Been having a busy time of it playing gigs around Birmingham with Ingrid Gould (accordion) and Martin F Hubbard (guitar) at the Kings Heath Community Cafe (see the video on the home page) and the Station Pub in Kings Heath. I've been trying a few different Folk Clubs/Open Mics as well - last week I was at the Cheque-Mates Folk Club in Hopwas near Tamworth and the week before that at Brewood Cricket Club where they have a folk/acoustic night. I've also been back singing with the lovely Birmingham Clarion Singers. We performed at an annual Mesothelioma event for Asbestos Support Central England, and this Saturday we did a storming set for The Women Chainmakers Festival in Cradley Heath. Next Saturday I'll be performing with the Clazzas again in Darlaston for Black Country Day and hopefully I'll be singing a few solo songs later as well.
Its all come to a bit of a stand still with regards to recording work as I'll be relocating again shortly - not sure where yet, so if you know of any communities that will take a fat old musician with arthritis let me know. All I need is a little plot of land to grow food on, a bed and access to some form of tranport.
Since my last post my Mum, Zena, Died, then shortly afterwards my friend, bass player and sound engineer, Nick Thompson died, followed by my Uncle Jim.
I won't go into details about my Mum's death here, but it has all added to the grief I was already feeling for the loss my long time friend and previous partner Della Walker (Wiggins).
We decided that I would officiate (be the celebrant) at my Mum's cremation service - I just didn't want a stranger doing it. I found it a stressful but wonderful thing to do. I would like to thank everyone that managed to come and especially my friend and fellow singer/song writer Tom Patterson who travelled up from Birmingham just to sing 'Coaly Tyne' one of my Mum's favourite songs (by Tom). We used to sing it in the car on our shopping/fish and chip outings.
I've been putting some new videos on youtube and this website as I've finally found some time - albeit due to the massive hole that's appeared where my caring duties used to be. Many of the recordings were made by Nick thompson at 'The Shed' in Burntwood - I had many happy days recording and chatting to Nick. I came to the recording studio one day and he told me "I came out to the studio the other night and put some bass on some of your tracks". - I think the bass playing is full of life and fun, showing Nick's warm intelligent character.
I have many fond memories of my Uncle Jim from when I was a child - both him and my Uncle Jack were both incredible fun and I must admit its where I learnt my skills at winding other people's children up to the chagrin of their parents - who then have to calm them down again. Its only recently that I found out he was a fellow ukulele player and used to enjoy watching videos of me playing my political stuff - it made me very happy and proud to hear this.
Just more recently I've been doing some gigs - Played at the Cheque-Mate Folk Club in Hopwas (Near Tamworth) as part of the Neon Collective Song Writers Sessions. Yesterday I did a set for the Birmingham Trades Council (May day Event). I performed three songs 'Piers Plowman' (a monster of a song that I sing from memoory - it covers the history of political struggles in England and Wales. Of course there are many omissions) followed by 'Sprit of '45' and a new one 'Every Little Bit Helps'. There was some confusion as I tend to lose all track of time, I looked at Ian Scott the President and signalled with my finger for one more more, he didn't respond straight away, so I put my thumb up to say 'enough' and he nodded his head (it turns out we got our wires crossed and I could have done another one.
I'm getting closer to getting some albums released but I'm moving back to Darlaston this week and my Uncle Jim's funeral is coming up, so hopefully after that.
Sorry if its a depressing blog post but that's life I suppose, just hope I get more time to write and perform music.
Its thick snow outside, all the folk clubs and open mics seem to have been cancelled, my Mum is not very well and I'm stuck here getting depressed and going up the wall (for foreign visitors this is an expression used for going mad)....Time to update the old blog!
I've got a few new songs on the go, but not sure how close they are to completion. It always takes a huge effort to get them written down and up to 'semi-performance quality', so then I can fine tune them by playing them live before recording them.
I haven't done much more as far as recording is concerned as the Sound Recording Engineer, Nick, has sadly not been well - although I have managed to get some Tom-toms and Congas on 2 of my songs thanks to Mike Townsend.
Having a bit more time at home has allowed me to edit a video (taken by Mike Townsend) from a gig I did last year at The Gates Pub in Sutton Coldfield for BrumAid. I made a sort of medley by editing short clips from each song. I also uploaded a version of the The Bee-Boy song with the mighty Keith Parkins improvising on the saxophone - a really scary but immensly enjoyabe experience - it was taken on my Fairphone so the quality isn't great.
More recently I was asked by Wolverhampton and District Trades Union Council to play at 2 events they held for 'Love Unions' week. It involved me playing at Wednesfield and Bilston Markets. It was cold but great fun once I got going. At Bilston I finished with a version of the Internationale (I stick to the original words but nicked the chords from Billy Bragg's website) - Some people joined in and one (Nick K) said its been a long time since the Internationale has been sung in Bilston Market (which made me laugh). The W&DTUC have long been supporters of mine, for which I'm very grateful, they have always supported live music and have helped keep me going by giving me gigs most years.
I wrote a song about Thomas Spence (one of my historic political heroes) and its been included on the Thomas Spence Society Web site.
I've agreed to play at Erdington Labour & Trade Union Group "Live Music & Comedy Night" at6 St Thomas' Association Club, Station Rd, Erdington B23 6UB on Thursday 8th of March - Tickets are the Princely sum of £5.00 each - Its a fundraiser for the local election campaign - so I'll be playing political stuff. I'll probably post a copy of the poster.
I've got a gig for the Birmingham Trades Council on the 5th of May
And of course I'll be playing at local folk clubs regularly and will be producing more youtube videos to post on here.
Its been a long time since my last blog post. A lot's happened over the last few months and I've got a few things coming up:
A very dear friend of mine died of breast cancer in August - We started going out together in the early 80's, lived together for many years and worked together and stayed good friends right up until she died. Della was somebody who enabled me to change my life, was a guiding light, a touchstone and a comrade in mirth and fun. I'll miss her terribly as many will do.
Before she died she bequethed me some money and told me (she was quite ill at this time) "Less splishy splashy (crying) and more plinky plinky (playing music)" So I've been trying to record some of my songs (I've written nearly 80) at The Shed Recording Studio in Burntwood.
Although home now. my Mum has deteriorated, so together with my grief at Della's illness and death, I haven't felt like, or had time to keep the blog and website up to date.
I have been out and about playing though and managed to get to the most excellent WMA Summer School of Music. I've also written a few new songs - tried 2 of them out last night at Moor Green Allotment Club.
I'll be performing tonight at The All Saint's Cafe with Ingrid Gould - if you get a chance come down and have a cuppa.
It was a very moving experience (as it always is) singing with Birmingham Clarion Singers at the annual mesothelioma action day event in the Priory Rooms, Bull Street, Birmingham. There were some visitors from Japan joining us all in demanding justice for people affected by this terrible disease. The numbers are still climbing, and the disease can take 30, 40, even more than 50 years after asbestos inhalation or ingestion. Its disgusting that they are still using it in some parts of the world and it is still in some of our public buildings (including schools) as well as some houses.