With the complications associated with Covid over the least 2+ years I’ve had very little news to share with you. But, rather like London buses (or possibly the last bus to Leeds), you wait for ever for an item of news, and then three come along at once.
Firstly, many of you will know that I am also a writer and researcher. I conduct ecological surveys for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB, and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Over the last ten years I have been surveying the wildlife in a group of arable fields in the green belt just south of Cambridge which provide a home for threatened farmland birds including grey partridge, corn bunting and yellow wagtail. I have learnt much about their ecology, why they are under such threat, why they flourish in the small area I study, and about their fascinating and comples behaviour, relationships and social lives. And I have just published a book, A haven for farmland birds, which describes what I have learnt. You can read more about it here and you can order a copy here.
Secondly, Rhys and I had long harboured the idea of revisiting some of my early songs live – just me with a guitar or piano – to reflect better how I play them now. During the Covid lockdowns a genuinely live album became impossible, so the closest we could get was to record each song in Rhys’s front room in a single take. And in the end we were even able to record The last bus to Leeds live at the Cambridge Folk Club this February. The ten songs are now available on a new album, ‘Almost live’. You can listen, order or download it from my Bandcamp page and I will have copies at my forthcoming gigs.
Talking of which, I have a very local gig on May 14th. It will take place in St John’s Church, just round the corner from us on Hills Road, CB2 8RN (opposite Homerton College). This is a double-header with the excellent Thursday’s Band, and I will be joined by Lucinda Fudge (viola), Matt Kelly (violin and viola) and Rhys Wilson (guitar). It’s an early start, 7pm, and we will end at 9pm. Entry is free and there will be a retiring collection in aid of church funds.
A week before that I’ll be playing a short set at the Cambridge Acoustic Night on May 7th at Thrive, 5-7 Norfolk Street, Cambridge CB1 2LD. Also playing will be Karen MacWhinnie and Friends and four other local acts. Tickets (£5) are available from here. Doors open at 7pm and the music starts at 8pm. And two weeks later Thursday’s Band and I will do it all again in St Mary’s Church, High Street, Ware, SG12 9EH at 7.30pm. Entry is free.