The Gargantuan Hand that Pulled me from the Depths of the Mindhole

 

 

It’s a while since I last wrote a blog or interacted fully on social media. A mixture of reasons, one being; me feeling that my content has no worth, that my day to day happenings are not worthwhile sharing. Which is a weird feeling that comes from self-doubt, lack of confidence and low self-esteem, those feelings come from a multitude of reasons, some I have control of, others I don’t. Its definitely been a weird few weeks, inside my mind and my surroundings outside. It’s not until quite recently that I’ve felt genuine confidence in myself as a person and this music and its meaning.

Busking always seems to be the ‘cure-all’ a ‘greater restoration‘, this act, has been keeping my head above water (both figuratively and literally – rain has been frequent). Everything has felt like waves, up and down, and as I got heavy I sank far below the surface. Then yesterday 23rd January 2020 ( 😮 2020! Happy New Year! ), felt like a gargantuan hand reaching in the water and pulling me to shore. Following quite a rough evening of family-related problems, with a lack of sleep, I woke early and felt drawn to busk in Hereford. It was a bizarre mix of encounters that seemed pre-composed, someone/thing had planned it all out. Bumping into someone I met only a couple times, (Dan Jaye, a musician from Manchester) we had breakfast in his new ‘Retro/Vintage/Assortments of Wonder/Cafe/Music Studio’ shop, catching up I felt it necessary to only choose the good things that have happened and ignore the bad that I was feeling – that process helped my mind massively, focusing on the good of it all. Dan also busked and traveled when he was my age, with his experience he spoke a lot of incredibly advisable things, that snapped my mind out of negative into positive. Like, “f**k yeah, this music has a story and it’s got to go through every chapter word by word, just get through each emotion and keep going, this is okay. You’re lucky to have a) been born, b) found something which you love and you’re good at! We’ve got this and we can’t stop!” – internal dialogue speaking. This taught me to; take the time to catch up with yourself inside yourself, go through each emotion, each happening and divide the good and bad, learn from the bad and understand it, then go to the good and sit in that and enjoy that, because there is a whole lotta good out there/in here. 

Whilst busking that day, like every day of busking there are people who stay, watch and converse and it’s nice to connect with them, music like a key, opening a door to a conversation between two humans. A line of four people, all from different places, all with different lives, watched for the entirety of a song and applauded so loudly. They got quite hyped, a woman said she heard the music subtly from the distance and had to follow it, she said it’s music that uplifted her and music that this world needs. A couple said they were amazed by the technical side and the composition itself, said I need to be playing to crowds, be on TV and share it with more people. — See I haven’t felt like sharing much recently, although I’m on the streets playing, I feel like the soundtrack to the streets rather than a performer, like why would anyone want to come to a show and watch a whole set of this? Why should I be filmed and put on TV? Which comes from the lack of confidence in oneself, I still feel that I’m just the soundtrack to the streets and the concept of being on stage playing a show to a crowd, passes me by and I’ve kind of forgotten about even pursuing that. I sit and I write these words and feel that it’s not worth writing because it’s not worth reading, but then I think, I don’t actually care if anybody reads this, but I find a sense of relief writing these words and this somewhat diary entry is part of a greater journey that I can look back on for my own growth and learn from this moment, this timeframe. — That moment on the streets of Hereford outside M&S, playing for this small group of people who were really emotionally connected with music, along with the meeting with Dan, gave this feeling of worth. A feeling I haven’t allowed myself to feel, but it was like this day was a showcase of my reason why. “Here, let me show you why you need to keep your head up and keep going, this is why you need to keep doing that which you love and put your attention on expanding, growing, exploring” – said the gargantuan hand that pulled me from the depths of the mindhole.

Multiple interactions with people on Hereford highstreet kept uplifting me. People said very relatable things to what I was feeling, “you can’t stop, you gotta keep going. This is amazing, I’d give you money but I have none” one voice said.

It’s bizarre, I feel all sorts of weird right now.

The day ended with conversations with family members, that healed up previous happenings. A message via Instagram that detailed the impact it had on their day in Hereford. Then a couple of beers and a chinwag with one of my closest friends Ollie – check out his music – check out our music. A monologue of encouragement from Ollie completely shaped my focus to; growth as a person, growth in music, aiding on the difficulties of family members. I mean I don’t know what else to say, because I feel weird, but I feel determined and really set on a good path.

Now I don’t know if this holds any value to you, but if it does, then I just hope you to find a way out of the darkness inside and towards the light. Because there is light there, there’s so much light!

