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Musings on Life, the World & the Universe.....
"...And the man of new October takes the reins and early frost is on his shoulder..." The January Man by Dave Goulder
"WHITE SAIL....TO RIPON, And don't spare the horses....or the clutch!!" (29th October 2017)
And so with great gusto myself, Chris and Jane of White Sail set sail on the A59 to Ripon. After a worse than normal choppy grid-locked York we finally found calmer waters and made good progress. Only to discover that forces were against us once again with some weird road closures rendering Ripon a whirl pool to which we could not find the epicentre which was of course The St. Winifrid's Community Centre. Arriving not a little flustered we set up and actually had one of our best gigs ever. The glorious music soothed our sea ravaged souls not to mention a fantastic welcome, as ever, from this rather special folk club. Organiser Tish and husband Barry and all the helpers there made us feel so at home. Even home made pizza and blinis were on hand for the interval. We had a terrific night and said our farewells. Little Minty the Peugot had other ideas about a smooth sailing homeward bound and she had to be dropped off at the garage as yet again.....CLUTCH TROUBLE!!!! To be continued..... ;-)
Different Hats.......And a lot of Laughter!!! (10th October 2017)
I am rather lucky in the fact that my musical life takes me to lots of different places and play with lots of different people. These people, without exception, make me laugh, a lot. This is very important when you make music together and spend a lot of time in each others company practising and travelling. I spend a lot of time on my own too practising and rehearsing and every day there is always stuff to be learnt. My work with The Heather Findlay Band is always fun, I get to play the keys too which is a real thrill, lovely rich organ sound which I love. My work within White Sail is also full of laughter with some truly exciting music being made. After 17 years together my a capella trio Soundsphere continue to source new songs for a possible album number 7 next spring, can't wait. There is also a possibility that I may be playing with Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards for a Luna Rossa gig in May 2018, I love that music so much, and yet again we have ridiculous amounts of fun doing so.
So, although in essence I am a solo musician, I am very blessed to have such good musical friends!
Classic Rock Festival.....just harping on! (18th August 2017)
Well there I was in the van with Heather Findlay and Martin Ledger of the Heather Findlay Trio when I get a call to ask what time would I be arriving on site? To which I replied in about a couple of hours! Oh good, came the reply, because we have a band who have cancelled....would you fancy doing a slot to fill in?! Indeed said I! Anyway to sum it all up a great time was had by all as I duly took to the stage at 6pm and entertained a small but appreciative crowd to a selection of my own songs and some specially selected covers. Saturday night saw the Trio take the stage and we had a great night with a super crowd. Sunday morning dawned and once again I took to the Acoustic stage for a lazy Sunday noon concert. More of my own songs and some cover songs that I knew would go down well. All in all a great weekend, catching up with some wonderful friends and making some new ones along the way. Roll on next year!!!!
Mallet Finger......a tale of a (SFSTI) soft furnishing soft tissue injury (15th June 2017)
Oh really you couldn't make it up. As many of you know I snapped the tendon in my left hand middle finger on the 9th March and the journey back to recovery has been long and slow. I had the splint taken off on the 5th May after 8 weeks or so and was left with a useless sausage for a finger! I have still managed to fulfill all of my musical commitments but it has made this year very hard really in planning new music and recording etc. The finger is slowly learning how to work again with the help of great physio team at York and it may be a while before it fully is restored to something like its former self. I must thank my consultant Mr Pai at York Hospital who has been fantastic and very reassuring, he thinks I have gotten away with it - sometimes the ligament just doesn't re-attach and you have to have your finger either pinned or fused in position which would have been disastrous for me for playing the harp. It's never going to be 100% perfect as it is a little crooked but at least the tendon works at keeping the finger sort of straight! So, the lesson here is never plump your cushions!! You never know what might happen!!
"Chantons á Chatillon!" The Preps Coming on well for our week of singing in Normandy (4th April 2017)
We have a whole week of singing planned for our workshop participants who will be joining us in sunny Normandy! Soundsphere have been working hard to ensure that all our students gain as much as possible during the week. We will even be holding an evening concert at the end of the week with the local choral group in Chatillon sur Colmont. If you want to know more about the week visit www.soundsphere.co.uk for more info.
The Classic Rock Society Awards Night, Wath, (4th March 2017)
This was a fantastic night to be a part of! Congratulations to Pendragon for putting on a great show. Met loads of folk and made some new friends as well! Martin Turner of Wishbone Ash gave out the awards and it was a sheer delight to be able to sing Leaf and Stream as my homage to WA, Argus being in my top ten of all albums! He loved it actually and I have a nice photo of him with the harp! Will post some more links and photos soon!
