Find out more about Harrison Wood's musical family
"I'm really lucky, I've a musical family who are very supportive of me. Below is information about all of them and a few extra people who've helped me over the years. There's also info on my parents music businesses".
My Dad, David Wood
My dad started having private lessons on trombone, organ, singing and theory when he was about seven and added piano and bass when he was about nine. By the time he was ten, he'd started playing for the visitors in my Grandparents hotel (a hotel for the blind) and Grandad gave him is own evening to entertain where he'd play his various instruments. Dad quickly realised that the more 'middle of the road' pieces were more popular to the general public than the classical pieces and says that his career in popular music began at this point in the hotel, playing and making tapes to sell to the visitors. As a youngster, dad also sang in concerts and was a successful boy soprano winning festivals and took the lead in a childrens classical Opera. He played in a local brass band and other youth orchestras and big bands and generally "hung around the local music shops" (as he put's it) listening and learning about instruments.
By the time dad played his first 'real' paid gig when he was twelve and school was becoming a real inconvenience because he says "it took up too much practise time". His saying "Early to bed, early to rise, practise like hell and advertise" never included anything about school and by the time he was fourteen, he admits that he was regularly nicking off school to go home and practise and do the cassette duplication he needed to do as he was doing over a hundred and fifty paid gigs a year (six night summer seasons knocks up the average nicely) and selling the cassettes he'd recorded at home. By fifteen, he was also making and selling, through distribution, extended disco / dance mix tapes to DJ's and at sixteen released a break-dance tape, under a pseudonym, that sold well. At seventeen, he auditioned for, and received, a discretionary grant from Lancashire's music advisor (Malcolm Doley) to study music at Huddersfield where he met my mum.
After studying music at Huddersfield, dad married mum after they left college and quickly had lots of work as a young full time professional musician. With his previous experience and success as a teenager plus the knowledge he'd gained at college, his early years as a professional musician were diverse, exciting and extremely successful for him. It included writing and arranging; Working in the studio on recording projects as well as doing jingles and ads; Working with top names doing live and theatre work both as a player and musical director and even did some private teaching (Uncle Neil was his first pupil), Always wanting to better himself, he continued studying and gained music diplomas at both the 'London College of Music' (A.mus.L.C.M) and the 'Independent Contemporary Music Awards' (Dip.Mus.T), studied recording at the Manchester School of Sound Recording (now known as 'SSR') and studied Law on a part time basis at Lancaster.
Performing, Recording and Musical Instruments are the three areas of music that became dads passion and have consumed his life. Today, his time is divided between his various business interests and shareholdings. These include 'Promenade Music' which he started in 1989 (a couple of years before I was born). It's now a group of musical instrument and equipment companies that have their own trading names and identities and range from the sales, hire, installation, repair and service sector right through to recording services (voice overs, location recording etc), consultancy and intellectual property. Dad's also the co-founder of 'Faith & Hope' with 'uncle Neil' (see below) which is a brilliant little label, publishing and synch business. It's regarded by many as Manchester's most successful label of the last twenty years having had numerous top 40 hits (including a number 1) and supplying music to Hollywood films, TV programmes and adverts.
I'm really proud that dad's received recognition for his hard work from both within and from outside the music industry. He's been an advisor and has several long term consultancy roles with big PLC's in the music, telecoms and banking industries; Has an Associateship with an international I.P company; Been a guest speaker and panelist for music industry events both in the UK and Internationally; Is a music industry specialists for Broadcasters: Judged and adjudicated music events and competitions, Sat on the local BBC advisory council; Was a 'National Operatic And Dramatic' association 'Musical Director Of The Year' for the 1986/7 theatre season; Received an 'Honorary Fellowship' in 1987; Won 'Lancaster City Council's Business of the Year' in 1997; Appeared in the 'Who's Who of Britain's Business Elite' in 2002 and had a Number 1 with uncle Neil for Faith & Hope in 2008.