Here’s an amazing song;

Here’s a video from a recent busking session in Stroud;

Here are some inspirational words that have helped me many of times;

Here’s to you and all your wonder 🙂

With love,

James

 

Sit in the Rain!

Sitting in the rain, you’ve got to get used to that as a busker. It happens all the time, especially here in England… Right now I’m sat under some light rain in Stratford-upon-Avon waiting for a busking pitch. As there’s a very organised and relaxed busking code here, a group of ‘town hosts’ walk around and keep all the Buskers in check. We have a 2 hour time slot, and are limited to select pitches. So a first come first serve, the woman singing now, is finishing at 1pm, where I’ll take over and play till around 3pm.

Theres a few other buskers I’ve seen walking around seeking a busking pitch. Because there’s a Christmas Victorian Fayre on here, it, a) has brought a huge amount of people here which tends to be good for busking and, b) the stalls and stages have shut off a few of the selected busking pitches. So this pitch (in picutre) seems the only viable option. It’s always the better pitch for profit on any other non-Christmas-Market day, the other pitches are more enjoyable to play as you get a view of the park beside the river.

Its actually a little crazy busy right now, the flow of people has massively increased. Which kind of makes sense why it’d be better for busking as, more people = more chance of people dropping a coin 🤷‍♂️. But I’ve noticed at times that quieter spots actually prove better, I feel its because people have more time to sit watch and enjoy the music, treating it more like a concert, they’re more likely to donate more or grab a CD! CD sales really make a difference to a busking day!

I am literally just rambling my thoughts into thumb action into blog action into words and things. I’ve been meaning to blog for some time, but yet again I have this idea in my head that I should spend hours on hours writing up the perfect post covering lots of things. But the more that idea rolls on the more days and things I miss writing about because I don’t find the time to write them down! So here is a quick post of my thoughts on this life as a busker. It’s a wonderful life it really is.

I had a stage of darkness where many things threw me down and I lacked purpose and belief in myself so I just felt like hiding. Although I still went out busking anyhow, (my subconscious, must of known that the persistence would lead to self-healing) whilst I was busking the darkness would run around my mind and it would distract me from enjoying it and being that which I am to be!

So that leads me to the main point of the blog post in which I just made up the title and idea of what that title actually means.

Sitting in the Rain.

It always rains, regardless, its raining somewhere, inside the mind in a poetic sense…🤷‍♂️waffledaffle? Or outside somewhere on this gigantic planet which we call home. But you’ve just got to go sit in it no matter what. Don’t let that stop you from doing the things that bring you joy, maybe at the time you’re like, f*k that, I just want to hide here and do f*k all….. Well f*k that, because you know that this thing (for me busking/composing), will bring your soul joy, even if the first 30 minutes feel like poop, it’ll come up with goodness! Then later down the line of time you’ll be glad you did it regardless!

So, shut that silly annoying little miss negative voice in your head, go sit in the rain and do that which you love!

Do it

Do it!

Why not? What excuse can really defeat happiness and enjoyment?

Do it with all your heart and soul,

One life, no regrets, no rugrats, no regret!

One life

Try and fail and try again

….

I promise I’ll make more sense on the next blog post!

Slapped by a Mole

PatreonTemporaryImage-912a14bf-8f60-4e5f-836b-f07a58670698Short Story;

A man goes off for a wander to explore the world and see what’s going on. He sees many wonderful things and meets many interesting people. His quest slowly reveals itself; to become a nomad and share melodies to bring spontaneous joy and happiness to all who wander. This world needs more positivity, as negativity is loud and powerful. The light slowly burns in the darkness and bathes it in good. At times a challenge as darkness is overwhelming.

The wandering man finds himself falling into a hole, tripped up by a series of small events, he gets stuck and struggles to find a way out. The world begins to slowly bury the wandering man and he feels all is lost, he feels he belongs in this hole, that he should stay. So he stays, and as time goes on he feels his fire fade.

A mole comes across this buried man, “Oh, hello, why are you in the ground? You’re not a mole”, the mole asked sniffing at the man.
“Well you see I fell and got stuck here, so I figured this is where I am meant to be”, the man replies, a tear in his eye.
“Don’t be silly human, everything falls over, even I do when I am above ground, but I do not belong up there, I have a world of my own down here. As you have a world of your own choosing up there. I will dig you out of here human and you will create your own world up there as I create my own world down here!” slapping the man as he spoke.
The mole dug this man out and dragged him up slowly by his tiny claws. As the man felt the fresh air again he thanked the mole, the mole sniffed up at the man and said, “Everything falls over, but everything has the ability to get back up, so don’t come falling into the ground again and staying there, unless you want to be a mole” the mole slapped the man once again and hurried off back to his own world.