HARPY NEW YEAR
2017 eh? Who would have thought it - they go quicker I swear! So in the pipeline is more work with the super loveliness of Heather Findlay and we are making plans for Nigel on that one. Also the trio White Sail is giving me great joy! We plan to do a lot this year and do some recording as well. I may even do some recording mesen! I have now way too many songs to get into some form of shape and it will be a double album at this rate! It may be a KickStarter project I think as it's a question of having the funds to do it. Singing practices with my 3 part a capella group Soundsphere are going well and we are planning the details of the week long singing workshop and I am looking forward to that very much, en France! Oui!
The Heather Findlay Acoustic supporting TOUCHSTONE (24th December 2016)
We had the most fun filled three days on the road with the lovely Touchstone crew. Three great gigs in St. Helens, London & Bilston. Really great to hear the stripped down versions of the new I am Snow album and a cracking, knock your socks version of Gaudete! Replete with Henry Rogers on Cajon and ankle bells!! Wonderful! The full band took to the stage on Wednesday night for a proper solstice shindig, with Odin Dragonfly delighting us all as support. Such good times working with really great musicians, I hope that 2017 holds more of the same. I am really very blessed to be working with people who are so inspiring!
The Great British Folk Festival - Butlin's Skegness (9th December 2016)
I tell you what, that was a fantastic weekend! I didn't really know what to expect - a folk festival at a Butlins. But it was really really good. It lends itself well as it's all indoors and these amazingly biiiiig stages. 5000 people went to the festival and it didn't feel really crowded except when you ventured to one of the stages and then it's just a sea of people! I had a great audience and a massively appreciative crowd. My own two bedroomed chalet was very cosy and once you found yourself around what is effectively a mini village it was brilliant. Lots of different restaurant options, swimming and other activities, and it's beside the beach.....Big thanks go to Stephen of Solid Entertainment for inviting me to play and organising such a wonderful event.
I am Snow - The Heather Findlay Band - New Winter CD! (28th November 2016)
We went into the recording studio during early November and the result I have to say is fantastic! It is a truly harp spangled affair and radiates glorious wintery magic! Heathers songwriting once again is beautiful and I am so delighted to be a part of this project. See the gig list for when we are touring and details of how to buy the CD. The artwork is by Richard Nagy and is a specially commisioned illustration that encapsulates the feel of the album perfectly.
Luna Rossa Supporting CAIRO (20th November 2016)
I was really happy to be able to join Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards of Luna Rossa to play some of the amazingly lovely songs that I played harp with on their 2nd studio album Secrets & Lies. We have toured at Wintertime for the last two years and so I was delighted that the date fell when I was able to join them in Rotherham. It is a joy to revisit these songs and we had a great evening together.
White Sail - (Jane Stockdale, Chris Bartram & Sarah Dean) We finally found a name! (7th September 2016)
Well! It's been a bit of a long road in finding a name for our trio, or rather letting the name find us! A long time ago, Janes' husband David mentioned White Sail as a possibility, the other name was Otter's Pocket. Yes really. Actually White Sail is the name of one of Jane and Chris' songs.......we mullaged it over long and hard and thought that actually it's a great name. It expresses the journey we're on in our music together. It's fresh and exciting and the promise of travel and exploration. It's just right and we love it! Hope you do too!
Supporting Gryphon at The Robin 2 - A gig of a lifetime! (18th August 2016)
Many years ago as a young teenager, probably about 13 or 14 years old, I found the album Midnight Mushrumps within my brother Charles' record collection. I played it to death, stared endlessly at the cover and examined, as one did with vinyl, the writing, the clothing, the credits, the list of weird and wonderful instruments, everything....whilst listening to the music. What was this! Medieval instruments playing prog? Then a bit of a folk song in their as well! I was intrigued and hooked. Many years later I learnt to sing The Ploughboy's Dream and now it's a regular in my set, I sing it with the drone of the Schruti Box - anyway I included it in my support set and it went down a storm. The lads were also really happy for me to sing it too! A fabulous night to see them play live and a dream come true for me. My brother Charles passed away in 2002 and never got to see or hear my solo music, so up there Charles....I hope I did you proud! <3
The Cambridge Rock Festival (9th August 2016)
The long awaited day came when we took to the main stage at this fabulous festival. Really excited to be playing these songs again and with our new lineup it was our first full band outing! We did ourselves and Heather proud with a great audience reaction and feedback after the show. Loads of friends were there too so it was a really fun weekend. Halo Blind played a blinder Friday night and Odin Dragonfly did a lovely set on Sunday. Saturday night saw Anne-Marie Helder do her amazing solo set and it's good to see her exploring her solo material again along with a couple of lovely Luna Rossa songs played just guitar and voice, always the sign of a great song that it stands up in it's purest form. Mostly Autumn played Sunday evening and they did a powerful and polished performance, you can tell they gig regularly. All in all it was a fantastic weekend and one for the memory banks!
