Winter Round-Up 2017

November began with very little sleep and a trip home from Ireland via London(?) only to be heading straight back down south to play at Watford Folk Club again, where I was pretty chuffed to manage to sell one of my CDs to the barman- unprompted. Not something that happens at every folk club!

Rather excitingly a project on which I’ve been working throughout the year received it’s first airplay on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Programme on November 8th. The opening track from “Folk Fever” was featured towards the end of the show. They chose to play “Gimme the Night” sung by the very talented Greg Russell along with Jim Causley, Hannah Martin, Phillip Henry and me all on various vocals and instruments (I was also slapping myself and stomping on that track). This was followed by an outing for another track from the album “I’ll Put You Together Again” sung by me this time and played on Clare Balding’s Sunday Morning Show on BBC Radio 2. It’s a cracking album and, whilst I know it will definitely provoke some controversial reactions, I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! With the release date coming in 2018 you’ll have to watch this space…

I had a nice local gig supporting Mawkin at The Square Chapel Arts Centre in mid-November. The venue has, over the last few years, been in the throes of major renovation and extension works and this was the first time I’d been to see the finished article. We had a fab turnout for the concert and it was great to see Mawkin again and to be a mere 10/15 minute journey away from my front door!

Photo by Lesley Edwards

The last gig of Novemeber was another return visit to Guildford Folk Club. I hadn’t been there for a good ten years either, but I was very pleased to see a number of very familiar faces and possibly even more pleased to be allowed to play the club’s beautiful Bechstein grand piano…. eeek.

I won’t be forgetting that for some time! I thought I ought to mark the occasion by dressing as one of my musical heroes Elton John. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my stepboard with me and had to resort to using the upturned lid of my harmonium which led to this weird photograph of me looking like I’m sitting with my feet in a litter tray whilst channelling Cruella De Vil…

Photo by Irene Shettle

The first Christmas-sy addition to my set list made an appearance on the 1st of December at the BaccaPipes Folk Club in Keighley. I made sure it was a properly miserable Christmas song though, just to make sure no-one was enjoying themselves! Having said that, I don’t think I could’ve stopped them from enjoying themselves even if I’d tried. Rightfully nicknamed “The Keighley Wall of Sound” the whole audience joined in with all of the choruses, a spontaneous Mexican wave, as well heckling from start to finish. I loved every minute of it!

The following week I was honoured to double headline a fundraising gig for The Puzzle Hall Inn (infamous music pub in Sowerby Bridge) along with my good friends Kimber’s Men. It was a fabulous night with a wonderful atmosphere. We also found out that the bid to buy Puzzle Hall had at last been successful which was brilliant news!

The event was fabulously well supported with a massive £600 raised by the raffle alone! I also managed to sneak onstage with Kimber’s to sing this little number with them…

A very snowy jaunt “down South” took me to Dartford Folk Club with Phil Beer. It was a fantastic gig and the audience were well up for a sing and a heckle or two! Phil and I did a couple of things together including a couple of stepdance sets and a song collaboration which was great fun.

Christmas came and went with many parties, family engagements and a number of folky do’s including a lovely party night at Ryburn 3 Step Folk Club with all the residents and regular attendees performing their Christmas party pieces. I also saw in the new year at the Ryburn 3 Step Firstfooter’s Ceilidh along with the extended Black Box Big Band playing for the dancing. A week of Mummer’s plays followed and, although the weather was a little on the extreme side, we had a great turnout at most of the venues. Two new pubs were included in this year’s tour: The Golden Lion in Todmorden and The Hog’s Head Brewhouse in Sowerby Bridge. Both pubs were massively generous with food and hospitality and we’re hoping we all behaved well enough to be welcomed there again next year!

I must say I was expecting things to calm down a little in January as is customary when you’re a working musician, however, I think it got more hectic if anything! With trips to Durham for the very excellent Durham Plough Day, Winchester and Wherwell for rehearsals, another trip over to Sligo and Celtic Connections in Glasgow to name a few. By the time February showed up I was ready for a proper holiday with sun and wine and private swimming pools and everything… I’ll leave you with this…