Sunday 30 December, 2007

Today is indeed a time to reflect on my efforts of the past year or - if I was to be brutally honest with myself – possibly, with the lack of them (music business wise, anyway).

I can now see that I allowed myself to become way too involved with my football project, believing that – provided I unearthed the next wonder kid – I may no longer have to rely on the income from my music business work, to sustain myself, in the years to come. How disastrously wrong I was. Thankfully, how fortunate I am to be able to negotiate a quick U-turn and make up for lost time (and income!). That U-turn starts on the 17th January. Wish me well.

I’m actually itching to get started on the serious business of touring with Paul Potts: amongst many obvious advantages (not the least, being financial!) it will keep me from pondering the mistakes of the last eighteen months – and allow me an immediate opportunity to rectify them.

I believed I could change the world of football – maybe I can, at some point in the future, but for the time being I must demote my (wild?) ideas to the back burner and endeavor to return myself to a sound financial footing. It’s only in the last few days that I’ve truly come to realise how I’ve allowed myself to become so enmeshed in all things football. I was warned you know. Maybe it’s this rock ‘n roll work ethic of mine that fooled me into thinking I could make a success of anything I set my mind on.

It’s surely impossible that everyone realises their dreams and therefore those of us that don’t must be brave enough to stand up and accept it. The crucially important factor here is the timing, of course: but when you’re consumed with a vision, it’s far from easy to know when to quit. Not that I’m quitting – I’m just going to stand back from it for a while and try to take a more reasoned view. With hindsight, I should have reached this point twelve months ago.

I would have to admit that my most lucrative period of the last ten years was the three years I spent with Westlife: not only was I so completely immersed in the job, that I had to shelve my football interests: I was also being very well paid for my involvement. The downside of all that, of course, was the fact that I was “fried” from almost three years of sixteen hour days. Something had to give – and something eventually did. Me. One day the lads will understand.

This last week, I have begun to rigorously prepare for a six-month world tour, something I’ve not undertaken for a good few years. Sure it was overly hectic on Westlife, however said activity tended to be confined, mainly, to the UK and Europe. The time between Christmas and New Year is certainly a good time to catch up, as the music business almost closes down.

So, my resolve is solid: throw myself back into the music business for the next year, at least, while keeping tabs on the football operation, just in case that “gem” can be unearthed. I’m sure that there will be many times, in the coming months, where I will be reminded that I’ve definitely made the right decision. There’s still a lot of things that I want to do in this life, but first I must rectify the error of my ways. Slowly, I feel the realization of the need to do something markedly meaningful with my life: but, I wonder, what? The best to you all for 2008.

Sunday 23 December, 2007

Although these diary entries are, technically, meant to detail the events in my life, based on the previous seven days (Monday through Sunday), I should mention that – having completed last week’s entry on the Sunday morning flight back from Helsinki – who should I bump into at Heathrow airport, when I landed in London? None other than Nicky Byrne’s parents!

It turns out the Westlife lads had filmed a TV special the previous night in London – and here was Yvonne and Nicky snr, on their way back to Dublin. It was great to see them again: unfortunately Terminal One was overrun with passengers, and we just didn’t have as much time to speak, as I would have liked. Even with an e-ticket to hand, it took me over an hour to check in for my flight.

You will therefore garner from the above that I was able to shoot home to Edinburgh for a day and a half, prior to setting off back down South again on Tuesday, via Leeds, for a Paul Potts tour production meeting at the premises of “Production North”, the company responsible for the set-up and coordination of Paul’s upcoming world tour. Coincidentally, this is also the company (run by my long-time friend, Steve Levitt) that oversees all aspects of Westlife’s tour co-ordination.

By the time I reached London on Tuesday evening, it was pushing 7.30 pm, at which point I jumped the Piccadilly line, from London Kings Cross mainline station, to Heathrow airport. Paul and I had an early start the next morning, en-route to Amsterdam, therefore we decided to stay at Terminal 4’s Hilton Hotel, from where it is only a six-minute walk to the Terminal 4 BA check-in. Paul had also managed to zip home for a couple of days, although – as a result of him not being home for almost a month – he did not expect to be able to relax for much of that time.

As luck would (wouldn’t) have it, our flight into Amsterdam was delayed by over an hour, putting paid the opportunity to be able to swing by the hotel, upon arrival in Holland: instead the cars that met us upon arrival whisked us directly to the TV studio complex at Hilversum. When it comes to TV promotional work in Holland nowadays, most of it is centred around Hilversum. First up was a midday chat and appearance on the “Max and Lorreta” daytime television show, followed by a lunch break and then a mid-afternoon recording for the popular “Jensen!” TV show, due to be aired later that evening. In between times Paul made a brief appearance on the RTL lunchtime TV programme, where he was presented with a commemorative plaque, recognizing his “gold” Dutch record sales.

Next day, Thursday, we filmed a five-song live appearance at Amsterdam’s quaint “Felix Meritis” venue, in the city centre, in front of a small, invited, audience. With the requirement to rehearse the show during the afternoon, for the purposes of sound, camera angles, orchestra balance, etc, we didn’t finish until around six o’clock that evening. It just so happened that Sony/BMG, Holland were holding their Christmas dinner that same evening, therefore Paul and I kindly accepted the record company’s kind invitation to join their celebrations for the evening.

Friday’s return flight (for a change!) was at the civil hour of 11.50 am, which put us back into the London office in time for me to meet with Paul’s management to discuss various tour matters. Being stuck there until after 8.00 pm, I had little choice but to book the overnight train from Euston to Edinburgh, arriving back in just enough time to have breakfast with my children! Cheers.

Sunday 9 December, 2007

Ha! It’s all coming back to me know – just how physically punishing these promotional campaigns can be: of course, having endured a couple of years of it with “Westlife”, at least I have a fair idea of what I’m got myself into. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity. Read on.

On Monday, Paul recorded his performance on the Royal Variety show, which is due to be aired early next week. A glittering array of talent squeezed into the Liverpool Empire: everything from a marching band, to a full dance troupe, to Bon Jovi, to Katherine Jenkinson, to performers on stilts – and of course Paul himself, supported by a full live orchestra and choir.

It’s rare that I tread even close to the risqué (in fact, I’m not even sure it’s risqué – I’m just “warmed” by the observation) but what is it about a fine looking woman in full flow on the cello?! Maybe some of my more seasoned female readers could offer an opinion on that (come on Colleen, you’ll have something to say about this – you Americans are never backward at coming forwards!!).

On Westlife, during the “Allow us to be Frank” album campaign, we used string players on several occasions and one particular lady (yes, a cello player) called Rosie occasionally, fleetingly, darts across my consciousness: a most engaging woman with a vibrant stroke. Whooa! Where is she now?

Right, back to the purpose in hand: the after show party, for the Royal Variety show on Monday night, was staged in the most grand St. Georges Hall, just across the street from the Liverpool Empire. As part of the après-show entertainment there was a short, yet impressive, set from another Artist of the Modest Management stable – the irrepressible Ray Quinn. What a decent lad and what a consummate performer. I’m sure he will be around for a good while to come yet.

I’m sure I would have hung around the after show party for a while longer, had it not been for the thought of the 07.00 am Easyjet flight that Paul and I were booked on the following morning to Barcelona (ah, once again, proof that this business is not as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be). Once our commitment to the recording of the TV show was completed on Tuesday evening, we headed straight out to the airport to catch the last flight to Madrid, to enable Paul to appear on one of the highest rated morning TV shows in Spain. Once we were “cleared” at midday, it was back to the provincial airport to catch a private jet back to the UK (a bit of glamour for you there!) as this was the only feasible way to make it back for the Alan Titchmarsh show at the BBC.

On Thursday Paul paid a visit to Downing Street and actually met up the Prime Minister himself, Mr. Gordon Brown. Friday was spent based in London, firstly with Paul undertaking a comprehensive array of “phoner” interviews, in relation to the UK segment of next year’s tour. On Friday evening Paul then took part in a live Radio 2 programme, from the Mermaid theatre, hosted by the ever-young Aled Jones and featuring the young operatic quartet “Teatro”.

Yesterday (Saturday) saw us board an early flight to Oslo, where Paul staged a performance in a very cool art gallery, just off the centre of town. Again, the after show festivities indeed looked inviting however, with a flight time this morning of 08.30 am, I decided to save myself for a time when I can steal a “lie in” the next morning. What a week that was, indeed. Bring on the next one!

Sunday 2 December, 2007

Admittedly, I’ve fallen behind with the last couple of my diary entries: however, I believe, I have reasonable cause for incurring this state of affairs. Allow me to explain.

As I disclosed in last week’s entry (25th Nov.), I’ve landed the Tour Management of the opera singer, Paul Potts: infamous for having entered the revered world of opera, as a result of winning the UK “Britain’s Got Talent” TV programme, earlier this year.

Paul’s world tour commences in the UK on 17th January next year and winds it’s way across four continents and (at the last count) sixteen countries, up until mid July.

Currently, Paul is approaching the final stage of an exhaustive promotional campaign that has taken in almost as many – if not more – countries that the upcoming world tour will involve. However, as a result of his Promotions Manager having to honour a prior commitment, Paul’s management asked if I would be willing to undertake the last three weeks of his promotional campaign, centered around the UK and continental Europe. How could I refuse?

Not only does this give me the opportunity to meet and work with Paul before the tour, it also sees me earn a few shillings during December – a possibility that I had given up hope for, particularly as I was committed to Paul’s touring project from mid January onwards.

Having only received the call to check on my availability for the promotional work on Tuesday of “this” week (27th Dec.), I quickly found myself boarding the last flight down from Edinburgh on Thursday evening, in preparation for an early start to the remaining promotional commitments, the following Friday morning.

Our first task of the day was a filmed visit to the worldly-renowned Harrod’s store in London, as part of a GMTV programme feature, where Paul, and his wife Julie-Ann, enjoyed a reasonably leisurely stroll through several of the store’s comprehensively stocked departments. Who – irrespective of age (be honest here, now!) can resist the lure of the toy department, particularly vibrant during the lead up to Christmas – and of course, Harrods being Harrods, you need look no further even for the most demanding of childlike imagination.

The remainder of our day consisted of a visit to the tailors (for a last minute check on Paul’s tuxedo suit that he would wear for the Royal Variety Show performance) followed by a Daily Mail interview – a 2-page spread since published – and several other print-related items of promotion.

On Saturday we traveled up (firstly) to Liverpool for rehearsals for the Royal Variety Show, after which, in the late afternoon, we transferred to Granada Studios in Manchester for a quick rehearsal for a guest appearance on the Sunday morning’s Lesley Garret show. Oh, Jakey boy was quite taken with Ms (Mrs? – damn!]) Garrett. The show featured a memorable duet with Paul and Lesley on the Christmas song “Silent Night”, after which, mid-morning Sunday, it was back through to Liverpool in preparation for the recording of the next day’s Royal Variety Performance. Have you caught your breath yet? Stand by for a whirlwind six months: we’re back on the road! See ya.


Sunday 25 November, 2007

Evening all (and let the record show that it is indeed Sunday evening – there’s no knowing what feats of organization I will aspire to next). Not a bad week, for a couple of good reasons…

Firstly, I now believe it is an appropriate time to divulge my next, upcoming, touring involvement: although it is something of a departure from mainstream rock ‘n roll (the mainstay of my work for the past thirty years) it is nevertheless an interesting challenge, from several aspects. First off, let me tell you that I will be working with Paul Potts, the opera singer.

Now, before we go any further, there may be some of my non-UK readers who are not immediately familiar with the identity of Paul Potts. For a brief insight to the unmistakable talent (and incredible voice) of the man, then jump onto the “You Tube” website and marvel at his winning performance on the recent UK prime-time television show, “Britain’s Got Talent”.

Paul has since released a debut album (“One Chance”) and he is presently involved in a busy promotional campaign, both to promote said album and also to highlight the upcoming World Tour – and, yes, that’s where Jakey boy enters the proceedings. Regular British readers of this column – who are partial to a bit of opera – may be aware that Paul’s UK tour (mid January until mid February) is already on sale and doing very nicely, thank you.

Once the UK phase has been completed, we’re off around the world to tour several other territories (as we sometimes refer to other countries/continents, in the music business) the details of which I will share with you once they have been publicly announced as going on sale.

There is certainly something challenging about being involved in a new artist’s initial touring project: one certainly has a real and tangible opportunity to assist in developing the awareness of the act. “On the Road” opera performances are certainly a niche market and Paul can look forward to the exciting opportunity to establish himself on such a unique circuit - with the prospect of many more world tours to follow, down the years. Hopefully, I can play my part.

So, more information to follow on my involvement with Paul, over the coming weeks. As always, with any artist(s) that I work with, who are mentioned within the confines of my diary, this information is imparted on a “past” basis, as confidentiality (as I’ve stressed on many occasions) is everything in this business. However, you will be able to accompany me along the touring highway and hopefully garner a fairly unique perspective of life on the road, in the world of opera.

Just to jump subjects for the moment, I have to mention the full-game debut of my Moroccan midfielder (Mehdi Taouil) for the Scottish Premier club Kilmarnock FC, yesterday. Although they were beaten 1-0 by a very in-form Motherwell FC side, Mehdi gave an impressive showing on his first full ninety minutes for the club: so much so that he was featured as part of the “Team of the Week” in one of the two most popular Scottish Sunday newspapers!

Can’t be bad, huh? I know I’m a fair way off considering early career retirement off the back of my football business but, hey, let’s take it while it’s going! Folks – as they say – it’s been real. BFN

Sunday 18 November, 2007

Just read briefly through last week’s diary entry and realized, upon reflection, that I may have dragged the subject matter out a little. Having said that, we should all – certainly those belonging to my generation - take a little time, now and then, to be thankful that we have been spared having to live through such war-torn times.

Now, depending upon how much of an interest you take in international football, you may – or may not – be aware that Scotland’s European Championship dreams are over – and by the cruelest of refereeing decisions: having managed to claw back Italy’s very early one-goal lead, and sitting at 1-1 with under two minutes of injury time left, the Italians managed to score a goal from a “set piece”, awarded for a foul that never was. How heartbreaking. How typical.

From elation to deflation, in the space of twenty-five minutes. Of course, had the game finished at 1 -1, we would still have required Ukraine to beat France, to ensure qualification for Scotland. However, far more importantly, it would have kept the dream alive – and, yes, when it comes to football aspirations, we Scots are the champion dreamers. Alas, we’re out.

Beverley and I watched the game on the big screens yesterday at the Corn Exchange complex in Edinburgh (the same venue for one of the “James” shows, a few of months back). The place was of course packed, and the atmosphere one of vibrancy and (misplaced?) anticipation. “I was thinking of putting a bet on Italy” announced Beverley as we made our way onto the premises. “That, my dear” I advised her “is a thought best kept to yourself for the next two hours, particularly in the company that we’re about to keep”. When Scotland equalised, we were showered, good naturedly, in a torrent of beer, as a result of a couple of exuberant, kilted, fans behind us throwing their arms (and drinks) to the ceiling. Short lived, I’m afraid.

