Concert in Anstey Church with Thursday’s Band

Last Saturday I played a a fabulous gig in St George’s Church in Anstey with Thursday’s Band who had kindly asked me to open the evening. A lovely venue, appreciative audience and great acoustics. Matt and Lucinda joined me for Blackbirds and Never enough which was a treat. Thursday’s Band were excellent.

And thankyou to Ali Cossor for organising the gig and taking the picture.

Thursday’s Band and I really enjoyed the church concert experience and hope to repeat it – let me know if your church would like some live acoustic music!

I also played Rocks and stones – the song I wrote some years ago for my good friend in Collioure, Charlie Devarennes – and you can listen to the live recording here:

Upcoming gigs and a review of 2016

On Friday January 27th I’ll be playing a band gig at Cambridge Folk Club. The two other acts will be Brian Cleary and Hugh Boyde, and Dave Jenkins. The club meets in the Golden Hind, 355 Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 1SP and the music starts at 8pm. Tickets, price £8, are available online. If you can make it, we’d be delighted to see you. We don’t often do full band gigs, and I’ve been enjoying the sounds in rehearsals!

I’ll also be playing a gig in Northampton on February 23rd at the Street Food Supper Club, The Black Prince Back Room, Northampton, NN1 4AE – I’ll be sharing the stage with the wonderful Welcome to Peepworld.

Looking back, 2016 has been a rum old year. Politically we’ve had to endure Brexit while the rest of the world has had to endure Putin, Erdogan, Assad and now the prospect of Trump. Musically we have lost Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, two of my musical touchstones, as well as Prince, George Michael and a host of others. And personally, we have lost two good friends, people we won’t be able to replace.

So what was good about the year? Well, ironically, my favourite album of the year was David Bowie’s ‘Black Star’, released a couple of days before he died. Indeed, it has replaced Heroes as my favourite of all Bowie albums. As with all his best work, it’s challenging, innovative and musically stunning. Above all, it’s one of those rare albums where we start with Track 1 and do nothing else until we have reached the end.  There has also been good music from Bon Iver, whose third album ’22, A Million’ is another challenging but satisfying listen. Try this. ‘A Moon-shaped Pool’ from Radiohead is also rather good and I enjoyed the debut album from Lanterns on the Lake. We were also able to see a concert from my favourite flamenco guitarist, Vicente Amigo.

I’ve been musically busy as well. My sixth album. ‘The Hills of Arran’ attracted some nice reviews and the video of the title track has proved popular in Youtube land.

I also produced videos of the two Spanish-flavoured songs: ‘Andalucia‘ and ‘Santa Maria‘. Finally, there’s a live band version of ‘Ashes and rust’. As well as my usual gigs in the region I also played four small festivals, a gig at the 12 Bar Club and a set in support of Philip Henry and Hannah Martin in the Peak District. And I have been writing lots of new material, some of which we will do on Jan 27th.

Thankyou for your support last year, and here’s wishing you all the very best for the year to come.

It’s summer! Must be camper van time…

As summer seems to be here it must be time to venture out into the countryside. So I have posted a video of a live, full-band version of the Camper Van Song, which even features Rhys on electric guitar and a couple of photos of Mike Harding’s camper van (thanks, Mike)! There are also photos of our friends Kevin and Amanda Goode in and around a purple VW –  I wrote the song for their wedding, and they have just had a baby boy. It must be something to do with the second verse… Anyway – here it is:

If after all that you could face coming to a gig, I’m playing Cambridge Folk Club on May 30th with Brian (bass) and Rhys (guitar and keyboard). It’s a showcase event with two other acts: Holly Tamar and Matt Woosey. It would be lovely to see you there – we shall open the evening at 8pm with a 45 minute set. Cambridge Folk Club takes place in the Golden Hind on Milton Road.

Ahead of the folk club gig I shall be joining Les Ray on his Strummers and Dreamers radio show, and playing four songs live. The show goes out from 7-8pm on Sunday May 25th on Cambridge 105FM. Outside the Cambridge area it is possible to listen on-line.

Then on June 13th Brian, Rhys and I are playing Royston Folk Club, and this time Dawn will also be joining us on accordion. We’ll be playing a half hour slot later on in the evening, and there are 7 other local performers on the bill. The club will be meeting this evening in Melbourne at The Bungalow, Royston Road, Melbourn, SG8 6DG – leave the A10 at the southern Melbourne exit (Royston Road) and then turn immediately right.

In addition I’m playing a few other gigs over the next month or so:

– Saturday May 31st, the Acoustic Routes CB2 basement session with Bernard, Dave and Rhys (with Jacqui and Geoff as special guests)
– Wednesday June 5th, the Ship Inn, Brandon Creek, Downham Market
– Monday June 9, the Boat House on Chesterton Road.
– Saturday July 5th, the Felsham Festival.

It would be lovely to see you if you can make any of these. And let’s hope the sun keeps shining! Have a very good summer.

Hopedale

We’ve just got back from a lovely weekend in Hopedale, in the heart of the Peak District. I played a couple of short sets on the Saturday night in Alstonefield Village Hall, supporting Flossie Malavialle, and then on Sunday lunchtime we joined the session in the Royal Oak in Wetton. In between times we managed to climb Baley Hill, walk along the River Dove, and get drenched – twice.

We first met Dave Littlehales – who organises the events in the village hall – and his wife Val just over four years ago. We were staying in a local bed and breakfast and had gone to the rather fine Watts Russell Arms for a meal in the evening, when we overheard someone talking about the Cambridge Folk Festival. When we said we were from Cambridge and musicians, instruments appeared as if by magic and an impromptu session ensued.

Dave and Val have since become good friends, and have introduced us to members of Dave’s group, the Festival Ceilidh Band, as well as to numerous inhabitants of Hopedale and Alstonefield. We have been made most welcome in one of the most beautiful corners of England – and will be back very soon!

And the reviews? ‘What could be nicer than supper at the village hall? Well, obviously, supper with entertainments and on Saturday, 7th July, on a balmy if somewhat damp evening, we were treated not just to pie, peas and strawberries but also to an evening of musical delight. Excellently supported by John Meed, Flossie Malavialle, the girl from Nimes who became that woman from Darlington, treated us to an evening that was simultaneously très bien and proper mint like.’ (Rob Handscombe, on the Alstonefield website)

‘Then we come to the music. The support was John Meed, a singer/songwriter from Cambridge who did a short spot in each half. His songs were all quite different from each other, and very entertaining. I especially liked Don’t Blame it on Belper. He was an utterly charming man and I hope to get the opportunity to see him again. The main guest was Flossie Mallaville whom we have seen before, I think we first saw her at Maghull in 2002 when Colum Sands invited her up in his set to do a song and then at the same festival in 2003 when we saw her do a whole set. I remember being amazed by her voice then, I am even more amazed now by both her voice and her humour. I genuinely enjoyed everything she did. Best value night out anywhere at £12 a ticket.’ (Wally and Lorna Davies who edit the local folk newsletter)