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  • Writer's pictureJoe Dolman

Big Yellow Taxi.

Today is the 1st of November, and last night I played a gig (that’s right, a REAL gig!) with Secret Adventures, at the beautiful Hackney Round Chapel in London. I actually performed solo last week too, but last night I was invited back and brought along Harry Green and John Connearn to play alongside me. The venue normally holds 800 people but due to the social distancing measures in place the capacity was down to 240. Despite the size it felt a very cosy venue; probably down to the millions of candles lit around the stage and beautiful lights around the room.

I’ve only played a handful of gigs in 2020, mostly in tiny pubs and I didn’t think I’d get to play any big shows this year with everything that’s been going on and had pretty much accepted that as fact. At the beginning of the year i was devastated when I thought about that statement. Most of my life for the last 8 years has been playing gigs, so the thought of 2020 being a year without performing live felt very unsettling and honestly, pretty depressing.

There isn’t really a part of touring/playing live that I don’t love - I feel very grateful each and every time I get to perform and even though it’s been a pretty long time since I had a regular day job, I remember them all very well and know how lucky I am to be doing what I love and making a living from it (Thank you once again for supporting me, i’ll never stop being thankful for you!)

As the months started to disappear in 2020 since that first lockdown (lockdown 2.0 pending here in the UK; how are you feeling about it?) I began to find my groove in this new way of working. I had completed a few remote production jobs, producing other artists songs from home and then once restrictions eased, having them come over to record their vocals with me. Patreon started to feel comfortably embedded into my routine (Even having a somewhat monthly/weekly routine is a new thing for me, usually my life revolves around tour/release cycles and seasonal work i.e. festival circuits/Christmas) as well as simply being at home with my family for more than a few days a month began feeling normal and truthfully, I’m loving it.

Don’t get me wrong it isn’t like the idea of gigs stopped exciting me, it was more that I just discovered there was space for me within new & different ways of working. I’ve been creating/producing music for almost as long as i’ve been writing songs mainly for myself but through the 14 Records days, I worked on countless tracks for other bands & artists with varying amounts of input from me on the production.

Despite all that though, I’ve never felt confident enough to title myself as a “producer” and i’m not entirely sure why.

I’ve always felt like a bit of a fraud as I know I’m not a production expert (I don’t feel like an expert at anything I do but I feel more comfortable as a writer/performer which made me aware of my lack of confidence in the production field) but this year, producing music has been pretty much the sole focus of my efforts alongside the actual writing, so I haven’t really been able to deny it as something I do.

I don’t feel that i’m 100% comfortable with calling myself a producer yet, but it doesn’t feel as alien to me as it once did.

I chatted with the boys in the car on the way down to the gig about all this as we discussed how we were feeling about 2020 and what felt different for us. It was strange talking about how busy we’d all been in different ways and almost not mentioning any live shows at all. The conversation came to a pretty natural close on the journey but there wasn’t any verdict as such, I felt like none of us knew what to say about gigs and how much we had truly really missed them.

Last night’s show was better than we could have wished for, the atmosphere was incredible and I don’t think we could have enjoyed ourselves any more without playing for twice as long! All day yesterday I had the chorus of Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell going around my head and I have no idea why because I hadn’t even heard the song for months. I’ve been listening to her today and reflecting on yesterday whilst writing this, and as cheesy as it sounds you really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. I am so glad we all enjoyed yesterday so much, it’s made me really keen to finish some of my own music off and get it ready so that once it’s safe; we can get out on the road again and play. I’m excited to get my head down these final couple months of 2020, once again I am incredibly grateful for you supporting me, I never want you to forget that!

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Mike Cox
Mike Cox
Nov 06, 2020

Nice blog as usual Joe. I started reading it thinking the 'big yellow taxi' was an AA recovery wagon ( did I dream that). There's lots of famous producer's biographies available. I'm sure some would be worth checking out to find out what their backgrounds were. I'd be surprised if many of them started out with that role in mind. Similarly there's a few producers that have had success with their own material too. Either way I'm sure it's a valuable string to your bow.


Nov 06, 2020

You have worked hard this 2020, and you have done good music, so be proud of you. We are happy to listen you. I've discovered Joni Mitchell music this year, with "Coyote", live with The Band in "The last Waltz". You can watch it in YouTube here:

For me an spectacular song with the best instruments interpretation.

"Big yellow taxi" is her second song I hear more, and that's true, after I have the chorus all the day in my head! Jjjj.

Well, Joe, I wish you a productive month at home, and I'll see you every Sunday night in Instagram! :)


philip collis
philip collis
Nov 06, 2020 people and borough in London! ;-)

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