The City of York Folk Weekend - HOT & STEAMY! (8th June 2016)
This was the 14th City of York Folk Weekend held at The Black Swan Inn, the home of The Black Swan Folk Club, and it certainly has gone from strength to strength. Each year has seen it expand with both the line up and opportunities for musicians and audience to enjoy a whole variety of music. Singing workshops, songwriting workshops and music making for children plus an ice cream van make this a real family festival. This year was especially busy for me as I opened up on the Saturday afternoon to glorious sunshine in the Marquee tent. Then to do a spot of MC'ing for the afternoon. Sunday saw me and the Soundsphere girls give a two hour singing workshop which was really well attended despite it being a 11am start! We raised the roofs and tested the 16th Century floorboards with our songs from around the world and everyone did amazing! It's always a real pleasure to see so many people singing and enjoying themselves as a group. My next concert was with Jane and Chirs as our trio and that was fabulous! It was a little hot and steamy to be honest but we had a great crowd and it's always a joy to sing and play with them. After another spot of MC'ing I put on another hat and took the stage with Soundsphere. We had a great reception and I know a lot of people are especially supportive of us now that we are three. We miss Angela dreadfully but we sing with joy and send her love!
My new song is going to be called Hats Off (To Roland Walls) the organiser of The Black Swan Folk Club for putting this all together, not to mention Tony from JSS music for doing a stirling job with all the sound...all weekend... in the marquee tent.
A new band, a new collaboration for Sarah Dean, Jane Stockdale & Chris Bartram (15th May 2016)
There are times when a solo performer just loves to be part of a group. Although I love my solo career I have been so lucky to know and work with some brilliant musicians. My ongoing work with Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards and the Luna Rossa project is fabulous as is my latest work with The Heather Findlay Band. Great fun and great times making music and making magic happen!
So, over the last couple of years or so, I have been enjoying working with two of my best friends Jane Stockdale and Chris Bartram. We have subconciously realised that together we have something really special! When Jane asked if I would like to form a trio I literally nearly burst into tears (actually I saved them until I got home!). We'll be melding three part harmony vocals, harmony guitars, harp, percussion, schruti box, whistles, flute and trumpet into something quite lovely! Think a bit proggy folky, slightly even a touch poppy at times? But definately all inspired by our love of creating soundscapes and atmospheres. We are, as yet, nameless! So if you have any ideas, please let me know!
The Heather Findlay Band Spring Tour.....back home to the Sett, tired and wired! (24th April 2016)
The tour of 8 dates has come to an end ;-/ starting in Holland we finished last night with a celebration curry in Southend-on-Sea and raised a glass to the really rather superb Heather Findlay. I have so enjoyed making music with this talented group of musicians, I wish I played drums and actually really wish I played bass! We have had some laughs and adventures on the way and it's been brilliant to do the support slots each night. I've met so many lovely folk and made some new friends. Even got the crowd air harping too! Doesn't get much better than that!
Tour News! De Boerdrij Bound! (10th April 2016)
The tour so far has been brilliant! We've been to Holland to the famous De Boerderij - voted the 2nd best venue by music fans, only topped by the Royal Albert Hall, no less. I totally understand why it gets so much acclaim. The sound was awesome and huge and the lighting, stage and back stage was faultless. So thanks to all there, be lovely to come back some time. Leicester received great feedback from the audience and it was a joy to play the set again. We're getting ready for Fibbers in York on Thursday and we can't wait!
and Guest Backing Vocalist for
The Heather Findlay Band - April Tour (14th March 2016)
I've known Heather for many years now and you know when you always think of someone as being the age they were when you first met? Well, it's like that with Heather. I first saw her perform with a very new Mostly Autumn, back in the pubs of York and it's always such a joy and a delight to see someone travel on a musical journey through their life. And so, I shall be joining Heather and her band on tour around the UK in April. I will be doing a support slot and some backing vocals with the band. You never know we may just do a number on the harp too, would be nice. Check out the gigs page for all the dates, there is sure to be a venue near you!