The wandering man realised that to keep on wandering and to keep on his quest, that he must do exactly that. So the wandering man continued with a warmer fire inside.

Mindfulness for Children in Stroud – Visit 01

Last Tuesday (1st October 2019) I performed some music at an after-school group – Mindfulness for Children in Stroud. A space for children around Stroud to relax after a day at school, to get creative, to learn about mindfulness through meditation and yoga and a place for them to be themselves and socialise with other children around their age. The children really seemed to enjoy having live music being performed, the first song – Patience – they all sat watching in silence. Here’s a little video clip taken by the group coordinator – Alice Lowrie;

It was so much fun. I met Alice at a campsite near St Davids, both her family and mine were camping on the same field, my Mum being quite a social person brought us together. Alice and her partner were intrigued by my music so I performed a few songs for them and their children. We exchanged Facebook contacts and kept in touch. I then noticed she organised this group and messaged asking if she ever wanted some music, I’d love to play!

Any excuse to go back to Stroud really, I love the place. I was originally recommend to go their by a Monk friend of mine – Keli – from Cardiff “Stroud is the best place in the world … (on a Saturday)”, and Keli has travelled all across India, so Stroud must be something special! Turns out it is – I love it! The first time I busked there a woman yelled at me whilst I was playing “Come every Saturday! Stroud needs your music!” – ha! That was on the 7th of September, I’ve been every Saturday since (except 28th September cause I was in Carmarthen).

The Mindfulness session started with a circle time, a chance to introduce ourselves and share what our favourite instruments were. A jar of golden glitter indicated who’s turn it was to speak. Then I spoke about what I do – I’m a street musician, a busker, I play music on the streets for people and sometimes people share a smile or some money. Followed by questions, but not really questions, turns out all the children and their parents were buskers too! They were all so overjoyed to put their hands up and make up stories about how they busked with violins or that they go busking with their Dad. It was more of a ‘Strouds Busker Meet-up’ group aha. It was brilliant.

After a few songs, the children got excited to doodle on the CD cases I brought with me. I continued playing whilst they ran off to sketch cats and rainbows and their own faces. A chorus of felt-tips scratching on cardboard accompanied the music, with the random outbursts of laughter and animal noises. I slowed right down and went as quiet as I could at one point, no-one was talking, just concentrating on their designs and the felt-tips scratching filled the room, it was quite a magical moment, I recorded the session and this song is available (send me an email if you’d like to hear =]).

mindfulness stroud

One boy, Ronnie sat right beside me as I played. Every time I finished a song he would ask “Can you do that again?”. Ahhh it was just brilliant, we all had such a nice time and Alice insisted that I come again to play. I’m hoping to bring my friend Theone along for some Maefield improvisation 🙂

Its such a nice group for the children to come after school, relax, be themselves and socialise with other children. The leader Alice is amazing, she’s doing an incredible thing for these children!

Be sure to check the Facebook page out and follow their journey, maybe you’re from Stroud and are looking for a group like this! Or maybe you’re also a travelling musician and would like to play an event like this! 🙂

Go go go – www.facebook.com/mindfulchildStroud


Thank you for reading my words and following this journey.

If you’d like to support it further you can join me on Patreon. A subscription platform, where you donate a price of your choice, rewarded with different benefits, like exclusive tracks and postcards. Link below;

www.patreon.com/chatfield 

Download music here; – chatfield.bandcamp.com

Find me on Facebook and Instagram – @basschatfield

Subscribe to my YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/BassJamesUK

My TEDx talk – https://youtu.be/Eu-KJ1Z10Fk

Online Tips – paypal.me/jameschatfeld

Have a great day!

The ‘Pantyrathro International Hostel’ gig!

On the 27th of September I played a concert at The ‘Pantyrathro International Hostel’. Which is in South Wales, near Carmarthen. I stayed here a couple times this summer (2019), and connected really well with the owner – Ken Knuckles. Ken is an avid traveller and spent his childhood travelling with his family, then as an adult would travel across the world for 6 months at a time. We conversed a lot about travelling, it was incredible to hear his stories and he’s a great story teller. When Ken travelled, the internet wasn’t super prominent like it is now, so most of the time he didn’t know exactly what to expect from the places he visited. I’ve made this a habit to not look into too much detail about the places I’m going, to allow the unknown to surprise. I feel always knowing too much information can ruin it at times.

