When Plymouth builder and musician Pat Orchard failed to win an online talent competition for songwriters over 50, he was disappointed but not discouraged – and set about creating a CD of pieces by other composers who missed fame.
Pat, from Stoke, was stunned as he listened to the quality of the singer-songwriter entries for the Talent is Timeless global acoustic songwriting competition for artists aged 50 and over.
And when he realized that there were so many good songs that hadn’t made the cut and hadn’t won any awards, he decided to do something about it.
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Pat’s own effort When We Were Young took him to No. 1,459, he joked: “As the contest only had 1,458 entrants, I find myself oddly proud of this achievement. .”
But it’s not so much that he failed to land one of the “world-class prizes”, such as recording contracts and studio time at the famous Abbey Road, but that he thought some of his fellow candidates, who also fell by the wayside, were worth celebrating.
“Some of them were amazing,” Pat said. “I felt sorry for them and I didn’t want them to disappear.
“This competition brought me closer to so many other creative souls of a certain age and I will always be grateful to Talent is Timeless for that. I realized that I was part of the great musical tradition of this country.
“I knew then that I had to collect as many of these writers and their songs as I could possibly fit into a CD.”
He undertakes to contact them, forms a team, sets up a production vehicle, raises funds and between them they end up producing a double CD album, entitled Late Night Flying, of 20 captivating titles.
Featured musicians hail from all over the country, including the Southwest, and their tracks can be heard on the website www.latenightflying.com and all major streaming sites, including Bandcamp.
The site says, “With a combined age of over 1,000 years, the cast of Late Night Flying bring the full breadth of their life experience combined with their lyrical content, drawing on the human condition, life, death, love and loss, raising families, and surviving the changes and challenges that life presents to all of us.
And that life experience came in handy during the production of the album – as many artists brought their business experience and working talents to bear to make it a reality.
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The talent pool included graphic and web designers, videographers and sound engineers and a Facebook group was formed to communicate with all artists and keep them updated on the project.
Pat said he would have liked to include more than 20, the range of talent was so wide, but had to stop somewhere and settle on those who were quick to respond to contact.
He said: “It went from a single to a double and could have been a triple album. There’s another album that has people I like and people I’d like to work with.
Pat said Late Night Flying is all the better at representing people still performing live, with styles ranging from ambient to pure pop.
“Maybe I’m the pilot of this plane, but without the incredible 20 acts that moved the airways under my wings, it would never have taken off,” he said.
These 20 artists got to vote on the name, settling on Late Night Flying because it brings back memories of coming home from early-hours gigs listening to selections from “Whispering” Bob Harris and John Peel on the car radios.
A CD pressing plant was found and the project was registered with PRS for Music, home of the Performing Rights Society and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society, and Phonographic Performance Ltd who collect royalties.
A method was created to pay performers, although many decided to donate their share to charity and the proceeds could be used for another CD.
Pat said album sales have already recouped the cost of production and added, “Physical CDs have sold well, as have digital downloads. An online radio made it its record of the year.”
Pat works as a full-time builder in Plymouth, but in his early years he was an acclaimed minstrel and although he describes himself as “a successful marvel who wonders where his success lies” he nevertheless performed and toured with a wide range of renowned musicians. artists such as Johnny Cash, Annie Lennox, Randy Crawford, Blue Oyster Cult, John Martyn, Spiritualized, ELP, Robert Plant, The Mission, Arthur Brown & Love, Christy Moore, Pentangle and Richard Thompson.
Pat has performed at many major festivals, including Glastonbury, Montreux, Womad and Reading, as well as in Europe and the United States. It was filmed live on MTV.
“When I had a good run in the music industry, record companies and publishers were always trying to get me to write music in a style they had no idea, or inclination to deal with. a loose cannon whose songs always changed genres depending on where I was in life at the time,” Pat said.
“I could never have been a star because I was always black, a builder who got lucky. One morning I unblocked a client’s sewer and in the evening I supported Johnny Cash , opening for him solo at the Royal Albert Hall That said all or nothing, you can make up your own mind.
Pat describes himself as a proud ‘Janner in the works’, Plymouth Argyle supporter and member of the Green Army, whose video for When We Were Young was filmed crossing the Tamar on the Cremyll Ferry.
He said the music industry is “colored with ageism and shiny wrappers that, once opened, are thrown away like yesterday’s unwanted Christmas presents” and said, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t win not a contest if you’re just competing with yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you’re recording at Abbey Road or Shabby Road, it’s what you’re recording that matters.
“Ask Billie Eilish, one of the best albums of the decade was recorded in her brother Finneas’ bedroom and mastered in a friend’s living room.
“Anything is possible. Anytime. Everyone is someone, and you just have to be good at being yourself. Failure? It will never happen if you never give up trying.
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