All the latest information on my songs, appearances and causes close to my heart can be found here but please take the time to give me your views too.
International Collaboration and another radio play – Some time back I wrote a song about being stuck in England in the rain and wishing I was back in Murcia in the sunshine. It had a guitar part but could never really get it to line up with how the song sounded in my head. So I put a plea out on the internet for anyone who thought they could contribute a sort of Spanish sounding, flamenco(ish) guitar part and from the other side of the world – Australia – came a reply from the talented Antony Darvill. I sent him the files of the song and he added the guitar part which lifts this song to a new level. Another song picked up and played by Jackie and Hartley on their Drivetime radio show on Costa Calida International Radio
The technology gets better all the time. From the awful, overcompressed days of Zoom when lockdown first started we have improved to the point where the sound is verging on the “good!” Here is a continuation of my virtual “tour” of the UK. Devon and Oxfordshire have been virtually visited and this time it was the turn of Basingstoke and Rob Aldridge´s online version of the Vivo club. Only marred by my inability to hear the host until I went back to the iPad. I´ve spared you the excruciating mangling that the iPad gave to the Zoom version of the first song. Just to prove it was live I buggered up a few of the lyrics. (That´s my story and I´m sticking to it!)
History Repeats – A recent appearance on the Open Mic Fraternity (amazing how good the quality is getting on home performances) was on the day that the Idiot in Chief in the United States called for the National Guard to be used to “dominate the streets” and tear gas and rubber bullets were used to clear his path to a photo opportunity of him posing with a bible. It made me think back 50 years to the incident at Kent State University in Ohio when the National Guard opened fire on a crowd of students who were peacefully protesting against the Vietnam War. Then Harvey Andrews wrote a song called Hey Sandy about one of the four students killed that day. The tragic thing is that 50 years later the song still has relevance. Plus ca change……. In the light of this it makes my own “protest song”, (hate that term!) Angel With Broken Wings” seem a little futile. To paraphrase “If songs ever changed anything they´d be banned”. Anyway, here´s a link to my performance. (With apologies for the slightly out of synch sound!) To see more about Harvey Andrews click here
Mike Davies plays Angel With Broken Wings. It is the third song but the whole programme is well worth a listen. Isn´t Birmingham lucky!
Angel With Broken Wings – the video. Getting some radio plays already and lots of comments in support on Facebook – people really are annoyed by our politicians.
Some things just raise my hackles. Watching the same politicians that cheered and clapped on the day they turned down a pay rise for Nurses and Junior Doctors stand now in the street and behind podiums on TV clapping and praising our “Angels” and “Heroes” is one of them. Hearing first hand how those same “heroes” are being asked to work without enough PPE is another. No song ever changed anything but maybe this will make a few of them feel a little more appreciated (paying them a proper wage and not asking them to pay for their own training would be an even better way of showing this!)
Re-discovered! – I wrote this song for my mother a few years back. Towards the end of her life Mum lived in her own world, as so many of those her age do. She seemed happy there – it seems my Dad had usually “just popped out to pay the paper bill” and sometimes World War 2 was still going on. Maybe we all need somewhere happy to go when the place we´re in is less than ideal. A friend found the rough unfinished version I did then (I was waiting for a middle bit and my recording knowledge was sketchy to say the least.) My friend loved the song so I decided to record it again but in a better version. Here it is
Thank you Kazakhstan! – Got my latest sales figures (hold the Lear jet, pass the packet of crisps) and apparently someone in Kazakhstan likes my music. Not enough people (actually . not enough person, probably) to make a nationwide tour a possibility but….Kazahkstan! Thank you also to those in China (probably bored in quarantine and clicking on anything in desperation), Indonesia, Ukraine and India who streamed my music. I´ve lost count of the number of countries where my music has been heard but I seem to be big in Brazil (well…played in Brazil….a bit anyway) and yet again Russia is my third biggest market after Britain and Canada. I have also had sales (oh, all right a sale) in South Korea. Like to guess what is the most streamed track? The Book of Mister Happy! It had twice the number of plays of the next most popular, Tuesday Night Troubadour. Those are by number of streams. Most downloaded? Refugees. When lockdown is over I am going to buy Angy a bottle of gin with the proceeds. Not a big bottle, you understand. Just for clarity and to explain why most musicians aren´t rich – to earn the current UK Minimum Hourly Wage (£8.72) I have to have 3114 plays on Spotify or 7267 plays on YouTube. That´s right – for every 3000 plays on Spotify I get just over £8. Luckily, it´s not all about the money, is it?