So, here we are today, in time-honoured Scottish football fan fashion: licking our wounds and wondering what might have been. In viewing the bigger picture, Scotland deserve a huge amount of respect for having achieved so much success in their qualifying section: beating France home and away is no mean feat, in addition to several other notable results. Next up of course is the 2010 World Cup, the finals of which will be staged in South Africa. That will also be a tough call to reach the final stages, however we must believe that our international standing has come on by leaps and bounds – and you just never know …

On the touring front, I’m fairly confident of my involvement in a lengthy project (6+ months) that is due to commence the middle of January in the UK, and then off around the world for the next five months. I know I’ve been holding off making any sort of “announcement” about this particular tour, however – for some odd reason known probably only to myself – I just felt it would be better to hold off until the first week in December, before saying anything.

Naturally, I would like to be starting the afore-mentioned project within the coming weeks, however I’ll just have to cool my heels for a while. Thankfully, there’s plenty for me to be getting on with in terms of my football involvement, however I’m definitely eagerly anticipating a return to touring work – if only because the Diary will live up to it’s name. BFN

Sunday 11 November, 2007

Remembrance Day here in the UK, although – much as we grapple to understand what really went on back there – how can my generation possibly relate to the enormity of it.

Not as a result of any great feat of concerted planning on my part, I happen to have watched three very poignant movies in the last month or so. The first one was “Flags of my Fathers”, the Clint Eastwood directed epic of the battle to capture the strategic island of Iwo Jima, towards the latter half of World War 2. Amazingly, he produced a “mirror-image” film (if Clint will forgive that expression) called “Letters from Iwo Jima” to illustrate the perspective of the same battle, from the Japanese side. You need to check them out. Stunning yet chilling.

More recently, I watched the film “The Glory Days” which, if I recall correctly, highlighted the involvement of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian soldiers to aid France’s second World war effort. These guys – if correctly portrayed in the movie – did not question their loyalty and responsibility to (as they termed it) the mother country. However, it would appear that they were utilized in the more dangerous and fortified areas of Italy and France – and never really received the proper and fair recognition for their efforts. According to information appended to the credits of the film, there are still issues outstanding regarding their war pensions.

Now, come on, we all have daily frustrations to contend with - but how they pall into insignificance when you try to fathom the frustration of being bureaucratically shafted when you gave everything for your country in such intolerable circumstances. God help them.

Then just the other day, on one of the main television channels, I watched a drama called “My Son Jack” the story of Rudyard Kipling’s fixation with sending his son off to the first World War, where the boy lost his life on the front line, sadly only one day after his eighteenth birthday (his father had knowingly assisted the lad to falsify his proper age).

I often think that I would have done anything back then – had I found myself faced with “going over the top” – to ensure I lived through that, be in feigning death, shooting myself in the foot whatever. Would that be a common view of my generation, I wonder? If so, might it be based upon the (generally) war-free environment in which we have grown up with – and therefore our seriously stubborn resistance towards anything that might threaten such an existence? Were the young men of 1914 much more nationally spirited, to the end that they gave no second thought to rallying to the defense of their country at a moments notice? Does perceived glory (and propaganda fuelled victory) dull the senses of good reason and survival?

Is there anything tangible we can do to properly pay our respects to these men and women for what they did to enable, in some way, peace in our time? This sentiment is particularly difficult to convey in actuality, when the numbers of those who thankfully (luckily?) survived are dwindling at such an alarming rate. That they will soon all be gone is frightening, is it not?

While I believe I’m a decent guy, I would certainly not purport to be of truly religious in any way. Having said that, I thank the Lord that I did not have to endure those times. BFN

Sunday 4 November, 2007

Apologies that I’m a couple of days behind with this entry: family matters to attend to.

However, nothing dispiriting – quite uplifting in fact: my daughter’s 18th birthday and a time for reflection indeed. Possibly even more so as Jade’s mum had compiled – as one of her birthday presents – a framed collage of snaps of Jade taken, mainly, during her younger years.

Well, all you parental types, if that sort of thing doesn’t tug at the heart strings, then you probably have no heart strings to be tugged. Where have all the years gone – and so quickly.

I woke up late this morning (as a result of re-writing a contract for a player to which I had been alerted) to find the mid-morning sun streaming through all the windows on the south-facing side of the house. Sunshine makes such a positive difference to my demenour: I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m certainly not the “lie and fry” type of guy, when it comes to hot weather, I just love the warmth of the sun on my back. I need to plan to move away.

A good friend of mine left today (Sunday) for a couple for week’s vacation in South Africa, dividing her time while she’s there between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Probably along with the likes of Vancouver and Perth (Australia!), Cape Town is a city I most definitely find myself at ease with and, consequently, I do believe I could live there for a while.

However, this “up and off” idea of mine is – at this time particularly – much easier said than done: I need to get myself sorted out first back here and then I can put my mind to that. If I’m honest with myself, it will take me a couple of years from now to get right “back onto my feet again”, which – as I’ve detailed in a previous version of the diary – involves me bringing my bank account back into the black, selling my property (now is not a great time to do that, in the UK) and then taking up residency in sunnier climes. Who knows? It may just be that having not had a vacation for a while, I’m just yearning for a couple of weeks of better weather.

The fact remains, undeniably, that I engineered myself into this position, so I’m just going to have to engineer my way out of it again. As soon as I am back out on the road, the outlook will certainly become much brighter and much clearer. I occasionally mislead myself into thinking that maybe I’m due a little bit of luck to extricate me from my present plight, however that is something of a selfish viewpoint as most individuals would give their right arm to have enjoyed just half the luck that I have had in my time. The time has come to make my own luck.

On the subject of “back on the road”, I should finally know this week if the touring project that I’ve made reference to, over the last couple of weeks, is a definite “goer”. Not only am I fortunate to earn decent money when I’m out on the road (although when one divides one’s daily earnings by sixteen, then plumbers probably have a better hourly rate!), my normal domestic expenses (fuel, house phone, electricity, etc.) are substantially reduced: hence the reason I’m always claiming that a good few months of solid touring will go a long way to seeing me back onto a even keel, financially. This week I must endeavor to find a few quiet, undisturbed, hours to think things through properly. Where have all the good times gone? BFN


Sunday 28 October, 2007

Evening all. I sense I may have rambled a bit last week, but I was just telling it like it is (was).

I sometimes wonder if I may really have little to say of any real substance, however that has to be balanced off with my inability to just miss a week once in a while. That’s hard to do.

Well, in the way of a little hard news, I’m off to London tomorrow to speak to some people about a project that would require my involvement from the middle of December onwards: again, can’t divulge too much about it (you never know who’s reading this!) however as soon as I’m in a position to “go public”, you’ll here about it here first.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I live in a 10-house “cul-de-sac” on the outskirts of Edinburgh: I’ve been at this current address now for over two years, during which time no other house in the cul-de-sac has ever been put up for sale. Until now. The house three up from me has now gone on the market, therefore I will be watching that situation with interest.

In Scotland, houses are either put up for sale on an “offers over” or “fixed price” basis. There are merits for both methods, however most owners trying to move their property via the “offers over” option will generally look to realize an eventual sale price of 20% over. From the point of view of the buyer, there is a fair risk to “blind bidding” (having gone to the expense of a survey beforehand) in that once all bids are opened on the pre-agreed closing date, a fellow bidder has beaten you to the punch. Step forward the “fixed price” option.

In the latter respect, you will invariably find that the seller is asking above the market value of the property: the one advantage of this being that once you accept that price, then you know the property is yours – rather than risking waiting (say) another four weeks, until a closing date, only to find you have been outbid and – almost as frustrating – you have to start all over again. There you go: Jake’s concise guide to selling your house in Scotland.

So, as I mentioned above, I’m off to London tomorrow - albeit in a rather roundabout sort of way. As the people I’m meeting cannot see me until 6.30 pm in Chelsea (and I don’t want to stay over in London), I’m going to drive down from Edinburgh to Crewe station, park the car, take the train from there to Euston - and then reverse the journey tomorrow evening! To most people this would appear to be a horrendously long day – however, I come from the world of horrendously long days so thankfully I’m able to take the next thirty-six hours in my stride.

The only slight drawback of the job that I’m chasing at the moment, is that I can’t really get stuck into the work until mid-December: therefore, I’ll be making a few calls – to certain of the record companies that I have worked for before - to check on the possibilities of something short-term, that would tide me over from now until then. It’s a long shot, but one can but try. I’m glad I’m heading back into the music business to undertake a substantial project: as I said last week, it’s time to redress the balance. Football is the income of the future: touring is the income of now – and it’s now I have to deal with. I’m damned lucky to be able to have a lucrative “day job”. It would serve me well to keep that in mind. I intend to. BFN

Sunday 21 October, 2007

I’m happy to let you guys in on the plan, because it’s time I had a plan – and this, simply, is it:

Two years back in the music business to rectify my ailing financial situation and then sell my property in Scotland – and off I go in search of sunnier climes! You heard it here first!

Either that or I’m off to North America to rent a motor-home for a year and hopefully visit every one of the States. Ever since the children and I embarked upon our first motor-home vacation in 2001, I’ve been smitten by the bug. It’s just the greatest sense of mobile freedom that I’ve ever experienced – and one day, I very much look forward to experiencing it again. Not sure if the children will venture out with me on the next trip – but you never know.

I have loved – and still love – my involvement in football, however it’s time to stop spending money and start making money. Maybe the football is something that will eventually yield my “pension” and therefore (and, boy, I should have realised this a long, long, time ago), for the foreseeable future, I really need to stick to what I know best – namely, the music business.

With both of my children now at university (Bradley for one more year; Jade just starting a three year course) I have to remember my responsibilities and act accordingly. So, the plan.

As one gets older one realises that one has less time to rectify mistakes, therefore it follows that I need to invoke “the plan” most carefully – and when I’m in the right frame of mind. That latter part is most important and at this juncture I’m reminded of what a wise man once said: “You rarely choose what you do next – you only react against the last”. Wisdom, indeed.

I shouldn’t have ducked out of the touring business for such an extended period, however I’m on my way back in, confident that once my face is “back in the frame”, the work will once again flow consistently – then anything I make from the football project will just become a bonus. It then may be that I can attempt to schedule my touring work so that it does not conflict with when the transfer windows are open. Much easier said than done.

On the job front, I do believe progress is being made, however I once again apologise that I can’t say too much about the Artist involved, until things get underway – I’m sure you’ll understand when I finally explain the circumstances. Some days I wonder where my life is really going – and if I actually have any chance of exercising any control over the outcome.

At least my Moroccan player, Mehdi Taouil, is now signed to the Scottish Premier Division club, Kilmarnock FC, until the next transfer window opens again, in January of 2008. I have great hopes for him and I’m convinced that once he has a “few games under his belt” we may see great things from him. Kilmarnock actually received his clearance papers on Friday afternoon, from the Scottish Football Association, thereby allowing him to take part (albeit for only six minutes!) in Kilmarnock’s game against Falkirk. I’m continually told that it only takes one good player to turn one’s agency business around. Will Mehdi (or Thierry Gathuessi at Hibernian) be the one? God knows, I’ve waited long enough. Surely I’m deserving of it? BFN.

Sunday 14 October, 2007

As is often precipitated by a weird and unexplainable conflict of circumstances (deep, huh?) I found myself pondering this week as to what it’s really all about – life that is.

I realise now that – while my football project has been most rewarding over the past 12+ years - I definitely need to pay more attention to my music business interests. I am well established in the concert touring business and (I believe) have a decent reputation for the ability to effectively manage complex touring projects. So, why don’t I stick to it? After all, it is what I know best.

Ironically, while I quietly suspect that I have found my niche in the football business (developing young, talented, French players for the UK market), I have reached the point where I have invested too much money in the process. If I were able to ideally manage my time on an annual basis then it would go something like this: December and January based in the UK (to cover the mid-season transfer window); February, time-off; March through June on the road; July and August back in the UK (for the pre-season transfer window) and then September through November back out on the road. Well, that’s what I’m working on.

I’ve devoted almost the last year to my football project and have honestly found it hard going. Everyone in football continues to struggle to understand why I would choose football over the “glamour” of concert touring – believe me, there’s days I ask myself the same questio

As for the touring project that I may undertake in the near future (and which I made mention of last week), I’m still waiting to hear from the people involved. However, being that said project does not seriously get underway until the latter end of this year, then – even if my involvement is confirmed – I may have to keep it “under wraps” for a few weeks yet. You know, even though the football project consumes me at times, I still thoroughly enjoy my concert touring work. I continually remind myself how fortunate I am to have one and a half passions.

Typically jumping back and forth between subjects on these pages, let me just briefly mention that my young Moroccan player, Mehdi Taouil, who is currently training with the Premier League team, Kilmarnock, is proving to be a very skilful player. The manager at Kilmarnock, Mr Jim Jefferies, is a shrewd and careful operator, however I suspect he is so far suitably impressed by what he has seen of the player and I’m therefore hopeful that there may be some business to be done at the club – particularly as there are several first team players currently on the injury list.

Following a break in the domestic football calendar yesterday (to allow for the playing of international games) I can look forward next week to the resumption of the Scottish Premier League – maybe even with a new player signed to Kilmarnock! As Mr Sandy Stewart (assistant manager at the Scottish First Division club, St Johnstone) told me many moons ago, “football is a day to day business” – and how right he was! I just hope I’ve not allowed myself to become too engrossed in the football side of things. However, if I do happen to discover the next Ronaldo tomorrow, my whole outlook will definitely change! Until next week, dear friends …

Sunday 7 October, 2007

Not to make my overseas readers envious or anything (and – let’s face it – if you were from California, why would you be?) but we “tea-bags” here in the UK have enjoyed some decent weather this past week. October rarely graces us with such clear blue skies.

Ah, California. You know I’m convinced that I resided there – or thereabouts – in a past life, so comfortable am I with the lifestyle over there. Now, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m certainly not a “lie and fry” type of guy: it’s just being able to go out everyday without a coat or heavy jacket on, or just the pleasure of eating outside at ten o’clock in the evening. Boy, I miss that.

Within five years I definitely plan to be living abroad, at least for six to eight months of the year. Right now there’s the small matter of getting my head down to some serious work in the music business, in an effort to redress the balance of my overspending on the football project.

On that note, I spent late Friday afternoon past visiting several key, music-business, contacts in London, one of such meetings definitely pointing towards the possibility of some substantial touring work, from December onwards. Once again, I have to apologise that I cannot divulge any details of what this may involve, until such time as the work is confirmed. Right now, I would say there’s a fair chance that the project may come to fruition for me, which would mean at least a five to six month involvement with the Artiste in question. There would also be extensive travel involved with this particular project – which won’t do my air miles any harm. The project is the type of all-consuming tour that I need to throw myself into at the moment, particularly as the transfer window is now firmly shut – and will not now re-open until the 1st January 2008. However, if this project happens, there will be no football for me in January!

Much as I have a passion for the player-representation side of my business, I am but one person - which makes it extremely difficult to compete on any realistic commercial level with “the big boys”. I continue to believe that – because I have acted with decency and honesty over the last twelve years I’ve spent in football – reasonably good fortune will find it’s way to me at some point. However, not everyone enjoys the realization of their dreams – and this chilling fact has to be confronted for those of us with occasional ideas way above our station.

While I have yet to change the world of football, I’ve had a great time trying to do so. However, I should have realized a long time ago that one should really look to stick to what one does best and resist the belief that – just because one can boast considerable success in a given field of endeavor – one then has the ability to turn their hand successfully to whatever vocation takes their fancy. If you ever feel similarly intended, please call me first for advice!

