Inspirations

Just had a much needed break in Gotland, always a place of inspiration. The last time I was there was last summer and I remember staying up all night to hear the depressing Brexit results. This time I was cheered by the election results in Britain. Corbyn was my MP for many years in London and I voted for him several times. He always turned up to events and demos and had a lot of time and energy for ordinary people. Interesting times.

Now I am back in the studio with some renewed energy. I just tuned the Finnish Fazer piano in my studio, not my favourite occupation, but playing it tuned is. It sounds beautiful.

Back in Sweden

Back in Sweden now and trying to adjust back to recording mode. I came back from England armed with some new recording software that I am excited to try. Not that I am intending to make a complicated album, far from it, I just want to get a good sound. The improvement was instant, but yet another learning curve to grapple with.

Last week end I was in Germany for a folk festival in Venne near Osnabruck, and a lovely little show in Wedemark near Hannover.

Flying out of Stockholm Arlanda with 3 instruments, the logistics were complicated; the guitar went in a soft bag in the overhead lockers, the cello had it’s own ticket, Mr Cello Cello, (should have been Mrs really) and the mandolin went inside a big suitcase. I then hired a car in Dusseldorf and set off. It had been -7C early that mornng in Arlanda, now it was a beautiful warm spring day.

The festival was lovely, I met a lot of good people there and also had a meeting with my record company where we planned out a rough release schedule for the album. Performers and public sat around a big open log fire into the small hours, talking, drinking and staring into the hot embers.

The show in Wedemark organized by Imago was in an old barn, an earth floor, no chairs, no heating, in fact the barn doors were wide open on both sides. The audience had all been primed to bring folding chairs, and sure enough, just half an hour before I started playing, they came drifting in from all directions. We were blest with a very warm evening, the barn was full and the audience with their deck chairs spilled out onto the grass.

Photos by Andreas Mikonaut.

Drunk On Summer

Monday morning, I am sitting in the decaying splendour of the Palace Hotel in Buxton, the Big Session festival is over and it was great. Meeting Oysterband again is always a kind of social event and this time it certainly was.

I had my own show on Saturday in The Pavillion, it was quite a short set so I decided to sing mostly new songs, here is one of them. The audience had no trouble singing along. People like to sing.

 

After my gig I raced around the corner to the Opera House to catch a soundcheck with Eliza Carthy, Saul Rose and Oysterband. Later in the evening the Oysters played their full set and then at the end we reprised some of the songs from the Big Session album that Eliza was also involved in. It was also a lot of fun. After the show we all retired to the spacious lounge of The Palace and rearranged the sofas and armchairs into a large circle to accommodate the entire party…then sat down to have a little drink.

The next day, bright and bleary eyed most of us were off on a walk up the hill called Solomon’s mount which John had organized. We met outside the Opera House and there must have been over 100 of us. This included at least 20 of Boff Whalley’s Commoner’s Choir. When we got to the summit they let rip with a few songs. What a great start to a fine spring day.

Next on the agenda was a ceilidh dace in the beer tent, a lovely joyous occasion. Great week end.

Next is a travel day and then another 6 shows before I go home.

Tuesday May 2 Coggeshall Library

Wednesday May 3 Wavenhoe Library

Thursday May 4th Writtle Library

Friday May 5th Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer

Saturday May 6th St Edwards Netley (Hants) with Steve Skaith

Sunday May 7th house concert Oxford

Monday May 8th home

…..and May 12th Venne Folk Fruelling Festival (near Osnabruck)

May 13th Pfarreshaus Wedemark (near Hannover)

Spring In England

I just got home after some very interesting shows in Germany. I was pleased to play the Hamburg Heidbarghof, a great place with a very fine grand piano. I am using the piano more and more these days if there happens to be one there in the venue. I am not so mad about electric pianos, but the acoustic kind, yes, and the bigger the better.