Still going viral – Music keeps you sane. The monotony of lockdown (“What shall we do today?” “Same as yesterday, probably!”) is relieved by performing, writing and recording music. I had a song hanging around for ages – nice tune, decent arrangement but no lyrics that really suited it. It so happens that every morning I take part in a telemeeting by Zoom (another modern miracle of communication) with a group of people who, like me, volunteer as First Responders here in Murcia. We are currently taking calls for the emergency services as the normal service is so busy it can´t guarantee to provide an English speaking operator. So we are triaging calls and passing the urgent ones on to our Spanish speaker who has a direct line to the ambulance service. Anyway, when, during the meeting, I mentioned my unfinished song several people offered to try their hand at lyric writing and I said I would sing them and add that vocal to the recording. Been fun so far! Here is the first version – lyrics by Tony Dwyer. Click here to listen.
I´ve also been kept sane by taking part in several Virtual Open Mics. The sound quality is not pristine and it feels weird to get to the end of the song to be greeted by silence but a lot of graphics of hands clapping but it´s nice to reconnect with old friends in this way. Plaudits to the redoubtable Phil Garvey for his efforts for his International Nights (Canada, Berlin, Murcia and the UK) and to Neil Edgson who hosted a Virtual First Mondays Open Mic (but without the excellent beer that the Green Dragon usually provides). I raise a (virtual and non-alcoholic) glass to all those still keeping the musical flame alive in difficult times.
Going viral – The world looks very different at the moment. Here in Murcia we are in lockdown – which means we can only leave the house to shop for food and only one person is allowed in a car at a time to drive there. That means. because of my multiple health issues, I am in the high risk group so Angy is the one venturing out and being hosed down with Dettol on her return. We are allowed out (just one of us again) to walk the dog. Originally this was limited to a 50 metre radius of your dwelling but owing to the complaints of people living 50 metres away from dog owners who suddenly found a hound habitually crapping on their doorstep this was amended to “a reasonable distance”. So I am writing and recording and playing music to keep me sane. Helped by the 8 o´clock rooftop singalong that has become a new tradition here. Hoping everyone keeps safe in these dark days
Famous in story, song and…..book! – I had an email from David Bedford. “Who he?” I hear you ask. David is a descendant of Anne Glanville – 4 generations away from the famous lady rower from Saltash Town. I had some great reactions to the song but this is the best. David is writing a novel based on the family – who have quite a colourful history. It encompasses an ancestor who commanded a ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, lost a leg in a later battle and died fighting the Americans. One of Ann´s descendants was convicted of the theft of a blanket in 1840 and sent to Van Diemens land (Tasmania) for 14 years! Sounds like material for another song! I´ll put details of the book when it is published. Video of the song here.
Some Tin on the air – On Monday 18th November Jackie and Hartley will be playing Little Piece of Tin on their Drivetime show on Costa Calida International Radio. God these people have amazing taste! I´ve re-mastered the song and put the new version on Soundcloud. It´s also on Spotify, as is the entire Tuesday Night Troubadour album. Why not download the whole album here and make me rich beyond my wildest dreams? (Well – maybe make me enough to buy a bottle of wine in Lidls)
Sayonara and Hola! – Just had a look at my latest sales (I use the term loosely – a play on Spotify is worth a fraction of a penny but who cares about money?) But, nevertheless, I now have listeners in Japan and Mexico to add to the almost 40 other countries my songs are played in. Oh and….hello Indonesia! (What DO they make of songs about the Tamar Valley????) And Russia is third in the Andy Harding sales charts. Isn´t the internet amazing?