Dad always says to people "I've never worked a day in my life" but I know different ;-)
My Mum, Ann-Marie Wood
My mum started playing the piano when she was seven and stayed with the same teacher, Mrs Housecroft, all the way through to going to study music at Huddersfield. Growing up within the brass band community of West Yorkshire it wasn't long before she was paying cornet at school and with local brass ensembles. She was a cornet player with the Sirdar Wool band which became the Wakefield City Band. At college she studied piano with Eileen Bass and Cornet with Ray Farr and played in the college band which was conducted by Phillip McCann, who's World famous in Brass Band circles.
After studying and completing her London College of Music ALCM associate diploma, mum had married dad and they'd moved to Morecambe where she established the 'St. Aubyns Academy of Music' in 1984 which is now the areas largest private music school. Over the years, Mum has concentrated on her piano teaching practice and became the local representative for the London College of Music in 1989. Mum's very committed to her own personal development as a musician and teacher and has been on the ABRSM Jazz course and done 'The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music' CT.ABRSM course at Royal Northern College of Music.
Mum is also a wonderful song writer and I hope to write and record with her in the future.
My Sister, Jessica Wood
What can I say about my little sister Jess, who's nearly six years younger than me? She's a fabulous little pianist and percussionist who won the Under 9's Piano Class at the 'Morecambe Music festival' when she was just six; the jazz trio she played piano in (The Jazz Dragons) played at the 'Music For Youth School Proms 2008' at the Royal Albert Hall in London to an audience of 5000; She auditioned and won a place to study percussion and piano at 'Junior RNCM' at the age of ten and has already been chosen to play in the 'Junior RNCM Percussion Ensemble'; Was chosen to play in a masterclass at the 'RNCM Percussion Day 2008'; In 2009, she auditioned and was given a place in the main orchestra of the 'National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain' which is one of the finest children's orchestras in the World. She's won 'Song and Dance' classes at festivals; Acted and sang in the musical 'Annie' at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster and got a place in the 2010 QES school production of The Sound Of Music as one of the Von Trapp family ... and oh yes, has a lovely brother :-) But seriously, she's a really lovely little sister and incredibly talented. I really know she's going to be 'one to watch' in the future and I'm so proud of her.
My Nan, Barbara Wood (nee Briggs)
My Nan (dads mum) was a big band singer in the '40's and 50's. By the time she was sixteen, she was a very accomplished pianist who'd managed to get up to her 'cap and gown' as she calls it (diploma standard to you and me). After she finished singing in the Big Bands, she continued to sing in choirs and my dads first memories as a boy is of her singing and when dad wanted to start playing, it was Nan who got him started on piano. After a long break from singing and playing, Nan and Grandad became hoteliers in the early 70's and Nan began singing two nights a week in the hotel again. She's played and sang all her life and even played in Church well in to her seventies. She doesn't play now because of arthritis in her hands.
My Great Nan, Daisy Briggs (nee Adams)
My Nan Barbara's mum (Daisy) was a French horn player. Her musical life began in the Salvation Army and she, like my Nan, had a real love of singing. She too was born in to a very musical family and both her brothers were big band leaders. Daisy really encouraged my Nan's interest in music as a little girl and I know that while my dad lived with my great nan (Daisy) and grandad (Harry) whilst at college, she had a real big musical influence on him. Sadly, she died a couple of years before I was born.
My Uncle Neil, Neil Claxton
Firstly, 'Uncle Neil' isn't actually my blood uncle, but he's the closest thing I'll ever get to having one. Neil's been so kind to me on the recording side of my life. He's always made time for me and gives me advice like what's the best gear; how to improve my recordings; what to do and more importantly what not do etc. He's given me so much of his own time helping with mixes etc and even though he's a mega busy guy, I always feel like he's got all the time in the World for me. He's really interested in what I'm up to on the recording side and I suppose my dream is that one day, we'll work on a recording project together (he knows I can make a great cuppa tea).
