‘Holding Back’ – Live on the Streets, and Other Things

From a recent busking session out in the sunny streets of Cardiff. My original song, ‘Holding Back’, written with lyrics for concerts. For now I don’t sing on the streets, but it’s something I have planned, I very much enjoy singing and making noises with my voice, but I feel my voice is not yet to a good enough standard – plenty of practice.

During this song, there was a little human in a pushchair with I guess their Granddad with them. They were smiling so cheekily and dancing so much, it’s amazing the effect music has on people and especially little babies. Most of the time they’re amazed and stare at you in such an intrigued way, ‘what is this noise?!’, ‘what is going on?!’, ‘waa?!’.

It’s been a while since I posted on here, I’ve been meaning to for months but I’ve always felt like I never had enough to say. Or that I should be writing big long posts that take days to write. Then I thought, well that just doesn’t allow me to document my busking journeys and musical endeavours. So why not just post snippets and small journal entries on a regular basis. Gives you the reader some sort of story to follow and there’d be plenty of video links etc!

i.e.

Here’s the second most recent thing I posted on YouTube;

A riff and melody idea played with my hands full. This has to be one of my favourite ways of writing and performing, the limitations and challenge within this method is so much fun! I like to push myself to be able to write in any set-up. I just wish this set-up was more portable so I could busk with it more and take it to epic woodland locations for some ‘epic videos’!

I have taken this full set-up out busking, but with the size of the set-up and my tiny car, it exerts quite a lot energy. It’s a lot of fun though, here’s a video of me performing in this way; (on a very windy day in Worcester, so excuse the amount of wind sound coming through the audio) 

 

I spent last weekend in Oxford (5th-7th April 2019), it’s such a beautiful place. Probably my favourite city within the UK, (that I’ve visited so far). I love the city, but there can be an odd crowd at times, whilst playing outside West-gate. A highly intoxicated man was standing a couple feet in front of my setup, shuffling his way down the street in a slow motion manner. I’m setting up my stuff to play, just about to plug my guitars in, when he stands still, I just look at him, ‘this is a bit weird’ I think. He stands still for a few minutes, then fills his trousers (and floor) with urine, it just pours down the street, lucky it’s on a bank and it travels away from my stuff, it was like a stream. I wanted to feel bad for the guy, but as I walked into town, he was just sat at a bench shouting abuse to random people. After he did this, in a very animated and cartoon style skit, he falls over, more slower than slow… and his head landed in the guitar case, so I’m like ‘…..what, do I do?’ A couple of people came to see if he was alright, he mumbled some abuse at them waving his arms. Another highly intoxicated man comes over and tells me he’ll sort him out, so he drags the man on the floor by his ears to the other side of the street, shouts at him ‘what you doing, you f—ing idiot, there’s kids about, yam a —-‘. Council/police come over, but he was gone into the endless dream world. When I finished playing, I walked past to see how he was, he was half asleep rolling a cigarette. The council didn’t seem impressed.

This area of Oxford ‘Bond Square’, does have tendency to gather many drunks and homeless people. Unfortunately there’s the odd occasion of unpleasantness, but most of the time, its a great place to play. Most of this group are always thankful for me playing, a few sit next to me and just watch me play, smiling loads and getting hyped about certain techniques I’m using. They’ll say “I really like it when you play here, thank you!”. These kind of moments make me believe I’m doing something good for this world. At times I feel that I’m not giving enough to this world or that I should be doing something more impacting, but I guess small things like this can truly make a difference.

Thank you for reading my post! I’ll be back with more stories soon!

If you’d like to support my journey, you can purchase my music (with a price of your choosing) on my Bandcamp page;
Here’s my latest release

Clouds on Clouds

 

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‘Love Your Music’ a Note from a Lovely Busk!

It’s been one of those amazing days that has uplifted my spirit and strengthened my love for the art of street performing ☺️

While playing outside Debenhams, a woman who seemed to be having a pretty serious fall out with her partner, sat right in front of where I was playing, closed her eyes and just listened. She kept shaking her partner off as he tried to talk to her. He eventually walked off, and she sat there smiling at me. Pulled out a pen and wrote that note ‘love your music’. She kept smiling, then disappeared for a while. She came back sat down and burst into tears, sitting watching me play, smiling and crying loads. It was obvious she was in a bad way, but there was a peace inside she was holding onto and I think my music really helped her find that.
The song I was playing drawed in a crowd because of a beat that got a bunch of kids dancing, they were laughing and smiling so much and everyone who saw this happening were smiling with joy and the energy was good and high. The woman came back with a band and tied it on my arm whilst I was playing and gave me some flowers she stole from a flower bed aha! xD she also gave me a picture something she’s kept for years that has brought her luck and love, ‘hold on to this, I want you to have this as luck, you helped me today, thank you’. She left smiling and a lot of warmth and inspiration!

