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Teach an old blog new tricks

I'm probably more lazy than incompetent when it comes to IT - so I've just copied text (minus pics and vids) from the older blogs for the record. It may help subsequent blogs make more sense!


Thoughts of a frontman, part 5 - NEW FILM!



The Rivers Of England 2nd album (out early 2016) project has been long, at times tricky and put me deeper in debt than I ever want to go again but has also been persistently affirming and exciting. Now the tree bears the first fruit thanks to so many people. Martin Tompkins has done a cracking job on this first music video ‘in the barley’ that stars my lovely lady Lou and myself. The track features the amazing blues rock legend and former Robert Plant guitarist Innes Sibun, as well as many other deserving names from the Rivers Of England collective (Bill, Patch, Dan, Roo in this case - Brian and Jay on most of the other tracks on the album). Thanks to all those who’ve pre-ordered the album. Should anyone else wish to, you can do so here

Pre-order CD available October 2015

Pre-order new CD £10.00 GBP 1st album & new album pre-order £15.00 GBP

We now look forward to the promotional tours about the time the album is released on 29th January 2016 with our friends at Songs and Whispers (Germany) and Folkwit Records (UK)! Popularity is not the reason we do this, but it definitely comes in handy – please share:

In The Barley (featuring Innes Sibun) from Rivers Of England on Vimeo.


Thoughts of a frontman, part 4 - it's alright to ask!



I was made aware of the book ‘The Art of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer recently. To be honest, I can’t be bothered to add it to my long reading list – bit like the ‘Power of Now’ – once you’ve seen the title – you get the point (bit lazy), so now I feel it’s alright to ask. Here’s my ask: please will you help us finish the album by pre-ordering via our paypal link on the frontpage of the website where there’s also a video to go with the ‘ask’. Here’s what you get: YOUR NAME ON THE ALBUM SLEEVE!!!! + A NEW ALBUM BEFORE IT’S OFFICIALLY RELEASED (or for a little more you also get our 1st album) + INVITE TO BE IN OUR NEXT VIDEO The reason we’re asking is that we’ve run out of money really, being perfectionists. All we’ve managed to pay so far is the studio time – what remains is the mastering, artwork, printing, video (Martin Tompkins you are a genius) and promotion. Honestly feeling immensely proud of all who’ve been involved and what we’ve achieved so join our club and be part of the . More soon on a unique launch party and single release. LOVE Rob ps. thanks to those who've already done the deed...i haven't forgotten you.


Thoughts of a frontman, part 3 - pre-order to be on artwork.


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“To vinyl or not to vinyl – that is the question!” not William Shakespeare.

Actually not a river, but a canal with the late, great Joe.

I've recently become a bit of an anorak about vinyl. I love the artwork, the relative effort of putting it on the record player, the attention you give it as a result and the better sound than most CDs - which lack the depth or 'dynamic range'. This doesn't need to be the case, but modern CD releases are hugely compressed ready for radio, as a particularly sized download or streaming file or for playing in cars (lots of background noise). Sorry to bore you with the technical stuff, but it's not the CD's fault - it's what is done to the music before it gets put on CD. It's what has become the expectation / the industry standard, for better or worse. The strange truth is - to quote our producer Josh Clark: "it’s perfectly possible to release a high-dynamic range version on a CD at 16BIT 44.1kHz, but the public are badly informed on the subject." I've scratched my head over what to do about this, i.e. whether to release an 'audiophile' CD, claiming greater dynamic range than a vinyl - probably an unpopular option given the fashionable but small vinyl resurgence (numerically it is still small). The cost of cutting vinyl is 5 times the cost of CDs and it's a financial risk we're not yet in a position to take. The outcome is that we'll release the album as follows: - a medium dynamic range on CD and as a download; - a higher dynamic range for download as FLAC / WAV formats - and ultimately a vinyl version when the album goes platinum ;-) Enough of the technical stuff - concentrate on the music! We’re now as far as putting the cherries on the cake in terms of backing vocals, guest musicians (Innes Sibun!) and an amazing looking music video (Martin Tompkins). There’s still the mixing and mastering to come after that, the tinkering with cover designs and the printing. Probably nothing like child birth, but giving birth – at times painful, but we’ve created something we love and are very proud of (HAVE A LISTEN TO A ROUGH MIX HERE). So please, help us pay for the substantial studio and printing costs and give a CD a home - pre-order now to get your name on the album artwork as a ‘thank you’ (available summer 2015). See you on the album cover! Team Rivers Of England (cringe)