My dad and Neil go back to about 1985 when my dad first started teaching, Neil was actually his first ever pupil. Neil and dad have been close friends ever since and are the co-founders of Faith & Hope together. My first memories of Neil was when I was nearly six and Jess (my sister), who was really ill when she was born, had to be transfered to Liverpool. Neil gave mum and dad tremendous support and I can remember him coming and sitting in the Hospital at nights with us. Uncle Neil is Jess' godfather by the way. Like mum and dad, Neil's made his living out of the music business since he left uni. There's no doubt that he's one of the greatest remix and music producers in Britain and even when he was in his early twenties he was working on high profile projects and remixing for the likes of Gabrielle, Boyzone, East 17, Stone Roses (etc). He was also involved with the very successful 'Urban Cookie Collective' project which had a number 2 in the UK charts and a number 5 in Germany when he was about twenty years old (I was about two).
For the last ten years Neil's been 'Mint Royale' and has had five Top 20's including a number 1 in his own right; Appeared at all the big festivals (Glastonbury, T in the Park, V festivals etc); Performed on loads of TV programmes including 'Top of the Pops' (when it was on); Had loads of his music on TV ads around the World (VW, Kelloggs, Vodaphone etc); Had music on loads of U.S and U.K TV shows (Malcolm In The Middle, Spaced, Shameless etc), and has even had his music on Hollywood films (Get Carter, Hot Chicks, Bad Company, Vanilla Sky etc) and actually appeared in the John Cusack film 'Serendipity'. Oh yes, he's still had time to do loads of other (none Mint Royale) remixes and production work as well as bring up Violet and George (his really cute children) with auntie Gail. He's simply a genius!
My Godmother, Janice Claxton (Uncle Neil's Mum).
Janice is a retired primary school teacher who also plays piano. I think she may have passed either her grade 8 or even a diploma when she was young (I must find this out). This is where Uncle Neil gets his musical genes from.
My Godfather - Roger Claxton (you've got it, Uncle Neil's Dad) .
Roger's a retired industrial chemist and every time the BBC programme Eggheads is on, dad says "Roger's far cleverer than all them put together!" He also talks about when he opened Promenade Music and needed an Audio and MIDI system to control sixteen keyboards. Roger made one, from scratch, in a couple of evenings! This is obviously where uncle Neil gets his technical genes from.
My Godfather - Allan Entwistle
Unlike Janice and Roger, Allen's not retired yet but I know he'd like to be :-) Instead, he's an accountant. He's looked after Mum and Dad's financial stuff since they were just eighteen and also looks after uncle Neil. Even though he'll be retired by the time I need an accountant, I'm sure he'll help me (fingers crossed).
My Great Cousin, Alan Briggs
Alan is my great Nan Daisy's grandson. He was one of the longest serving members of the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band (AKA 'Yorkshire Imps'). Although he sadly doesn't play now, he played 2nd Horn for a long time with the band so he must have been a good player because they're a Championship section band. Alan's brother Martin was also a cornet player and played in Wakefield City Brass Band when my mum played there.
A Distant Relative, James Briggs
My Great Grandad Harry's great cousin James was a stringed instrument maker. James Briggs was born in Wakefield and eventually moved to Scotland (for some reason). Although he's not really well known, specialist string people may have heard of him. As a stringed instrument maker he made double basses. I'd love to own one one day.
The Promenade Music Gang
As well as having a great family and teachers (click here to read about my teachers), I've had some fabulous support from the gang down at Promenade Music. They've all helped me and give me great advice. But because of my love of bass and gigs, I've got to mention a couple individually.
Gary Thistlethwaite my bass guitar guru! :-) He's an awesome player himself and he really got me in to playing 'tunes' on the bass when I was a little kid and has probably lent me more bass DVD's and CD's to listen to than I'll ever own myself. He even let me go to the Marleaux Bass workshop with him in Germany last year, we had an awesome time. He's always treat me like an adult and equal (even when I was younger). I'm eternally grateful to him for his support and amazing bass set ups, he's a true mate.
"Both Mum and Dad have made their livings out of music for the past twenty five years, below's what they do".
Promenade Music has grown into a successful family owned music business offering its customers "One Of The Largest And Best Stocked Music Shops In The North Of England" combined with a wide range of services including Sales, Instrument & Equipment Hire, P.A & A.V Installation, Piano Restoration, CD Manufacturing and a whole range of Sound Recording Services. They stock over a million pounds worth of stock and represent many of the World's leading manufacturers and as a general music shop selling everything from classical and orchestral instruments right through to rock 'n roll and hi-tech equipment and are continually striving to supply customers with the best products at the best prices, whilst still offering the very highest level of personal service and back-up.
