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Gary Miller's Blog

Feb 25 2017

Gary Miller and Mick Tyas

I had a great afternoon today with my old musical partner in crime, the amazing Mick Tyas. We rehearsed a whole load of songs, including a host of Whisky Priests "classics" and obscurities, other back catalogue stuff, a few previously unrecorded songs, and other odds and sods that we just threw together on a whim - all with a view towards honing and expanding our repertoire for forthcoming Whisky Priests gigs in 2017 (more news on this coming soon) as well as potential material for acoustic duo shows (taking bookings now!!). Amidst all this mayhem, we even found time for an enjoyable little outdoor promotional photo shoot, during which we ran through an awkward first take of the old Whisky Priests chestnut 'William's Tale', with a camcorder set up on a tripod to capture it for posterity, false starts, warts and all! And here it is, "hot off the press" [N.B. - if we get a good response to the video, we may consider following it up with other songs, so please watch, like, comment, share, subscribe, etc]...


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Feb 09 2017

'Mad Martins' Pre-Order

 

My exciting new project 'Mad Martins' is now available to pre-order from the official Mad Martins Bandcamp Page...

 

...as well as from the official Gary Miller Bandcamp Page...

 

'Mad Martins' depicts the extraordinary lives and times of the notorious Martin brothers, William, Jonathan and John, who were born in the late Eighteenth Century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland...

 

William Martin (1772-1851) was born at The Towhouse, one of a group of old greystone cottages standing on a plateau half a mile west of Bardon Mill, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, during a night of violent thunder and lightning on June 21st 1772. A philosopher, doggerel poet, pamphleteer, engraver and inventor; he aspired to be 'Renaissance Man' and aimed for the 'defeat of learned humbugs':

"Cheer up, you Northumberland and British Bards that can use the pen
And show your divine wisdom for the good of all men…
Cheer up, you Britons, your champion has the battle won,
All the world cannot penetrate the celestial armour he has him upon."

His many inventions included a Life Preserver, a Mechanical Horse, and a Flying Machine. Some of his discoveries and ideas came to him, like his brother Jonathan, in 'dreams and visions of the night'.

 

Jonathan Martin (1782-1838) from High Side, near Hexham, has gone down in history as 'the notorious incendiary' of York Minster. Six years in the Navy (both the Royal and the Merchant) when he was present at the Battle of Copenhagen, gave him a love of roving “which prevented him from settling down to regular employment”. A passionate religious fervour led him to indulge in frequent fits of rage against the clergy, coming to a head with his plot to assassinate the Bishop of Oxford and resulting in his committal as a lunatic at West Auckland and Gateshead Asylums, during which time his first wife died. Eventually released, after two escapes, he travelled to York where he issued dark warnings to the 'Clargy', accusing them of going to plays and balls, playing at cards, and drinking wine.

In Martin's own words: "Hear the word of the Lord Oh you blind Hipacrits, you Saarpents and Vipears of Hell, you wine Bibears and Beffe Yeaters, whose eyes stand out with Fatness… Oh repent for the Sourd of Justic's is at hand. J.M. our sincerest Friend.”

In the early morning of 2nd February 1829, he set fire to the Minster and was later confined in the Royal Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam) where he died in the same year that his son Richard committed suicide.

 

John Martin (1789-1854) was born July 19th 1789 in a one-roomed farm cottage at East Landends, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, thirteenth and youngest child of Fenwick and Isabella. Although the family was living in poverty, John became the first Martin to attend school. The progressive Haydon Bridge Grammar school provided him with free schooling, and his parents with a cheap form of childcare. He showed an early talent for drawing, utilising the schoolroom walls, the doors of the villagers, and the sandbanks of the River Tyne. An apprenticeship as a heraldic painter with a High Friar Street coach builder in Newcastle was his first taste of work before he headed for London, marrying there at the age of 19 before having a picture accepted at the Royal Academy and later becoming "Historical Landscape Painter to the Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold", as well as a noted book illustrator. Like his elder brother William, John was an 'all-rounder', devising sewage schemes for London and the Thames and proposals for railway systems, a lighthouse, floating harbour, and an 'Elastic Iron Ship'. He is most famous, however, as a New Romantic painter and mezzotint engraver, celebrated for his epic and melodramatic scenes of cataclysmic Biblical events crowded with tiny figures placed in vast architectural settings.

He paid Jonathan's legal expenses after the Minster fire and took Jonathan's son Richard into his family. He lived at Lindsey House in Chelsea where William died after spending the last few months of his life there.

John Martin died on the Isle of Man on February 17th, 1854.

