Our Very First CD, with Ralph’s Life!

2014 is off to a mighty fine start for The Fine Line Project and friends, in particular Ralph, rock dog supreme. If you’re new to this blog, Ralph is a Jack Russell whose master Mike runs a popular Indie music blog and a weekly show on Radio Kaos Caribou, also a big supporter of ours. Ralph spent his Christmas and New Year leashed to Twitter, Facebook and an online crowdfunding project to raise money for a CD in aid of mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness. You can read more about that in our last blog, including a full track listing – 40 brilliant artists have donated their sounds to the project.

Ralph Fine Line Project Rethink CD cover

If you haven’t come across a crowdfunder before, it’s basically an all or nothing situation. Either you raise your cash in the allotted time or you don’t get a penny.  So things were a wee bit tense down at Ralph’s kennel on 2 January, as the 11th hour drew in and the money was still short. Thanks to an epic (this is definitely the right word) number of Tweets, including Christmas messages and personal appeals to every single one of some 5000 followers, and a rather sleepless night (we set alarms to follow the action from down South, at least we got some sleep), Mike managed to pull it off at the very last minute, topping his target of £5000 by an extra £120 on 3 January around 9 in the morning.

WOW! £5120 almost all thanks to the power of music and creative people who’ve supported this cause on Twitter, supplemented by a crowd of well wishers from further afield.

Some of that total will be wagging its way straight off to the charity – look  out for a swishy presentation cheque, currently being designed – while the rest will fund the CD and a launch gig in London, with ticket sales once again donated to Rethink.

*** We’ve always maintained that it’s not just about the money – awareness goes hand in hand with fundraising and we reckon generates much bigger and better things. The Ralph’s Life CD fundraiser has achieved way more than £5K+ in donations over the last few weeks. Forty fantastic artists have pledged their beautiful music and have lent their voices to a small campaign with a massive impact, hundreds and collectively thousands more have shown their support through Twitter, Facebook and via blogs and radio stations across the land and way beyond – lots of other countries joined in – with everyone united for one cause: talking about and raising money for mental health awareness and helping to counter the stigma which so often accompanies mental illness. ***

A lot of fun was also had along the way, especially in the build up to Christmas and New Year with extra music tracks donated, CDs, downloads, restaurant meals, artwork, T-shirts, cocktail recipes, special cassettes, knitted owls (we so wanted one!), poems, guitars, airtime, blog space, newspaper articles, interviews, RTs, MTs, SOs, future promises of support and so much more – it’s been an incredibly creative campaign all round.

One of our favourite things – listen to the RKC jingle:

Hats off to everyone who supported the cause and made such a big noise helping Ralph to achieve his goal with special thanks to RKC / Radio Kaos Caribou!

This is just the beginning of course…  Ralph’s master is now rather busy sorting the 240+ pledges from the crowdfunder, organising production of the 40 track CD and preparing for the London launch, a 14 band all day gig at Proud in Camden. We’re helping as much as we can. Whether you’ve been supporting this campaign all along or have just joined the ride, please help us too – let’s take this to the next level.

Support and Follow:

@fruitbatwalton (that’s Ralph) and @FineLineProject on Twitter, Ralph’s Mental Health Awareness Page on Facebook, The Fine Line Project on Facebook and please spread the word about the launch gig. Here’s the Facebook event page for that and here’s the crucial link:

2 MARCH 2014 – RALPH’S LIFE CD LAUNCH NIGHT TICKET LINK

The Proud Camden gig is due to feature 13 of the bands from the CD and one local guest band –that’s 14 bands, all for a mere £10 and with all proceeds to Rethink:

If you can’t make it to the gig, please keep an eye out for the CD – we’ll need your help to sell all the copies and raise even more money for Rethink.

Once again folks, THANK YOU!

Crowd Funding Campaign: Music Supporting Mental Health Awareness

Today’s the big day! Ralph’s Life has launched a 6 week crowd funding campaign to produce a charity CD featuring 40 brilliant tracks by (mainly) Indie artistes. We know they’re all brilliant because we did a mega micro-review session on Twitter covering every single number during a special show courtesy of the fantastic Radio Kaos Caribou a few days ago.

Wullae Wright, one of the talented contributors to the double album has created some stunning artwork featuring all the artistes’ names and the one and only Ralph, of course. Plans are afoot (apaw?) to get some prints made.

Wullae Wright for #RalFLP

The support for this great music project has so far been phenomenal and now’s the time to turn up the volume by sharing the story with as many people as you can. We want to raise as much awareness and money as possible. Every penny raised will go to charity Rethink Mental Illness – although they’re UK based their reach is global. Rethink also run ground-breaking campaigns like Time To Change with Mind Charity making a direct impact on how mental illness is viewed, discussed and managed at every level. It really is Time To Talk about mental health – this should be in the same breath as physical health – the two go hand in hand after all.

A couple of other artists are donating proceeds from their latest track sales over the next 6 weeks. Check this epic number by Graham Marshall whose track will feature on the double CD and this beautiful song by his friend Jane Allison.

