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.
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 Chaildhood)
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