Happy Spring! It’s been a musical March…
April 3, 2019. No comments.
It’s spring!! (Well, it was yesterday at least…). Clocks have gone forward, The March Hare has been sung and run on it’s way, and the hyacinths are smelling Gooooood.
So what have I been doing recently? Well… writing songs, recording demos, working on arrangements, rehearsing up a new band member. Some gigs…
The first one was ‘up north’ (as we say down here). It was a lot of driving, but worth every mile for the fresh smell of the sea and the lovely warm audience we found in Southport. I’ve played Bothy Folk Club before, and the organiser has written some great reviews of my albums in the past. It was a joy to share songs and feel part of an enthusiastic musical community that has existed since 1965.
I did a couple of new songs that night and Stuart joined me on acoustic bass and guitar, and yes, even some tasteful electric guitar on a couple of my older songs. Having recently watched the Bob Dylan documentary ‘No Direction Home’, I am pleased to say this was well received… as was a last minute notion to try a Richard Thompson cover on the harp and invite the audience to sing along on the aforementioned ‘The March Hare’. Motorway services also featured… including a 1am stop at a garage in a place called Grimfield – which seemed like a fitting name – for something extremely unhealthy to eat after the gig. Oh the glamour. And yet, the memory of a good night and genuine appreciation more than makes up for it.
Then the following weekend, a concert closer to home at The Pound Are Centre in Corsham (you know, where they film Poldark. Rumour has it that ‘he’ (Aidan Turner) walks his dog around here). Firstly, a sunny day rehearsing and reconnecting with my musical allies finding harmonies and bass-lines and grooves. I also found my banjo under the stairs and dusted it off for a song. An accordion appeared in the kitchen. Mike and Clare and I thought that six instruments between us was quite a lot to start with, but with Stuart on board I think we counted 11 on stage. That’s not including Clare’s stomp box, shaky egg, and the claves which I’ve probably had since my school days… Needless to say there was LOTS of tuning.
A new version of a song I wrote for Miranda Sykes was just magic. With the addition of glassy violin and swelling accordion, ‘Sea Glass’ is my new favourite. Funny thing is, although I wrote it, it somehow feels like a cover. Late in the evening before the show, I decided to push the boat out a little more and we worked up another new song. I didn’t expect to do that, but it worked straight away. Mike and Clare took my vague suggestion for some counter melodies and harmonies and another bit of magic took place. Sometimes I wish I could stop playing and just listen to the others properly. With four multi-instrumentalists in the “Trio” on Saturday night, the gig was a mixture of old and new, twos and threes, and fours. Delicate harp patterns, a heartfelt duet, or Clare rocking her fiddle like she did in her Stackridge days. Mike on banter and unexpected bass, and Stuart bringing his riffs and fresh new energy into the mix. It was the 30th March 2019 and not once did we mention the dreaded B-word. However, we did end the show with a fiery rendition of ‘May Madness’. I had no idea when I wrote that song that international events would put a new slant on it’s meaning a couple of years down the line!
Still, my job is to make music and I’ve just had a new fan write to me and tell me he enjoyed every song. That, after all, is really why I do it.