A Country song? Why not? – I found a really nice loop of a fiddle riff (you didn´t think I played the fiddle did you? – I usually call on the multi-talented Morwenna for that but I live over 1000 miles away from her nowadays) and built the song around it, even though it actually only appears in a few places in the song. I had a rough idea of the subject and the tune but this is the first time I have written and recorded the complete backing before actually writing the lyrics. There is one “off” note which only the most musical ears will detect (hint – it´s a long way in the background) and I´ve corrected it in the latest version which will be on the next digital album release. Already picked up by the estimable Doug Parish to be played on his Country show on the radio.
Hello – Is that the Guinness Book of Records? – Probably not but I seem to have set some sort of personal record. Finished recording a song on the Saturday, finished the video on Sunday, posted to YouTube and various other places on Monday and got a message that day to say the song will be on the radio (Alternative Roots with Mike Davies on Radio Brum) the following Sunday (25th August). It´s a song that has taken me a while to write. I got the idea when watching the reaction when the cathedral of Notre Dame burned and couldn´t help contrasting the reaction the following day to what I saw the day after the terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower. Here´s the video
Only in it for the money? – It´s that time of year again – when I look through sales of my music and see where my vast riches are coming from. Actually, “vast riches” may be a slight exaggeration. Let´s just say I can just about afford to take Angy for a curry (as long as she goes easy on the gin and tonics). So where are the sales coming from? Well, unsurprisingly, the good old UK is the biggest fan of my music but Canadians seem to like it too. For some reason the Swedes are always somewhere in the sales charts but they have been overtaken this year by (drum roll) Russia!! There is even an Andy Harding fan or two in Taiwan. One interesting statistic is that my most popular song (downloads and streaming) is “Refugees” and the biggest sales of this song are in Russia. It´s even been streamed in Switzerland.
Talking of streaming – maybe Ed Sheerhan and Adele are getting rich from streaming but the average muso (ie – me!) is definitely NOT. Almost 400 streams brought me in the grand total of 94p. Spotify are the “top payers” but Apple Music and KKBox (who??) are mean even by streaming standards.
Somewhat annoyingly getting radio play is a double edged sword. When “The Road Less Travelled” was played on local radio during Valentine´s week the number of times the song was streamed shot up. Of course, if people can stream it they don´t tend to download it. Unfortunately I have never made “Just Relax” available as a download or put it up for streaming so when that song was played on the Drivetime show it got a lot of plays on Soundcloud but Soundcloud doesn´t pay for plays. See – this sort of bad planning is why I´m not rich!
In the end it isn´t about the money (although making some would be nice!). It´s about sharing my music, so – to all the people in Britain, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Russia, Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Japan, France, Poland, Mexico, Norway, USA, Peru, Netherlands, Malaysia and Switzerland who have purchased or streamed my songs (yes – I have plays and downloads in all these countries!) – thank you. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoy writing, recording and performing them.
Unsinged* Artist of the Week – Costa Calida Radio International (again!) heap awards upon my songs! OK – maybe a bit of an overstatement but “Just Relax”, a poignant song of prostate examinations and catheters, has been played in the Unsigned Artist of the Week spot on the Drivetime Show. (*Oh….”unsigned!” I wondered why they were featuring musicians who stood well away from the fire)
Hear the song here
Hear Jackie and Hartley talk about the song below
“Record of the Week” – It might not be Radio Two but it is “the premier station on the Costa Calida”. It is Costa Calida Radio International and Damien (aka Sunny D), the morning DJ, has decided that “The Road Less Travelled” will be his Record of the Week for the week of Valentines Day. He’s also used words such as “brilliant” to describe it and is promising more tracks from the CD over the coming week. Thank you Damien – I admire your taste! To hear Damien enthusing about the song see below –
To hear the song (included on the CD) click here
CD Sales. A request – Sales of the CD are going even better than I’d hoped. I’d thought that I’d sell most of them when I did my tour this year (look for announcements of dates and places nearer the time) but it looks like I’m going to have to order some more. So to all of you who have purchased a copy – a huge “Thank You!” However, I am now living in Sunny Spain and, as I am my own distribution network (I put the CDs into envelopes, address them and post them off), if you order through the Shop page here your CD may take a while to get to you if you are in the UK. The download version may not come in a spiffy cover but it can’t get lost down the back of the sofa or get scratched. On the minus side it can’t be recycled as a bird scarer in the same way a physical disc can. It is cheaper, of course, as I don’t have to pay any production or postage costs and you reap the benefit. You can even download single tracks (Why would you do that?). Anyway, for those of you wanting to get my music this way just click here. If you do download it could you do me a small favour and put a small review – or a large one if you feel like it – on the Amazon page? Thanks.