Heather Findlays' Mantra Vega 'The Illusion's Reckoning' Album Launch (23rd January 2016)
What a night! The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge is the musical heartland for many of the musicians there that night. The Blakey festivals headlined by Mostly Autumn were, to put it mildly, legendary. So it's fitting that Heather chose this cosy venue so full of atmosphere for an intimate candlelit acoustic gig to launch the project that Heather started with Miami based musician Dave Kerzner. If you go to the gigs page there's loads of information about the album and links etc...but briefly it was a night of magical soundscapes...Heathers voice soars and dips and flows, keeps you spellbound - accompanied by fabulous musicians in the form of Angela Gordon on keyboards, flutes, backing vocals and harmonium. Chris Johnson on guitars, Stu Fletcher on bass with Alex Cromarty keeping the beat on snare, symbols, guitar and vocals. Backing vocals were provided by Olivia Sparnenn, Lou Cromarty and myself. I even got to play a little alto recorder which was nice! Special guests were Bryan Josh on electric guitar and fresh from the airport was the amazing Troy Donockley on electric guitar and low whistles. A wonderful evening of great food, good friends and incredible music.
David Ward Maclean Loveliness (21st June 2015)
Corr! Sometimes you get those gigs that you just don't want to end! The Solstice Celebration gig at the City Screen Basement was just that. I call them magical musical moments and really I guess it just goes to show the power of music, song, songwriting and making music 'in the moment'. Great performance by David who even jettisoned the glasses at a couple of moments as he sung his big heart out. I accompanied David on two songs and we rocked quite frankly!!! Dave Keagan, Steve Kendra, Simon Snaize, Bradley Blackwell, Sam Griffiths and the fabulous Angie Gordon were all just awesome. Sorry this sounds really lovey doesn't it? but I was blown away by how everyone melded with David to compliment his music, rather than overplay on the songs....
BBC RADIO LEEDS Folk Radio Show with The Durbervilles (24th May 2015)
Hear my latest radio appearance on BBC RADIO LEEDS SUNDAY 24th MAY 2015
Thanks to the lads Dave, Mick and Lee 'Durberville' for a very entertaining hours show. Much merriment is had as the latest events from around the region are shared, plus great music choices and witty banter! Myself and Roland Walls, organiser and co-ordinator of the Black Swan Folk Club were on the show to promote the City Of York Folk Weekend that's coming up 5th - 7th June at The Black Swan Inn in York. I played three songs and was made very welcome by all. The link above is available for 30 days from the 24th May.
"We're lost in music....caught in a trap...I quit...my 9 to 5...we're lost in music..." (20th May)
Sister Sledge sang it right, I've taken heed and I've finally done it and made the great leap into the unknown! I've decided that the time is right to turn my attentions full time to the love of my life - music! I am happy to find that my work is growing to the point where I need to make it the 'only' thing I do - over the last couple of years increasing commitments to gigs, writing, session work and weddings and events, not to mention various collaborations means that I'm at a point where I have to give it my all! I'm grateful that I have the wedding and event side of my work to bring in the money to sustain the more creative aspects of my work that maybe will reap long term rewards further down the line. I can now look to recording what amounts to a potential double CD of songs...7 years of writing, which so far has made it to various demo stages, all these songs now need some final tweaks to be released. I've recently been working with S12 Productions who have recorded 8 songs for me as 'demos'. There're currently being mixed and these will enable me to hone the other arrangements I have in mind for the finished album. Exciting times!!! I'll keep you posted...
Swifts Arriving! (23rd April 2015)
That's it for me! Spring is official and the hayfever sneezes and itchy eyes will be on there way as we celebrate the arrival of the SWIFTS!
Why it always makes me so excited to see them I don't know but the bird life around our garden is going bonkers...the starlings have taken residence once again behind the (painted up) plastic air grate in the bathroom and we love to indulge them by having steamy baths and providing extra heating for the little chirrups. They do get a bit fed up though with our bed times and I have been known to quietly brush my teeth for if I make too much noise there is a rustling and annoyed clucking by Mrs Starling.
I shall write again when I spot the first Swallow, thought I'd seen one today on the wire but I can't be sure....
