Swan Inn, Stranraer

With thanks to Jon Noad of The Razorbills for taking these photos of us at The Swan Inn at Stranraer

Dumfries Town Centre

On Sunday September 7th, we played under the Midsteeple in Dumfries Town Centre as part of the "In Our Town" summer festivities programme.

Photos courtesy of Our Dumfries & Galloway - https://www.facebook.com/ourdg

It was a dry and mostly sunny day and we played our set twice - once at 1pm and again at 3pm, with a bit of time off in between to eat our sandwiches, chat and be treated to a coffee by our friend, Rachel.

Wickerman Festival

Lots of fun in July playing the Acoustic Main Stage at The Wickerman Festival.

Unfortunately technical problems at the start of our slot (lots of buzzing and sound cutting out) meant we lost about 10 minutes of our set getting it sorted out. However, what we did perform went down really well.

Here are a few photos of us, courtesy of Pete from PR Imaging - www.primaging.net

And this one, taken shortly after the gig by Lee Medd of Kim with radio presenter and magazine editor, Andrea Thompson, wearing feather earrings that match his glasses

Eden Festival

Traditionally Eden Festival has usually got underway on the Friday, although many revellers begin setting up camp on the Thursday, so this year bands were booked for Rabbie's Tavern (the beer tent) on the Thursday evening.

Marcus and I were there to entertain the crowd. A slightly shaky start when Marcus's string broke after the first song, but we soon got back into our stride and we received plenty of enthusiastic applause at the end of the set.

Thanks to Pete of PR Imaging for these photos of us playing

The Cracked Man - the first gigs - by Kim Ayres

Marcus and I finally settled on a name for our new musical venture - The Cracked Man. I was looking for a name that wasn't clean and polished, but had something of a used and lived in quality to it. And then, in these days of social networking and promotion, we also needed something where we could get hold of the matching domain name, and there weren't already 20 bands out there with the same name - and that isn't particularly easy. All this in addition to making sure your band mate likes it too...

For the past few weeks we've been constructing enough songs to give us a half hour set so we could be the support act in 2 different gigs. We decided from the start that we would only do songs we both felt enthusiastic about. Experience in previous bands has taught us both that performing songs we weren't that keen on because of compromises and politics within a group dynamic isn't very fulfilling. So if I introduce something that doesn't do it for Marcus, or vice versa, then we won't develop it and it can be kept back for a different situation or collaboration with other musicians. The upshot of this is I'm loving the music we've produced so far.

Our first outing as The Cracked Man was last Thursday at The Crown Hotel in Newton Stewart, supporting Chris Mills and The Distant Stars - a superb act all the way over from America. Marcus had been booked to support on his own, but as we started developing our sound he suggested we do it together. Although I would love to have had another half a dozen rehearsals first, at some point you have to have your first gig, for which you will never feel ready. I was far more nervous than excited and had a great big knot in the middle of my chest for most of the performance. However, mistakes were minimal and the crowd seemed genuinely enthusiastic, which was a huge relief. Shortly afterwards, Chris Mills walked past humming our last song and was full of praise.

One of the drawbacks of being both a photographer and musician is that I can't photograph myself while playing. Fortunately David Moses, a Newton Stewart based portrait and event photographer, was there to shoot Chris and his band and took some shots of us. David's a sound guy and we had a good long blether about photography afterwards. I even gave him him a hand when he was photographing Chris by holding an off-camera flash unit for him so he could get some cool shots with side or back light, depending on where I stood.

The Cracked Man, courtesy of David Moses

Then on Saturday we were the support act for the amazing Sean Taylor, who was kicking off The Mill Sessions season. This was the 3rd time I've seen him play live and I'm always blown away by his skill and musicianship. Having survived the Chris Mills gig, this time I was more excited than nervous and was able to enjoy playing more.

I handed my camera to our friend, Susi, who was kind enough to video us playing. Unfortunately the low light meant the quality wasn't that great, and as the colours had an appalling yellow shift (I'd forgotten to adjust the white-balance on the camera before handing it to her), I decided I'd better put it in black and white when I edited it. So, it's not a brilliant video, but I did promise I'd try and get something up for you and it does give a flavour of the kind of music The Cracked Man is producing.

If you'd like to show us your support, please head over to our new Facebook page and click "like" - https://www.facebook.com/thecrackedman

Further links:
Chris Mills and The Distant Stars - http://chrismillsmusic.com/
Sean Taylor - http://www.seantaylorsongs.com/
David Moses - http://davidmoses.photoshelter.com