As far as the above mentioned work goes, I should be able to confirm if it looks like a “goer”, by this time next week: however – and apologies again to my loyal (suffering?) readers – I doubt I would be in a position to name names, for a little while after that, as the main body of the work does not require my day-to-day involvement for a good few weeks yet. I’ll say it again: I’m lucky to have another line of work that enables me to re-balance my books, in terms of my over-expenditure on the football side of things. I’ll know better in the next life!? BFN.


Sunday 30 September, 2007

There I was – for a couple of weeks anyway - doing impressively well with my weekly diary entries and managing to actually write them on the Sunday to which each one pertained.

However, as my regular readers (regular? Am I kidding myself maybe?) have no doubt suspected, over the last couple of weeks, I’m slipping back to my old, delinquent, ways. Let’s just say that, as I sit here hastily catching up, today is certainly not a Sunday!

So, what news? Not a whole lot honestly, on the touring front anyway. I may have mentioned, earlier this month that September tends to be a fairly quiet period, as the touring calendar absorbs the “fallout” from the summer festival schedule. I’ve had a couple of tentative offers for decent-sized tours, in the early part of next year – however, I’ve got little choice but to hold off for the moment just in case I commit to something three months down the line, only to find out that it clashes, big time, with work that I may be offered in the next few weeks. It’s a risky approach, I know, but my gut feeling tells me there is a suitable project lurking just somewhere around the corner.

I recall my son telling me (many years back, when one of his foreign school trips happened to geographically coincide with a couple of Deep Purple dates I was doing in Germany) that an optimist lives 15% longer, on average, than a pessimist. I don’t think I ever got round to asking him, from where he extricated that pearl of wisdom: however, I suspect, there must be some basis of truth in such a claim. Hey, if it’s any testimony to the above, I’m still here - albeit having experienced more than a few “dark days” over the last couple of years.

The fact of the matter is that I’ve really exhausted most of the funds which were laid aside for investment in the football project and therefore the time has definitely come to duck back into the music business for a while – and make good my (hopefully) temporary loss. Thankfully – and I know I’ve touched upon this before – I’m well paid for the type of work that I do in the music business, therefore it doesn’t (shouldn’t!) take long to hoist myself back on to an even keel, financially speaking. I shouldn’t really be complaining about having no luck.

Of course, this is my first year with both children at University at the same time so that will be a further drain on family resources. How did my daughter gently put it to me a few months back, when making a case for additional University funding? “Listen”, she intoned, “it’s like this – do you want to be housed in a decent nursing home or a very average one?” Quite, Jade.

Anyway, onwards and upwards as we look to the upcoming week and wonder what (possibly) lies in wait on the touring front. What’s happening in the world of football? Well, yesterday for the first time in a long time - I attended a Scottish Premier League game in which I had a player featuring for both sides, namely Hibernian versus Kilmarnock (namely, Thierry Gathuessi and Aime Koudou). Unfortunately for Kilmarnock, Hibernian were convincing winners.

Thank you for being (enduring) with me once again, as I strive to document my days and my ways. I’m sure one day I’ll read back through the archived entries and marvel at my ramblings.

Sunday 23 September, 2007

It was the end of an era, indeed, as of yesterday: my daughter’s now left the house as well - in Jade’s case, she starts her introductory week at Strathclyde University tomorrow, 24th.

Strange feeling indeed. Her mother, Stella, chose to say “goodbye” here in Edinburgh, unsure as to her (Stella’s!) emotional state if she had traveled through to the campus in Glasgow, where Jade will be housed for the next year. Anyway, upon arrival, Jade has discovered that there are still one or two items she requires for her room - which means Stella will be making her way over there sometime today. Without traffic, it’s only a 55 minute journey.

As we were unloading the car yesterday, I happened to remark to Jade (based upon the fact that her room is located on the first floor, accessed from the far end of the downstairs corridor) that “I’m glad I don’t have to do this too often”. Jade’s reply was that I would be back there a year later, assisting her to switch accommodation, probably back off campus.

It was then that it struck me. Do you ever experience those melancholy moments – particularly during a “transient” period of your life, where you wonder just quite where you’ll be, exactly a year hence? I’ve often hankered for someone to allow me a momentary glance at (say) three snapshots of me, taken over a three-day period, one year in the future. Would you see yourself in a situation or situations that would prove difficult to fathom?

Well, in this particular instance, I reminded Jade that we must recall our brief, poignant, conversation twelve months down the line and see exactly what the outcome is – and whether we could possibly have imagined myself to be in that situation: will I be in a “better place” personally? I would certainly hope so. I might even not be here at all in this fragile life!

Yes, I’ve had that “one year” thought (I know I have) on several previous occasions, but then it always slips my mind as to the actual date and place of the original thought: this time I have a time and a place – and a daughter – to anchor it to. So, we shall see what we shall see.

On the work front, I’ve made the usual round of calls to my tried and trusted contacts within the concert touring business and therefore – complacent as it might seem – there’s not really much else I can do. While this touring business of mine is definitely on a “feast or famine” basis, something always comes in - it’s just that sometimes it takes a little longer to do so than other times. The answer is to make efficient use of one’s time during the “wait”.

On the football front, I witnessed a rather entertaining game of football this afternoon when Hibernian managed to scrape a 3-2 result against Celtic here in Edinburgh. The Celtic goalkeeper will want to erase this day from his memory as he made two “howlers” which – on both occasions – resulted in a goal for Hibernian. However, even more pleasing for me, was the fact that the other goal was scored by our Cameroonian player, Thierry Gathuessi. Great!

So, let’s see what the upcoming week will throw at us and which twist of fortune may determine what I’m up to over the next few months. Yes, it’s risky, but I love it. See y’all.

Sunday 16 September, 2007

How y’all doin’? Although, I’m not quite sure how many “y’all” actually comprises nowadays!

As I mentioned in last week’s entry, I spent the first two days of this past week down in London, working on two “showcase” type performances by “James”, at the Hoxton Bar & Grill, near Shoreditch – essentially to preview the new material that they intend to record in the near future. You may recall that the band played a small “warm-up show” at the same venue, back in late June of this year, prior to embarking on the outdoor festival tour. The capacity is only two hundred and fifty; therefore it makes for a most intimate experience!

I chose to stay again this time at a very friendly “bed and breakfast” establishment in Islington (and there are not too many of them in that neck of the woods) called The Kandara, run by Avril and her husband: if you’re ever in need of budget accommodation in that part of London, then I would highly recommend it. Why pay crazy London hotel prices?

Both shows went down very well and there is little doubt that this band has the ability to compose some very melodic tunes. Two or three numbers from the 13/14 songs on show immediately caught my ear and I’ll be most interested to hear the finished studio versions of those particular songs, when the new album is completed. Of course there’s always a chance that – with such a variety (and diversity) of songs to choose from - that a few of Monday and Tuesday night’s set-list may not make the “final cut”. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I traveled back up to Scotland on Wednesday, by train, and in time to witness (on satellite television, anyway) one of the greatest victories ever for the Scotland’s national team, when we scraped a 1-0 victory against France, a team who made it to last year’s world cup finals – and we achieved said victory “away” in France - and what a goal to win a game with, when James McFadden unleashed a left-footed screamer from all of 35 yards, which flew into the corner of the net. Paris would have been a great place to be on Wednesday night (provided you weren’t a French football supporter, of course): and the next ones, right this way please.

I actually found myself headed back down south on Friday afternoon, en-route to London for a Saturday midday meeting - with a couple of well-connected guys - in respect of my football project: I’ve actually been throwing several ideas around with these two particular gentlemen (off and on) for a couple of years now, however they have been heavily involved in their own entertainment-related projects and have only recently found their respective schedules easing up to the point that they are looking for a fresh and challenging venture. Not sure if – and when – we may be able to progress things but I was enthused and encouraged by their collective insight and understanding, relating to my ideas.

So, here I am back in the house on Sunday evening, preparing to push on with the touring side of my business as of tomorrow morning, and see what awaits me work-wise. I have several people on my list to speak with tomorrow, to follow up various possibilities, and therefore I’m sure I’ll be “off and running” again before I know it. One never knows just what is just round the corner, in this business. Thanks for being here with me. I know I’m not alone. BFN.

Sunday 9 September, 2007

I’m reminded today of something Joe Cocker once said, on his live “Mad Dogs and Englishman” album, as he introduced one of the tracks - namely “Strange feeling tonight”.

For me, it’s more like “Strange feeling this past week”. Of course, I can’t quite put my finger on what has heralded this state of mind: initially, I suspect, there’s some connection to the closing of the “transfer window” (31st August) in the footballing calendar, which effectively means my agency business gently grinds to a halt – in the earnings sense anyway.

Hopefully, in the future (when I no longer have to rely on my music business income to shore up my footballing activities) I can utilize the intervening months to continue to develop the football side of the business: there is much one could do in this respect, even just to be in the favourable position to travel around to market oneself.

One day, one day …… (I’m reminded now of the film “Holland’s Opus” – check it out).

I most certainly need to find some time to “sit off” the football project, analyse the direction I’ve been pursuing and look to fine-tune that direction in the future. As I don’t look to represent “local” players on an annual basis (I just could not claim to fairly represent such individuals, when I’m half-way across the world for extended periods of time) I must therefore continue to broker foreign-player deals, in conjunction with my European contacts, mainly in France and Scandinavia. Down through the years, I’ve always strived to conduct my business in a most professional manner and I remain hopeful that some past connection will yield an “undiscovered” player of distinction, on which to found the business going forward. I can’t keep running around the world for the next ten years: that’s for sure.

On the “touring” front, I’m off down to London first thing in the morning to oversee a couple of small “James” showcases where they will preview some of the new material they have been working on, in a live format, at the Hoxton Bar & Grill, in London’s east side. It will be good to hook up with the guys once again, while I will take the opportunity – during the day on Tuesday most likely – to meet up with some of my trusted contacts in London. Having narrowly missed out on that massive project which I made mention of last week (and I will “name names” at some point in the future, but I’m afraid it’s still too early to do so, as yet) I’m now on the lookout for something that will see me through the end of the year.

There is no doubt that the touring business is something of a “feast or famine” existence, however – even at that – it has sustained me through the last thirty plus years, so I’m sure it will see me right for a few more yet. Am I due a little luck? That may be somewhat presumptuous of me to believe so, as (really) I know I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of luck in my life so far: yes, I’ve worked extremely hard, however if I had stuck to what I know, then I would certainly own, outright, the house in which I now sit. Hell, what’s gone is gone. You know passion can be both invigorating and destructive: be careful you do not become so engrossed in your passion that you are beyond objective reasoning – and, yes, I know all about that. Onwards, upwards, sideways, down: I’ll find my true direction soon. See ya folks.

Sunday 2 September, 2007

Today is the day that I make an actual stab at ascertaining my true financial position.

My passion and/or love affair with my football project has, to date, a big price tag hanging over it: sure, after almost thirteen years in the business, I have (what I believe to be) an excellent reputation and a myriad of trustworthy and mutually respectful contacts – however, if the truth be known, I also have some hefty credit card balances as well.

Thankfully, the lion’s share of my earnings comes from my continued involvement with the music business. So the way it goes is this: run out on the road for a few months and make good money from a touring project – and then come back to Scotland and finance myself for the next six months, in the hope of progressing my football interests. To date, this approach has existed (again if I’m honest with myself) on a “two steps forward, three steps back” basis. We need to take at least another step forward each time.

This football agency business continues to be highly competitive and while the “recently” introduced transfer-window system may (in the eyes of FIFA, anyway) have settled some of the disruption to clubs’ long-term planning, it has only allowed the game to become even more corrupt – certainly in a moral sense, if not in a financial one. Believe me. Believe me.

This week, I am of a mind to write a piece for the sports section of one of the major UK broadsheets (as I have been approached to do in the past) and just lay bare the whole sorry mess – and a fine mess it is. You think the Stevens report has eradicated – in the main – the thick seam of corruption running through the game? Think again. The perpetrators, admittedly, kept their heads down during the recent flurry of investigative activity but with the heat now off to some degree, they are hesitantly peeking over the parapet again.

You know what hurts the most? What hurts the most (and this surely emanates from over thirty years of a fairly close involvement with client management in the entertainment business) is that the business world generally sees today’s modern professional footballer as a seriously easy touch – sometimes nothing less than a cruising commission vehicle.

Professional football in the UK is riddled with what I term the “circle the wagons” mentality: everyone who makes their living from this industry is in little doubt that all is not well at the heart of our once-beautiful game, but a blind eye is conveniently turned towards proceedings because – let’s face it – you just don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I have been a supporter of Heart of Midlothian (“Hearts”) for as long as I can remember and while Craig Gordon was an excellent goalkeeper and – by all accounts – a decent lad, what madness decrees that one football club pays (allegedly) nine million pounds just to have him play for their team (never mind a weekly salary in excess of £30,000 - therefore)? What other business – with budgets to adhere to – would make such an “investment”?

You see what happens when you get me started? Still, if nothing else, I’m back up to speed with my diary entries: let the record show that it’s 12.11 pm on Sunday 2nd. Yes, I feel good!


Sunday 26 August, 2007

I believe I may have touched – in last week’s diary entry - upon a job opportunity that came my way (music business wise) in the middle of last week. Well, unfortunately I missed it. It was certainly one of the biggest touring projects in the world, between now and the end of this year – and continuing into the beginning of next year.

However, being a fairly controversial project (and discretion being everything in my business – as I have made mention of before) I feel it would be inappropriate of me to divulge the details of the offer, just yet. To be honest, considering that for certain periods of the last year I have tended to concentrate solely on the football side of my business, I should probably be flattered that I was even approached in the first place – and then finding myself on short list of only two, to be considered for the position. While the guy who has landed the job ahead of me is a good lad (and highly experienced, into the bargain) I’m convinced I would have excelled in the position.

So, let’s have the next job opportunity right this way please! In phoning around most of my trusted music business contacts, I’m reliably informed that September looks fairly quiet, with things picking up again, from October onwards. This is quite common, on the annual touring calendar, with the summer festival season slowing down markedly and many acts/artistes taking a break, following lengthy touring schedules (the festivals being the icing on the cake, income wise).

With all my “James” accounting complete and now submitted to the band’s business management office (as of Friday past), I’ve spent the last two days giving my office a serious tidy. Work will come – it always does (he claims confidently) – and, until such time, the trick is to use one’s available time effectively: there are always things that can be done.

This may be the time in my life where I consider attacking the mountain of archived paperwork I’ve accumulated, mainly from a variety of touring projects over the last thirty-plus years.

While it is all neatly filed in a plethora of cardboard archive file boxes, there is undoubtedly a substantial portion of it that is now worthless: either as a result of the data being backed up onto my laptop – or purely because much of the information is simply way out of date. Sure, anything of a sentimental nature can be retained, however that can only represent about 20-25% of what lurks against the back wall of the garage. I’ve been contemplating such a clear-out for quite a while now and something in my water tells me the time is right to make a start to the job.

On the football front, not a whole lot to report. The “transfer window” closes firmly shut next Friday, 31st August, at twelve midnight - although this is mainly in relation to contracted players. For my part, I’m going to continue to root out “free agent” players and then bide my time (a good Scottish phrase that) until the window is closed – in the hope that certain of the clubs have been unable to secure the players they would have ideally liked to sign. Such an approach is not without its risks, however what was it the man once said? “He who risks nothing, risks everything”.