BBC Radio York - The Adam Tomlinson and Anna Wallace Show (9th March 2015)
Probably the funniest show I've been on and I've got to say that Adam and Anna like to have a giggle - we discussed the ins and outs of being a harper and whether the sound of the harp was better than chocolate. Well! that's an impossible suggestion really because chocolate is King! isn't it. The harp comes somewhere close though...It was lovely to meet the two presenters and we got to chat quite a fair bit about how the harp works and I played a little of The Flither Girls and Man In The Long Black Coat to demonstrate the different types of songs that could be played. They both had a go too and so all in all it was a lovely afternoon!
You can listen here to the archive for about 30 days from the 9th March - so it'll be available until the 5th April ish....if you scroll along to about 2.13pm and then again at 2.33pm you can hear our two segments.
Luna Rossa at The Robin2, Bilston (18th January 2015)
The third and for now, last of the album launch dates with Anne-Marie Helder, Jonathan Edwards and Andy 'Wal' Coughlan was musically quite magical and such good fun! We all felt really happy to be playing the songs again after our initial 2 dates in November. My memories of the evening were that the whole set of songs - just under 2 hours - really flowed and gelled together. Featuring songs from the new album Secrets & Lies plus songs from the first album Sleeping Pills & Lullabies. - I was also once again doing a support and I have to say the opportunity to play my songs to a new audience is lovely, they were very appreciative, so much so they caught me out and I sold all of my CD's!
It's one of places I am most happiest, up on stage with the lights and dry ice, the thrill of the darkness beyond the stage and the hint of the audience just visible, for some reason it always feels so intimate when it's a bigger stage...which sounds weird really!
The Midlands Rocks Magazine Review
Brilliant Cardiff and London dates with Luna Rossa (5th November 2014)
So it was with great excitement that I took to the stage at The Gate Arts Centre in Cardiff to do a 30 minute support. The audience was lovely and very supportive ~ I sang Cloudstreets, Stealing Time, Happy Dog, Man In The Long Black Coat and finished with Blue Horizon, hoping that the proggy element and instrumental elements would appeal to this audience. I felt like I made some friends that night and received much appreciation. Then a short break and Luna Rossa took to the stage, starting with the instrumental Aurora, a gorgeous multi-faceted soundscape that builds and builds! The 19 song, 1 hour 45 minute set took us through most of the debut album Sleeping Pills and Lullabies and the new album Secrets & Lies. The audience stomping their feet for more! All went well considering it was the first time that some of these songs had taken to the stage! We were really pleased with how the songs sounded and looked forward to The Borderline the next day. Anne-Marie's brother Robert took to the stage to support with his band Sea of Green and they played a terrific set. On stage the songs took flight once again with everyone feeling more relaxed to be playing the songs again. The finale Happy Little Song is a quirky little tune that weaves it way into your brain and doesn't let go - my nephew Wil texted me to say that it took a good two days before it skipped away!
So it's off to The Robin 2 in Bilston on Sunday for the third and final concert. It's been such fun working with Anne-Marie, Jon and Wal, not to mention the sheer number of jokes that abounded. Wal's ability to start what appears to be an ordinary conversation which then turns into a joke is un-rivalled!
Getting ready for Luna Rossa mini tour "Secrets & Lies" (28th October 2014)
It was way back last Christmas that Anne-Marie Helder asked me to guest on the second album herself and Jonathan Edwards were planning. And here we are! The recording was done over the summer and mixing and mastering finally finished. The actual album launch date is in November but we're taking the songs out on the road with three concerts. I can't wait to travel down to Swansea and start 3 days of rehearsals!
Jamming with Snake Davis! (24th October 2014)
Well what a treat it was to share the stage and have an impromptu jam with the legendary horn blower himself Snake Davis...there ain't no wind instrument he can't blow and boy can he blow! A lovely house concert in Bielby was hosted by Ian and Judith Simpson and after a two hour masterclass in the sax, Snake regailed us all with stories and tunes a plenty! Showcasing his wonderful talent he played every size of sax there is and flutes and whistles too. Particular favourite is the Japanese bamboo flute that requires various head movements to bend notes and create sharps and flats! A really lovely night was had by all.
