Anyway, yesterday evening changed the icy headwind. First of all, I'd booked Jo Thomas to come to talk to the M.A. Audio students at the University of the West. She is a composer in sound who uses processed vocal signals to create music, and her talk was technically fascinating and really absorbing.
Unforchly I had to leave halfway through to head down to Balham (I only got lost twice) where one of the undergraduate songwriters I taught last year, Alex Lipinsky, was a finalist in a songwriting competition organised by the Musician's Benevolent Fund, The Peter Whittingham Award. I'd never been to the Bedford before- it's much smaller than I'd thought, but the better for it. The finalists were a mixed bunch; no black performers, which was a shame, and one pretty dirgey pianist, but the winners, a band from Liverpool with a very charming singer, deserved to win.
What thrilled me to bits, though, was that Alex got a special award to research and develop his songs. He'd submitted what I thought were fairly standard sounding songs, but the performance of his second one was amazing. Last year he composed a whole bunch of songs featuring the ukelele, and managed the coup of not sounding like George Formby at all, but sounding like what he is, a young and talented singer-songwriter. So I know he deserves the money and he's shortly to go off to the States, where I think his sunny nature and positive songs will go down very well.
Richard Lobb was there (he is a songwriter friend of Lucy Silvas, one of the judges along with Nick Heyward and Joan Armatrading) and we swapped venue reviews. He plays with a band that is financed by Damian Hearst and who have been recently supporting Oasis. But I can't remember what he said they were called!