Is another chapter of my helter-skelter life about to unfold? You guys will be the first to know. We have to be careful to believe that we are due an unexpected turn of luck. Until next week …

Sunday 19 August, 2007

Good evening from the tour bus, en-route back to Manchester after this evening’s “V” festival at Chelmsford, having played the “sister” festival in Stafford, last night, Saturday.

Sadly, that was my last two “James” shows for the foreseeable future: I believe the lads may now be heading into the studio to record some new songs – a couple of which were “road tested” on this tour (and to good effect). For my part, there are always the loose ends to tidy up, mainly in respect of the accounting: this should take no more than a few days, the trick being to take a breath and quietly reflect upon the financial comings and goings of the last eight weeks, to ensure that no substantial item of expense has been overlooked.

One of the drawbacks with festival shows (in comparison to, say, an arena tour) is the lack of consistency, in respect of daily production facilities. On a regular arena tour – or even, if one is able to boast of such a situation, one’s “own” stadium tour – you can be sure of having dedicated production facilities at the show each day, complete with your own production flight cases and with phone, fax and internet access. Not so on the festival circuit I’m afraid where, with anything up to fifty acts on the one festival (typically spread over four or five stages) dressing room allocation is limited. Very often, in fact – particularly if one’s Artiste is somewhere near the middle to lower half of the bill – only a certain amount of time is available to use the allotted dressing room (Portakabin!) space: said space may then have to be vacated maybe one hour after the Artiste’s set is finished.

Point being that: if the “dressings rooms” are sometimes in short supply, then production office facilities can be even scarcer. Nowadays, most bona-fide festival promoters will allocate one Portakabin as a “shared production” facility: usually with a couple of phone lines and wireless internet access. However, on any given festival day, there could be as many as ten to twelve Artistes’ Production and Tour Managers making use of such a facility therefore – quite apart from being unable to “hog” the space for extended periods of time – it’s not all that secure. Keep in mind that this production facility is generally located within the immediate “dressing room village” – which can become a substantially busy area as the evening wears on – so it’s really not advisable to leave your laptop sitting there “exposed” while you run off (say) to procure more red wine for your Artiste’s dressing room.

What’s the point of this long-winded explanation, I may hear you enquire? Indeed, just to reinforce my earlier observation that festival shows are not the ideal touring environments to enable one to fully concentrate on such matters as tour accounting – or to accomplish any really meaningful organisational tasks: but, hey, the profit margin generally makes up for that, being that it’s very much a “turn up and play” situation (i.e. the Artiste does not incur the usual arena touring expense of hauling their own sound and lighting systems from venue to venue).

Well, here we are: time to look around for my next project. I may have some more interesting news about this next week although – the nature of my business being what it is – I’m not sure how much detail I will be in a position to divulge. For now, I’m off (to attempt) to balance my books: it’s never a bad thing to know where one stands financially. Does one ever know?! BFN.

Sunday 5 August, 2007

Greetings from the south west of Portugal: Zambujeira du Mar, to be precise – which. Today. is the site of the “Sudoeste” festival.

It’s early in the day (just after 1.00 pm) however – mainly because the festival site is over a two hour ride from the Lisbon Sheraton – I decided to travel down here today with the crew, leaving my son back at the hotel, to bring the band down later on, closer to show-time.

In keeping with most walks of business life, it’s the attention to detail that makes all the difference: in this case, the festival organisers have taken the trouble to allocate me a small production office, which – apart from enabling me to escape the stifling heat – also has internet wireless hooked up! Maybe I can even catch up on my accounting today. Maybe.

As we’re not scheduled to take the stage until 11.45 pm this evening (and then to play an hour and a half set) the chances are that we won’t make it back to the hotel in Lisbon much before 4.30 a.m. tomorrow morning – and I’m on an 11.05 flight in the morning. Glamorous lifestyle? Mmm….

I’m told the band are very popular in this part of the world, even allowing for the fact that – as with many of the “territories” on this tour, it their first time back in the market for over six years. Part (a major part, surely) on their enduring attraction must be down to the quality of their material down through the years: I’ve only had a quick glance at some of their videos from the last twenty years, however they too seem to be of an excellent creative standard. Jim Glennie – the bands’ bass player – informs me that there has been at least one book written, charting the history of the band, although up until which point I’m not sure. Having spent the last couple of months around the lads, I would certainly be interested to delve into the history of the band – so I might just check out the availability of said publication and enlighten myself further.

Well, once tonight’s show is over, we’re down to the last four shows of the “tour”, all within the UK. Next week we play our only indoor show of the run, at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange – a matter of only four miles from where I live: I’m actually pondering now if that may be the shortest distance I’ve ever had to travel between my home and any venue I have played, in the last thirty years. This might just be the one. When I lived in California (Woodland Hills to be exact) I know I was involved with a show at “The Whiskey” on Sunset, with the band “Alcatrazz”, although – thinking back - I’m sure that was a good fifteen miles from where I was staying at the time.

I suppose I had better push on and find some other work, from the beginning of September onwards, or thereabouts. While we have made some great strides in the last twelve months with our football business, we are certainly not in a position to shelve the music business work. So, onwards and upwards. Something always comes in – mark my words.

So, with the band not arriving here, on site, for at least another five/six hours, I’m going to push on with the tour accounting and try to balance my books. One has to be careful not to let the accounts slip too far behind, as it’s very easy to fail to recall every single item of expense, especially when – for whatever reason – there was no receipt available. I’m counting on me. BFN.


Sunday 29 July, 2007

Well, I can have no complaints regarding lack of time to complete this week’s entry: I’m sat here in Riga airport, waiting to board a 10.20 pm flight back to Prestwick Airport in Scotland, following James’s appearance last night, at the Positivus Festival, 90 kilometers north of Riga.

This was a “first” for the festival organizers, with the Stereophonics being the other band of note on the bill. Personally, I hope the promoter sticks with it as they have obviously put a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) into the production and marketing of their first event.

We were extremely well looked after and I detected a genuine concern – from all members of the local production staff – to all give it their best shot, in the hope that word will filter back to the industry’s “mover and shaker” agents that the event is worthy of consideration for some of their other acts, when the festival rolls around again, next year.

My son (who accompanied me on this trip, as Zeb’s availability clashed with dates on the Brian Ferry tour) and I spent most of the day wandering around the city of Riga, mainly working our way through the narrow streets of the “Old Town” section. This was not my first time in Riga: I was here with “Deep Purple” in 2003, off the back of an eight-day Russian tour: however, on that occasion, we were “back-to-back” with a show the next day in Vilnus in Lithuania which dictated (as is the rule rather than the exception with worldwide touring) that we saw little of Riga on that occasion.

The flight to Riga was very convenient for my son and myself, leaving Prestwick on late Friday afternoon and returning this evening and myself. Too convenient, I suspect, also for a bunch of Scottish lads to enable them to have spent the weekend here. These lads were in such exuberant mood when they boarded the flight that the announcement by the flight crew (that, due to an “unforeseen technical hitch” there would be no trolley service on the flight) came as no surprise.

Being that the city is wide awake, nightlife wise, until the wee small hours of the morning, arriving at 10.15 pm on a Friday evening in no way hinders a bunch of lads intend on ripping it up for hours on end. They would have then had Saturday to recover, more of the same on Saturday night and then a lazy day, today, before boarding tonight’s 10.20 flight back to Prestwick.

On the football front, I have a couple of young French lads in with the club Partick Thistle at the moment although I suspect that the manager, Ian McCall, may not have the time – particularly as I believe the club will not be running a “reserve” side this season – that these lads need to acclimatise and to adapt to the style of football here. I should know the outcome tomorrow.

I don’t have to leave town again until next Saturday, en-route to Portugal’s “Sudoeste” festival for a show a week today. This leaves me a clear six days to re-assert the whole football project and attempt to construct a template for the future for the most efficient approach for marketing the cream of the foreign players that we are recommended. I have to believe that, provided we do not heedlessly repeat the majority of our mistakes from the past, somewhere down the line we might actually make a living from the football project. Am I dreaming? Mmm...

Sunday 22 July, 2007

Today (meant to be Sunday 22nd July, when this edition of the diary should have been penned) I have to come clean: I’m almost three weeks late in logging this particular entry.

Where does all the time go? I honestly wish I knew. Typically, I am trying to juggle my touring interests with my football interests: the touring, to pay the bills for the next few years – the football, to hopefully provide some form of “pension”, for the years beyond that.

This week, I may have gone part of the way to ensuring something of the latter, by overseeing the signing of our player, Thierry Gathuessi, to the Scottish Premier League club, Hibernian. As mentioned last week, the deal took a few days to close but – while I have my own views on the way certain aspects of the proceedings unfolded – for the time being, you’ll just have to be content to read the facts of the case in my autobiography (not even started yet, but probably heading for two volumes, at this rate).

You know the main thing, which certain of my “fellow” agents would do well to heed? The player is blissfully happy – and, for the time being anyway, that’s all that matters. One is never too old to learn – and I’ve certainly realised a few home truths over the last week. The trick is to put those lessons to good (and, let’s face it, profitable) use when we – hopefully soon – find ourselves in the same, or fairly similar, situation.

On the touring front, James enjoyed a particularly successful show, on Wednesday past (18th) at the “Fly Beeyond” festival in Athens: there is little doubt in my mind that this band could certainly benefit from further touring work in Greece.

Isn’t it strange how certain countries take to certain acts? In the case of James, and these recent festival shows over the last six/seven weeks, they have been particularly well received in the likes of Turkey and Greece (there must be some sort of undercurrent of connectivity with these two countries, keeping in mind their geographical proximity). Busy as we are on these festival shows, I intend to ask Tim Booth or Larry Gott – two of the founder members of the band – just how this may have come about. Did the band enjoy particular “chart” success in those two, afore-mentioned, countries? Is there something within the lyrical or melodic style of many of the band’s better-known compositions, that strikes a cultural chord (hard to believe, as their songs are so – refreshingly – varied)? Are the band – and particularly Tim, as the front man, conveying some ethereal message through their music that is compatible with the Greek psyche?

Alternatively, have I any idea what I’m rambling on about?

The “Fly Beeyond” festival was staged in the shadow of Athens’s recently constructed Olympic stadium, a building that teetered on the edge of completion, for a good few months. I have to say that – having worked in that part of the world on several occasions, I harboured serious doubts over the nation’s ability to be ready to stage the Olympics in time – but they did it!

Next week it’s Latvia, to where I shall fly directly, from Glasgow’s Prestwick airport. Result! BFN

Sunday 15 July, 2007


Today, I correspond to you from Barcelona: definitely one of my favorite European cities, from where – later this afternoon – I am “forced” to return to the UK. I had hoped to spend the intervening days here between yesterday’s “Summercase 07” festival, alongside Barcelona’s waterfront, and the next date in Athens (the “Fly Beeyond” festival) on Tuesday, 17th July.

However, I have little choice but to go back to the UK, as I need to keep a close eye on one of my French players, Thierry Gathuessi, who is currently being courted by the Scottish Premier Division club, Hibernian. In fact, “pursued” might be a better word than “courted” as they appear to be very intent on adding him to the French contingent, already at the club.

Ah, the murky waters of football: the majority of the clubs accept that player representatives (“agents” as we are more commonly known – although I personally dislike the use of that term) are now part of the fabric of professional football. However, there are still those who see us as the “boil” on the backside of football. Then there are others that obviously perceive us as a bank, rather than a client-management operation. If some of our clients (many of whom we have nurtured and developed over a considerable period of time) are now in a position to generate some income, within the foreseeable short term, then we should be allowed to share in that.

Therefore, without launching into any blow-by-blow account of the shenanigans of the last few days (I’ll treat you to that in my autobiography), suffice to say that I’ve been left no choice but to “remove my gloves” in respect of Thierry’s situation. Provided everything is fixed out, over the next few days – as I’m hoping it will be – then the considerable hassle will have been worth it.

Maybe it’s because I’m one of the lesser known agents, that there is a tendency to attempt to “pull the wool over my eyes”: if those that wish to follow that line of reasoning are assuming I’m something of a lightweight, then let them underestimate me. Bring it on. I do not rely on my football interests to survive - and I will not be compromised in representing the best interests of my clients. Right, that’s me – I’ve said my bit.

On the “James” front, we have enjoyed two successful shows in Madrid and Barcelona this week and I’m just disappointed that I could not have spent the intervening days – prior to next Wednesday’s show in Athens – here in Barcelona. Nowadays, thankfully, there are “internet” airlines that travel between most major cities (I’ve been on quite a few of them on this tour!) so when I find the time to go back to Barcelona for a few days, it should not prove too costly, provided I book ahead of time.

These past couple of days I have had the luxury of an Assistant Tour Manager, in the form of the charming Ms “Zeb” Minto, a Tour Manager in her own right with the likes of the Stereophonics: and what a breath of fresh air it has been. Unfortunately Zeb has other commitments over the next few weeks and cannot be available for all of the remaining dates. So, I’m back on my “ownsome” for the Latvia and Portugal shows. Not to worry. See ya’ll next week.

Sunday 8 July, 2007

Did I ever make mention of the “Kinks” song “Where have all the good times gone”?

There’s a few lines that go something like:

“Once I had an easy life and always felt the same,

Time was on my side and I had everything to gain,

Wondering what I did wrong …

Will this depression last too long?”

Over this past week, I’ve had cause – as I occasionally do (and of late, on a more regular basis) – to ponder if my involvement with football will actually, as I’m often heard to claim, provide me with some sort of “pensionable” income? Upon my return from Istanbul last week, I arranged to bring a squad of young players over to Scotland, to play in two friendly games, with the aim of placing some of them with Scottish (full time) First and Second Division sides.

While the first of the two games (versus Falkirk’s reserve side) ended in a 3-1 victory for my guys, the second of the two games was less encouraging: a 7-1 “drubbing”, at the hands of a strong Dundee side – and in less than ideal conditions. However, some would say, such inclement weather conditions are more likely to be the “rule, rather than the exception” – so these “trialist” players just have to get on with it and try to show what they can do, in the little time they have. I just wish some of those clubs would give these lads a few weeks to acclimatise, as I’m convinced there are a few lads there who would settle in to the UK system with relative ease.

Out of a total squad of fourteen players, I firmly believe that at least four of those lads could play regularly at First Division level, were they to be given a little time to integrate themselves.

I continue to believe that this idea of mine – to bring the players to the coaches (because it’s almost impossible to do it the other way round, when the players in question are “unknowns”) is financially viable in the long term: however, I need to face up to the fact that there’s a far greater chance of success if I apply the idea to the English market. That’s the next plan.

This weekend past we played the now infamous “T in the Park” festival on Saturday and the “Oxegen” festival at Punchestown racecourse, this evening. On Friday night, prior to the T in the Park show, we played a small, “intimate” set at the delightful “Oran Mor” venue in Glasgow: a converted church building on the corner of Glasgow’s Great Western and Byres Roads. While these smaller venues are, respectfully, a severe test of patience for the technical crew, as they attempt to fit all the band’s equipment onto a frighteningly small stage – but they managed it.