Staithes Festival of Arts & Heritage 14th & 14th September (21st September 2014)
Sometimes just getting out there and playing is just so much of a tonic for me. It makes me feel grounded and purposeful, it's what makes me happy. It doesn't matter whether people are standing and listening or just passing by with an appreciative nod or hello, busking for me is a chance to reconnect with all my songs, old and new and play for the sheer joy of it. I can play (back withstanding!) for hours and the occasion of the Staithes Festival of Arts & Heritage was such a fabulous thing to be a part of. I busked in the high street outside the Staithes Art Gallery and then I busked high up looking out to sea. Busking in the soft sunshine with the views of the harbour were spectacular and I made sure my Flither Girls song got a good few plays! I also took part in a Saturday night concert at the Lifeboat House and thoroughly enjoyed the music throughout the evening.
Sad Times (7th July 2014)
On a personal note, it's been a sad few weeks with the passing of my father-in-law Joszef Nagy. He sent his energy and spirit to the stars on a beautiful Midsummers' Day evening. Seeing yet another loved one fight lung cancer just makes me all the more determined to support and try to do 'something' positive to help the charities that enable research and improve treatment for those with this dreadful disease.
The humanist minister read these words by Ruth Burgess at the funeral last week and I just wanted to share them with you, they are so lovely...
Into the freedom of wind and sunshine...we let you go
Into the dance of the stars and the planets...we let you go
Into the wind's breath and the hands of the star maker...we let you go
We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy,
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.....
O'Hooley & Tidow (13th March 2014)
I was really delighted to be back playing at The National Centre of Early Music and being asked to MC and support O'Hooley & Tidow. I am one to gush on about great performances but this one was out of the ordinary. I had MC'd the girls way back two years ago at The Black Swan Folk Club, and two years later the girls have gone from strength to strength. The ambiance of the venue, the fact that we got to play an awesome Bösendorfer grand all combined to make a magical musical night! Belinda O'Hooleys sublime mastery of the piano with the two girls voices were sublime together. Two very different voices that together meld and create a sound that at times sound like more than the sum of its parts. It's also about what they do with the arrangements that stands them apart. They have a new album out entitled 'The Hum' and this is deservedly getting rave reviews. Yep, a night to remember for loads of reasons. Mr B played brilliantly on the percussion on three songs; I Am A Farming Man, Man In The Long Black Coat and Beautiful World and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening!
It was a fantastic concert! - Read the York Press review here!
Busy Hands! (23rd Feb 2014)
A busy time has been had of late with lots of gigs and collaborations with good friends. Working with Jane Stockdale and Chris Bartram aka To The Blue has been joyous ~ when you're a solo bod, the chance of sharing and making music with friends is always a sheer joy! Much laughter has been had with Jane and Chris while working on several songs together for joint shows. Two evenings of shared music with To The Blue in their newly established monthly music night at The Victoria Vaults in York have been great fun. So too have lovely evenings spent at The Black Swan Folk Club doing floor spots for Jackie Oates, Jez Lowe & Kate Bramley and The James Brothers. The Winter Folk Day had a great turnout with Yorks finest musicians entertaining the crowds! Then off to Danby ~ the North York Moors Visitors Centre ~ where my dear sister Rosie was having an exhibition of her amazing paintings with little sis playing for the visitors! We had a lovely weekend together and even had a mention in the paper! The Jorvik Viking Festival took flight this month and myself and To The Blue got together and did a support for Ray Cooper (previously of Oysterband) in his solo entity. The gig with Ray at Barley Hall was awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ray and listening to his amazing set of songs as he accompanied himself on Cello and Guitar. More Viking furrage at York Minster as I entertained guests with songs in the glorious majestic acoustic of this magnificent building, then onto St. Williams College to play for guests as they merrily dined and quaffed! In between courses they were entertained with stories from the top table by ale swigging table thumping Vikings! In contrast to this, the sumptuous surroundings of the Dean Court Hotel where the setting for an evening of gentle song and music to diners celebrating Valentines Day! Love was in the air that night and it was a joy to be part of it!