A Local Legend – The description “legend” is bandied about a lot nowadays and it tends to devalue the really legendary figures. One such was Ann Glanville, a native of Saltash Waterside, who, finding herself with a sick husband and fourteen children to clothe and feed, picked up her waterman husbands oars and took his place. Despite the work – ferrying goods up and down the Tamar – being backbreaking she still somehow found time to lead a team of lady rowers that took on and beat the best of the local men’s teams. Legend has it that they even crossed the Channel to meet a team of French men. To find out how that panned out click here.
Three Wise Men? – Phil Widdows, the man behind the superb Folkcast podcast, has Ken Nicol (ex-Steeleye Span and Albion Band member), Greg Hancock and me as the Three Wise Men of folk. Not sure about me but you can hear the others and more besides in June’s Folkcast podcast – still the best 60 minutes of folk, acoustic and singer/songwriter music anywhere on the interweb. Hear this podcast here. The song in question – The Song of Mister Happy has it´s own video here.
A New Supergroup? – Maybe (but possibly not!) Over the weekend of the 28th/29th July 2018 I will be playing at the Riverfolk Festival. A lovely venue on the banks of the Thames outside Lechlade. I’ll be appearing with my old band – Group 4. Following our successful reunion in April (well – we didn’t get booed off) we’re doing it again at the festival. I’ve also got a solo spot but I’ll be doing it as a duo with the extremely talented Mike House as the newly formed Harding and House. I am currently in Spain writing and recording some new songs (and one that I co-wrote almost 50 years ago which has stood the test of time surprisingly well) and looking forward to making music with old friends again.
Out of Hibernation – As I become less wobbly I am starting my planning for 2018.Currently writing and recording a few new songs in the sun but I’ll be returning in March and look forward to meeting up with old friends. April sees me in Shropshire at the reunion of my very first band – Group 4. See our innocent young faces here. Fifty years on and a few pounds heavier in my case. Should be fun. I have gigs lined up in Devon, Wales and Cumbria (not on the same day, luckily) and a festival and, and….as the dates get firmed up I’ll post them here. At the moment it’s a bit like making the pieces of a jigsaw come together.
Quiet, Isn’t It? – No gigs, no new songs – what’s happening? Glad you asked. I’ve been having a few health issues. Imagine you’ve had several pints followed by several brandies followed by some shots. Imagine trying to walk in a straight line and veering wildly from side to side. That’s been me for the past couple of months with the annoying proviso that I don’t drink so I have all the side effects and none of the pleasure. I am now able to stand up unaided and am almost back to as normal as I ever get. The acid test is how long I can stand under the shower with my eyes closed without falling over backwards. When I have been in there under the water with my eyes closed so long I am as wrinkled as an elephant’s scrotum I will know I am fully recovered. Approaching maximum wrinkle now (including a few that I enter the shower with) so hopefully I will maintain this happy state.
Andy Goes Country! – I try desperately not to categorise my music (except it definitely isn’t Rap!) and I’ve been on Doug Parish’s Classic Country before. He has a broad definition of “Country” and I seem to fit within his definition so who am I to argue? Doug is a nice man who hosts the show with Marjorie, his wife and both are real enthusiasts and champions of local (or “localish” in my case) musicians. I was on the show a while back and did a chat and three songs live and I’m hoping to do the same some time next year. You can listen to the show which “Troubadour” was on by clicking here. My bit is around 42 minutes (strange how I seem to be positioned at around the 40 minute mark on most radio programmes!) but the whole show is great and is a real mix. Doug’s show goes out on two other stations so that’s actually three radio plays for the price of one. Happy days.
