- 3 weeks ago
For the last couple days I’ve been in Glasgow. Its the first time I’ve ever been to Scotland. I was there to play guitar for others, specifically Mary Coughlan, Hermione Henessy and the band of A Woman’s Heart gig that was playing at the Celtic Connections festival. Its been a really lovely couple of days. I’ve been meeting new people and hanging out with old friends.
I get picked up at the train station and taken to the hotel, there is irony in that these days I am back to struggling to pay for rent and now, for the short time I’m here, I am chauffeured around and looked after. I’d rather I walked the mile to the hotel and they gave me the money! But I’ll not complain, I am grateful for the work. It’s pretty much straight to the venue to sound check and have a quick run through with Mary, then Hermione, and then the band, some food, a chance encounter with the singer Sarah Jarosz in the restaurant who’s last album I loved. It feels nice to be able to tell someone you really like their record. If you don’t know her stuff and you like your country, bluegrass music check her out.
The gig itself comes and goes in a flash and barely an idea of what I’m doing. it goes smoothly, at least as smoothly as it can go with people that have hardly played together and don’t know the songs, and that seems to be the essence of the A Woman’s Heart show, unorganised chaos and pure magic, in a good way!
After the gig and back in the bar of the hotel I take part in my first session. People playing for each other. Sharon Shannon asks me to sing ‘that’ song and I do. I’m playing for Sharon and Tim O’Brien. Tim is a brilliant songwriter from Nashville (I think), a big big deal in the country folk world and here I am in the bar with four or five people singing for him. It all feels a bit surreal. The guitar gets passed around, the low whistle gets brought out. Others turn up. Eleanor McEvoy is about to start a 15 date tour of the UK and is getting nicely drunk. She sings a song, Lisbee Stainton sings a song, others who’s names I don’t recall sing songs and I feel lucky to be there. At one point I’m playing guitar and there’s a flute going, the low whistle, an accordion and a harp, an actual harp! Its all a bit ridiculous and to these people probably very normal, playing for the love of playing. I’m just glad to have been there and I thank Sharon for asking me to sing.
In the bright sun of the next day I get to hook with Declan O’Rourke who was also playing the night before in another venue. Declan has always been very kind to me and very encouraging. It’s strange but in talking with Declan, in talking with Eleanor and Mary there doesn’t seem to be anyone who isn’t finding it all a bit hard these days. Music seems more and more difficult to make a living from, more and more people expecting to get music for free. Hopefully something will change soon, otherwise we’re all screwed, all of us.
This evening Mary has been asked to play on BBC Scotland’s Travelling Folk radio show. Also on the show are Alisdair Roberts and Natalie Haas, an incredible fiddle and cello duo, Rachel Sermanni, who I’m a big fan and an old friend in Seth Lakeman, who has a new album out now. Seth is another who is always kind and friendly. Immensely talented and very modest. Mary asks/insists that I too play. I feel a little out of place, this is a traditional folk world that Mary and Rachel still fit in to even though their music isn’t really of the traditional mould, I’m not sure my song does, it all feels a bit jaunty. But again it is an honour to be in the presence of such great musicians. Go have a listen for yourself, Alisdair and Natalie are out of this world beautiful and really pushing the boundaries of what traditional folk music is and does. Here’s the link to the show Travelling Folk' I think its up for a couple more days yet.
A few days later I get an e-mail forwarded from Mary which warms my heart a little. I am always grateful for people getting in touch, so thank you if you ever have.
“Mary introduced a song , I think he may have been one of her band members, but I never caught his name, as I was driving at the time, and could not write it down. I think the song was called “I never expected that” or something similar. I thought it was the most shuddering songs I have heard in my life, wow. like being hit with a sledge hammer. I am trying desperately to find his/her recording, but drawing a blank.The BBC recording was sensational.”
I took part in this lovely radio show last week whilst in Glasgow alongside Seth Lakeman, Rachel Sermanni, Alisdair Roberts and Natalie Haas and the lovely Mary Coughlan. Have a listen, I’m on 43 minutes in.
So happy New Year folks, I trust you had a good time over the festive period and came out unscathed. I’m looking forward to the new year and all it may bring. Having just relocated from the south of London to the north that is Manchester(ish) everything feels a little new to me. I’m out watching gigs and trying to get my head around a new environment where nobody knows anything about it and it’s a little bit daunting to say the least, but exciting at the same time, like I’m starting again. Do I have to do open mics? Can I leap frog over and get head line slots? Am I back to doing cover gigs and dusting off Kings Of Leon and Proclaimers tunes? A little bit of all of these probably. Maybe you’ll stumble across me in some odd out of the way pub and wonder how we both got there, who knows.
SO, what was your album or song of 2013? Mine was probably Paul Mosley's “A Chattering Of Birds” and Paul Buchanans “Mid Air” which actually came out 2012, but I only got it in ‘13 so I’m going with it.
This weekend I’m back down to London village for meetings and a gig on Saturday at the Hospital Club, its a private members club so if you fancy coming along let me know and I’ll try and get your name on a list. Til then, Take care. Jx
- 2 months ago
- 2 months ago
A couple of weeks ago in London I got to do a couple of songs for The Boatshed Sessions, here’s the first one, “Cold In Ohio,” a song I wrote with the brilliant Kim Richey. Take a look, let me know what you think. J
- 2 months ago
Happy Xmas everyone, hope you’re all having a lovely time wherever you are in the world. On Sunday 29th I’ve decided to do a Ustream gig as a way of saying “hello” and “Thank you” for the past year . I hope you can tune in. I’m going to start at 6pm, this is the link that you’ll need.
Xmas Ustream gig
Hopefully see you then!
Much love, Jx