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Thoughts of a frontman, part 2 – jumping the gun



Rob Spalding

Never make your music available until it is finished. Here’s an unfinished album track -‘Underneath the moon (mix 2)’ and a rough video demo of a new track called 'Waves': We’re about ¾ of the way through recording our 2nd album and my impatience and desire to prove productivity means I have to share one of the almost finished tracks ‘Underneath The Moon’. The final version will sound different i.e. altered respective volumes of each instrument, compression, panning (L/R), reverb, harmonies, less compression, counter harmonies, a choir, a cow...who knows?! Featured on this track (Underneath The Moon) are the following Rivers Of England inmates: Bill Owsley on double bass, Patrick Morgan on drums, Danyal Dhondy on viola (he also arranged the strings - amazing) Roo (Robert Primrose) on violin, myself (Rob Spalding hello) on Rhodes keyboard, guitar, vocals, mirrors and ego. Josh Clarke played no small part in mixing and managing. Here’s who’s on the album so far:

Innes Sibun

Danyal Dhondy

Patch Morgan

Jake Tyghe

Robert Primrose

Brian Madigan

William Owsley

A word for our label 'Songs & Whispers' & 'Folkwit'.

We are signed to 'Songs & Whispers' in Germany and 'Folkwit' in the UK. We like them, so please check them out.


Thoughts of a frontman, part 1 - 'less band - more collective'.



I'm sitting on a train back from London on a sunny September afternoon after a day's training for my office job. While others around me tap annoyingly on their laptops & do nothing to keep quiet the urgency of their business, my thoughts turn to our band's 2nd album. On top of my full-time office job, I am the singer-songwriter, bandleader, manager, treasurer, promoter, driver & frontman of the band Rivers Of England. By our standards, we've had an exciting 2 years: album release and tours in UK and Europe (soon Asia); good reviews including from the Glastonbury Emerging Talent contest and prominent German websites; BBC radio play; sellout gigs.....there is the huge satisfaction of having product but we remain in our full-time jobs and almost anonymous. I have the 1st mixes of some of the new material in my headphones and a notepad on the fold-out table in front of me. I can hear the potential of the new tunes about the tapping and yapping, but it will be a significant amount of time before I can share it with you. I'm excited by having just booked Innes Sibun to play some guitar on the album in December, but what else?

On my list of things to do is many administrative tasks including much overdue PRS gig logging; filling out 'next years plan' form for our efficient German label (Songs And Whispers); a video that is more than run of the mill; arrangements of rehearsals, collaborations and booking for recording; whether to incorporate into the album the sound recording of my nephew and I rowing along a river in Norfolk; should all the voices be mine? Is my hammond playing good enough? Is it worth cutting vinyl? then there's practising, writing and managing the relationships - keeping everyone happy (and sometimes paid). This is easier said than done and I'm probably not without error here, but so far we have evolved from a band into a unique sounding collective and have had no less than 13 members gig and record with us - happily most of them come back with bells on. Barring our current inter-album quiet period, becoming a collective allows us to keep existing, improving and gathering Kudos and tho we don't have a desperate need to be a mainstream success exposure is always welcomed. To be successful I'm told you must utilise all media. I have concluded that on balance, social media is bad for you unless you have something to promote. It distracts you when you are trying to be creative and people rarely tell you of all the 'offline' time, effort and disappointment they have faced prior to their latest boast, thus you gain only an inferiority complex. Perhaps the most respected contemporary composer - Arvo Part (my fave) - does not even have his own website. Despite that, I have the urge to let people know that while we have nothing new to sell yet, we are excited about what we're working on hope they are too. Right, that's it for now - off to focus on creating and will social media you in no particular rush!


Ludwig Van...



Last minute preparations for our album release tour of Germany (and Netherlands). Joining Annie and myself (Rob) is Jacob Tyghe and Brian Madigan who have stepped in on bass and percussion to cover for The Goat and Patch, as they are unable to leave their teaching and studying posts at the moment. One of the most exciting venues we'll be playing is Sendesaal in Bremen (see picture). If you're Germany, check out our dates here and come say hello. We'll be test driving some new songs and test driving our new van 'Ludwig' (get it?...Ludwig VAN Beethoven....ha haa and he's an LDV), who although a lovable chap, has a rather noisy axle at 60mph! I've bought ear protectors for the band and lots of nice travelling sweets! Further album release gigs in the UK and a new EP being recorded very soon. Watch this space. love Rivers x