I Want To Tell You a Story – I was asked to record “The Story Behind the Song” for Folkcast 136. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole show (and you should – it’s brilliant!) you can hear the story behind “Little Pierce of Tin” here.
The First case of Ebola? – This was, according to the talented and beautiful Morwenna Millership, Charlie Chaplin! When I had finished my parts for “Where Charlie Once Stood” I sent the tracks up to Neil Edgson and at his studio Morwenna and Graham Mansbridge added violin and bass. When the track was finished Wenna remarked, “I didn’t know Charlie Chaplin had Ebola!”. A classic case of mishearing a lyric, as in,
“The greatest of all was a man with a bowler, a cane and a moustache – the star of his age”
Misheard or not, the song was played on Mike Davies’ Alternative Roots last Sunday. A great two hours of music and I find myself in the company of Cat Stevens and Neil Young (they must be so proud!). Skip to a point around 42 minutes in to hear my bit but you’d be missing a lot of good music if that’s all you heard. Mike is becoming a bit of a hero of mine. He played Tuesday Night Troubadour, he is the only programme to play The Song of Mister Happy and now he goes for the hat trick with “Charlie”. Bless his amazing good taste!
Shock – horror!! – I got a reply from one radio station (that shall be nameless) saying that they would be playing several tracks from the new CD but went on to add the rider (quote) “but not, obviously, The Song of Mister Happy”. It was that “obviously” that had me puzzled. Who are they scared of offending? The fundamentalist Christians? The fundamentalist Moslems? The fundamentalist Jews? (Have you noticed that the word “mental” appears in all these descriptions?) But one brave programme host has made a stand and played it. Now I’m hoping that thousands of people complain, write to the papers, give interviews to the BBC and, if I’m really lucky, some bearded bloke will issue a fatwah. Well, it didn’t do Salman Rushdie’s sales any harm did it. All hail Mike Davies and Brum Radio. The offensive song can be found after 1 hour and 40 minutes although the whole show is excellent. Listen and be disgusted/appalled/shocked/saddened (delete as appropriate) here.
Wot – No Gigs? – Ever heard of vasculitis? Nope, me neither until this week but it seems that this is probably the cause of several of my woes lately. The chief embuggerence at the moment is that I have a permanently blocked nose and sound like Melvyn Bragg’s more adenoidal brother. Anyway, it means I can’t sing anything containing the letters “m” or “n”. So that’s “Bides ob de Taybar” off the set list then. Hopefully I start treatment this week and I am assured that the air will soon be whistling back down my nostrils again soon.
International Radio Plays AndyH! – Australia, Canada, Ireland and…….er…..Newport (well, it’s in Wales) and Essex. Over the last week I’ve heard from lots of Folk Shows from various local radio stations that will be playing Tuesday Night Troubadour in the near future. Had some lovely emails from some lovely people and made some excellent contacts. Have a look on the “Links” page to see where “Troubadour” will be appearing. Have a listen to these shows – they are supporting musicians and putting out some great music (and Simon Cowell has never been anywhere near any of them!) Just click here
Almost there – All songs recorded and mixed, CD packaging designed. Now it’s into the hands of the estimable Jeff Boxall for mastering then off for duplication, printing and packaging. Here’s a look at the cover art for Tuesday Night Troubadour – on sale soon at gigs and here on the website. STOP PRESS -THE CD IS NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER – it is at the duplicating plant and will be ready very soon – just click on the picture below to pre-order. You can even hear tasters of the tracks.
Thank you Sweden! Latest sales figures for my music just in. They gave us Abba, they gave us the Volvo and now (drumroll) the Swedes are the people who have streamed my songs more than anyone else – except, of course, for my loyal British fan. The Swedes are, evidently, especially keen on pickled herrings and Little Piece of Tin. Also a big “thank you” to the three Brazilians who streamed Prince of the Waltzer. This vote of confidence from South America brought me a whole 3p in royalties. Off to shop for the Lear Jet tomorrow.