Contact Promenade Music on 01524 410202 or email them at email@example.com
Music 4 Worship
Music 4 Worship is one of the UK's leading suppliers of musical instruments to the diverse religious communities. They strive to lead through providing the finest brands at the very best price and service. Music 4 Worship's been established for well over 10 years and they're proud of their service to the churches and local communities.
Contact Music 4 Worship on 01524 402444 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Big Discount Warehouse
The Big Discount Warehouse caters for all musicians, from beginner to professional. They welcome customers from Education and the Public Sector, and have dedicated staff to help you manage your departments needs. They offer same day despatch, the very best prices with no hidden extras and specialist advice. The Big Discount Warehouse was established in 1995 with the sole aim of giving musicians a guaranteed minimum discount for instruments and equipment. With thousands of products online and updated hourly, they have one of the biggest online musical instrument stores in the UK.
Contact Big Discount Warehouse on 0152 44 00 999 or email them at email@example.com
Educat is a specialist Musical Instrument and equipment supplies business. Their aim is to offer schools and education professionals the highest quality Musical Instruments and Equipment at the U.K's most competitive prices all backed up by a friendly and experienced staff. They offer an education based mail order service. Their recently extended workshop and warehouse complex (now over 10,000 sq feet) means that they can now buy even bigger than before and pass on the extra discounts to schools.
Contact Educat on 01524 402456 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Musicom is a UK based musical instrument and equipment distribution and IP business. All aspects of design, specification and pricing is looked after her in the UK and manufacturing is done internationally. Lines include:
'Digiano' - Quality digital pianos incorporating the very latest technology in sound and touch.
'Levin' - Quality constructed Electric, Bass and Acoustic guitar range.
'A Arena' - Amplification and P.A systems with a comprehensive range of Microphones and Accessories.
'Beverley' - Range of drums and accessories from the Taiwanese master drum manufacturers.
'Charles Howes & Son' - Acoustic pianos incorporating both Grands and Uprights.
'Northwood' - Hand made Canadian acoustic guitars by Master Luthier John McQuarrie.
'Collard & Collard' - Pianos made in the fine tradition of precision engineering and craftsmanship.
'Mendieta' - Hand made Spanish classical guitars made in the time honoured fashion in Valencia
'Paris' - Excellent range of Clarinets, Flutes and Saxophones
'Westcoast' - Budget range of electric, bass and acoustic guitars made to a surprisingly high quality.
'Roberto' - Budget and Mid range of Classical guitars from China.
'Presto' - Excellent range of student stringed instruments including Violin, Cello and double bass.
'Bellolino' - Bellolino offers a range of quality stringed instruments for the progressing student.
Contact Musicom on 01524 410800 or email them at email@example.com
Faith & Hope
(Dads the Co-Founder and Director)
Faith & Hope is an independent record label which was founded in 1997 by my dad (David Wood) and Neil Claxton. With an ethos of honesty and realism, Faith & Hope’s acts vary massively in style but all fall under the banner of ‘alternative pop’ and hover anywhere between electronica and rock, between the individual and band-driven. Determined to release inspirational music, they were one of the first labels to champion the lo-fi creativity of the burgeoning ‘bedroom musician’ ethic as their starting point and despite a small number of staff, the label forms a pivotal part of Manchester’s music scene. 2000 saw the creation of faith & hope songs, a publishing arm of the company and in 2002, Neil and David were delighted to welcome ex Chrysalis president, Doug D’Arcy, on board as an equity shareholder. In 2007 they established Areebo, an online service which enables professionals from the worlds of film, television, advertising and games to search for and license high quality independent and undiscovered music for use on syncronisation. Faith & hope are currently one of the few independent record label and publishing companies to have entered major licensing deals (Universal, EMI & BMG) and joint ventures (Sony) with nearly every major. Successes include numerous Top 40 Hits (including a number 1) which is a true tribute to both their business and visionary A&R skills.
Visit www.faithandhope.co.uk and www.areebo.com