I am sure you have all seen the terrible news this week about the tragic accident at a Fisherman’s Friends show that killed Paul McMullen and Trevor Grills. I have written this blog today with a sadness in my heart as it was over 2012 that I met, worked with and became friends with both of these kind and talented men. My love and thoughts go out to their families in this time of great tragedy. Both Paul and Trevor made an impact on many peoples lives and they will not be forgotten.
Ey Up :)
Well here we are, 2013.
What with having the lurgy and starting to record the new album, January kinda flew by and before i knew it…it had gone. But even though we have now rolled on into February this IS the first blog post of the new year, so it seems appropriate to do a quick round up on all the mentalness that 2012 held…so here we go, a whistle stop tour of the year that was! Bestest highlights only to keep this blog to novella length hehe! :)
- I started the year with a lovely writing holiday on the Devon/Cornwall border, in an attempt to kick start my mind into second album gear :) I think I succeeded more in scaring myself half to death with the thought of ‘the difficult second album’ but a year later it’s all written and I am finally in the studio laying it all down :)
- My first Derbyshire Volounteers gig – This was veryyyyyy special, I had been inducted into the ranks of ‘official’ Derbyshire Folkies, playing in a scratch band with the likes of John Tams, Barry Coope, Fi Fraser, Kendrick:Needham, Cupola, Mick Peat and more…there are nearly 20 of us in total! It’s just an amazing opportunity to play with a myriad of ridiculously brilliant and giving musicians, plus I think I am the honorary baby of the group which is quite a nice experience hehe
- For The Dead Men was released…
- THE FOLK AWARDS! what an amazing experience that was, and looking back nearly a year on; what an array of amazing opportunities that award has brought my way…a really special evening that I certainly won’t be forgetting in a hurry. Click here for full blog on the folk awards!
- I went on tour with the lovely Phil Beer, the man is truly a ledge! Beautiful music, beautiful venues and a particularly beautiful sandwich in Torrington I seem to recall, cheese and pickle, mmmm
- I moved house, and painted it every colour you can imagine…BUT NOT MAGNOLIA! :D I also put a tardis in the kitchen, you know, just in case the doctor wants to come for tea :)
- I visited the hallowed halls of Cecil Sharp House for the very first time. I guess for all folkies the place has a strange majesty to it (sounds daft but it certainly evokes that feeling in me); perhaps because you know it holds the roots of the tradition, or perhaps it’s the gorgeous little bijou cafe, either way, it’s worth a visit. I was supporting my self pronouced ‘surrogate lesbian parents’ O’Hooley and Tidow (btw, have you listened to their 2nd album yet? It’s beautiful!) Find more about their music here.
- We got kittens! And they are well cool! Totally make the house, I named mine Ziggy Stardust, for this reason: ‘Screwed up eyes and screwed down hair-do, like some CAT from Japan’…’Well hung with a SNOW WHITE tan’…there really is no better name for a white cat wouldn’t you agree? :)
- Rob got Laser eyes! I was kind of hoping that this would mean he would be like Cyclops from X-Men and be able shoot lasers out of his eyes…apparently, that not how it works :( boooo! but none the less this got a mention because science is amazing, a 7 miunte procedure followed by perfect vision, it’s just unbelieveable! :)
- I somehow managed to land myself a gig at the famous Ronnies’ Bar, yep, i do mean the famous jazz club Ronnies Bar, but what a spectacular evening it was. I’ll be honest, I was pretty apprehensive as to whether he audience would go for my brand of daft banter but they were well up for it. It was transformed into a folk club in minutes and I am very proud to say that I even had the suited and booted business men singing ‘Maids When You’re Young’ hehe :D
- May also saw me headline a festival for the first time ever. The small but perfectly formed Doncaster Folk Festival! You know what, I spent my childhood going to music and new age festivals, I spend my working life at Folk Festivals, and this festival, despite being a very simple and small set up, has an amazing vibe. The crowd are always up for a laugh, they are warm and giving and it’s all indoors so no mud (I am not put off by a bit of mud but it is a pain when you’re carting stuff about) Plus there are hot homemade stews on a dolly trolly…whats not to like!