Actually, I started this week’s diary entry on the way back from tonight’s show, as Punchestown is a good hour’s drive from the centre of Dublin. However, I would be misleading you entirely if I were to claim that this was finished on the same night. Anyway, it’s almost finished now: at the end of what has been a strength-sapping weekend. I could see a time where I may become somewhat disenchanted with the whole festival circuit – hopefully that’s a long way off yet! BFN.

Sunday 1 July, 2007

Those of you who are (still) regular readers of this diary – and who log on to the website occasionally to update themselves as to my activities – will note that I have been seriously remiss over the last few weeks, in keeping said entries up to date.

That, of course, just gives you some idea of how manic things have been, of late. However, the first festival show – played on Friday 29th June – with “James” is now under my belt and I feel a whole lot better for it! The setting for the Istanbul show was indeed marvelous, with the stage being “perched” on an elevated position, overlooking the beach front area.

When the technical crew and myself arrived in Istanbul on the Thursday night, we decided it would be best to drop our bags and head out to the site that evening, if only to check that our air-freighted gear had arrived safe and sound (no pun intended). As a result of a two-hour delay out of Manchester airport, en-route to Istanbul, we did not reach the Istanbul hotel until after eight in the evening, after which we had to endure a seventy-five minute drive to reach the beach site (so, we were thinking, if it takes that amount of time to travel from the hotel to the site at nine ‘o clock in the evening – what’s it going to be like during the day?!).

In these outdoor festival situations, it follows that the higher up you are on the “bill”, the more control you have over the various parameters of your performance. In the case of Istanbul, James were topping the bill, therefore we were allowed as much time as was reasonably required to check and set our equipment in readiness for the band’s sound-check the next day.

With the journey back to the hotel taking just as long – and with us having to leave the hotel the next morning at 8.00 am, to enable the band to have a sound-check at 10.00 am the next morning – we missed out on a decent night’s sleep once again. This, invariably, is the life I lead.

Having arrived the night before, we were aware of a certain amount of general entertainment activity on the expanse of beach front below us: of course, in the warm light of day, all was revealed in it’s Technicolor splendour. Apart from the usual beach-side activities (pedal boats, water skiing, snorkeling etc,) there was also a wide variety of showground-type attractions spread out along the “promenade” area of the beach front, for the festival goers to partake of, before – and after – the musical entertainment available on the main stage.

The heat, of course – come the middle of the day – was stifling and, with the advent of experience on their side, the Turkish promoters had installed some fairly heavy-duty air conditioning units in the temporary tent-like dressing room structures: so I spent a good amount of time, once sound-check was complete, working away in our “cool” dressing room.

Not much sleep on Saturday night either, as the only flight we had been able to book – at the relatively short notice I had when setting up the Istanbul show – was an 8.45 am departure! Air travel nowadays is, unavoidably, a tedious rigmarole and to the man who can come up with a hassle-free alternative to be able to travel from A to B in the shortest of times – as an alternative to flying – great riches are on offer. Tonight, I will definitely sleep. Until next week...


Sunday 24 June, 2007

OK, in most cases honesty IS the best policy.

Therefore I have to admit that, as I sit here in my Islington Guest House, it’s technically Monday morning, the 25th: however, when I reflect upon how late I’ve penned previous additions of the diary, then this could be considered as something of a “result”.

Just before I delve into the goings-on of the last week, I’m proud to announce that my son, at reasonable expense to his belaboured father, has received the news, a few days ago, of his successful graduation: I somehow perceive that he is the first Duncan to achieve such a feat.

You know, to give you some idea of how time consuming this James project has been (is), I haven’t gone to bed at the same time as Beverley, in the last ten days: although, thinking about it, I did almost manage to clamber into bed before her once – last Sunday in fact – as it took her over three hours to return from the George Michael concert in Glasgow: she’s got it bad.

We’ve been in rehearsals, with “James” for two days now, and – hectic as its been (as rehearsals always are) I now have a fair grasp of what’s involved to make these upcoming festival shows happen. As I may have mentioned last week, this is about the first time in six or seven years that the band have undertaken festival shows: they all appear very enthused by the prospect.

Bradley and I traveled down to London, Friday night, on the sleeper train. Although I had looked forward for years to the prospect of making such a journey with him, can you believe that it’s only now, when he’s twenty-one, that we’ve actually got around to it! Time marches on.

I’ve always had a fondness for the sleeper: maybe it’s just the old truck driver in me that prefers the still of the night, rather than the bustle of the day (although, having said that, I seem to have ended up living my life in the “bustle of the day”). Once the train is on the move, I’ll generally wander down to the “dining” car with my newspaper, order a beer and their haggis and potatoes dish, and observe the lights of the night slipping by. Look at it this way: if you can’t finish your work – as I didn’t on Friday evening – until just after ten, then how else are you going to be in the centre of London for 0800 in the morning, without losing a good few hours sleep? You have to sleep – so why not sleep while you’re traveling (the same way as a tour bus).

Upon arrival in London, we dropped our bags over at the Islington Guest House, took the landlady’s kind offer of breakfast and then headed over to the rehearsal studio, via the band’s city hotel, where I needed to check that the front desk was prepared for their arrival later on.

Since that point, it’s just been a 48-hour flurry of activity but we’ve certainly accomplished a whole heap of work: Bradley boy has definitley earned his corn: we’re on the first floor of the studios and he’s probably been up and down those stairs about fifty times so far. Tomorrow night we play a small “warm-up” show at the Hoxton Bar & Grill in east London, so that will be my first chance to check out the band in a live format. The studios close at 11.00 pm tonight, so it would appear that I will have little choice but to enjoy a good night’s sleep! See y’all next week.

Sunday 10 June, 2007

Boy, did I get a little behind with my diary entry this past week: it might say the 10th, above, however it’s rather more into the next week as I sit here and pen this entry.

However, with good cause!

I have now taken on the Tour Management of the band “James”, who – on the back of a very successful, recent, UK tour are now on the brink of venturing out over the summer, both in the UK and Continental Europe, to undertake a string of outdoor festivals.

I met with the management company on Friday past, at their London headquarters, where they outlined the touring period on offer, as well as giving some insight into the history of the band – and most colourful it is. While I think the band will most fondly be remembered for their classic, almost-anthemic, “Sit Down” there are other tracks you would hear (as I have in the past few days), such as “She’s a Star” and “Laid”, and think, yes – I know those songs.

I’ve loaded the “Fresh as a Daisy” CD into my car’s player, to find that – apart from the tracks mentioned above – there are several other pleasantly listenable songs: similarly some very imaginative videos have been produced to market many of those tracks. I honestly don’t know when the first single on the album “Ring the Bells” was released however consider the longevity that the band can boast, it was probably released a while ago – yet seems energetically fresh.

Anyway – with respect to the lads in the band – I’ll just have to keep the music in the background, reason being I’ve got a tour to organize: first date, Istanbul on 30th of this month. Although I can see a few late nights coming up, it’s great to be back in the swing of things and I look forward to meeting the guys in pre-tour rehearsals. On the live performance front, the band are represented by the X-Ray touring agency, with whom I go as far back as 1980 when – in one of their former guises – I was associated with them when I worked with Ozzy Osbourne.

On the way back on the train from London on Friday evening my “head was buzzing” (as they would say in Scotland) with the all the information I’d crammed into it, following the meeting with the band’s management company and also their business managers (also located in London), therefore I took the opportunity to pop in and say hello: as with myself, to some degree, both companies work away, tirelessly, in the background to ensure the smooth running of the tour.

Saturday and Sunday, I just chained myself to my laptop in the office, in order to formulate a framework for the many organizational facets of my Tour Management brief. As the tour consists almost exclusively of “multiple bill” shows, we are saved the expense of trucking sound and lighting systems around with us: therefore a tour such as this does not merit a full-blown Production Manager. Nevertheless it requires me to oversee several production-orientated issues such as air-freight, musical equipment rental and technical document preparation.

A busy upcoming week awaits me, but I’m up to the challenge and although I’ve jumped onto a moving vehicle here, it won’t be long before I’m up to speed. See you back here next week. BFN.

Sunday 3 June, 2007

Evening, all. And a fine Sunday evening it is, too (if you’ll pardon the grammar).

The news this week is that I may be in the running for some touring work for the months of July and August – a string of festival dates with a very notable band (who’s career was launched in the mid-eighties) and who are currently enjoying a refreshing resurgence of interest.

As I’ve mentioned before in the diary, I can’t really “names names” until I’ve confirmed my involvement with any given tour: tomorrow (Monday 4th), I’ll be following up last Friday’s initial contact, from the management, to see how realistic my involvement might be. Cool, huh?

One heartening aspect of the touring period in question is that – for the time being at least – there is a six-day gap in the schedule that may allow me to stage the “trialist” football game that I was planning. However, it’s important that I pop down to London on Tuesday or Wednesday to clarify the situation. So, within a few days, I should know what’s what.

I’ve spent a good few hours on the phone this week, to my football contacts in both Belgium and France (thank God for discount international calling cards!) just to ascertain how easy it will be to assemble another squad of “trialist” players to make the journey to Scotland.

As the majority of the professional clubs’ personnel (both players and coaches alike) are on vacation over the next 2 – 3 weeks, it will be difficult to get any commitment on prospective dates for the games that I have in mind.

Meanwhile, I continue to believe that there are some great young – and relatively undiscovered – French players: they just need the opportunity to showcase their raw talent. With these lads, the plan is to place them with Scottish First and Second Division (full-time) clubs, for at least the upcoming season. These will be young, hungry, players who are desperate to show that they have the makings to force their way – albeit at an early stage – into the UK football market. To that end, I have great trust in my French contact, to unearth the required type of talent.

The game – provisionally planned for the third week in July – will be much along the lines of the recent game, on the 18th May, versus the Hibernian reserve side: that is, young professionals who have been “schooled” at a decent level, on the continent, and who may – for whatever reasons – have “slipped through the net”. They’re definitely out there. I’m convinced of it.

So, the plan for the next week is this: meet up with the people concerned and hopefully have a decision on the touring project. As the first date, on the tour in question, is not until 30th June, that does leave me enough time to organise and prepare for the tour – and make the basic arrangements for the “trialist” game, provided of course that I can find the clubs who will offer the opposition (and confirm the dates) that will fit into my available “window”. 24/7 here.

I’m buoyed by the fact that we pulled the last game together at ten days notice therefore, provided the clubs can commit to the available dates, there’s no reason we can’t do it again!


Sunday 27 May, 2007

Something of a reflective week, I would have to say.

Having arranged the trial game for my European trialist footballers – as detailed last week – I’m now wondering if I should – could – do it again.

Already – based upon a squad of decent players who were hurriedly assembled in under a week – there has been noted interest from several Scottish professional clubs, to a lesser or greater degree, in the majority of the players. So, now I’m thinking, given a little more time – what might I be able to accomplish? If, for example, I was given four weeks – rather than just one – could I unearth a squad of foreign players that (provided they are given a fair chance to show what they can do, to a wider footballing audience) could make it at a decent level in the UK?

Consequently, this last week, I have met up with several trusted confidantes, who operate – in varying respected roles – within the football arena.

Obviously, while I have an excellent contact network here in Scotland, the ultimate aim is to give the players the opportunity to ply their trade “south of the border”, in England.

The dilemma here is palpable: there’s enough time available to arrange a second (possibly even a third!) game, however I’d have to dedicate the next six weeks to the related logistics. Could I arrange said games, if I was out on the road at the same time? One argument definitely says that, while I’m awaiting the offer of appropriate touring work, I might as well make some initial enquiries as to which other (English?) clubs may be interested to provide the opposition for a similar type of game, as part of their pre-season build up – prior to the start of the new season.

Of course, the weight of trusted opinion that I have received this past week leans towards advising (once again) that I stick to what I do best. So, I need to take some time on this one.

I often (even more so lately) reflect that, based on the time and money I’ve invested on my football project that – surely – I’m due a little slice of luck. I do believe that my steep learning curve is finally starting to straighten itself out at last: therefore I may just have to hang in a little longer until things start to come good for me. Is that how every entrepreneur sees it?

There are days when I believe I’m so close to achieving my vision and, equally of course, there are other days when I sense I may be at the North Pole of hope, with a telescope trained on the South Pole of improbability (I just read that out to my son – who is home from University for the summer – and he appears fairly impressed!). Confidence, as always, is everything.

Of course, I’ll let you know next week how things turned out: as I said before, I may as well make good use of my time and at least formulate the framework of an idea, the cost to do so being negligible, for the time being. Maybe, in the upcoming week, I will have some more positive contact from some of the clubs who attended last week’s game. That would at least help to sway me in one direction, or the other, as to whether to push on with the project. Wish me well. BFN.

Sunday 20 May, 2007

You may not believe this (because I’m still having to pinch myself) but I’ve done it!

In the space of a week, I’ve somehow managed to confirm to Hibernian at 9.00 am last Monday that I could go ahead with the game – and by Friday at 1.00 pm said game was kicking off!

Most of the players arrived during the day on Wednesday, therefore we took the advantage of a light training session that evening. We then did a more comprehensive workout the next day (including a 20-minute “bounce” game against some of the younger Hibernian players, who were training at the same facility as us on Thursday: then the game on Friday.

Special mention must go to John Robertson, the former Hearts striker, who was good enough to offer his services to coach the players over the three days that they were here. Now, John claimed to have seen himself in purely an organisational role rather than that of coaching, However, having spoken to several of the players on Friday night at dinner, after the game, there was no doubt in their minds as regards his coaching skills.

Think about this now: we have a squad of twelve players (nationalities: 1 Brazilian; 1 Portuguese; 1 Benin; 5 French; 1 Cameroon; 1 Nigerian; 2 Gambians) arriving from all parts of Europe – mostly who have never met each other before – and within less than 72 hours John has them shaped into a “formidable fighting unit”. Oh, to have that ability. It was a joy to behold.

For my part, I’m sure the only reason that I pulled it off in such a short time, was as a result of my extensive touring experience when we invariably have to accomplish great amounts of work in considerably short spaces of time. There’s really no question of “can it be done?” - it just has to be done. Yes, I’ve had some fairly late nights this week: but I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great bunch of lads.

The game finished 1 – 1 and the only slightly disappointing element to the day was that we only had a 70% turnout of the club representatives who had indicated they would make it along to the game. Unbeknown to myself, there was a football presentation dinner being held in Glasgow, where the famed Marcel Lippi was one of the speakers – and so several of Scotland’s more renowned managers and coaches took the opportunity to attend that function.

Not that I could have done much about it, even if I had known. I was fortunate to have Hibernian agree to play the game at such relatively short notice so I was in no position to attempt to shift the game around. For the next time (oh, yes, I’m formulating the plan already) we should definitely look to stage the game in the evening: this way more coaches – who are not out on the training ground during the day – are in a position to attend.

Now the work begins: those players (the “Foreign Legion” as I affectionately referred to them) went paid their own flight and guest-house expenses to be able to showcase themselves, therefore I have a responsibility towards them to do my utmost to place then with suitable clubs for the new season. I’ve already made a start to that. Football’s a tough world, indeed.

Sunday 13 May, 2007

Have you ever come up with a half-decent idea only to be struck by the thought of why it hadn’t occurred to you much earlier?

That’s exactly what happened to be on Monday past – and now I’m on some roller-coaster deadline to finalise the project: read on.