 

'Mad Martins' is available as 50-track triple CD in deluxe book format, with free immediate full download, or in digital download format only.

Pre-order 'Mad Martins' here.


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Feb 09 2017

'Mad Martins' Official Video Presentation

Now for something truly special!...

I am pleased to announce and present a video presentation for my long-awaited major project 'Mad Martins'.

This project has been a long-time in the making and has been a real 'labour of love'. At long last the project is on the cusp of reaching fruition, so please check out the video presentation for an overview of what the project is all about. Pre-order details for the triple-CD and accompanying book are to follow soon, along with lots of other 'Mad Martins' news and relevent details/upates...

'Mad Martins' depicts the extraordinary lives and times of the notorious Martin brothers, William, Jonathan and John, who were born in the late Eighteenth Century in the South Tyne area of Northumberland.

 

Eldest brother, William was the self-styled ‘Natural Philosopher and Philosophical Conqueror of All Nations’, a doggerel poet, pamphleteer, engraver and inventor. Like his younger brothers, he aspired to be ‘Renaissance Man’ and aimed for the ‘defeat of learned humbugs’.

 

Jonathan Martin has gone down in history as ‘the notorious incendiary’ of York Minster. Frequent fits of rage against the clergy, including a plot to assassinate the Bishop of Oxford led to his committal to several lunatic asylums, from which he escaped twice before setting fire to York Minster in 1829, for which he was again committed to bedlam, where he later died.

Youngest brother, John, the eminent painter, engraver, town-planner and host, was, like his brother William, an 'all-rounder', devising sewage schemes for London, along with a number of other inventions but is most famous for his epic New Romantic paintings of Biblical scenes. One of these, 'Pandemonium', based on Milton's 'End Of The World', sold in 2003 for a record £1.65 million.

 

The story of the Martins is brought epically to life through a a two-and-half-hour performance in three separate acts, featuring an eclectic mix of wide-ranging and genre-busting songs, poems and narrative vignettes delivered with passion and commitment in a unique style.

'Mad Martins' has been a long time in the making but now, after many stops and starts and ups and downs along the way, the time finally seems right to release it on the world…

'Mad Martins' is to be released by Whippet Records as an epic 50-track triple CD presented as a lavishly packaged deluxe book containing lyrics to all the songs, poems and spoken word pieces, with additional inter-linking text and many beautiful images, including paintings, engravings, sketches and illustrations, further enhancing the story.

'Mad Martins' is also planned to be performed as a live show, combining songs, music, poetry and theatre, and featuring specially-made period costumes, props, accompanied by a pit orchestra of eclectic musicians, amid a backdrop of stunning images, all of which will contribute towards bringing the whole story to life.


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Feb 09 2017

Burns Night Celebration 25th January 2017

On Thursday 25th January 2017, I had the pleasure of taking part in a private Burns Night Celebration, with lots of great friends in attendance (many of whom gave their own unique performances), organised by my friend and 'partner in creative crime'(!) Keith Armstrong, at the 'Redhouse', Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Beforehand, however, I managed a sneaky pint or two in 'The Botanist'...

 

As part of my contribution to the proceedings at 'The Redhouse', I gave a unique 'one-off' performance of the traditional Scottish folk song 'MacPherson's Lament' (a.k.a. 'MacPherson's Rant'), a version of the lyrics of which have been attributed to Robert Burns. The song tells the true story of the hanging of James ('Jamie') MacPherson, a Scottish outlaw. I specifically chose this song in honour of my good friend Heather Wood (née MacPherson), who was there on the night and is a living descendant of Jamie MacPherson.

 

Here is a partial clip (unfortunately the footage is incomplete and misses the end of the song but at least it preserves a small flavour of the night's event): -

 

And a great night was had by all!...

At the Redhouse on Burns Night
Left-to-right: - Gary Miller (me!), Keith Armstrong, Michael Stephenson (The Whisky Priests bass player).


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Feb 09 2017

The Whisky Priests Digital Back Catalogue Reissues

To tie in with The Whisky Priests imminent reunion, I am pleased to announce the digital re-issue of the band's back catalogue in its entirity. The majority of material is now available on all major platforms (the remainder will be available soon).

Here are some links, through various platforms, to The Whisky Priests download catalogue: -

 

The Whisky Priests on Amazon

 

The Whisky Priests on CD Baby

 

The Whisky Priests on Spotify


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“The feel of Gary Miller’s lyrics carry traditional sensibilities. His original lyrics are as appealing as the melodies to which they’re set.”
Al Reiss, Dirty Linen, USA.