- It’s very rare that musicians get to go to gigs cos they are always gigging themselves; and in all honesty, when I aint gigging, the novelty of a night in is sometimes just too much to resist. But back in May me and Rob went to see Coldplay for the 2nd time, and I tell you, big arena concerts aren’t my fave (if you are at the back you sometimes can feel so disjointed from the gig that you feel you might as well be watching it on the telly) but this gig was amazing! An inclusive, emotional and communal experience from start to finish. Cracking night!
- Festival season was well underway by this point, and the true beginning of my summer under canvas…i am definitely the queen of camp! Palatial tent for the win!
- Cupola:Ward had it’s first gig. Tis proper exciting to be part of band, especially cos I almost always play solo! And even more especially because Cupola are all so flipping talented, I just get to prance around pretending I’m Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop :p
- Mills and Chimneys combined with mighty Sinphonia Viva to undertake a mammoth project involving schools from all over Derbyshire in composing music and songs inspired by their own county’s history. It was the first time I’ve worked with an orchestra, and my they are a clever bunch of clogs! And the kids were amazing; singing songs we had written for and with them – not a dry eye in the house!
- A true rarity! I went to a festival purely as a punter! Isle Of Wight Festival is a blast. It’s got a really chilled communal vibe and when it wasn’t raining, the sun was so glorious that my nose was not dissimilar to Rudolph’s. Best acts we saw were probably Biffy Clyro and Joan Armatrading (I cried at her gig, I love her music so much and she is such a beautiful performer)…ooo and it was a bit muddy to say the least:
- And then we went to Sark. Sark is amazing. No cars, No pavements (cos there are no cars to run you over), No streetlamps (The sky was bursting with stars!) and a cracking little festival! You must go! Because Sark is awesome!
Ah man I’ve rambled on loads, congratulations if you have made it this far, I am just rubbish at being succinct! Right, time to step it on up a gear WARP SPEED AHEAD!
- Supported Seth Lakeman again…I love him!
- I was invited back to my old school to judge their music festival. I was in it 7 times, very weird to be the one making the decisions hehe
- I met oddsocks and the journey of becoming a composer for theatre began…yay :P
- I played for the first time at Cambridge Folk Festival, and somehow managed to pull a full capacity crowd…MENTAL! Whilst I was there I also did a stint for Sky Arts (for both tv and an exclusive web interview)…MENTAL! watch the exclusive video here.
- Rebellion punk festival! Oh man, it was so good! And I had the most boring hair out of anyone there which made a refreshing change hehe :p It was great to be included! Folk and Punk are very similar in my mind, songs of the people, by the people…plus I can now say I have supported BOW WOW WOW…’GO WILD IN THE COUNTRY’
- More dashing up and down the country for festivals :)
- The recording of the soundtrack for Folie a Deux! And working with the amazing Barna, a Hungarian gypsy fiddle player who’s music was out of this world…more about that project here
- My beautiful new nephew was born, he is my 9th little one and a right little man!
- Netherlands tour and european jaunt…which was brill…so much cheese…more info here
- Premiere of Folie in Amsterdam! My name on the big screen, utterly mad, but an amazing moment that I will treasure.
- After working through out the year on writing new material for the album I was back in the studio beginning to lay down the bare bones of the tracks :D
- Took part in an amazing collaborative project with the Hullaballoo Community Quire down in Brighton. They had set some of my songs to music and we performed them together in a beautiful chapel, ah man, twas just lovely!
Then it was xmas, and xmas is always super special in our house, what with 5 brothers and sisters and 9 nieces and nephews you can imagine it’s a pretty hectic one :)
I played 28 festivals, 86 Folk Clubs, traveled 16,00 miles, and (soppy moment brewing) I want to thank each and every promoter, committee, techy, audience member, pie maker and pizza seller that I have met along the way…you continue to make my job a pleasure :)
So there you have it, 2012 in a nut shell!
I’ve babbled way too much already, but in the worlds quickest run down 2013 has much in store for me already:
2nd album release International Folk Conference in Canada, Touring again in Holland, more touring, the release of the Penguin Companion album (more details of that coming soon) and so much more, I can’t wait to see what else 2013 has to bring :)
For now, you take care out there, and live everyday like it’s your last.