As I have a few players here in Scotland who are on the fringes of first-team football, I regularly attend their “reserve” games, just to check on their progress. On checking the reserve league schedule, on the Scottish Premier website, I happened to notice that there was only one reserve fixture being played in the last week of the season. Now, of late, it just so happens that I’ve been pondering – with increasing uneasiness – how difficult it will be at the beginning of the new season to persuade the football clubs to take a look at “unknown” players.

Then it occurred to me (and, from where, I’m not really sure) that it would be a far better idea to bring the players over at the end of the current season. However, again, one still faces the problem that the clubs are generally very “cagey” in respect of said unknown players. That set my mind thinking: if I can’t bring the players to the clubs, then why not bring the clubs to the players? The idea being to bring a squad of free-agent players into the country, train them together for a few days and then maybe one of the Premier League Clubs – who don’t have a scheduled reserve game next week – will offer to provide the opposition.

After approaching several of the Premier League clubs on Monday and Tuesday, I found myself running into a brick wall: apart from the fact that I was proposing to play the game in the last week of the season (when the reserve team had no real requirement to bolster their fitness) I was still expecting the clubs to agree to play against a team of assorted players, of which they had no prior knowledge. By Wednesday I was stumped: none of the Premier League teams had come forward to take me up on my offer. Of course, by that time I’m starting to wonder whether I would be able to pull it all together – with a small part of me almost thankful that none of the clubs had taken up my offer.

Everything changed with a phone call on Thursday afternoon from Alistair Stevenson, Hibernian’s director of youth football. It turns out that they are looking to give their reserve squad a game next Friday, 18th – however, because most of the Premier League clubs plan to allow their reserve squads to go off on vacation next week, they were finding it difficult to source any opposition for the game.

Consequently, I rushed to a meeting with Alistair late Thursday afternoon, at Hibernian’s stadium, the upshot of which is that I’ve agreed to inform Hibernian by 9.00 am tomorrow morning, 14th, if I can pull a squad together in time for a game next Friday. At the moment (11.00 pm Sunday evening) I’ve managed to confirm a total of nine players, so it’s touch and go: as you can imagine, the players need to confirm their flights, pronto, to avoid escalating costs. Of course, we’re still two players short – and we’ve planned to start training these lads this coming Wednesday. This time next week, I may indeed have a story to tell. Wish me luck. BFN.

Sunday 6 May, 2007

Well, folks, although three offers of work came my way this week, I’m still on the lookout for something I feel I can get my teeth into.

I’m sure you’ll understand that even though I can tell you the above, I nevertheless can’t mention any specific names: that may seem somewhat unnecessary, however I would always consider any discussions I may have with managers/agents/accountants as confidential, until such time as the job is officially confirmed as mine.

You see, it is often the case that the artist will announce to their management that they want to make a change of Tour Manager – but, of course, they will try to find a suitable replacement before the current Tour Manager is given the bad news (we’ve all been there). Hence the reason that I could not afford to “go public” in relation to any ongoing job discussions.

However, mentioning no names, I can give you a general idea of this past week’s activity. The first opening related to a currently successful solo artist, not too long on the scene, whose management company felt a change was necessary, in order that the artist was more professionally represented in the future. My name was “thrown into the hat” by a good contact on the business-management side of the music industry: alas, someone else filled the position. Well, you can’t expect to land every job that you pursue – and, if my inside information is correct, the guy who landed the job comes with an impressive CV. The best of luck to him.

The second offer that came my way was indeed for a great little band, fronted by a couple of very prolific songwriters, who have penned many an instantly recognisable song. On the face of things, this was right up my street: however, upon closer examination the date sheet unfortunately exhibited a couple of sizeable chunks of “downtime”, this presumably to allow the two main guys to take an involvement in their own, solo, projects. One has to be very careful not to allow one’s heart to rule one’s head (in this case by accepting work with a band one particularly likes) and then find oneself twiddling one’s thumbs for four or five weeks, between (say) the UK and US legs of the tour.

Finally, towards the end of the week, I was informed of an opening for an “Artist Liaison” type of person, this time in relation to a one-off festival type of event, to be staged on a continent far away from here. The difficulty on this one, for me anyway, was that the people behind this event wanted a commitment now, although the actual date of the event was almost two months away. I would kick myself if I indicated my acceptance of such a project, only then – say, in two weeks time, to be offered something more long-term (and, more importantly, with an imminent start date). I know: I’m taking quite a chance here but – trust me – it will work out.

On the football front, once again the game demonstrates no rhyme or reason to it. After Xavier Barrau, our French Left Midfielder, not being allowed to start a game for Bradford City over the last three months, he finally makes his full-game debut yesterday (in the last game of the season) and scores two goals! Well, at least this gives me some sort of platform to work from, in trying to find him a more settled situation, come the new season. Until next week. BFN.


Sunday 29 April, 2007

I left off with you all, last Sunday, finishing up the last “Hanson” show at London’s “Koko” club (formerly the Camden Palace, for those of you who may not instantly recognize the name).

As there were a couple of people I wanted to meet up with in London, on Monday morning (one relating to touring, another relating to football) I stayed at the Ibis Hotel in Euston after Sunday night’s show. I have to admit that I didn’t quite manage to complete all the accounts in time to hand the package to Hanson’s Tour Manager, by the time I had to vacate the venue.

Now, rather than be faced with having to forward-on the said accounts, a few days after the show, I elected to finish them up back at the hotel and then drive over to Rebecca’s hotel (in Victoria) in the early hours of Monday morning and drop them off there. On the face of it, that probably sounds like a wild idea, but I just wanted everything finished up before Monday.

I have to say there is some buzz to be had driving around London in the wee small hours of the morning, whereby the journey across town from Euston to Victoria (normally around forty minutes in rush-hour traffic) took little more than fifteen minutes! Additionally – on the way back – I was able to check the two addresses of the meetings, both coincidentally in Mayfair, which I was due to attend the next morning. So that saved me some time the next day, as well.

Once said meetings were finished on Monday, I headed out to Putney – to the London office of 3A Entertainments – to drop off another set of accounts. From that side of London, I headed due west, onto the M4 and then jumped onto the M25 to take me to the M40 - and onward to Birmingham. From there, it’s the M6 all the way north to Carlisle, the M74 towards Glasgow and finally the M8 to Edinburgh (just in case you ever plan to visit me at any time in the future!).

As I was driving a rental car, I dropped it off at Edinburgh airport just after ten pm (where the blonde one – demonstrating extremely impressive geographical knowledge – was awaiting my arrival at the Europcar check-in). A fairly long day indeed: but that’s how it is in the touring business. Eight hours from London to Edinburgh is certainly longer than it would normally take, however I had to take advantage of the wireless internet system at Keele services and do a couple of hours work on my computer, mainly composing and answering e-mails.

Most of Tuesday was spent tidying up tour-related issues, dealing with awaiting domestic mail items and catching up with the news from my football players. Now comes the wait for the next touring project – hopefully something that I can get my teeth into. Sure, Hanson was very enjoyable; it just wasn’t for long enough.

I made sure to inform my reliable contacts I was back out on the road again and I therefore remain confident that a fittingly challenging project is just around the corner. In the meantime, I will use my time effectively and meaningfully: I’ve learned that quality time is a very precious commodity and if I’m lucky to be blessed with some, then I’m going to use it respectfully. On the subject of time, many thanks for yours: I can’t promise anything, but I’ll do my best to remember you when I’m famous. That’s the part I‘m still working on. Until next week. Love y’all.

Sunday 22 April, 2007

This past week has indeed been one flurry of activity, with today, in London’s “Koko” club, being the last of the four Hanson shows. As my first show with the band was on Tuesday night in Newcastle, I traveled south on Monday – initially calling in to see Jim Jefferies, the Kilmarnock manager, to finalise the details of Chad Harpur’s new deal for next season.

Therefore I left Glasgow (Kilmarnock’s training base is on the north side of the city) around 11.00 am and took the M74 to Carlisle and then the A69, via Hexham, to Newcastle – arriving at the hotel around 3.00 pm. I then took the opportunity to walk over to the Journal Tyne Theatre (the venue for the first show, the next day) and met up with Joanne Morton, the Events Co-ordinator, just to have a quick “recce” of the building.

In all my years of playing shows in Newcastle, I don’t ever remember visiting the Journal Tyne Theatre, formerly (I believe) the Newcastle Opera House. As far as Newcastle goes, I’ve obviously played the relatively “new” Metro Radio Arena several times, in addition to the City Hall (some great memories of shows there!), the Mayfair and – on one occasion with “Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark” back in the early eighties – the University of Northumbria. The Journal Tyne Theatre is indeed an enchanting venue and although it can only boast a maximum capacity of just over eleven hundred, it nevertheless features four levels of seating: the Stalls; the Grand Circle; the Upper Balcony and – watch out for a nose bleed – “the Gods”.

After the show, I jumped into my car and drove the 200+ miles to Birmingham, arriving at the Norfolk Hotel in Edgbaston Road, just after 4.00 am. I was due at load-in by 11.00 am the next morning (we were using the Carling Academy’s in-house lighting system, hence the later-than- usual call time) but made sure I left the hotel by 10.00 am, as that venue is a royal pain in the ass to locate, smack bang as it is, right in the centre of Birmingham (by the way, in case you’re wondering, the reason I didn’t take my own car on the tour is that it’s only a matter of time before it would become slightly damaged: either through being inadvertently scraped - with all the frenzied backstage vehicle movements at times - or fans “perching” upon it waiting for an after-show sight of their musical heroes. However, rental cars invariably don’t come with satellite navigation and audio reverse warning: both have been sorely missed this past week!

After Birmingham, we had a couple of days off before the next show in Manchester on Friday, therefore I drove down to London after the Birmingham show, checked into the Brent Cross Holiday Inn (very handy if you plan to travel into London the next day, as they have a shuttle bus to run you to the tube station at Brent Cross) to allow me to take care of various bits and pieces in the City. Returning later that evening, I drove out of London (to avoid the traffic next morning) and checked into the Premier Travel Inn, in St. Albans. The following day (Friday) I checked into the Radisson Hotel in Manchester – once the famous Free Trade Hall venue – in preparation for the last night’s show at the – now almost “infamous” - Manchester Apollo.

I stayed in Manchester last night as there was not a hotel room to be found in the city (blame the London Marathon) but I left early this morning to drive here, to the “Koko” club in London’s Camden town, for the last show of this short tour. Quite a week, huh? I’ll sleep tomorrow. BFN.

Sunday 15 April, 2007

Back on the road again! Not for terribly long initially, but – most importantly – it gets my face back in the door.

I know why I may have been, recently, considered to be “off the beaten track”. Two good reasons: initially, my almost-constant three years with Westlife has prompted many people in the business to assume that I was in there for the long run and, secondly, my more-than-passing involvement with the football business has certainly created the impression that my music interests are secondary to my stock-in-trade role as a Tour Manager/Tour Accountant. Not so.

Anyway, the truth can now be (exclusively) reveled: I’m off to work on a few shows with the US band “Hanson”. My involvement will be with their four English shows next week, namely Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester and London. In fact, earlier today (Sunday) I popped through to Glasgow to meet their Tour Manager, Rebecca Sakhar, as the band were undertaking a show at the Carling Academy, under the auspices of the Scottish promoter, DF Concerts.

My role on this short tour will be that of “Promoter’s Representative”, when I will essentially oversee the daily production of each show, on behalf of “3a Entertainments”. What this means is that I am – amongst other things – the direct liaison (for the Artist and, more importantly, their technical crew) with each venue on the tour. Such a role deems that the Promoter’s “Rep” is generally first one into the building in the morning and last out the next morning, literally: if one is “Repping” a big show – say, for example, a Sting show with 6/7 trucks – then there is probably a rigging call at 07.00 am, with the last truck’s doors being closed after the load-out, around 01.15/01.30 am. When you consider that most serious tours are clocking up an average of “five and a half” shows a week, then you can understand why the job is fairly well paid.

I didn’t stay for Hanson’s show tonight in Glasgow: apart from the fact that I still have a good few hours of “prep” work to complete before my first show in Newcastle, I figure I’ll see plenty of the Band in the coming week!

I spent a very useful hour with Rebecca, running through a checklist of points which are far more advantageous to have the answers for beforehand, rather than trying to continually pester Rebecca on the first show day in Newcastle (this coming Tuesday, 17th). Rebecca is also heavily involved with the band’s promotional schedule, in addition to having overall responsibility for the merchandising operation, when out on tour. As well you can imagine, the woman does not get much time to herself – and, of course, I know all about that. Oh, yeh.

Look - it’s only just over a week’s work, but it means I’m back on the circuit again and I remain confident that other work opportunities will spring from this (it obviously makes more sense to be calling one’s contacts – in regard to future work possibilities – from out on the road, rather than stuck behind the desk at home. Finally, this week, comes the confession that – as no doubt many of my regular readers may already have sussed – I was a few days late in penning this edition, as a result of having to leave for Newcastle on the Monday. Hopefully (hopefully) I’ll be back on track by next week, with four Hanson shows under my belt. Talk to you all then. BFN.

Sunday 8 April, 2007

Well, it happens to us all once a year – and I have no claim to be any different: yesterday was the occasion of my birthday: fifty-five years old. I have to say something though: it just doesn’t feel like I’m inside a fifty-five year old body. Obviously, I’m bound to defend myself against the onset of age, but (and I’m struggling to articulate this as best I would like) I feel like I can quite easily spend the next twenty years, bounding about the place, as normal.

Of course, while I’ve convinced myself that I appear to be physically weathering the storm, I’ve no real idea of the state of my inward health. I recently came across an advertisement for a health screening package, through a private clinic based in Glasgow, therefore I’m going to look to book an appointment within the very near future: soon, the truth will be known.

Mild birthday celebrations aside, I started some preparatory work on a few shows that I expect I will be involved with, from a week on Monday onwards: it’s only four gigs initially, however it will keep me relatively busy until the end of this month, whence I expect something longer term to materialize. I trust you will understand that, with the work not being fully confirmed until Tuesday, I can’t mention the name of the band in question. Things have a way of changing at very short notice in this business (a business where confidentiality is of prime importance). I also need to keep in mind that this is something of a “public” site.

However, all going well, I’ll be able to “name names” this time next week. Even better, these words may truly be titled the “Diary from the Road”– God knows, that’s been a long time coming!

Easter Monday beckons tomorrow, therefore I will graciously accept defeat as regards trying to get hold of anyone, business wise. The majority of businesses and companies – I’ve come to learn – will have closed down for the long weekend, which means I should just learn to follow suite and enjoy a little R & R (that’s rest and relaxation – I think! – to you non-military types).

The only thing I tend to find about Monday holidays is that it generally results in a very “short week”: before we know it Friday will be upon us. I have to attend a reserve football match on Tuesday at Falkirk, where our goalkeeper Chad will play for the Kilmarnock side, followed by a trip to Stirling on Wednesday afternoon (that will be the occasion of my son’s twenty-first birthday – can that really be happening?). I need to ensure that I utilize the remainder of my time in the most efficient manner; otherwise this could easily end up being the “lost week”.

Now, in noticing this week – from several media sources – that the Edinburgh property market is particularly buoyant at this time (and showing little sign of slowing) I may have to reconsider my initial plan to move out of this area, originally mooted for September. The fact is that – as I have to make good, to some degree, for the over expenditure on the football side of things recently – I’ll probably have to spend most of the next year on the road. That being the case, it would make sense to hold on to property in an area where it will appreciate the most – and that is certainly the case with the district of Edinburgh where I currently reside. So, that little plan is starting to unfold in my head. We’ll see. Here’s to next week when I should be on the verge of embarking upon that very road of which we speak. Will it all actually transpire? Fingers crossed!