irons in the fire & quotes



Hello to 2014 and all who sail in her. 'tis gonna be an active 2014 for ROE.. In March we are off to mainland Europe for the album release tour. We've dreamed up an exciting project to arrange some of the songs from 'Of Trivial And Gargantuan' (Where To Begin and Spinning Planets) for orchestra and choir in partnership with genius collaborator and occasional band member Danyal Dhondy. We've had some new photos done by Martin Tompkins and Anni Janik - see our 'press and impress' page for some of the best. Writing for the new album is going well - recording will commence in the summer. Without going deep into the inspiration for the new songs, here are some quotes.... "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself", Carl Sagan. "She longed for the sea....." The Loving Spirit by Daphne Du Maurier. (er, can't find the rest of that one, if anyone know's it let me know, it sounded great!) "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." Socrates. See you sometime. love R


Tour story and new song video



So, it's been a month since we returned from tour in Germany. Most of the original lineup couldn't attend (except Dan in the foreground), but the brilliant Neil and Paul from Protest Crayon deputized to form Reservoirs Of England I suppose you could say. Here's a silly picture of us in our pleasant residence in Bremen. See diary below. Some vids are going up on this site and more pictures, but here are the main photo highlights from the tour, courtesy of our good actor friend Simon Capes.....

Day 1 Met Protest Crayon in Bristol and drove to London to meet Simon Capes (acting tour manager and counsellor) and Danyal Dhondy (legendary string player and arranger) and pick up the lovely tourbus from Tiger Tours - recommended! Euro-tunnel - fascinated our childlike minds. Found amazing hostel in Bruges called Snuffel and instantly sorted an amazing unplugged gig for the evening courtesy of Paul's charisma. Lots of beer and younger people....20 to a room!!! Day 2 Drove 3 hungover boys and 2 sensible lads to Hanover, stopping off at an unknown German town for a puke - no names. OK gig at GIG Linden with a promoter we did not expect to meet or to be real. Where did he come from? Late night drive up to Astrid's house (Songs And Whispers) to pick up flat key and deliver a pot plant as a thank-you (originally bought to get Neil through a difficult journey). Day 3 Can't really remember much about this day except eating and hanging out downtown before another spontaneous gig at Lox Cafe in the suburbs. Day 4 Ace gigs at Haus am Walde outdoor festival in Bremen. Dan breaks new record in hours without sleep and unsuccessful flirtation. Met Red Sail - ace harmonies guys. They shared the flat and observed a remarkable display of table football victories against local hustlers - Paul and Rob kicked some bottom! Day 5 Another gig at Haus am Walde - even better. Nice big stage, great sound, complimentary food and drink (oh dear!). Day 6 A productive recording session at Heiko's studio in Bremen - great sound (vid here ). Some recordings being put up on soundcloud ). The best sounding gig in Oldenburg played to a 'funsize' audience as promotion department missed the fact a big festival was going on 1 mile away in the town centre of Oldenburg. Famous beer-mat trick performed by Simon to much cheering and applause from all present - admittedly some bemused indigenous faces also...amazing! Day 7 16 hours of road and vehicles punctuated by a smelly Eurotunnel toilet....expect no glamour and you will not be disappointed! Next for Rivers Of England: autumn tour tbc; writing for new album recording 2014; more videos on their way; keep in touch.


Video killed the radio star...nearly!



So here it is, the new video for our song 'Selfless People' from our debut album 'Of Trivial And Gargantuan'. This was conceived, filmed and directed by Simon Capes and edited by Ian Clutterbuck (Rob's long-term collaborators at As the last blog said, it features lead-singer Rob (me) plus 5 selfless people. Hope you enjoy it / are bemused by it / indifferent about it / disappointed by it / over the moon about it! Next stop - Germany. Happy June! Rob and all.


Actual selfless people...



A few weeks ago, following a request from our label Songs & Whispers, I (Rob) went to London to film a video for our song 'Selfless People'. It was filmed and directed by my pal Simon Capes. He waved his magic wand and assembled an amazing group of people to play roles - including actors, artists and all round lovely people. We wanted to share the pictures of who these people were who gave up their time and played the game. I won't say exactly what the video is like (that's in the next blog in a couple of weeks), other than it involved a shopping trolley and the houses of parliament. I will post the video in the next couple of weeks. I was bowled over by how cool these people were - thanks sooo much. Here they are! Love Rob


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