.

January 20

Today we were supposed to have a coffee shop gig in Newcastle, but it cancelled. We knew in advance that this was happening so we enjoyed Friday at home before the year kicks in properly.

January is a good month for preparation. I did a two-hour walk with Ellie and Rebecca. Melanie had a night off and went to the cinema.

January 21

It is always good to be at Rothbury and tonight was one of the best gigs yet. Chris came along, even though he was not driving, and it was good for him to see one of our top bar gigs.

The weather has been good for walking, but I am busy at all of the wrong times.

I have a friend, Colin Crowe, who every autumn/winter since 2009 goes to watch England play cricket somewhere warm. He lives an amazing adventure – such a great thing to do every year if you love warm weather, cricket and travelling. I played cricket against him a few times in my seasons with Alnmouth.

January 22

The Bluebell Hotel in Belford is always good and, like Rothbury, it just gets better.

Also this is the venue that was kind enough to let me stay free with Ellie when we did the charity walk.

The afternoon sessions are new there and are going well. This venue works hard.

I have a lot of friends because of music. I am looking forward to making more.

January 23

It’s a little more of filling in the blank dates at the moment for Sam, Acoustic Magic and We Steal Flyers. There have been more Sunday gigs offered, less than half the money we usually get at peak times, but venues can only pay based on the money coming in.

If players are not bringing in extra bodies then either the money is little or the gigs are no more. It is a struggle all round, but live music is still going and hopefully people will want to hear live music again.

January 24

It was a big shift again in the office/kitchen for Mel and I, with some great stuff being set up, more bands and big names asking us for gigs. I wish we could just set everyone up with a gig.

Melanie then had a night running Acoustic Magic in Yarm. It was a good Tuesday. We started live music at the venue years ago.

January 25

Creative Base Venue in Gateshead is wonderful for Acoustic Magic, with a small theatre-like stage and in-house sound. The players get a door split and a hat goes around so people can throw in as much as they like.

These gigs are happening because we love music, we make no profit ourselves. The idea is that if enough regular people come to these shows, we will be able to bring in touring artists and also do gig swaps for We Steal Flyers.

It was a great night, with Jan Bugless, Daniel Laidler of The Lake Poets, and Bad Bob Bates.

January 26

Once the gigs are running steady and we are safe then I can write songs, poetry, stories and so on.

We have the charity walks set up now – a 24-hour walk with Shaun in June for Alzheimer’s, then in August a week’s walk. Next year we will do Coast to Coast, which will be exciting. Headway is the charity for these two walks again.

I still love the signed book from James Cracknell after the last walk, an amazing surprise.

We went to see our friend Caroline’s new dog grooming place WAGS n Amble and picked up some chips and batter from the chip shop.