A New Year ~ 2014
So a New Year is upon us all and we take stock and look back at what we've done and what we would like to do. A time of resolutions and reflection. A time for bracing winter winds and taking joy in blue sky sunshine days. For me, the year has been one of joyous music making but actually dominated by a good deal of sadness. Losing two very close friends from cancer; Karen MacNamara and Angela Michel and witnessing the brave stoic fight of Richards' Dad Joe and his treatment for cancer. This all leaves me thinking that we must continue to be positive that a cure and better, early diagnosis can be found for this disease. I support the British Lung Foundation and it is in that quest to do something and direct my emotional energy that I will attempt to complete a 10 mile fell run for charity. I saw my good friends deal with their illness with such awesome grace, strength and dignity that I was truly humbled. We must always strive to live to the full and to love to the full. Be the change that you wish to see in the world......may your new year bring you health, happiness, peace, love and light..........Sarah x
Selby Little Fest ~ A great success ~ well done to Alex and the team! (22nd Sept 2013)
I had the most wonderful weekend ~ spent out and about playing, what I love best. On Saturday I played in The Wedding Shop and met the lovely friendly staff there. Surrounded by amazing dresses and accessories the shop was a hive of activity. A Wedding Fayre at Selby Abbey just over the road meant that there was a steady and appreciative audience! After tea and sandwiches provided by the lovely ladies in the festival cafe I took myself off to Greenwoods. A good traditional high quality menswear outfitters. Nestled between the double breasted suits and the lambswool jumpers I played to a lovely audience who leant against the display rails or browsed around the shop. Trying to find clothing related songs I sang The January Man ("The January Man goes down the road in woolen coat and boots of leather....") and then Scarborough Fayre ("Tell her to make me a Cambric shirt..."). Well I've never played in a menswear shop so that's a first for my career!
Sunday saw me do a Groundhog day moment as the same bus driver on the 843 Coastliner as Saturday did a double take. He looked surprised to see me again and said 'Ay up! Morning! This is a bit Deja Vu!' and asked me about how I'd got on in Selby, which was nice! So, onto the Bridge View Tea Shop ~ a little room at the back provided a lovely space to play and we had a good audience who took their tea and cakes through to hear me.
Many many thanks go to the team at 'On Our Turf' ~ firstly to Alex Wright who's job it is to co-ordinate the whole thing and then to his team (Anthea Hardwick-Thwaites, Eva Lambert, Chris Jones and Karen Banks) and not forgetting the many volunteers who put so much work in to make us all feel so welcome. A great initiative by York Theatre Royal; let's keep music, theatre and the arts live and available to the masses!
This month has seen the festival also in Easingwold & Pocklington. The last of the four weekends around the shire for the festival is next weekend, the 28th & 29th September in Helmsley ~ so get yourselves there! And as this project is a two year initiative keep an eye out for more events next year!
Click here to read the great review by Dan Bean in the The York Press "Selby Little Fest is hailed as a big success"
York District Hospital ~ Playing for visitors and patients (10th Sept 2013)
It's the first time that I've been to the hospital to play and meet up with Music, Art & Entertainment co-ordinator Kat Hetherington. I had a really wonderful afternoon playing and singing for patients and visitors in the vestibule for 30 minutes before heading on up the Ward 35 to play for an hour in three rooms. Catching a quiet time for the patients in the afternoon and hopefully giving them a chance to relax and listen to some songs. Well done to Kat for all her work up there in the hospital, whether as a patient or a visitor it really is good to wander down the corridors and see such great art being displayed.
Sharon Penman Book Signing - Barley Hall (9th Sept 2013)
I had a very enjoyable evening playing in the candlelit Barley Hall for the highly acclaimed best selling author Sharon Penman. A whole group of folk have been with her for the week, travelling with her to the various locations featured in her novels. A very lovely lady and a great group of people who were very interested in the harp and the music.
Sedgefield Folk Festival ~ The Golden Lion (8th Sept 2013)
With a car that was as bulging as one of Richards' cheese butties, myself and Paula Ryan drove off out of our familiar shire into the north up t'A19. Sedgefield is located just east of Middlesborough and it was to take part in a concert with our friend Paul Pearson that we were headed. The folk festival was in full swing as we arrived and we said hello to the lovely Joan who we had met at the Dorman's Folk Festival a few weeks back and who had asked us to play. The honey tones of the gorgeous Edwina Hayes were drawing us to the main hall in the village and we caught the last 20 minutes of her set, quite delightful! We played a good 3 hours plus of music between us with a 'songs in the round' format and some collaborative playing and singing together. A really lovely evening was had by all, we had a great audience and it's thanks to Paula and Paul for sharing the evening and their wonderful songs with me.
