In early 2018, singer, songwriter and story-teller Mat Bayfield joined forces with singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer David Booth to start a new journey. Songs from the heart, of lives lived, love and loss, the Peak District hills to the East Anglian coast and the souls and stories of countless places and people in between...
'Brian' the Brain Tumour
Mat: "In December 2012 I was diagnosed with a rare inoperable brain tumour on my brain stem.....a.k.a Brian, the uninvited guest! As a result, I have spent a large amount of time at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge receiving extensive radiotherapy and regular MRI scans. I'm currently undergoing an extended course of chemotherapy which, as we type, seems to be having a positive effect on the tumour and slowing it's progress... for the time being. Although a very traumatic time for me and my family, somehow I have found an inner strength to face life with a renewed sense of positivity, and my motto is 'Life Is No Rehearsal'.
At Christmas 2015 I met Kelly, who had lost her sister to a brain tumour in 2010. We made an immediate connection and have been a huge support to each other ever since (we got married in January this year!). We wanted to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity - a charity so close to both our hearts, and created 'Mat's Walk and Talk Challenge' in late 2016. As well as raising money for the charity, the idea behind these walks is to join with like minded people who can make friends, share stories, get fitter, and inspire people to make the best of this life regardless of the hardships we all face. The walks started in January 2017, but later that year my health deteriorated to the point where I was unable to walk, and I now use a wheelchair. This hasn't put me off though, and now we just try to make the walks fully accessible! To date, the "Walk & Talks" have raised well over £20,000."
Booth, meet Bayfield...
Mat was one half of Suffolk folk duo The Broadside Boys and in 2017 was living the dream of being a touring musician, playing all over the UK. Sadly this wasn't to last. During the summer, Mat's tumour became active again leading to him having to stop touring in September. During the autumn of that year, things got darker as Mat's health got steadily worse.
Around this time, Mat's girlfriend (now wife!) Kelly was working on a music project of her own with music producer David Booth. She couldn't help notice a Brain Tumour Charity fundraising pack up on a shelf in David's studio. He explained that having lost his father to a brain tumour in early 2016, he had held a house concert to raise some money for the charity. Kelly explained Mat's predicament, not only the fact his health wasn't good, but that he felt somewhat lost after having the creative outlet his beloved music had provided taken away.
Some text messages and a call later, Mat & David started to work on some songs. First it was "Magic Man" a song about how Mat & Kelly got together, which the fledgling Bayfield Booth then performed at Mat & Kelly's wedding in January 2018 and subsequently recorded and released as a charity single with all profits going to the Brain Tumour Charity. But such was the instant musical and personal connection that Mat & David decided to carry on and make something more permanent from their collaboration.
With a new round of chemotherapy (and perhaps the new music?) Mat's health steadily began to improve, which allowed Bayfield Booth the chance to make the most of the time, rehearse, dare to dream a little and start to grow a new set of songs.
Why Bayfield Booth needs your help
David: "These songs are some of the most honest of our lives. We feel like we've got so much to say, so many people we'd love to connect with, and we just want to get on with it in the best way we know how... through our music.
We've both made and self-funded albums in the past. Normally we'd just plough on, play a hundred gigs, save all the cash and then go into the studio. However, that takes time, which with 'Brian' in the background, is one luxury we may not have. So we need to get on with this while Mat's health is stable enough to allow him to record, perform and do what he does best - connect with people.
I have a recording studio and the skills & experience to record, produce and mix the album, but it's my living, so some of the studio time needs to be covered. In addition, professional mastering, guest musicians, artwork, CD pressing, promotional videos and a new website all need to be paid for. We've already made a start, with two songs in the bag and the first single - "A New Way On" (as featured in the video) being released in early November. But if we're going to carry on and make the album, simply put, we can't do it without you!"
If we exceed our target, we will donate 10% of the extra money to The Brain Tumour Charity.
The rest will be spent in two main ways:
1. Extra songs on the album - if we achieve our first target we're committed to completing an album of ten songs. Extra money means more songs can be produced.
2. We really enjoy connecting with people through our songs and performances and know how important music is to a lot of us. We'd like to do more events that help spread the reach of the album, specifically enabling us to have more conversations about heath, wellbeing, positivity in the face of adversity and the simple joy of music. More money means we can consider perhaps traveling a bit further afield or putting on some rural Village Hall gigs, which from past experience we know can help bring communities together.
Quality, quality, quality
David again: "Mat and I have both made and performed music professionally for years. We know what it takes to make this project special and we're not interested in doing the album in a half-hearted way. While, fingers crossed, Mat's health remains stable, we know we can perform these songs in a way that connects with people. Ask the 200+ folks who saw us at the first Bayfield Booth show at Riverside Theatre in Woodbridge, Suffolk in May this year, or the 500+ people that packed-out the "Moot Hall" tent at Folk East in August. We're very, very lucky to have such support already, and do not take it for granted.
But am I qualified to produce the album? Well, don't just take my word for it. Check out the Testimonials page of my website where you'll see kind words such as this:
"I hold David Booth in the very highest regard as a musician, songwriter, producer and a person. He has been involved in many of East Anglia’s finest music moments and has always done BBC Radio Suffolk proud in everything he’s been involved in. He is very much a musician’s musician. He can turn his hand to so many different genres and projects, whether it’s in the studio or on stage. He is a well respected figure on East Anglia’s thriving music scene and I have no hesitation in recommending his services." (Stephen 'Foz' Foster - BBC Radio Suffolk)