Every time I visited this hostel I would always meet new characters and connect with people from all walks of life, one of the may joys a hostel brings. Hostels for sure take introverts our their comfort zone, but it builds your ability to socialise and hold conversation. There’s always so much to be learnt by conversing with new people, we’ve all got lessons and stories to benefit one another. – a blog post about this Hostel


So after walking into the hostel with my guitars on my back, those at the bar asked me to play a song – they liked those songs – we booked the gig. The great thing about having a portable set-up means you can play on demand, anywhere. The great thing about music, you can fit it into almost any environment and provide entertainment and value to people, as music is cleansing for the soul in numerous ways.

We promoted the gig on local Facebook groups and flyers around the town. The turn out was 6 people, but it was amazing, it really was. Feeling rather nervous about the show, as I hadn’t properly gigged in some time. I feel like I don’t gig often, but that maybe because I felt too many fails from organising shows, spending so much time on building a set of songs specific to the gig, and no-one turning up but myself and the staff – ha! I guess it’s part of the trade, you just got to keep on gigging. So this time around I didn’t solely spend my time writing a new set of songs or postpone busking to practice for the gig, I just continued busking and noted any improvisations to revisit for the gig. So my set list contained a lot of instrumental songs with looping and space for improvisation. I did include a couple of songs with vocals, here’s one;

Which is actually one of the first songs I wrote with this dual guitar set-up. Back when I jumped into the trio of vocals/guitar/bass, part of me wishes I just stuck that out and kept on writing with vocals, but once again those moments of failure pushed me down. But I’m learning to just accept failure, ignore judgement and do that which makes me happy. So I have been writing with vocals more these past few months, I yet have any completed songs, but I’m on the verge of finishing a few.

With only a small crowd of people it allowed for conversations and connections to be made with ease. At times we had group discussions about travel, certain song stories and their confidence in me to travel the world and perform to many thousands in the future – who knows what will happen! It was full of laughter and smiling, which made it more comforting to play and feel good in myself. Taking the time to look up and share eye contact with everyone during a song really helps settle those nerves. Ken said he noticed how when I smiled whilst performing, everyone else would begin to smile, an infectious feeling. Smile at strangers more – it can highly impact someones day. 

I met Paul and Deborah, who we’re so kind to offer a place to stay whenever I visited Haverfordwest, even if they’re away I can camp in their garden, well that’s just brilliant 🙂 The following day they gave me a bag of goodies, as I reminded them of their son. Very lovely people. I met Paul (another Paul – Paul WS) during the day of the gig, rehearsing upstairs in the hostel, Paul walked past then asked if he could sit in, “sure!“, he videoed a few tracks and took pictures.  When I finished a song he said “You’ve just played the soundtrack to my life“. He told me his story and the journey he’s currently embarking, which is tough going. I won’t go into specifics as it’s personal, but he’s been through hell, and yet his optimism on life is inspiring. Walking across Wales has healed his mind and soul massively, we went for a sunrise walk the morning after the gig.

“Depth over distance, every time…” – Ben Howard


Following the conversations with Paul WS, I wrote a track ‘Freeze Frame’. Here’s the idea behind that phrase from Paul WS;

“Freeze Frame” – Paul WS. We only have today, each day brings a whole collection of moments, a series of frames, just like a film. Take a snippet, one frame of each day and freeze it in your mind. That way of capturing the good moments, allows you to go back and hold gratitude, it aids you out of the darkness because there are always going to be good moments, even if for just that single frame.

You can really learn a lot from conversations – converse more with strangers and dive into questions 🙂


Lessons learnt from the gig;

  • Talking with an audience isn’t actually that terrifying when you just be yourself and open up. Eye contact helps, so does a smile – do it more.
  • Singing works, keep practising and keep song writing.
  • Early mornings outdoors gifts energy for the day.
  • Music is healing and holds a meaning to each individual. Don’t stop gifting it to the world#

Thank you for reading my words and following this journey.

If you’d like to support it further you can join me on Patreon. A subscription platform, where you donate a price of your choice, rewarded with different benefits, like exclusive tracks and postcards. Link below;

www.patreon.com/chatfield 

Download music here; – chatfield.bandcamp.com

Find me on Facebook and Instagram – @basschatfield

Subscribe to my YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/BassJamesUK

My TEDx talk – https://youtu.be/Eu-KJ1Z10Fk

Online Tips – paypal.me/jameschatfeld

Have a great day!

