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Beating Cancer on the way to the big stage.

Mark Caldwell, singer for A Band Called Jack from Ashton Under-Lyne, Manchester has been a passenger of his own rollercoaster of emotions over the last eighteen months. Staring death in the face is certainly something that he didn’t expect to do, especially at 50 years old.

From around 13 years old, Mark (Coddy) began to take an interest in music. Growing up around the sounds of The Beatles, which was a very distinctive memory for Coddy when looking back on his childhood. So at around 18 years old, Coddy picked up an acoustic guitar – the rest is history. Although Coddy is adamant he isn’t a “brilliant guitarist by any stretch of the imagination” – it has still granted him the freedom to branch out on his talents. The guitar allowed Coddy to then go on and write his own music and lyrics.
Music has always been a hobby for the Mancunian singer, as he has been an engineer by trade for most of his working career – working for the Hyde Group company. Mark has always loved his job, being called a ‘great motivator’ and ‘dedicated’. Which have been traits that Coddy has carried over to all the focuses he has in his life.

August 2014 was when Coddy was diagnosed with Cancer of the thymoma. Which is found just under the lungs, making it extremely hard to breathe, speak and especially sing. At first Coddy lost taste and appetite, which resulted in a substantial amount of weight loss. Eventually Mark was in hospital, enduring continuous tests from doctors, making the whole situation feel very real for the 50 year old.

When speaking to Coddy, I asked if he ever thought he was nearing the end of his life, with the illness being so serious and rare. He continued to say “yes I thought it was the end, the thought of leaving my friends and family behind was the worst part”.

Being in hospital was a depressing time for the musician as he was away from his loved ones, his band and his guitar. Eventually though, against all the odds, Coddy was able to go home after a long and drooling operation, removing a large tumour from his chest. When defeating the cancer he was then left with a condition called Goods Syndrome, which weakens the immune system considerably. The last report from this extremely rare condition being from over 30 years ago. This condition will unfortunately be a part of Coddy’s life forever, however it is manageable.

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Coddy after undergoing major surgery to remove a tumour in his chest.

Moving into his back bedroom in his house in Dukinfield, he was able to reach some sort of safe haven. Away from all the doctors and tests in the hospital.

When at home, Mark would stand by his window and reminisce on his life. Describing his life “the great parts and the parts that I wish went differently”. Listening to music became an even bigger part of his life when he was at home. Listening to his main inspirations of today, bands such as I am Kloot and of course, the Stone Roses. Although the cancer took his appetite and his taste, he wouldn’t let it take his music away.

After a long wait, Coddy began to become stronger. With his taste gradually starting to return (black liquorish being the catalyst) the singing began to come back. Band practice was frustrating however with the singer not being able to sing to his full potential, understandably.

Not long after A Band Called Jack began to get back into being a band again, the lads from Ashton were given the privilege of supporting the extremely talented Scottish singer Paolo Nutini. Who was touring after releasing his ‘Caustic Love’ album which was voted album of the year by iTunes.

Both shocked and excited, the band packed up their gear to go to Castlefield Bowl in Manchester. Coddy said “I was both nervous and excited, but I just wanted to take in the energy to give a good performance” playing in front of 8,000 people is not something Coddy had done before. So moving from a Thursday night gig around the pubs in Ashton to playing at Castlefield Bowl was something himself and the band didn’t take lightly.

As the 8,000 people stood their in expectation, the band began to play. The biggest gig of their career was underway and the response they got was priceless. When performing on stage, Coddy seemed like he had a new lease of life and he sang with all his heart. Huge applauses from the audience allowed the very unorthodox band a very deserved reward of pride and accomplishment.

Coddy said “It was by far the best gig of my life and Paolo (Nutini) is a fantastic musician who I now follow closely”.

 

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Coddy (right) and A Band Called Jack with Paolo Nutini backstage (white)

 

The following Monday morning, Mark was back to reality, back to being an engineer. After a fantastic response on social media, the band certainly caught the attention of some new fans. As well as the attention from record company Mst Sounds. Now the band have singed their first record deal, with possibly two full vinyl albums being released.
When asking Coddy his thoughts of now being signed to the label, he modestly said that “I’m not getting too carried away”. Motivated by the music, the singer always gave off the impression that it was all about the ‘tunes’.

Eighteen months on, Coddy is still a working engineer. But, he is always in and out of the studio and writing music. Coddy sat as laid back as ever, said “keep your eyes peeled, ears pealed, everything pealed, there is music coming”.

The Goods Syndrome is still ever so present with regular visits to the hospital being needed. Coddy is as confident as he’s ever been when it comes to controlling it.

Be ready for the music, coming very soon in 2017 from Coddy and A Band Called Jack.

Music for 2017

2016 saw a massive change in music for everyone around the world with certain genres exploding into something great and others not doing so well.