To listen to some of the tracks on Ralph’s Life double album check out The Fine Line Project on Soundcloud.

The most crucial link of all, here is Ralph’s Life’s Charity Music CD’s Crowdfunding page – please make a pledge today (from as little as £1) and ask all your friends, family and work colleagues to get involved with this important cause. Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 worldwide – none of us can afford to be complacent. Let’s all help to bring about some change today.

We thank you in advance for spreading the good word and the great music!

Mog Stanley @ The Fine Line Project, Southampton Cellar

First up and first on stage for our Rethink benefit last month, one man band, blues guitarist and singer Mog Stanley.

MogStanleySC2207SteveMaynardWmW

Mog drove a heroic number of miles to join us, stopping off on the way to record one of his feature tracks ‘Hands’ at St Pauls Lifestyle’s studio.

We loved Mog’s signature twangy guitar blues sounds, from laid back through to foot stomping, all to the accompaniment of his unique percussion ensemble – a whole box of self-assembled tricks, complete with shaking shoes.

MogStanley2205SteveMaynardWmWMogStanley2218SteveMayWmWMogStanley2238SteveMaynardWmW

Since the Fine Line Project gig Mog’s been working on some new material and new sounds, including this melodic ballad Moving On:

Mog Stanley Moving On

Keep an eye on his site for more new tracks and news of his forthcoming album.

Big thanks to Steve Maynard who took all The Fine Line Project photos at The Cellar, Southampton including those shown here.

Read more about Mog Stanley and his St Pauls Lifestyle session on their dedicated Fine Line Project pages.

Big thanks again to Mog, the whole team at St Pauls Lifestyle and The Cellar Southampton for hosting the event.

Fine Line Project June 8th: Charlotte Campbell / Mog Stanley

Completing our line up for the Rethink Benefit at The Cellar Southampton on June 8th we have 2 more artists.

Upcoming local talent, Charlotte Campbell, one of the area’s biggest rising stars, is a singer songwriter with a voice exuding warmth and crystal clarity, beautiful melodies and a quirky folk/pop vibe which is already short-circuiting her to success. Charlotte is a graduate of the BRIT school and current scholarship student at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, having won her place through Mayor of London’s Gigs Live competition (Summer 2012). She has just released her new album Blue Eyed Soul featuring this catchy original tune – Quiet Nights:

We’re looking forward to opening the show with the powerhouse that is Mog Stanley’s one-man band, featuring some exceptionally brilliant blues guitar sounds along with his custom designed ‘percussion toe tapping shoe box thingy’. Mog will be releasing new recordings this Summer. We’re also hoping he’ll have a clutch of his recent EPs to bring to the gig including this awesome little track, Tricky Mouth Blues:

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The 8th also features Noah Francis in the headline slot and Where’s Strutter?

The Fine Line Project June 8th: Where’s Strutter? Live

It’s so refreshing to hear a genuinely original band – from the opening bars the echoing sound of Where’s Strutter?’s Long Way Down wraps you in, swirling forth through subtle twists, cascading guitars and an epic solo, all held together by some great drumming and Paddy’s melodic tones. This track sweeps you up, building in and out of massive crescendos in several loops – it’s all there in one song and delivered with palpable pleasure from St Pauls Lifestyle’s studio. This band from Manchester sure are going places; catch them while you can in a smaller venue. Hear them first at Southampton’s Cellar on the 8th with The Fine Line Project. We can’t wait!

Paddy on guitar/vocals, Danny on lead guitar, Broady on drums and Leach on bass, listen up:

Noah Francis to Headline Fine Line Project Southampton

We’re unbelievably excited about our next headline act, the incredibly talented Noah Francis.

We first saw Noah perform last year and were totally blown away by his voice, his songs, his band and his sheer presence on stage. Here’s an artist who certainly knows how to capture and hold his audience’s attention from the subtlest melodic tone to the sheer power of the chorus, all tightly controlled yet delivered with utter ease – electricity unleashed. More about this great singer, his band and new album later.

Meantime a word about our hosts, the fabulous Cellar in central Southampton – we’re looking forward to heading South on June 8th to work with this legendary music venue and their great team. We’ll be promoting the gig, which is in aid of Rethink, in collaboration with another brilliant Southern outfit, St Pauls Lifestyle, the cult music site known for their unstinted support of indie music everywhere. These people have soul! We’re also looking forward to some online support from the one and only Ralph, rock dog par excellence.

Watch this space for the rest of the line up. Meanwhile you can join us on Facebook and Twitter or email to be added to our mailing list.

We did say heading South in June – here’s a suitably sunny shot of Noah and Jamboree, one of his acoustic tracks. Back soon with more news.

Noah Francis Johnson South

Schizophrenia Shouldn’t be a Life Sentence (14 November 2012) – The Guardian by Zoe Williams

Did you know that schizophrenia is the most common cause of hospitalisation? While we wait for the Troubadour music benefit pictures to wing their way across the net, here’s a salutary reminder that our fundraising venture on Saturday was and remains crucially important. This piece follows the publication of The Schizophrenia Commission by Rethink Mental Illness earlier in November.

