I'm an independent singer/songwriter based in Hampshire, England.
I have been playing guitar and singing in public for 20 years and have released 5 Studio Albums (3 as a solo artist). Additionally I've co-written a single titled 'All things unsaid' with Eleanor Larkin, released a single called 'A later not to miss' and recently released an album of instrumental songs from my last couple of releases.
I have 40,000+ followers on Facebook and over 300,000 video views at last count across all platforms.
Having spent 2018 promoting 'My Cure', as well as co-writing Eleanor Larkin's debut Single 'All Things Unsaid', I took a year off gigging and focussed on writing new songs for a new Album.
Its now 2020 and within the last couple of months, i've been out playing a few songs with a violinist friend (Gloria Apati) and am creating demo's with the aim to record a new album of original songs before the end of 2020.
Eleanor Larkin and I are also starting to work on a follow-up to Coopers Lane which will be comprised of some of our favorite cover songs. The aim is to also record this before the end of 2020.
'My Cure' Inspiration
The Studio Album 'My Cure' is my first Album of completely original material and features a wide range of styles including Rock, Folk, Country and Classical. The album tells my story of 2016. A year that saw me battle and beat Cancer.
I wrote the first song for 'My Cure' 2 weeks before Cancer diagnoses. I carried on writing through the whole experience of tumour removal, radiotherapy, neck dissection, leeches to combat an internal hemorrhage, nerve graft, platinum chain inserted into my eye lid and a sling inserted internally under my eye socket.
In the middle of the above,
I attended a song writing retreat on the island of Crete and wrote 3 songs with Anna Eriksson Skarin (Halfway Up Our Mountain), Annette Bjergfeldt (Will I Lose My first Love Twice?) and Maria Skanselid (Sixth Sense). Maria also played Cello to a high standard and so upon returning from the retreat, I took the decision to record some of the album in Sweden, to record the duets as well as Cello on 6 of the 9 tracks.
Publicity and Charity Work
The title track 'My Cure' provided a soundtrack for Cancer Research UK campaigns in 2017 and 2018. 'Will I lose my first love twice' and 'Lullabye' (a song I wrote for my young daughter) have been getting a lot of play on UK Radio and are included on several playlists on Spotify.
As well as helping raise awareness for CRUK, I also gave a keynote speech at the Facial Palsy UK Charity AGM in mid November of 2017.
The album was released in August 2017 to a great response from all around the world with some lovely reviews coming in via Facebook.
I've been interviewed by BBC TV and BBC Radio, Local TV Networks and been featured in numerous blogs and newspapers. All of them have focused on my recent journey and the telling of my story through my music. I've also conducted interviews on US Radio stations and am getting increasing Radio play on European stations.
I am over the moon with how the album has turned out and its been overwhelming to see how moved people are by my story as told through the songs.
Because some of studio musicians are based in Sweden I have been gigging in the UK with two close friends, namely Eleanor Larkin (Vocals) and Andrew Breeds (Lead Guitar). We are extremely tight and have a very soulful connection on stage. We are not an act that gets the crowd jumping, but we play calming, gentle, beautiful music that has reduced audience members to tears (in a good way!).
2018 is shaping up to be a good year. I've already started to write new songs and we have a number of festivals lined-up and are looking to continue to spread our wings and play further afield.
My musical life in detail
I grew up on The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince and 80s Pop. Then The Stone Roses and Nirvana happened and around that time I started playing guitar at 16 on a very cheap nylon string guitar (which I subsequently ruined by putting steel strings on it!). For about 15 years I really struggled at guitar, occasionally getting out of the house to play some Oasis or Seal covers at an open mic night.
Around 2000 some friends wanted to form a Rock Covers band and 'Bicycle Thieves' were born!
You can hear some of our stuff at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqGEfNYqP5ignIzyB-Yjo6A
I Played bass and sang backing vocals and Approx 8 years, fifty gigs and two Albums later (including a double album!) our singer moved to the US and so Bicycle Thieves were no more. Particular highlights from that time were a cover of Bullet the Blue Sky (particularly for the last 2 mins that Breeds (Guitar) and I wrote, an ambitiious attempt at 'Tool - The Pot', a classic Message in a Bottle which is as tight/solid a cover as you will ever hear, a regret at not properly recording our version of Comfortably Numb and of course 'The Muppets' - Mahna Mahna! We only played it once live but the expressions in that pub was priceless!
So...with Bicycle Thieves no more, I picked up the acoustic guitar again.
In 2011 I recorded my first solo album 'March Forward'. Its available as a CD at my gigs, at youtube.com/jamesparkinmusic (audio only) and occasionally via this website. Its a concept covers album and tells a story of March 2010 Forward (Which itself is play on Counting Crows 'August and Everything After). No such thing as an original thought!