Galtres Festival 2013 - Set the Controls for the heart of the Sun! (6th Sept 2013)
Relocated to the majestic surroundings of Duncome Park, Helmsley ~ the Galtres Festival 2013 took on a whole new gravitas. Seriously big festival with a whole host of musical talent on display. Very much still a Yorkie festival, with just about everyone on the York music scene there, but it now attracts really big acts from far and wide. My joy was in wandering around and dipping in to various concerts and hearing some very special music, clutching the ever present cider in hand, I had some magical musical moments! For me a great festival is not just about catching all the well known acts but finding new up and coming musicians, of all genres and ages. All in all a very social weekend was had catching up with friends old and new! Both for myself and Richard it was a chance to air some new versions of old songs, but with percussion from 'Mr B' ~ The addition of subtle Cajon, Djembe and percussion has transformed songs such as Man In The Long Black Coat, Beautiful World and I am a Farming Man. Interestingly we worked up Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun from Pink Floyds' second album A Saucerful Of Secrets and it went down a storm! Myself and David Ward MacLean collaborated and sang a gentle rendition of Grantchester Meadows which I think I shall keep in my set ~ it's a lovely song and it's from Floyds' Umma Gumma album. So sweet, whenever I sing this song it makes me forever remember this summer as one of beautiful heat and balmy afternoons!
Danby ~ North York Moors Visitors Centre (3rd August 2013)
Once again I made my way accompanied by dear mum to the visitors centre at Danby. An exhibition opening of glorious paintings & photographs. North York Moors and the surrounding shires certainly have a wealth of gifted artists ~ all drawing inspiration from this wonderful countryside. The moors are just starting to shrug on their shoulders the cloak of purple, I'd give it another two weeks before they hit their full glory!
New Website! (August 2013)
The new website - as you can see is finally up and running! I won't tell you how long it's taken me to write it - let's just say the planning stage was e x t e n s i v e ! As an ex computer programmer you can imagine there was a battle of sorts going on between "Of course you can do this, it's only a bit of html code" to "Can't do it! My brain doesn't work any more! Help!". Many thanks go to the creative graphic design input of Richard Nagy for all of his lovely artwork, buttons and banners giving the website hopefully a plucky butterfly feel! If there's anything you want to feedback to me about how it works or if you've spotted spolling mistikes, and things that don't quite work right - Please tell me! I'd be very grateful!
Appalachian Dulcimer Purchase ~ To buy or not to buy, that is the question! whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous harp carrying or to take arms against a sea of guitars........etc etc! (August 2013)
Uh-Oh! You know that moment when you know that you've just got to have something! That happened a while ago with me and the potential new instrument purchase of a Stoney End Appalachian Dulcimer. Hobgoblin in Leeds, probably one of the most helpful and friendliest instrument shops in the Shire, have agreed to put a couple to one side for me. I've got to choose between the cherry wood and walnut wood, which will depend purely on the sound. Apparently the Cherry gives a warm mellow tone and the Walnut gives a rich dark more bass driven sound. I will keep you posted!
Dog Jokes - Sorry!
This fella goes to the doctor and says "Doctor, doctor I keep thinking that I'm a dog!" and the doctor says "Hop up here on the couch and we'll have a quick look at you". "Sorry" replies the man, "I'm not allowed up on the couch!"
Picture this, a wild west bar, ladies in plush red velvet and gents smoking cigars and playing poker, smell of whisky and cheatin' hangs in the air.....The door to the saloon creaks and slowly opens, spurs clanking on the wooden floor, a dog walks in. One arm rests close to the gun at his hips, the other arm is held high in the air, a bloodied bandage is raised for all to see. The piano player stops playing, the ladies of the night retreat to the back of the room, the cards are laid down, cigars hang from lips in trepidation, all eyes on the door. The dog takes a long slow look at all the eyes upon him and finally growls "I'm come for the man who shot ma PAW!"
My dog Charlie used to think he was a detective. He used to go into pet shops and ask "OK Listen up - Does anyone have any leads?" - SD
My dog Charlie used to go to the corner shop every day to buy the paper. Regular as clockwork he used to trot up the street, come back with paper in muzzle. One day he goes off and doesn't return. An hour goes by. Really worried I set off in search of my faithful friend. To the paper shop I go...."Have you seen Charlie this morning?" "Oh aye! Not that long since!" So I continue the search with heart beating.....up the street asking around, until I glance into the local pub. There sitting at the bar was Charlie, on a bar stool, cigar in hand, glass of beer on the mat, doing the crossword! "Charlie" I cried "What's going on - for five years now you've gone to the shop every day, trotting back with the paper and here you are, today, sitting with a cigar and a pint" He sets down the cigar in an ash try, lays the paper down, takes a sip of beer, smacks his lips, turns to me, shrugs and says "You never gave me a tenner before!"
What is the difference between a singer-songwriter and a young puppy? Eventually the young puppy will stop whining!
Please send me your dog jokes - they've got to be better than mine!