Sunday 1 April, 2007

I did have a thought to write an “April Fool’s” piece today just to see what the reaction might have been and – depending on how convincing it was – who might possibly have believed me: however, I couldn’t quite bring myself to mislead my loyal readers – although, with nothing much to report over the last few months, along the line of “Road Reports”, my readership (quite understandably) may have diminished somewhat.

If you’re still out there, then I sincerely appreciate your patience. Much as I reported recently, I have again been contacted in respect to a couple of short-term projects this past week. However, my intention is to hold on a little longer until something comes along that I can get my teeth into: somewhat risky I know, however having “been to this movie before”, I know that when the work comes, it will indeed come at very short notice. I’m ready – bring it on.

Maybe I’m just quietly being taught a lesson along the lines of “stick to what you know best” – and maybe, taking that train of thought just a little further, someone up there is holding off allowing the decent work to come my way, until they are convinced I’ve learned that very lesson.

Well, have I learned my lesson? I believe I have although, in mitigation, I could probably cite my terribly poor luck – particularly where the African players were concerned. Nevertheless, I was warned how unpredictable the African market was – but (and not for the first time I would have to add, while I’m in this painfully honest vein) I listened not and charged headlong into an area of football that has claimed the scalp of many a well-intended soul. Guilty, your honour.

As I said last week, I have the reassurance of at least knowing that my stock-in-trade business pays substantially well (which, in fairness, it should – considering the long hours) and therefore once I get my head down on a reasonably long tour, I’ll not be long in redressing the balance.

I note that OMD (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark) are currently touring the UK – a band I toured Europe with way back in 1980. The thing I particularly remember about that tour was – in Berlin of all places – the band being shocked to hear of the slaying of John Lennon, outside his New York apartment. Of course, this was particularly numbing to the OMD lads as they also hail from Liverpool. In fact Stella, the mother of our children, actually accompanied me on that tour and that fateful day, 8th December, was also her birthday. Imagine, indeed.

On reflection this week, one of the main reasons I’m keen to get back out on the road again, at the earliest opportunity is – as mentioned above – to redress the company financial situation (as a result of the money expended on the football project) after which it might not be a bad idea to attempt to catch my breath and then take stock of my life. Pretty deep, huh?

My immediate responsibility must be to the future welfare of my children although – thankfully – they are very much at the stage where they are able to see where they are going in life: they just may need a little (well deserved, I have to say) help, every once in a while. As time goes on, strangely enough, I’m less concerned about my own long-term well being, safe in the knowledge that I’ve weathered significantly greater barren periods in my time, than this. Until next week…


Sunday 25 March, 2007

I’ve taken something of a risky approach to work opportunities this past week, in that I’ve turned down a couple of short tours (nevertheless by fairly successful artists), due to take place in the middle of the year – preferring to wait until something more long-term comes along.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back – and this may be as a result of my advancing age – I’m now much more relaxed in these periods of inactivity: something always comes along that suits and therefore one must be careful not just to jump at something that ultimately does not.

As with many other “young” business such as the concert touring industry, there are certainly a fair portion of people who do what I do, who are probably, currently, in over their heads. This situation most commonly arises in my business as a result of guys who have worked with a particular band since it’s inception. Unfortunately, as many up-and-coming bands can experience a sudden meteoric rise to stardom, these loyal lads find themselves catapulted into high-profile touring, with no previous experience of such a medium.

Not that I was any different, to be honest: after a couple of years of innumerable shows, at clubs and dance halls, up and down the country with the Bay City Rollers between 1972 and 1974, the band suddenly found themselves – as a result of their first hit - fast-tracked into the “big time”. The following couple of years were just a blur with myself and the other roadie nonchalently careering around the world with little real understanding - or appreciation – of our newfound responsibilities. I look back and wonder how we ever managed to pull it off.

You know, in those days – back when I first started in 1972 - I made the princely sum of £8.00 a week: but at least I was fed, watered and accommodated, free of charge. I’ve been on many an arena tour in recent years, when some of the younger crew members may have found cause to complain about the dinner choices at the venue, or the standard of the hotel - or even the money on offer for the job. I’m just grateful to still have the opportunity to be working in an industry that is exciting and rewarding: you won’t find many complaints from me.

However, I’m not back working in that industry yet! Sure, I’m bound to reflect as to whether I spent too much time last year (vainly?) trying to further the football side of my business. Well, only time will tell: I’m realistic enough to accept that – failing the opportunity to land some substantial investment – I will struggle to make my mark in what is an increasingly competitive (and, I suspect, corrupt) business. If it happens somewhere down the line, then it’s a bonus.

The concert touring industry is so full-on, when you are out on the road and charged with the responsibility of moving the show from city to city, country to country, that you almost become addicted to the unrelenting pace of life at that level. Compared to most other lines of work – and with the greatest respect to all the people engaged in such work – we touring types accomplish mammoth amounts of work in very short spaces of time. Even if you work for the circus, you normally spend up to a week or more in the same place. I’m obviously keen to be back in the thick of things and I’m confident of being able to do so in the coming weeks. After all, this is meant to be the “Diary from the Road” and not the “Diary from the Desk”! See y’all.

Sunday 18th March, 2007

To those of us here in the UK (because I seem to recall the date is different in North America), Sunday 18th March is “Mothers Day”. It may be that, for several of us – like myself – who no longer have their mother with them, this will be a day of sober reflection and poignant memories.

If you are a regular reader of this diary – particularly from my “Westlife” days – you will recall that my mother passed away when I was in the middle of touring with them, a couple of years back. I’m not going to conveniently claim that I was close to my mother in the (say) ten years previous to her death: it would not have been physically possible anyway, as she spent most of that time in Canada – with several short spells in between times, in the States – staying with my youngest sister, an hour south of Toronto.

My father – towards the end of his working life – had long harboured the idea of spending his retirement years in North America (we definitely shared a love of the States and it’s big and bold culture) but, of course, dreamer that he was, he never really costed the thing out.

Now, in all the times I’ve spent there, be it the countless tours or the extended stays when I was working with US-based bands, I’ve come to learn much about my “adopted” home – and one of the most important things I’ve learned about the good ‘ol U S of A is as follows: they generally do not take kindly to freeloaders.

I know I may not explain this as articulately as I would like, but it’s my belief – borne of long and studied observation – that when you bring to the States the things that will enhance their economy, be it expertise, investment, invention or (let’s face it) just bucket loads of money, then you are wholeheartedly “welcomed aboard”. Conversely, when you look to piggy-back off their system, to your own individual gain, then them Yanks ain’t so pally, all of a sudden.

Guess what? I don’t have any problem with that. Maybe if the UK were similarly inclined at times, we might be able to boast a significantly more stable economy. However – and, believe it or not, I’m sure this has something to do with it – I suspect we’re far too polite here in the British Isles, when viewed alongside our US counterparts, in situations such as the above.

The Yanks, on the other hand, while proffering that you “Have a nice day”, would far rather – I suspect - you were enjoying that nice day on some land mass other than their own, if you’re not contributing something to the overall welfare of their country.

Now, apologies for a few waffling paragraphs there: the point being that my father somehow formed the idea that the US economy should be glad to have him (although all he eventually accomplished was a whole load of unpaid debts – and my poor mother had to put up with all this).

The moral of this week’s entry: you don’t choose the way you die – you only choose the way you live. Even if you haven’t spoken to her for a while, make that extra effort, today, to convey to your mother the strength of your feelings for her. You may not always have this opportunity.

Sunday 11 March, 2007

Well, so much for confidence: you may recall my said confident prediction of last week, in that my player, Xavier Barrau, would most likely play some part, for Bradford City in yesterday’s game at Huddersfield. Alas, after taking the trouble to go all the way down there (thankfully it gave Beverley the opportunity to drop in and see her mother – and sister – who both live south of Manchester) I received a text from the player himself, fifty minutes prior to scheduled kick-off time, informing me that he had not even been named on the substitute’s bench!

I still took in the game, as it was the first time I had visited Huddersfield’s home ground, namely The Galphram Stadium: also, Xavier had asked me to bring a suitcase of clothes to him, which he had left in my garage, a good few weeks back.

Xavier is very hopeful of being involved in the game against Bristol City this coming Tuesday, at Bristol – where Bradford City must look to steal a result against one of the division’s form teams. Bradford City currently sit fourth-bottom of “League 1”, with four teams due to be relegated to League 2, come the end of the current season, in May. Tricky position, indeed.

On the touring front, I’ve heard of a couple of things in the past week that may become available in April (I’m sworn to secrecy!) however I would – of course – like to get back in amongst things, sooner rather than later. I’ve probably ducked out of the music business just a little longer that I maybe should have, as – from years of experience – I’ve learned that there is some form of proportional relationship between the time you “step away” from the business and the time it takes to get back into the swing of things. However, once the majority of music agents and management companies learn of your availability again, typically one ends up with more work than one can handle. Feast or famine indeed.

I’m convinced that my labours of the last few months will bear fruit in the years to come. While I believe myself to be a fairly active guy for my age, I’m not sure I still want to be tearing around the world (not at an employer’s behest, anyway) ten years from now. In an ideal world, I will attempt to converge my music business interests with my football interests – with the ultimate aim being to rely more on the football business. We shall see what we shall see.

For the time being, I’m enjoying the quiet before the storm. It’s no secret that I’ve invested a fair whack of cash – in the preceding six months – on my football project: however (and pardon me if I’m repeating myself here – an occasional drawback of advancing age) I can count myself lucky that my “day job”, involving the grueling hours that it does, pays fairly well. Therefore, it shouldn’t take me terribly long to redress the balance. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

When you find yourself at a melancholy loose end once in a while (not dissimilar to my current situation) do you ever ponder where you’ll be – and what you will be doing – exactly a year from now? Even more intriguing, do you ever wish you could be granted just a momentary snapshot of one moment in time – one year from now – giving some clue as to one’s destiny? What, it’s only me that is prey to such daydreams? Surely not? Right now I’d settle for a brief snapshot of what I’ll be up to, this time next week! Although, I have a sneaky feeling about that. BFN


Sunday 25 February, 2007

As I opened my office curtains this morning – to a very-Scottish misty, grey, Sunday – I was again struck by the notion of re-locating to where the sun is streaming through one’s bedroom windows at 7.00 am in the morning, on at least two hundred and fifty days of the year.

Is that something of a selfish view? Or would we all (all us Scottish types, anyway) take such an opportunity if it came our way. This much I know – when the sun’s out, amid a spell of “t-shirt weather”, people sure are a lot easier to deal with.

Is there the possibility however that, in trying to seek a more agreeable climate, we’re just making excuses to get away from ourselves rather than just the weather? Having said that, I certainly do not want to spend the rest of my life, faced with rising in the morning (for around three months of the year) in complete darkness. Well, that’s this week’s moan. On we go.

This past week, I’ve spoken with/contacted a bunch of my music business colleagues, to see what work may be available in the near future. I may have mentioned last week: by all accounts, there is a busy year ahead and so I remain confident that I will be back amongst things before too long. Ideally for me, would be a tour that would allow me to combine Tour Management and Tour Accountancy: sure, it gives me very little free time to myself when I’m on the road, but I’ve developed a workable routine for being able to accomplish both roles on a mid-sized tour.

This coming week, I will concentrate on tidying up my touring files in preparation for having to leave at relatively short notice: I have a “Tour Templates” file in which I keep twenty or so commonly used documents (technical “riders”; hotel instruction letters; staff contracts; service company specs; settlement programmes; etc) that can be fine-tuned to suit any individual tour.

Tour Accountancy aside, I’ve always believed one of my strongest points – as a Tour Manager – is the ability to deal with the artistic temperament on a daily basis, thereby ensuring a good touring spirit and a contented entourage. Particularly where the crew is concerned, a typical touring day gives one little change from sixteen hours. Once you string three or four of those together, you’re stretching the endurance limits of even the most hardened individuals.

It is therefore vitally important that – again, particularly where the crew is concerned – the daily welfare of the touring staff be treated as a prime consideration: hence the reason (to give a couple of obvious examples) that even the more medium-sized tours now carry their own caterers and, secondly, crew sleeper buses are now so comprehensively fitted out.

Nevertheless, it’s great industry to be involved in: the buzz of making a huge arena show happen in the space of sixteen hours and then racing off down the road, another three hundred miles, to make it happen all over again the next day, does wonders for one’s sense of accomplishment.

Within the next few weeks, I should be right back in the thick of things and more than happy – once again – to share my experiences with you. Keep in mind, of course, that there are some things I know, that will have go to the grave with me. Such is this wacko industry that I love.

Sunday 18 February, 2007

Greetings to all on this fine Sunday evening: it certainly follows a most pleasant day, weather wise, here in the Edinburgh area – one of the best on offer, this year so far. I actually managed to clear some space in my garage today, as well as giving the car interior a long overdue valet.

As I mentioned in my last entry, the week started with an “up and down on the train on the same day” trip to London on Monday. Why didn’t you fly? – I possibly hear you say. Normally, I probably would have. However, as I had to gather my thoughts – and sketch out a couple of pages of notes – for the meeting with the athlete-representation company, I figured the few hours spent on the train would be therapeutic, in that respect. I seem to find that if I’m flying, I tend to work away in my office until around half-an-hour before I’m due to be at the airport – and then race down to the airport and jump on the flight (hardly decent preparation time).

The only slight drawback, of course, with the “train versus plane” approach is – particularly when your meeting is scheduled for lunchtime in London – that you have to board the train at the crack of dawn (5.50 am in this case!). Nevertheless, said train only really became busy after the final stop at York, which enabled me to grab the few hours of quality time that I required.

The meeting itself went pretty good and I tend to think something may materialise in the foreseeable future: however, if something were to come out of it, I would undoubtedly have to be prepared to relocate down south again. Hey, you have to go where the work is.

In the meantime, I’ve put myself back in circulation, as regards work in the music business. Something will come in soon – it always does. The phone will ring at some point – out of the blue – and that will be me heading out to some corner of the globe to grab the reins of a tour.

This touring business is definitely one of “feast or famine”: in recent years I’ve learned to cope with the down-time on a far more relaxed basis than I once did. In years gone by, I’d allow myself to be niggled by the concern of where my next tour might be coming from and – as a result – neglected to use my time, as well as I might, to my positive benefit. I take a different view now: the work will invariably come, so now I use my days far more effectively and – despite ensuring that I’m fully prepared to leave at a moment’s notice – I now make a point to take some time out to enjoy doing what I enjoy doing.

Now, you could be forgiven for forming the opinion that, “well, he’s probably financially comfortable and can afford – in more ways than one – to adopt such a view”. Actually, with my couple of major left turns into areas hitherto relatively unknown (the bar/restaurant trade and my recent football escapades) I’m nowhere near as financially secure as I probably should be.

Anyway, enough of such ponderings: let’s stay positive here. Imagine it! The “Diary of the Road” will once again come back into its own: written about the road – from the road. Over the last six months, these notes have, in a sense, formed the basis of a weekly journal, as (definitely worth looking back over, a few years from now) and, as I made mention of last week, these entries have now become something of a ritual with me. Long may they – and you, my friends – continue!