The concept running order of songs is as follows:
1. Relationship breakup (Hey Ya!)
2. New Love (Slide)
4. Broken heart (Given in to me)
5. Anger and Bitterness(The Professor)
6. Hope for the future (Boatman).
An additional track was recorded and is available on original CD and occasionally via this website (a cover of The National 'Runaway').
Some songs which sounded great, but didn't quite make the cut mainly because they didn't fit the concept or were too similar to original included
Black (Pearl Jam)
Sail Away (David Gray)
Sand (Damien Rice)
Heartbeats (Jose Gonzales)
Be quiet and Drive (Deftones)
First Day of my life (Bright Eyes)
I do still occasionally play a few of the above at live gigs.
In 2014, Eleanor moved into the same road as me (Coopers Lane). I'd known Eleanor from a few years previously, having filled in on Bass in a function band Eleanor sang in.
It was a welcome coincidence so we decided to make the most of it and get together for cups of tea and sing-songs.
Eleanor and I then played a handful of open mic nights around Hampshire and Berkshire and decided it would be a shame not to record some of the more recordable songs properly. This ultimately led to us recording 'Coopers Lane' in December 2015. Deciding which songs to put onto Coopers Lane was tricky as we were quite prolific during that time. Some notable's that did not make the CD were:'
Higher Love' (Steve Winwood)
'Stop' (Sam Brown)
'I dont feel it anymore' (William Fitzimmons and Priscilla Ahn).
'Hey Now' (London Grammar)
'Lego House' (Ed Sheeran)
'Louder' (DJ Fresh)
'Falling Slowly' (Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova)
By this time, I had purchased my Stonebridge guitar and was becoming somehwhat more accomplished and developing a finger picking style of my own. Although Eleanor and I were jamming out covers, a unique 'floaty/chilled' style of playing was beginning to form which will become fully realised on my next album due for release in 2017 but can be heard to be taking shape most obviously on 'First Fires'. That track more than any other musically is a complete re-write compared to the original as there is zero guitar in the original.We recorded videos for each of the tracks on Coopers Lane in one day at Charborough Studios. They are all available to view along with audio versions of March Forward at youtube.com/jamesparkinmusic'
Coopers Lane' is also available from Amazon.com, iTunes and Spotify.
In March 2016 I was diagnosed with a lump that needed to be removed and this process unfortunately gave me facial palsy on the right side of face. I had promised myself that 2016 would be the year I wrote an original album and my condition and the subsequent time away from my day job and treatment afforded me the time and mental space to write some beautiful lyrics and floaty guitar. The new album has 9 tracks, including 3 duets with 3 different female vocalists. some drums, some bass, some mandolin, lots of a acoustic guitar, lots of me singing, some electric guitar and lots of Cello! The album was recorded in the UK and Sweden this summer and arranged in a way that tells a story, largely documenting my 2016.
The album was released in August and promotional videos featuring behind the scenes footage of the recording process are available on my facebook and youtube pages (see below for addresses).
I am always on the lookout for opportunities to play live whether its at a small pub or a large festival. Anywhere that appreciates the softer, gentler side of the musical spectrum and has an audience that want to listen (rather than just get pissed and shout WONDERWALL! at me) :)
Our live setup is changeable depending on the event and availability.
Current line-up consists of:
James Parkin - Acoustic Guitar/Vocals/Bass
Eleanor Richards - Vocals
Andrew Breeds - Acoustic Guitar/Bass
Pieter Engelke - Drums
Typically, we play as a trio and just invite Pieter along for the big events. However, sometimes it will just be Eleanor and I or, or I'll be solo or I'll perform with Andrew. So I guess the one guarantee is I'll always be there, but otherwise what you see will differ depending on who is available and the type of event it is. I have public liability insurance to the tune of 10 Million Pounds.
I have several places online that you can keep up to date on where I'm at and listen and see me play my music. Namely:
I update this every few days and tend to publish videos of live performances taken on my phone. In other words, this is where you see me without the glitz and glamour of my more professional video shoots!
This is where I host all my videos for my albums and typically only features my 'proper' videos that have been made with some production values and concepts etc....
My website where you can get a list of my forthcoming gigs and buy my music directly as well as read detailed information about my musical history.
An alternate place to buy my music and see info about upcoming gigs etc.
A place to listen to my singles for free
'To survive and Warrior on for one's children and life is truly one step at a time. Thank you for sharing your Gift'
'Really like this Artist! Beautiful and heartfelt songs! Check him out right now!'
'He has a raw talent , singing n playing the guitar as well as beating Cancer'