I also had a few people saying “why are you here? You shouldn’t be on the streets you’re too good , you should be out there on staged and festivals!”. Well sure I’d love to get gigs and festival slots, but I’m also here on the streets because of these kind of things, the spontaneity, the people I meet and the good things that I can bring.
I sometimes get filled with doubt and wonder if I’m actually doing something worth while for this world, and then things like this happens and I feel that I am doing something meaningful and good for this world, it may only be small, but I guess that’s something everyone can do a small something to make a small change, collectively being a big change.

Keep on loving and believing in yourself cause your capable of more than you know!

🙏❤️ Have a most wonderful day!

TEDx Dornbirn – Just Go, For You Can Go Anywhere – The Speech I Wrote but Didn’t Speak

So this weekend 20th-22nd July 2018, I was asked to join TEDx to perform and talk about my music and journey. I spent a while figuring out what I wanted to say and how I was going to say it. Writing many talks and feeling more than nervous for the event. It was kind of crazy how it all came about, just through a short video I posted of me busking once in Worcester, the curator Sarah Luger messaged me asking me if I wanted to play? – eh yeahs, I’ve been watching Ted talks the past 4 years!
I wanna write more about it, but for now I wanted to share the speech that I didn’t actually say on stage as I went almost completely improvised and just followed what my heart had to say. The response after I played and spoke was beyond ridiculous, the room was filled with so much love and positivy, it was cray cray!
For now these words roughly capture what I wanted to talk about.

TEDx Talk

Hey, so I was asked to perform my music on this TEDx stage today and talk about who I am.

I am James Chatfield.

And 2 years ago I made a leap and decided to be a full-time street-musician, right at the beginning of a British winter. Not exactly the best time to be playing outside in the streets all day. But it all came from a gut feeling, a feeling inside, telling me that I was destined for more than what I was doing at the time, which then, was working at a retail job, a place that didn’t align to who I was or give me chance to add value to people’s lives, just a source of income.

So I did it, I followed this gut feeling and quit my job, it was whilst driving to the workplace, I had a mental breakdown, a realisation that this wasn’t who I was and that I knew I could be doing something more important to give to this world.

So sat there in my car, after just quitting my job, and choosing my own path, I drove out and started street performing, deciding that from this point onwards, I would do this full-time, that I would only do things that meant I could be who I was, and add value to other people’s lives doing what I love – creating music.

The winter was harsh to busk in, my hands would freeze up alot, I stood in blistering winds, snowfalls, would get many blisters and cut my fingers, catch colds and sometimes play for 6 hours in one day and just make enough to grab a cup of coffee.

But I knew that if I persisted and never gave up, and that if I could busk through this, that I could busk in any condition.

And what kept me going was

Seeing the affect my music had on people, children stopping in amazement, possibly the first time they’ve seen live music, they dance and laugh, stop their parents so they can watch, pulling them closer. People smile, people walk past looking down and out then a smile slowly arises, people looking so busy then suddenly stop, those few seconds where they escape the rush in their mind to listen to this music, maybe it shaped their day and brought light to them, maybe it inspired them, maybe it just quite simply made them feel a bit more happier in that one moment. People have come up to me in tears, hugging me, “thank you” they say or “I have had the most awful morning, but hearing this music has made my day instantly better”.

Seeing this affect I had on people. I knew that this was what I was meant to do, this was a path I was meant to embark on, one to bring my music to streets for strangers to hear, to spread positivity, smiles and lighten someone’s day. For I knew if I had impacted only one person out of a thousand, in a positive way. I was doing something good for this world, that who I am and the skills I have, equal to, performing music on the streets, the perfect way for me to maximise my impact on the world.

I am grateful everyday for the amazing kindness from all of the wonderful people I encounter on the streets, and for the most incredible, most magical friends that I have. For without these loving souls, wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

My current goal is to acquire a van, so that I can convert into a mobile home and music studio, so that I can be more productive and travel easier, to reach out to more people and more countries. To drive around sharing my music to every country that is possible to drive to.

With this van, it means I can further expand on my mission,

To travel the world, and share my music and positivity to the streets, to uplift and connect as many people as I can. For at the end, when I leave this life, I want to leave knowing that I gave this world everything I am, that I gave it all the music in me. As we only get this one life, this one chance to follow our heart, to turn our dreams into a reality, to bring value to every other being around us, to make change to the world no matter how small that change is.

I’ve always seen my music as a way to communicate and spread positivity. A way to connect with people and share a joyful message. I’ve never felt I’ve had the chance to communicate a positive message through talking, so with this opportunity on this TEDx talk, I want to share a message.

I say to you, just go, for you can go anywhere, for you can turn all your dreams into a reality, for you can live the life you desire, for you can achieve things beyond what you believe you are capable of. You are enough, you will always be enough, you are beautiful, you are unique, and you are a miracle. You can overcome any challenge that presents itself. You can do anything and you can go anywhere. One step at a time, as any step forward is a step forward.

Where will you go? What do you feel your soul pulling you towards? I say go, Just Go, For You Can Go Anywhere, give this world everything you are and leave knowing that you lived your life to the full.

And now I will play some music for you.