Taking you Outside the Inside Shopping Centre with Busking

Busking inside a shopping centre – Merry Hill, a high street within a claustrophobic complex. I’ve never really liked spending time here as the lack of fresh air always makes me uncomfortable, and I really don’t like shopping, I have no desire in consumerism, I feel I don’t need anything new, I basically spend my money on food and travel. But it’s a placed I’ve always loved to play music in; a) to see how long I’d manage to play before getting kicked out by security and b) to see what the reverb would be like inside. So when I got an invite to come busk here, definitely. But there was the internal debate, like ahhh, I hate that place, but I love music, can you rid hate of something by bringing what you love into it? Turns out, yes you can.

Maybe that could work in another context like, ‘Ahhh I hate this job, but I have a love for conversation and learning new things’ – start having conversations with everyone at work, even your managers and find out new information about them or what they know. The daily ‘Three New Things I Learnt About This World in a Workplace I Hate’ quest……….? The Lunch Break Podcast inside….x company. Lessons Learnt From the Workplace of Hell.                  – #tangent

So it wasn’t technically what busking is defined as, because there was a payment upfront for the performance. I wasn’t allowed to have a case out for coin drops, but I was allowed to display my CD box, which I had to hide by the side of me, it was barely noticeable. But people still found a way to give me a coin or two, they didn’t even ask if I was collecting, they were just determined to gift me something. Which is absolutely fascinating, people are incredible and when they feel something gives them value they want to show it with a physical gift, a natural instinct to give back to something that’s gifted them in some shape or form. People would come from a distance with a coin in hand, flying and seeking a place to drop it, (like when you try feed a baby, spoon like a plane, zooming around to land in the mouth) eventually the CD box hidden beside me, then a “thank you, it sounds lovely in here”, walking off smiling.

So really, it was just like busking, with that magic ripple affect of positivity that street music brings. People walking past smiling, stopping and swinging their hips, starting a street party in a shopping centre. Old men eating sandwiches and applauding each song, smiling and giving the good ole thumbs up. Babies and children totally mesmerised by the weird blue box that’s making sound, their parents pulling up beside the music and watching their child smile and laugh. It’s amazing their bodies dance like they’re not in control, a natural instinct to the music.

What was truly amazing, within the first couple of songs a woman, Nina and her Mum stood watching smiling massively. Nina bought a CD and later sent this message via Instagram;

When this happens, when music creates an effect like this, it’s truly amazing. I feel so grateful that our paths crossed and this connection was made. These little moments add up to big change, and it fuels my belief that I’m doing something good for this world, it makes me never want to stop and only grow it and keep on giving music to the world. So that’s my plan – don’t stop.

A little clip of some looping I did towards the end of the day, which was 3pm – 9pm.

Shopping centres like this, just like High Streets are designed for people to come and buy things, encouraging and installing consumerism on those that wonder it. Why I’ve always loved street art and busking, is because it’s totally contrasting to that, it fills a need that we all have, an artistic, creative and somewhat in-explainable need, it gives without expecting anything in return. It allows people to step out of their world and into a moment, one that could last for just a few seconds, but it politely interrupts their day. This is why I’ve always felt busking is important in any high street, and what ultimately fuels me to continue, to give strangers those kind of moments of relaxation, taking their mind someplace else.

I feel this project within Merry Hill is so important for shopping centres like this. Personally I feel somewhat trapped inside the place at times, like I can’t escape the one-thousand half-price discounts or bright lights or temptations to buy a million things. So a spontaneous event where a musician or artist is sharing their talents and creating these little moments to take you outside the inside shopping centre – well that’s just magic. I’d love to see this happen more frequently in shopping centres, maybe this blog post could be a gateway into a conversation to start a regular project within them. Maybe it could grow to really add value to the centres and a place for musicians and artists to earn part of their living by giving their talents to the thousands who wonder through these centres.

Ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed the experience to play here. A new experience and a new place to bring music to, one that has filled my mind with many more ideas. One which involves playing music fairly loud while being pushed around a supermarket in a trolley, utterly stupid, but fun. Bringing music to new environments to see how it affects people, which currently on my journey so far, has seemed to affect people in a positive and beautiful way.

I shall continue…

 

Thank you for reading this post 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂

Rules to Self #1

1.1.

Compose music

1.2.

Busk and gig with original music

1.3.

Document the journey that music takes you on

1.4.

Share good words with music and the stories

1.5.

Find beautiful things and share them with the world

1.6.

Inspire others to pursue their own passions

1.7.

Help others on their journeys

1.8.

Stay true to the music you love to make

1.9.

Realise that you have so much time to create and travel

1.10.

Take short interval breaks each day to remind yourself where you are, where you’ve come from and where you’re going