The CD gets nearer! Two more songs almost finished and on their way to being committed to disc. The first, Little Piece of Tin is one from the Storytelling EP but re-recorded and polished. One of my heroes, Harvey Andrews, has said how much he likes this song – there can be no higher praise in my world. It’s a true story with a bitter-sweet ending.
I’ve also “tweaked” my song for Angy – The Road Less Travelled. Mike was unhappy with his guitar part, I wanted a better vocal sound etc etc. Now I know why albums take so long to make – you always want to make one more little improvement! You can hear both songs here
Another Great Unplugged – A magic evening. So much talent, such a lovely audience. You had to be there to really appreciate how good it was but you can some photos from the night here.
Modesty Forbids….. Always nice to get a good review and when it comes from someone you admire it is even better. I quote, “Andy Harding has a forceful and jovial stage presence that sometimes belies a highly developed skill for writing powerful, evocative and poetic songs which he delivers with a real sense of empathy and drama.” Thanks to Greg Hancock for that. (Now off to look up “belies” in the dictionary)
Unplugged Again – This coming Sunday (23rd April) sees me doing another of the popular “Penny Unplugged” sessions at the Copper Penny near Tavistock. Always a great night with no mics, no amps – just an appreciative audience who come to listen. It raises money for a great cause too in the shape of CLiC (Cancer and Leukemia in Childhood)
Silly Love Songs? I finally, after over 40 years, managed to write a love song. It was a moment of weakness and I’ll try not to do it again. In the meantime, this song has already made grown women cry. Hear it here
In Great Company – Fairport Convention, Martin Carthy, Steeleye Span, Geoff Lakeman…….and me!! All together on the March 2017 edition of Folkcast, the UK’s premier podcast for folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter and roots music. This month it features Mines of the Tamar so you get not just me but Wenna Millership on fiddle and penny whistle and Graham Mansbridge on bass as well as most of the Edgson family as the “choir”. Hear it here.
No Comment?? – I’ve removed the “Comments” boxes from the site. Not because I don’t want your comments – I live for praise and compliments (I ignore the other sort of comment) – but because I was getting at least ten emails a day trying to sell me Viagra, interest me in stunning Russian ladies looking for love or, even more annoyingly, talking to me in Chinese. Got something to say? Please use the email section on the “Contact” page.
An Indian Summer – I’ve been approached to write lyrics for a new musical about a famous Indian (no – not Ghandi – the type that wears moccasins). Early days but an interesting project. The musical already exists and has been performed in schools in a short form but the idea is to expand it to a full length production. I already have a rhyme for the main character….”spot of bother”. Any guesses as to his identity?
Mines, Canals and Tunnels – Out of the blue comes an email asking if my song “Mines of the Tamar” can be used in a project by a local artist. Laura Hope produces interesting work based on the local landscape and her next project will revolve around the Tavistock to Morwellham canal. Very early days and still at the planning and research stage but it looks an exciting piece of work to be involved in. That’s two projects in as many weeks that will involve Arts Council funding. I can see my interview with Melvyn Bragg on the horizon!
Why I shan’t be retiring just yet – Looking through my royalty and sales figures for 2016 makes interesting, if puzzling, reading. Guess which country has streamed my songs the most on Spotify – Sweden! Evidently there are Swedes who think “Little Piece of Tin” is the bees knees. Would it surprise you to know that “Prince of the Waltzer” has been streamed more times on Spotify in Mexico than in Great Britain? (It surprised me!)
Evidently, according to the figures, the Brits prefer to buy my music as a download of the entire 3 track EP while the Canadians are more cautious and download individual songs. The rest of the world prefers to stream the songs, mainly through Spotify. We Brits don’t seem to have caught on to this so far (well, not as far as my music is concerned) and downloads far outnumber streams.
Guess how much I earned from the Beats store? One whole penny! Methinks Beats are ripping the average musician off. Seems the Brits prefer to buy my music through Amazon whereas the Canadians buy through iTunes. Well done fellow Britons – Amazon pays me the most per purchase too.