Article first published in the Comment is Free section of The Guardian on November 14th. See link below, well worth visiting for the comments. With thanks to Zoe Williams, British columnist and journalist and The Guardian newspaper.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited

Creative Commons picture by Francesco de Comite Freedesktopwallpaperart.com

Creative Commons Picture by Francesco de Comite freedesktopwallpaperart.com

Schizophrenia Shouldn’t be a Life Sentence. But it will be.

Patients used to be given only pills. They respond far better when asked about their lives – that’s the bit that costs, though.

They call it the Abandoned Illness, in the Schizophrenia commission’s report – but not, they emphasise, because it is an illness society can afford to abandon. In fact, schizophrenia costs the health service more than cancer or heart disease. It’s the most common cause of hospitalisation, and – since it won’t go away on its own – will last a lifetime with the level of care patients often receive.

There is a high level of coercion; every year, more people are admitted to hospital against their will as surrounding services are cut. The conditions in mental health units are so demoralized, overcrowded, grotty and often dangerous, that every time you’re admitted against your will, that experience in itself will make you progressively less likely to go in of your own accord. Coercive care is the most expensive form of treatment you could ever devise; last year it cost £1.2bn, about 19% of the mental health budget.

Patients are often put on drugs which then aren’t monitored. They’re given no access to talking therapies, and after a decade or two the side-effects of the drugs may have become more problematic and more defining than the illness itself. Partly as a consequence of this, partly because the time isn’t taken to involve them in the treatment of their physical health, people with severe mental illnesses die 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.

If engaging with the NHS is difficult, then engaging with the surrounding network, the benefits system, is rendered more so by an institutional dimwittedness that often sounds deliberate.

My stepmother, whose son has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, read me the questions on the disability living allowance form: “I am not motivated to wash: how often? How long each time? I am not aware of common dangers: how often? How long each time?; I might wander: how often? How long each time?” The traits ascribed to serious mental illness are often wildly off, as if the person devising the form couldn’t be bothered to look up the illness on Wikipedia and didn’t even aim for an internal logic to their own questions. And all that is pre-Atos, whose assessments on mental illness are so ignorant that in July the Public Law Project won the right to take them to judicial review.

Slipping through benefits assessments; being left on drug regimes that are accompanied by many other problems (weight gain sounds trivial, but as a cause of premature death, it isn’t); never getting the cognitive behavioural therapy Nice recommends – all these things heap on pressure, and the result is often crisis hospitalisation.

In a way, this situation is totally predictable. You take a diagnosis that is at once very fixed (a life sentence, incurable) but at the same time, very fluid (taking in so many symptoms, covering so much ground) and it is unsurprising to find its treatment marked by low morale and inertia.

But that’s nothing like the full story of this report. Nearly a decade ago an early intervention programme (EIP) was started whose defining features weren’t, as its name suggests, just arriving fast on the scene of a recent diagnosis. Instead, as consultant clinical psychologist Dr Alison Brabben explains: “It was quite a break away from traditional mental health services. Previously, schizophrenia was seen as a purely biological condition, the diagnosis was made and then people were given a pill to try to make the symptoms better. No one ever asked about people’s lives.”

EIP staff had small caseloads and were highly trained, and they could refer people to cognitive behavioural and family therapies – that’s the bit that cost the money. The part patients valued was that they were asked real questions about their concerns. Plenty of people can live with delusions and voices: it’s some other factor that makes their lives unliveable. It’s probably related to money or relationships, like everybody else’s problems are. It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? When you listen to people they engage more, they can make use of the support you’re offering and they’re less likely to end up in hospital.

Nevertheless, it remains contentious, because part of the treatment involves allowing for the possibility that the disease was caused by trauma.

Medicine, and indeed society, frames its questions in a binary way: it’s either chemical or it’s psycho-social. It’s either incurable or it’s curable. In fact, it has been clear for a long time that the chemical explanation for psychosis was incomplete. If you look at the constituency of people with the diagnosis, black groups are far more likely to be represented, and yet these high rates aren’t found in Africa or the Caribbean. Being black isn’t the problem. It’s being black in Britain. Being poor, being discriminated against, being bullied. “If you could remove early adversity, you would probably remove a third of cases of psychosis,” Brabben says. And yet the trauma explanation isn’t complete either – what about the other two-thirds?

Ultimately, treatment will lie in the grey areas – the causes that remain unknown, the interventions that can’t be measured in milligrams, whose success is defined in terms of “personal recovery” and doesn’t look the same in any two people. More pressingly, local commissioning bodies must resist the urge to cut costs by driving up caseloads and driving down training; the process of sucking the time and warmth and energy out of the relationship which, in many places, has already begun. It might sound cheaper, but it won’t be. Local commissioners, it will get you where it hurts, right in your fiendishly expensive, locum-staffed secure units, which should be a last resort – and too often have been the only resort.

Link to original Comment is Free/The Guardian article here.