Last year we saw the Grime genre become the most noticeable and influential genre for the urban and hip-hop world of today. With original Grime beats along with Trap and Drum and Bass being extremely influential overseas – specifically in America.

Noticeable collaborations were with Santandave with Drake with ‘Wanna Know’ (Which I personally think isn’t as good as the original, but oh well) and artists such as Skepta and AJ Tracey collaborating with the A$AP Mob.

Along with the music of 2016, we had passings of music legends such as David Bowie and George Michael who have evidently influenced today’s music heavily through many different aspects.

The real question is – can 2017 be as successful for the UK music scene as it was in 2016?

Firstly, Ed Sheeran, the 25 year old behind two world known albums ‘Plus’ and ‘Multiply’ (where both albums have managed to be sold over two million times each) has recently released two new singles which will be a part of his new album ‘Divide’ which will be released in March. The two new songs ‘Castle on the Hill’ and ‘Shape of You’ are the classic kind of feel good music from the musician, expressing the reminiscence of his childhood and his love life. Both of the tracks are evidently suited for chart music, expressing the feel good factor of pure British music to get everyone excited.

Both songs in my opinion aren’t the best from the young fella but they both manage to spark some form of excitement for the full album – which I have already pre-ordered. I’m sure the album will be a huge success, although Ed Sheeran definitely has some big shoes to fill if he is to keep up with his ridiculously high standard of music.

Now, who else to look out for this year –  as I have mentioned there is a huge buzz around the grime industry at the minute, so keep your eyes peeled for Dave and AJ Tracey. They are both touring this year but you can still definitely expect some freestyles and tracks to be released later in the year to keep the ball rolling.

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Another lad to look out for is Shakka, this lad is one of the men behind Wretch 32’s ‘Blackout’. Shakka comes from West London, Notting Hill originating from a Caribbean family. He uses his heritage to his advantage too with his extremely distinctive sound that he definitely uses well and with a lot of confidence. Much of Shakka’s music expresses his life on a very personal level, similar to the way Kano does in his ‘Made in the Manor’ album, which obviously went down a treat.

The musician is also a great director and innovator with very well produced music videos that break away from the norm of UK Urban music. Keep your ears open too for the beat boxed beats and harmonies that he produces himself.

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Moving away from the Urban genre now, a band to look out for this year is the alternative three piece band Fatherson, from Scotland. The 3 lads have been making extreme movements around Scotland over the last few years and now they’re finally branching out to bigger gigs south of their border. Releasing their second album last year ‘Open Book’ was a real game-changer of the trio, where this album is available in HMV in hard copies. Expect to see a lot from these boys over this year, especially around festival season where I’m sure they will be making a few appearances at all the major festivals. They’re a must listen to if you haven’t already had a go.

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So, 2017 is definitely a year we should all be excited about from a music perspective. The UK is becoming more and more influential year upon year for the music industry . And we should be extra excited for the music that will be coming this year. 2017 is a big one – so keep your ears pealed.

 

A common misconception of today.

During my time from moving from Manchester to Nottingham I have realised a lot of things that have provoked a variety of thoughts that I want to get out.

The common misconception of the younger people of today is a theme that keeps coming in and out of conversation with a number of people. From public strikes and marches to simple rants from younger people like myself, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and all the rest.

The Grime music industry is a misconception within the common world of today.  Grime music is often seen as music of the streets. Yes, it is. But the genre itself has created an upheaval of new music throughout the UK and now over in America, where they are now looking at us, yes, us the tiny little island that was once looking up to rappers like Biggie Smalls and Tupac for inspiration.

Grime music does have its downfalls, of course it does but doesn’t any music? Certain rappers or MC’s rap about drugs and crime related themes but the MC’s who are really making a difference now are the older likes of JME (who has a degree in 3D digital design at the University of Greenwich) and younger Grime artists such as Santandave, the 18 year old lad from Brixton, London. Dave often expresses his thoughts on the misconceptions of todays youth, especially in his Fire In The Booth – give that a listen.

The things that are ever so present in today’s society, in my opinion are the things that are making this younger generation so special and unique. We now have the power to  change opinions and views on anything through a tweet or a ten second snapchat.

From my point of view I just want to say that just because a younger lad has a black hoody or a tracksuit on it doesn’t necessarily mean he is up to no good. If I’m being brutally honest, the young lad you can see with the black tracksuit on is probably a lot comfier and a lot warmer than you are.

But, I cant steer away from the main theme of this blog. Misconceptions will always be around us, I’m not a politician or wordsmith by any stretch of the imagination, but making a start on giving us younger boys and girls a better image and representation is always a good foothold in the works.

Oh, I wrote this blog in an all black tracksuit and Airmax 95’s. Who would have thought that. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

This is my first blog so I am keeping it short and sweet. More to come soon.