The power of the internet is also evident. Most music seems to be streamed nowadays. Bad news for your struggling muso as the amounts paid per single play are pitiful but it does mean that my music has been heard in Russia, Brazil, Malaysia and Peru. What the average Peruvian, tending his llamas on Machu Pichu makes of a song about a fairground ride on Plymouth Hoe we can only surmise but the llama herder must have liked it because he listened to it several times (unless there is a secret “Andy Harding Appreciation Society – Peruvian Chapter” and there are three of them adding me to their playlists). Like so many British artists before me (Cliff Richard, for example) I have yet to “break” America. Mind you, I bet Cliff sold more than five tracks to the Yanks over a year.
I am planning a tour next year and, if my international sales keep up this trend, I will be criss-crossing the world. Mind you, when you know that sales in Russia amount to 2 tracks at (after iTunes take their cut) 14p a time I think we’ll need to increase volumes a bit to pay the air fares. The limo and the country estate are also on hold at the moment. I am, however, planning to go for a curry with my earnings.
Just occurred to me – every Saturday there used to be a group of South American musicians outside Woolworths in Plymouth . Ponchos, felt hats, small guitars, pan pipes. Then Woolworths closed down and they disappeared. Maybe they went back to Peru. Maybe they missed Plymouth and searched the internet for songs about their adopted city. Maybe, just maybe, they came across a song about a love affair on Plymouth Hoe and, high on an Andean peak, they logged onto Spotify. Maybe, outside whatever the equivalent of Woolworths is in Peru, there is a group of minstrels playing “Prince of the Walzer” on pan pipes and feeling nostalgic for Devon. Or maybe not.
Leaving the Sound – The latest song written during my Spanish excursion. I’ve had this song in mind for ages but struggled with the tune. Then, having got the tune, I agonised over the arrangement. Thanks to Angy’s advice (“Stop faffing* about and decide on one version!”) I finally got it done. Read the background and listen to “Leaving the Sound” here.
(*except she didn’t say “faffing”!)
Stone me!! – During my recent sojourn in hospital several people told me that “at least you’ll get a song out of it!” They were right. Having a spare day here at Vino Collapso Studios I decided to record it. Hear it here
Mine all mine! – Just finished recording my latest song, Mines of the Tamar. Read the background and hear the song here. This song will be featured on the UK’s foremost and best acoustic music podcast – Folkcast – early in 2017. Watch this space
I will soon be following the swallows South and I have a folder full of songs that need finishing – some lyrics that need tunes, some tunes awaiting lyrics etc. Could be a busy 4 months at Vino Collapso Studios. I am investigating costs of having CDs pressed. Watch this space.
Amazing the power of the internet. Just heard that “Refugees” (my song from the ” For Syria With Love” CD) has been played on Cuillan FM – the radio station for Skye and Lochailsh. That would explain the increased number of hits on my website last week! Evidently they play an eclectic mix of music – Refugees was played between Jimi Hendrix and Fairport Convention. Should you wish to see what else Radio Cuillin has to offer you can find the station here.
It’s here! Now available as a digital download, the collection of 10 songs contributed by myself and nine other artists is available at Bandcamp and Amazon. It will also soon be available as a physical CD. There cannot be a better cause. Every penny raised by this project goes to help Syrian refugees – either in camps in the Lebanon or still trapped in the hell of Aleppo. Remember than picture of the dazed, bemused and bloodied toddler pulled from the rubble after bombing? Well this is to make the lives of kids like him better. To provide desperate people in refugee camps with water, shoes, food parcels etc. To bring a little comfort to those in desperate need who have been driven from their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. A minimum of £7-50 for the download and (as physical CDs are costly to produce) a minimum donation of £10 if you want the music in that form. You get a beautiful collection of music and a warm glow from helping fellow human beings in their time of despair. Please email me if you want the CD.
Busy performing here and there but a special mention of the latest “Penny Unplugged” is in order. It just shows that it is possible, in a reasonable sized room, to perform to more than 50 people with no mics, no amps – no sound reinforcement at all. All you need is an audience that wants to listen. Anyway, a great night.