Sunday 11 February, 2007

I fear this diary thing has taken a grip of me – I’m now compelled to commit my life to it every week. Having said that – and not being the keeper of a regular desk diary (except when I’m out on the road, when my tour itinerary serves such a purpose) – I have recently resisted the temptation to scan back over the last three years entries, to gauge my “moods of the day”.

For the time being, my dalliance with my football project will be brought to a temporary close within the next week: I’ve taken another stab at it, signed a few talented players but will have to wait a good few months to see if those lads will assist in making my fortune. I’m dubious.

So, what lies around the corner, in terms of my next touring project? I’ve no earthly idea. I know this however: something will come in. Something always does. Dangerous anticipation, I know – but I’ve survived like this for decades. How many fifty-four year olds (technically unemployed, as I am) have little idea as to which exact work will next come their way? Madness.

Of course, most guys in my position – who’ve adhered to the sensible option and stuck to what they do best – have their mortgages paid off by now. Not me, I have to report. No, I’ve followed a couple of dreams and – in the case of one particular divergence – paid for it dearly, and not only in the financial sense. Even on an interest-only mortgage, at least I’m the owner of a modest property, in a “sought after” location in Edinburgh. Need to look after that one well.

Thankfully, my real expertise is in a business that pays well: having said that, when you divide the hours that a Tour Manager puts in on the road into the fees that he is paid for it, you’ll find he’s probably not that far behind – say – a time-served carpenter. One significant difference, in fairness, is that when I’m off traipsing around the world my domestic expenses take a noticeably advantageous downturn. Negligible home phone, heating and food costs all help.

My record of roadwork over the last four or five years has seen me “dropped in at the deep end” on most occasions: I don’t recall being roped into any project, during that period, when I was given sufficient time to contribute to the set-up processes of any of the tours involved. I probably actually prefer to hit the ground running: sure, I’m perfectly capable of planning and organizing any medium to large tour from day one onwards. However, I like to feel that my strengths are in dealing with the personalities involved and overseeing the smooth day-to-day movement of the touring circus.

Tomorrow, I make the trip down to London to catch up with a few music business contacts, just to check what opportunities may be bubbling under. At the same time, I will spend a couple of hours with one of the world’s largest athlete-representation companies, chewing over the contentious issue of brand leadership within the player representation business. No one company has yet managed to lay claim to such a mantle, in what would appear to be an increasingly fragmented industry. I wholeheartedly believe this is an achievable goal: however, there is at least two years of preparatory work involved – never mind the big fat dollar sign that precedes the financial undertaking that is necessary to evolve and manage the sort of marketing campaign required to reach the position of undisputed brand leader. Wish me well.

Sunday 4 February, 2007

Aha! Let the record show that this Sunday’s diary was penned on the day it was meant to be: namely, 4th February with 10.32 pm presently showing on the clock.

This week I have had to admit to having spent almost all of my allotted, football-project, budget. Even though my children have almost flown the coop, I have to operate within certain financial “safety limits”. Said limit is now very close. This is only football, after all.

However, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have done my utmost to help the 5/6 lads who I currently have on my books. Upon reflection – because of the ill luck he has encountered in finding another club – maybe I should have insisted that Amick remain at Ross County. However, he was keen to try his luck down South and as the cost to do so was borne entirely by myself, I feel no guilt in adhering to his wishes.

Amick spent two weeks down at Bristol City before they finally assessed that he was not for them: in spite of his lightning pace and inherent skill, the coaching staff there felt that he was not (yet) of the level they were looking for. Bristol City is currently “flying” at the top end of League One and must surely be looking to be part of the Championship set-up next season. That being the case, Amick must work hard on certain aspects of his game to be of that standard.

Without doubt – and I can’t escape this fact – my dealings within the African market has accounted for a “chunk of change” in respect of the overall budget that I ring-fenced to cover my football-project activities of the last six months. Sure, as I’ve always claimed, there is an undoubted wealth of undiscovered talent on the vast African continent. However the time and application (and, therefore, money) required, in unearthing such talent, can be a major drain on the resources of a one-man operation like mine.

Within the coming week, I hope to have Amick (now down at Torquay United – far from salubrious in footballing terms, but all that’s available at the moment); Xavier (on trial at Gretna and on track to win a contract); Aime (playing in a trial game for Kilmarnock on Tuesday) and John (possibly heading down to Chesterfield) all settled into clubs for the remainder of the season. This will make for a busy week but I should be able to report – in seven days time, when I’m penning my next diary entry – that all the current football business is done and dusted.

I have spoken to several of my music business contacts over the last ten days or so, who all assure me that there is a busy year ahead on both the domestic and international concert touring circuits. I must count myself fortunate to have another line of work that pays the bills – there is no way I could indulge myself in this regular dalliance with player representation if I did not indeed have an alternative source of income, of this nature, to fall back on.

Well folks, this week’s meandering are drawing to a close, as the clock moves on to 11.07 pm. I’ve enjoyed a roller-coaster ride on my football business over the past six months and – as yet – will have to look somewhere down the line to realise the fruits of my considerable labours. Next week should surely find me turning the corner and heading off for pastures anew. BFN.


Sunday 28 January, 2007

Before we get started this week, I must make something of a confession: that is, I’ve been slipping badly behind in preparing the weekly diary entries, over the last month or so.

Generally speaking – particularly when I’ve been running about like crazy over the last month – Sunday is my catch up day. However, if there have been developments with any of my players from the day before – in respect of interest they may have generated from how they’ve played – then In this business you can’t afford to wait until Monday to follow up on that interest.

No folks, this business of player representation is far too competitive to be able to lean back in your office chair on a Sunday morning and contemplating the thought of actually finishing the Sunday papers that day. Hence, it’s a matter of dealing with priorities. Just like life itself.

What it’s basically taken me three paragraphs to say is that I just haven’t found the time lately to complete my diary entries on the Sunday when they are supposed to be done. Also – again evidenced by this week’s entry (only so far, I hope) is my recent tendency to waffle on at times about things of no real interest. I believe that may come from my need to have the “last Sunday’s” entry complete and uploaded, before “this Sunday” suddenly drops in my lap.

Do they say that if you’ve been honest enough with yourself to recognise the problem, then you’re half way to fixing it? If that’s the case, then there is some hope for me.

Let’s see if I can complete tomorrow’s entry (for Sunday 4th February) on the actual date it’s meant to be. Of course, any of my remaining readers, with even a passing grasp of basic arithmetic, will have figured that I’m six now days behind, composing this entry. Still waffling.

So, I finished up last week saying that I should know what’s happening with the next six months of my life, possibly by the end of this week, Sunday 28th January. Well, I’ll have to take a rain check on that for at least another 7/10 days. I know one thing – I’ve not made my fortune in football yet, therefore the immediate plan is to tidy up these player moves and get myself back out on the road. Ideally I would love to take many of the (some painful) lessons I have learned over the past few months and thoroughly develop them over the next six months, in order that I am in a strong position, when the transfer window once again opens in the Summer. Alas, no.

Suffice to say, the glaring mistakes will not be repeated and – hopefully – when I take a second shot at this in July/August of this year, I will have pruned the operation down to a lean, mean, fighting machine (my mate George Foreman gave me permission to employ that turn of phrase).

Actually – come to think about it – that may form the substance of next week’s diary entry: if I’m brave enough to share my football failures/misgivings, by committing them to paper, then maybe it will help me to come to terms of the enormity of the task I appear to have set myself. This idea that I can right the wrongs of the football world, particularly when it comes to this matter of player representation, may be nothing more that a pipe dream – an Alaskan pipe dream at that. Who knows? Let’s get stuck into the subject next week and see what transpires.

Sunday 21 January, 2007

We shall refer to this week, hereafter, as the week of no complaints. And Why? Read on.

Of course, don’t expect earth-shattering news. Events of yesterday, however, have certainly conspired to offer some sort of distant hope in the shape of Aimé Koudou, our striker at Airdrie, managing to bag a couple of goals in the game versus St. Johnstone (and both headers!).

It may yet prove to be Mr. Koudou who indirectly (actually, hopefully directly) assists in repairing the ever-widening rift between Mr. Master Card – and that irresistible buddy of his, Mr Barclay Card - and myself. There is certainly growing interest in Aimé – and all this based upon 18 minutes of TV cup-tie footage, where he tore Motherwell apart, and yesterday’s full ninety minute game: his first full official game, since coming to Airdrie.

I have, however, come to learn that football moves a whole lot slower, in it’s deliberations, than the music business, the world to which I am used (and in which I may once again find myself involved, if I’m not too careful – still, in keeping with this week’s theme, there would be no real complaints about that either).

This business of player representation is indeed a murky one and there are times (worryingly, these times are on the increase) when I wonder if it really merits my heartfelt care and attention. I’m one person - and one person alone - and I can’t hope to reverse the ever-declining reputation that this particular business seems destined to attract. Sad really.

Anyway, time to snap out of this slightly morose mood and look forward to what good fortune may find it’s way towards me in the upcoming week. The closure of the transfer window (Weds. 31st January) is not far off now - although it is only really relevant in the case of players who are currently out-of-contract. Therefore, it follows that any out-of-contract, fully fit, player is well advised to keep his nerve until February 1st, when the possibilities to find a club to sign to through the end of the season – or further, with a bit of luck – dramatically increase in favour of non-contracted players.

Of course, as the majority of players that I represent are in such a position, then I too need to keep my nerve, during the same period. Thankfully, I’ve had a fair amount of practice in this respect – it’s just convincing the players to hold out as well. Therefore, much of my time next week will be concentrated on planning how to ease these guys through the days leading up to the closure of the window. I’m sure they’ll be up to the task. They don’t have a lot of choice.

One’s things for sure – soon all the waiting will be over and I’ll know whether the application and aggravation of the last 4/5 months has paid off (in more ways than one, hopefully) and whether there is a basis to continue the project towards the next transfer window. As time goes on, I become more realistic of the chances of succeeding, long-term, in a business that is so fragmented and – frankly – so suspect. Of course, the sharks and the charlatans would love nothing more than to see the back of me, allowing them to be left alone to conduct their affairs in the manner to which they have become accustomed. All the more reason to stick around! BFN.

Sunday 14 January, 2007

You know, for an older guy, I’m not a complete loser when it comes to the ladies. I’m respectful, charming, polite and – as I’ve made reference to in the past – not a bad dancer for my age.

There’s one lady, however, that I’ve struggled lately with: Lady Luck be her name.

Just as I told you things were shaping up well last week (particularly where our striker, Aime Koudou, and our left midfielder, Xavier Barrau, were concerned), yesterday’s game – in which they were both due to feature – falls foul of the good [bad] old Scottish weather.

Now – as I’ve little doubt my more regular readers have spotted – there’s no middle ground when it comes to my state of mind: I’m either higher than Snoop Dogg on the top of the Eiffel Tower or lower than Emma Bunton’s last chart position. In fact, I’ve often pondered at times (as I’m sure many others do) just how close I teeter to some mild form of clinical depression.

In one respect, I’m looking forward to the end of January as – one way or another – I’ll know where I stand on the football project. The onset of age brings with it a greater appreciation of one’s time and how one would prefer to spend it, given a choice. With an increasing regularity, I find myself reflecting upon where all of this may be leading and – possibly more telling – how I will look back on these last four months and wonder if it was all worth it (not just financially).

Anyway, onwards and upwards: there’s always next week – although, recently, I seem to be telling myself this more often than I’d like. In the last few days, I’ve started to re-establish contact with many of my music business buddies (I might need them sooner than I think!). Sure there are times when I yearn for the adrenalin rush of my “former” business but, much as though I may have to dip back into that line of work for a while, it’s not something I can do for ever: there comes a time when many of those younger Artist Managers take a long look at some of us experienced (older) Tour Managers and think “Mmm, maybe the guy wants my job”.

I have to say that, for myself, any aspirations to switch to Artist Management have long ago disappeared. While I’ve certainly been fairly closely involved in the day-to-day management of several of the acts I have worked with (Westlife being a prime example) I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of completing a tour, handing in the accounts and then finishing the project. While Artist Management can indeed – in the majority of cases – be significantly more lucrative that Tour Management, it is essentially never ending. Me, I can always see an end to things.

So, good readers, wish me luck for the upcoming week. If there is a God then he must surely look to give me his blessing: after all, I’ve been subscribing to his philosophy for years now. For this week anyway, my spirits are up – can’t quite figure how, as my bank balance continues to head in completely the opposite direction. I can always reflect that I was in a severely bad way back in 1990, from which I would probably never have recovered (mentally anyway) had a wonderful woman, by the name of Lorraine Trent-Hedley, not guided me out of that period. Suffice to say, you’ll have to read about it in my book. Everyone tells me I should put pen to paper. All good and well – but I doubt I would ever work in the Music Business again. No thanks.

Sunday 7 January, 2007

I would have to say that the first week of the new year has gone reasonably well, in that one of my French football players (Aimee Koudou) appears to have excited a couple of Scottish Premier League clubs with his performance in yesterday’s cup game versus Motherwell- despite the fact he was only on the park for eighteen minutes!

Most days, I continue to grapple with the logic of football. Aimee has been with Airdrie now for almost two months: however, as a result of a management switch he has not featured from the start in any of their recent games. Suddenly, he is thrust into the fray, late on in the aforementioned game, and proceeds to demonstrate a level of skill unmatched by any other player on the field yesterday.

Scott McDonald, of Motherwell FC, is an experienced and proven striker, currently with an approximate transfer value of £350,000.00+ and yet yesterday Aime was every bit as enterprising as Scott – but of course Scott is a known quantity. Still – food for thought.

Strangely enough – after a weekend of such promising signs (my Ross County striker may be on his way to Bristol City next week) I have been overcome by a bout of soul-searching. Now you possibly have to be an individual of advancing years to fully appreciate such feelings, therefore may I immediately offer my apologies to those regular readers, of more tender years, if I’m about to go off on some rambling tangent.

There’s a line in a Gladys Knight and the Pips song (“Midnight Train to Georgia” I believe) that says something along the lines of “but he sure found out the hard way that dreams don’t always come true” and that, indeed, is a sobering thought. If follows that we all believe our dreams will eventually come true but of course, by the law of averages, that’s just not going to happen. To be one of those whose dreams never reach the stage of reality must be tough to accept, because this can certainly be a tough (and cruel) world.

So, in respect of the football project, am I hotly in pursuit of the impossible dream? Well, folks, I will surely know the answer to that, come the end of this month. I have had little choice but to discontinue my interest in several “fringe” players whom I was attempting to assist over the last few months. It pains me to do so (maybe I should never have unwittingly given them “false hope” by indicating that football trials might possibly be forthcoming) but I have discovered that the football market is tougher than ever this year. Unless you have a reasonable CV to boast, the football clubs are most cautious as to who they open their doors to.

Apart from anything else, I must apportion the requisite amount of time to the particularly talented players that I have happened upon in recent months, most of whom have come to me by way of trusted recommendation (I long ago learned the folly of bringing over players “blind”) because – and let’s be realistic here – there are always the bills to be paid. Football is an expensive environment in which to operate – appearances must be kept up, reputations enhanced. So, continuing on the enhancement note, that’s me off to Dundee United FC to see if they will take a look at my international Zambian defender. May the force be with me. BFN

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