Next up is a trip to England at the end of the month, what was just a short visit to play the Big Session Festival has turned into a short spring tour. I am looking forward to seeing my old pals and to be joining them on the Sunday for the ceilidh. The Essex Library sessions is a new initiative to use these public spaces for music. Also part of this initiative is a run of shows featuring the excellent duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. I will play them totally acoustic, singing with cello, mandolin and guitar. The Folk On The Pier Festival in Cromer is a lovely one, I played it several times with Oysterband and I love the old wooden theatre and the sea views from the pier. The Netley Chapel session near Southampton will be a chance to hook up with Latin Quarter singer Steve Skaith again and maybe to play the church organ for a few songs if I can get to it. And lots of new songs to play!

For the full details see my Concerts page 

Sat April 29 Big Session Festival Buxton solo show 4.30

Sun April 30 BS Ceilidh with Oysterband

Tues May 2 Coggeshall Library

Wed May 3 Wivenhoe Library

Thu May 4 Writtle Library

Fri May 5 Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer

Sat May 6 Netley Chapel Sessions with Steve Skaith

Sun May 7 House Concert Oxford

Between two seas

I’m sitting here in Flensburg at a friend’s house looking out at the strange sea mist rolling in, This part of Schleswig-Holstein lies between the North Sea and the Baltic.
I played in Denmark and on Friday near here at Skt Johannis in Tarup, a great old monastery church. We has a full house and I met a lot of good people. Today is a day off and I am going to see New Model Army play in Kiel. Next week I’m in Sörup on Thursday and in Hamburg at the Heidbarghof on Friday. It is good to take a break from the recording and sing the new songs live again. It helps get more perspective on them. Thanks to Maja for these pictures.

Recording, spring shows and festivals

Photo Kerstin Maier

Hi, I have been in the studio again, working away, trying to make the next album better than all the others, just typical working days, epiphany, frustration, hard grind. I love it.

Meanwhile some live shows to announce in England and Germany.

A few concerts in the north of Germany, then the Big Session festival with Oysterband, I will also be joining them on the Sunday for the ceilidh. Next, 3 intimate acoustic shows in libraries in Essex, followed by the lovely Folk On The Pier Festival in Cromer and The Netley Chapel Session with Steve Skaith. Last on this list is a folk festival in Venne, near Osnabruck and a show in an art gallery neat Hannover.   For full details look at the Concerts page 

In between all these I will be in and out of the studio aiming to finish the album before the summer starts and I get far too distracted.

March 24 Friday Tarup (Flensburg) DE Skt Johannis Kirche

March 30 Thursday Sörup DE Hotel Söruper Hof 

March 31 Friday Hamburg DE Heidbarghof

April 29 Saturday Big Session Festival  

May 2 Tuesday Coggeshall Library Acoustic show

May 3 Wednesday Wivenhoe Library Acoustic show

May 4 Thursday Writtle Library Acoustic show

May 5 Friday Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer

May 6 Saturday Netley Chapel Sessions  Support from Steve Skaith of Latin Quarter

May 12  Friday Venne Folk Früling Festival DE Near Osnabruck

May 13 Saturday Wedemark Die Pfarrscheune (New Venue!)  DE Near Hannover

 

Homeward bound

I just played the last show on this this Love & Vengeance winter tour of England. I have been singing all the new songs that are intended for the next CD although I have not started recording in earnest yet. It has been a nostalgic trip back to the old country and and I have hooked up with a lot of old friends as well as made a lot of new ones. I had some interesting chats too. I stayed in friends houses mostly and only had one hotel on this tour, that meant I had only one breakfast without talking about Brexit or Donald Trump. It was good to hear what everyone had to say, it was mostly despair and bewilderment, but it made a few things much clearer to me, mostly to do with how all this came about. It is definitely time for the left to ask itself some hard questions and get it’s act together.
This tour was different in many ways, not just with the new songs and changing the set every night. I also played more pianos and even a couple of church organs, although the cello still remains the favourite. One of the reasons I use different instruments is that some songs just suit particular instruments more than others. The church organs have something very rock about them and the old ones have an amazing grandeur. So too do some pianos, last night I was in the South Hill Park Arts in Bracknell, a huge stately home now hosting a number of venues and an theatre, I was in the old oak panelled library and had a mighty full size Steinway grand to use. Probably the best piano I have ever played.
It has been wonderful to be back in England, I am still hoping to get into Wales and Scotland one day too. I will be back in May for a couple of festivals and a small string of gigs. Thanks Alan Cole for these photos from The Convent TV concert. Thanks too to all the people who have helped and supported me. I am heading home now to my old wooden house in Sweden.