Oh what a night! Saw Steve Knightley in a sort of “an audience with” on Monday (9th May) night. A mix of chat and songs as he gave his musical life story and his thoughts on songwriting and played some of his songs. A magical night and a fascinating insight into how the Show of Hands “cottage industry” style of music works. No fee (a percentage of the door instead) except for festivals and his thoughts on how big an audience they can attract (about 550 for a “normal” gig if you’re interested). All music should work this way and all musicians should be so talented.
Yet another Penny Unplugged on Sunday 15th. Always a great night and there are already some great local artistes lined up.
The distractions of sunshine, beaches, cheap tapas and wine rather distracted me from recording all the new songs I’ve written. Another three new ones in the pipeline but I did manage to record this one. My Mum died at the end of 2015 – just short of her 90th birthday. Her final year was spent mainly in her own world. Here’s my song for her – hard to write,even harder to sing. I suspect I won’t be able to perform it live but here it is anyway. Yes I know – it should be “Memory’s Traces”. I spotted the typo too late to correct it on Soundcloud. Please ignore the guitar solo – it’s a sketch of what I want until a proper guitarist (Hi Mike!) gets their hands on it.
Fame at last! The October 2015 edition of Britain’s favourite podcast for Acoustic, Folk, folk-rock and singer-songwriter music – Folkcast – features “Tuesday Night Troubadour”. On the same bill as John Renbourne? Can’t be bad can it? The link is here.
Even more national exposure! (Must cut down on the exclamation marks – a sure sign of hysteria!!!) What do Show of Hands, The Jackson 5, Bruce Springsteen and your humble singer/songwriter have in common? They all appear on December’s Folkcast. In October it was “Tuesday Night Troubadour” and this month it’s “Prince of the Waltzer”. To appear on the nation’s favourite acoustic music podcast once in a year is an honour. Twice is just amazing. Thanks to “Folky Phil Widdows” – obviously a man of impeccable taste. Evidently “Prince of the Waltzer” is a song of unrequited love. I thought it was requited but if Phil wants to read that into the lyrics, as long as he plays my songs who cares? Requited? Unrequited? Make up your own mind here.
Played Some Beautiful Gigs Lately…
The third “Penny Unplugged” on 20th September. I always agonise over how many performers will turn up. Will there be an audience? As usual, I needn’t have worried. We met some new talented people and welcomed back some old friends. The place was packed and the audience listened beautifully and even harmonised occasionally. The next will be in the Spring of 2016.
A riotous afternoon on August 16th when my occasional band The Dodgy Jammers headlined the Dragonfest Festival. Not the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to but certainly one of the most appreciative. We had a ball and so did the audience. Nigel Wayne brought his sax but never got the chance to play as I didn’t do “Charlie”. He was playing some jazz stuff beforehand so I think he forgave me.
The Green Dragon at Northlew is always fun with a lovely audience. Graham and Wenna also helped my out by backing me on Tuesday Night Troubadour which is going down well.
A new venue (for me) was the Kings Arms at South Zeal. Lovely pub with space for the “Tour Bus” out the back. Wenna did her stuff on “Troubadour” but Graham wimped out of transporting his double bass all that way.
A night at a new venue for me – Honicombe Manor – on July 28th. Did mainly funny songs (everyone loves a song about a pasty) but for the first time sang Tuesday Night Troubadour on a Tuesday – while some guy played on the bandit! The irony seemed to be lost on him.
Electro Acoustic Guitar Reviews
I have recently started to review electro acoustic guitars that I have used over my many years of playing. If you would like to learn more read my review of Epiphone PR-5E acoustic guitar.
Another Chance To Hear
For those that missed it (WHY????) my night with Doug Parish at Bay FM is now up on the “Listen Again” feature for 18th May. For those in a hurry who just want to listen to my “interview” bits here they are
Why not listen to the whole show – Doug plays great music. Here’s the link – you want the show on the 18th of May for my bits but Doug’s show is great any week:- Classic Country | Bay Fm 106.4Fm