MSTU Scrapbooks

I kept scrapbooks throughout the MSTU years, from the very beginning. In the lead up to the gig I’m posting various bits and bobs from them over on facebook.


Autumn 2004

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*UPDATE – the Sheffield gig has been moved to Queens Social Club – more tickets released*

TEN YEARS. It’s been ten years since the release of the first Monkey Swallows the Universe album, The Bright Carvings.


The five of us are going to be reborn from an egg on a mountaintop in a little one off gig at the Greystones in Sheffield on the day of resurrection: Easter Sunday, 27 March. We’ll be playing all the songs from that first album. Tickets here.

We’re also going to be releasing a digital single, featuring new versions of Sheffield Shanty and The Secret Word is Groucho (the secret track of Kev’s at the end of the album). That’ll be out sometime in Feb.

Please indulge us.




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Free t-shirts!

**offer now finished, sorry!**

Yep, consider it a festive gesture. If you make any physical purchase over £5 in my Bandcamp shop this weekend, you get a free t-shirt while stocks last. That means £5+ worth of CDs, vinyl, prints, cards – NOT digital tracks. Offer starts Fri 11 Dec 5pm GMT and ends Sunday 13 December at midnight GMT.

You can add a note* to your purchase at the checkout to request a particular size/colour of free t-shirt. Here’s what is available, first come first served, so if you request a size/colour that runs out I’ll email you with an alternative. I’ll be posting next week.

T-shirts (updated!):

  • Men’s – only small sizes left, in blue or green
  • Women’s – small, medium and large in red or blue


*If for any reason you have trouble with this, email me:



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Video: “All This” with Cornerstone Brass

First released on”Roman Radio” (Damaged Goods, 2009), this is a new version of “All This”, featuring Cornerstone Brass. Brass arrangement by Hannah Cartledge and Damian Wileman.

Don’t forget you can download this track for free as part of the digital album “Live at the Lexington”, available now from Bandcamp HERE.

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Free album!

The full set from Sunday’s third and final performance of Roving Women is now available on Bandcamp for free/pay what you want:

Roving Women: Nat Johnson plays Connie Converse (live at the Lexington with Cornerstone Brass)

1. One by One
2. Roving Woman
3. Trouble
4. How Sad, How Lovely
5. Empty Pocket Waltz
6. Talkin’ Like You
7. There is a Vine
8. Lonely in the Dark (Johnson)
9. Down This Road
10. Fortune’s Child
11. Sorrow is my Name
12. Condor (Johnson)
Encore – All This (Johnson)

Enjoy! And please share, that’s what this project was all about from the get go – sharing these songs with as many people as possible.

Videos coming soon too, keep an eye out here or on facebook/twitter.

With thanks to the Lexington, Delia Sparrow and Ed Cartledge. Pic by Katia from Women Produce Music:


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After Connie (bit of a long read)

I’m feeling pretty exhausted today after a hectic week last week that ended with our final Roving Women show at the Lexington. Apologies if this isn’t well written, but I’m feeling a need to purge before I can get on with anything else today.

Last night was fairly stressful behind the scenes; we almost couldn’t show the film and at one point I ended up running around London trying to find a particular cable to make the back up copy work. It all got sorted out at the very last minute (thanks to the people at the Lexington, Chris and also Hannah’s husband) but I think my voice was shaking a bit from the stress of it when I got up to introduce the film. Things went better from then on thankfully, and it was good to see people respond to the film again. I think we played well, probably the best of our three shows, and we had some fantastic feedback (sorry to the people we made cry!) We took a recording so I’m hoping to be able to make some tracks available soon.

The first time we did the show, at Sensoria Festival last year, it was sold out to 160 with people still turning up on the door regardless in the hope of getting in. The response we had, and the reviews, were amazing and I was so happy it had all gone so well after the year of work we’d put into it. Then I had to try and book the show a couple more times in line with the Arts Council funding we’d secured to help put on the first event, and that’s when things started to get harder.

I must have contacted hundreds of promoters around the country, different types from festivals to cinemas, small venues and mid-sized. I wanted somewhere with seating and a screen, that understood the event and would help me attract an audience. I had no response from about 99% of these. Eventually I managed to get a booking at Hebden Bridge Arts festival, but on the night we played to about 25 or 30 people.

I carried on trying to get someone to book the show a third time in London, but it was the same story; I was ignored by just about everyone. Without a promoter to help let people know about a show, it’s much harder to sell tickets when you live in another part of the country, but with no promoter forthcoming and my patience absolutely running out, we took the hand offered us by the lovely people at the Lexington, for the room hire.

The Lexington were really helpful in promoting the show though, as were lots of people – thank you to everyone who tried to help including all the people who’d been at the Cutlers Hall show, Gid Coe, Ruth Barnes, Women Produce Music*, Rough Trade and many more. I couldn’t get any more press coverage like I had last year. I’ve been pretty much spamming the event on twitter and facebook which I hate doing, but anyway – it just didn’t get people interested enough to come. Even though there were enough people there to make last night really nice (THANK YOU) and we all really enjoyed it, we’re still talking about 30-40 people in the audience, a lot of whom were our pals.  It’s probably cost me a few hundred quid to put last night on, I haven’t done the accounting yet.

The whole thing seems to me a reflection of Connie’s story itself. The difficulty in getting anyone to hear her then and the difficulty in getting anyone to hear her now. I wouldn’t be moaning about this if it was one of my shows and people hadn’t come, that’s not the sort of thing I’d do and if you think this long rant is me saying boo hoo no one came to the gig poor me, then you’re misunderstanding me – it wasn’t just my show, it was Connie’s.

And every time we do this show, I have to go back into that place, into that story of her’s, into her depression. That’s not something I wanted to do over such a long space of time. I wanted this project to be done and happen all around the same time last year. It’s not like doing an ordinary gig, it’s much much harder.

I’m proud of our event, I’m proud of the arrangements we made and how we played them. I’m really glad we got to work with Cornerstone Brass. I’m over the moon that I have a friend for life in Andrea Kannes, the filmmaker (we talk all the time). I’m glad the Lonesome Lake EP is out there and I’m hoping some of last night’s recordings will come out ok too. But right now, I’m feeling that I mostly want to put this project behind me and move on. I think I’ve done my bit for Connie, and I hope other people can pick it up from here.

I’m going to try and shake off this mood and look forward to a gig-filled week. Tisso Lake in Sheffield tomorrow, then Kathryn Williams, Devon Sproule and Joanna Newsom all in one weekend. That should help.


*As I’m typing this, Women Produce Music just tweeted this and I’m in tears:

#SongsMatter #StoriesMatter @NatJohnsonband #ConnieConverse – We’re Listening.

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Walking in Rivelin today.

IMG_20150926_180219 IMG_20150926_180330IMG_20150926_180635

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