April 29th Big Session Festival Buxton
May 2,3 and 4. 3 libraries in Norfolk, details to be announced
May 5th Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer
May 6th Netley St Edwards Church with Steve Skaith (Latin Quarter)

On tour in England

It was a great first night to a full house in Yarpole. St Leonards is a beautiful old church which also serves a a community centre for the village. Best of all they have a wonderful old church organ which they let me use. It has a majestic sound, with great warmth and character. After sound checking I was horrified to hear that they were planning to get rid of the organ and replace it with an electronic one! Please don’t. These old instruments are as much a part of our heritage as the church itself.
I used the organ on three songs and people were genuinely surprised to hear it used in such a different context. I maybe convinced a few people that they should keep it.
Thanks to all who helped with the show and for listening. I played several new songs and it is good to be on the road again.
The church is a great model of what is possible for a tiny village with an ancient church. They have a cafe, a village shop and a post office actually inside the church and the whole thing is made possible by enthusiastic volunteers.

Nice to play in Bedford for the first time in the plush Stables Theatre in Milton Keynes on Sunday night. Thanks for the reaction to the organ playing in Yarpole, it seems I now have two more church organs lined up. Some people like driving big old cars, me, well….
Two free days in London and the tour continues to Birmingham Red Lion on Wednesday.
I will be playing my new song about Fred Broadrick who came from Birmingham. He lived in Norman Street near the centre of the city, one of his locals was another Red Lion. He was shot at dawn in 1917 for absence without leave.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=-QPYuwddwWc
Thursday I will be at The Convent near Stroud where they have a grand piano. There will be a live televised broadcast of the show available on subscription through their website.
https://theconvent-tv.com
Friday I am at St Edith’s Folk Club in Sevenoakes, my first show in Kent!
Saturday back at St Stephens in Upper Basildon for an acoustic show which will include some church organ too. I would love to have one of these at home, I might have to move into a bigger house though.

A New Day

A new day dawns on an uncertain world. Thanks to everybody who helped and supported me in 2016.

New year, new songs new tours.

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Every Picture Tells A Story

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This last collection of photos were taken in October in the Swabian Alps in southern Germany by photographer Kerstin Maier.

I was happy to find a photographer who was crazy enough to go to any lengths just to get a good shot. I had a gig scheduled in the Zum Nix club in Blaubeuren and Kirsten suggested we try the shots at dawn the next morning from the top of the nearby Blaufels cliff. I don’t remember what time I got up but I do remember we drove to the top of the mountain and then walked 3km in the dark to reach the location. When we finally got there we realised there was still an hour to wait for the sun to come up. It was chilly start but it was exciting to watch the dawn come up. Below, the cliff dropped vertically down to the Blautopf pool and the town.

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thumb_dsc_2073-1_1024Blaubeuren is named after the Blautopf or blue pot, an incredible spring of clear blue water. For long it was thought to be bottomless, but we now know that at 21 meters, an underground river feeds into it. The blue colour comes from minute particles of limestone that preferentially scatter the blue light in the spectrum. Incidentally, the club Zum Nix is named after a playful water spirit that lives in the pool. We didn’t see her, but she probably saw us.

We took some more shots by the blue pool, one of the most beautiful places I have seen. So thanks Kerstin.

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