On Saturday, October 6th, 2018, I received my acceptance letter from the University of Westminster to for the Spring 2019 semester. I landed in London Heathrow Airport on January 10th, 2019, and as I type this, it is currently March 6th. I would make an attempt to catch everyone up on what has happened in these past two months; however, to refrain from typing a novel as long as Moby Dick, I will let you know what I’ve been up to till about Mid-February of this year. Everyone has their own reasons for traveling to London. It’s the first question everyone in the program asks when you meet them, “why London?”. Well, mine is quite simple. Music is my biggest passion, and arguably the largest reason why I am here. Artists like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, The Kinks, Oasis, The Smiths, Pink Floyd, etc. etc. (I could go all day), are the reason I am here. So, I knew when I got here, there was going to be an undeniable music scene that I have never seen the likes of. Naturally, I brought my guitar, and within weeks I even bought an acoustic guitar for busking and writing. Music is just as prominent as I thought it would be. No matter who you are, you can have an audience anytime you want. Whether you are busking at an underground rail station, performing at an open mic at a local pub, or playing to an audience of over 100 at the blues kitchen down the street, you can be active as a musician here. Personally, I do not love playing on my own. I never felt would do well as a solo artist; I am too much in love with being a part of a band, an essential piece to a puzzle, and a part of a unit. Nonetheless, this did not initially stop me. I started busking almost immediately, underground and outside at touristy spots. I was making decent money if I’m being honest, but the weather has made it hard for me to get back out there, so I await spring. Essentially, since I was so new here, I would just hop on a Tube line, find where most people got off, follow them outside, open my guitar case, grab my harmonica, and start playing all the hits I fancied. It was fun, but playing music alone always has cons for me. I love harmony too much to sing alone.
As the first week of class arrived, I already had the Manchester bug. I always loved the idea of Manchester and its working-class grit that led to bands like Joy Division, Oasis, The Smiths, and the Stone Roses. I went with a group of friends from the program, and in all our naivety of being new to traveling, we ended up booking an Airbnb in a boat along the canal. It was certainly interesting. It took forever to find as every boat looked the exact same; however, after thirty minutes we found it and it was freezing. As we rifled through the boat manual, we soon learned that there was no way to turn on the heat in the boat, but there was a stove heater for coal and wood. Not having previous experience on how to work one of these, and fearing burning down this man’s boat, we remained cautious and followed the instructions. Soon, it was a success, and after about 2 hours we were warm again. The first day we did not do much exploring, as it was cold and rainy (which I’m told is common for Manchester), so we just remained on the boat and cooked a nice pasta dinner. As the night progressed, we could overhear our fellow boat neighbors. Certainly, the boat has some cozy features and makes for a nice vacation; however, I could not visual living on one year-round. I commend the seamen that can pull it off. As day two approached, we had an early rise and headed to the National Football Museum. It was no surprise to me that football is a huge part of this country; however, it seemed way more prominent in Manchester. The fans of Manchester City and Manchester United are so passionate and Football plays such a large part of the city, that it only makes sense the National Football Museum is in Manchester. It was really fun seeing the history behind Football, how much it has developed, and how passionate people are about the game. If you are in Manchester, I recommend it. We then walked to Manchester United stadium, as there was a match going on that day, and got to see all the fans and hear the crowd. Unfortunately, you have to have tickets to enter a pub, and we could not go anywhere near the stadium to watch the game. Initially, we were confused by this, but someone claimed it is so they can separate the home and the away team to avoid any “drunken brawls”. We called an Uber and then ended up at a very hip part of Manchester, with lots of cool pubs and vintage clothing stores. I picked up a really cool crewneck that they had designed themselves and sewed together in the basement of the store. We later went to a pub where you sit in a booth and at the end of the table, there is an old rotary dial phone. You call the number on the table, the bartender answers, and you order your drinks through the phone; very hip. We then met some Manchester lads our age, three of them, who were all in a band together. We spent all night talking about music, I showed them mine, they showed us theirs, and they even showed us the exciting places to go to Manchester. They were great, friendly, and ended the night with, “if you ever need a place to stay in Manchester, just let us know”. I think I’ll take them up on that.
Classes started, and like the beginning of all classes, we were doing generic icebreakers. I noticed the guy next to me had a Grateful Dead sticker on his laptop, whose music I enjoy. His icebreaker was, “My names Max and I like to play the guitar”. I approached him after class, and soon learned that he had brought his guitar as well, he lived in the same hall as me, and we even dug the same music. Talk about the right place and the right time. Since then, we have jammed a lot, and we have been playing open mics all around London constantly trying to keep busy musically. We even played a small acoustic set on Hoxton Radio Station last week, but this is all stuff for next week’s blog. Now that we have got our sound down, we’ve been working on originals and hope to get a full headlining or opening act gig soon. In my next blog, all go into detail about the shows we’ve played, the songs we do, and my new beautiful acoustic guitar. I’ll also go into detail about how life-changing it was to visit Abbey Road Studios, as well as my trip to Scotland where my mate and I climbed a giant “hill” (more like a mountain). But until then, all my blogging, I will send to you. Was that cheesy? I bet.