Looking back over 2012

It’s that time of year again! I hope 2012 has been good to you.

I’ve just uploaded a new and suitably wintry video of the ‘Ant and the grasshopper’: .

The high point of my musical year was being asked to play ‘Poussière d’étoiles’, the French version of ‘Rocks and stones’, at the vernissage (opening) of an exhibition of our good friend Charly Devarennes’ work in Collioure, in the south of France. I had written the song for Charly about 7 years ago, and the invitation came from his daughters Dominique and Delphine who had organised the exhibition just over two years after he died. It was a most moving experience, and a great privilege. You can see a video of the performance on my homepage and I have written more about Charly here.

One of the great things about music is how it brings you into contact with people. I’ve just received a message from one of the students who occupied Brighton University in December 2010 saying that ‘Pavilion Parade‘ ‘still makes hairs stand up on my neck – there was something very special about that time. I feel the students involved when looking back will remember this.’ I’m very grateful for the feedback.

In much the same way we have been welcomed into the village of Alstonefield in the heart of the Peak District by Dave and Val Littlehales and their friends (including the local vicar, Annie). Dave, who organises concerts in the Village Hall, asked me to play there twice, firstly in July with Flossie Malavialle, and secondly with Martyn Wyndham-Read and Iris Bishop in December. Each concert was followed by an excellent session in the Royal Oak in Wetton on the Sunday lunchtime, notably the December one with Martyn, Iris, Dave and the Bird Scarers, a female trio of three generations who sing powerful harmonies. Again, there’s more in my blog and the new video is from the December concert. And watching the Wimbledon final with Flossie urging on Serena Williams in her French geordie accent was unforgettable!

And looking a little further back, on a weekend in May I had the great pleasure to play at the Cambridge Folk Club on the Friday night, followed by the delightful Debenham Folk Club on the Saturday. The Cambridge club has been a constant source of support to me and I’m most grateful to them. This was the first time I had played in Debenham – the club there is organised by Rob Brown and takes place in a quite stunning room in the Old Red Lion.

I’ve been enjoying other people’e music as well – this year’s five favourites have been:

– Valtari, by Sigur Ros – it’s a slightly mixed bag, but the third track, ‘Varud‘ is one of the finest pieces of music I’ve heard in a while
– Tramp, by Sharon von Etten – I particularly like ‘Leonard
– Rise ye sunken ships, by We are Augustines
The ’59 sound, by The Gaslight Anthem – four years old, but I’ve only just discovered it
– Manequin, a remarkable single from the improbably entitled When saints go machine – it’s worth looking at the video on Youtube as well

And some of our good friends have released material this year. The delightful Bert and Fi, alias Welcome to Peepworld, have a great new EP out, Lester’s new band The Lights have released their first album and The Willows‘ new CD will be released in February!

I’ve started recording my next CD, provisionally called ‘The dust of time’ – it should be ready in the second half of next year, all being well.

Finally, this year I have also redesigned my website – the lovely Tom Ingham had looked after it most competently for 7 years, but I wanted to be able to do more with it, in particular to add a regular blog and more frequent updating. Please do leave a comment on one of the blog entries – it’s always great to get feedback!

Thankyou for your support over the year – and I would like to wish you a happy Christmas and a good 2013.