David Kidman's Home Page
ESSENTIAL FOLK (& MARITIME) MUSIC
David is a respected, dedicated and prolific contributor to the UK folk scene, both locally (within Yorkshire) and nationally.
· Folk Singer – a passionate and dedicated revival singer, a song-carrier whose performing repertoire unashamedly covers a wide spectrum that reflects a diversity of tastes and styles within the fields of contemporary songwriting and traditional song.
· Compère – an informed and inclusive MC, mindful of the needs of each individual occasion (performers, their audiences and that all-important timing). David’s compèring CV embraces folk festivals and folk clubs large and small; main-stage and more intimate venues; hosting or steering Big Sings and humble singarounds. Also now experienced in hosting "zoom" singing sessions and workshops.
· Writer – an authoritative and insightful reviewer of music CDs for the national folk press (The Living Tradition), online (Fatea, Folk Radio UK), and regional folk press in the north (Yorkshire), north-east (Teesside etc.) and London.
· Poet – David’s selectively published works are balanced and complemented by “occasional” verse written for specific compèring engagements. He is also an in-demand performance poet.
· Parodist – listen out for David’s carefully constructed parodies that are sprinkled through his song-sets... rapidly gaining an appreciative following, and now even actually getting specially requested!...
David’s lifelong deep interest in, and enthusiasm for, music of many kinds has quite naturally led to a more practical involvement, i.e. performing, in folk music in particular, over the past dozen or so years.
He looks forward to sharing the music and songs with you somewhere along the road.
Editorial Services – David also offers editing, sub-editing and proofreading services, having from 1995 until retirement held membership of the Society for Editors & Proofreaders.
Latest Update - 1st February 2021
Every time I get to thinking I'll come and update this blog, along comes a spanner thrown in the works by life, health and everything that goes with it - the constant round of checking everything we can't do, which takes time away from doing all the things we could do or should do - time flies by, and nothing gets done, and the to-do lists get ever longer. I suspect you all know what I mean!
Anyway, the past six weeks have seen me mostly keeping my hand (= read voice) in at zoom sings here in the UK and over in the States. It's been especially enjoyable to collaborate directly in song with some wonderful fellow-singers - in Colorado (USA), Newport (Australia) and various parts of the UK. It's been a revelation, and the feeling of fellowship in song is stronger than ever. I led ballad workshops at Camp Harmony and the FSGW Getaway weekend, and a "Songs Worth The Singing" workshop at Seattle's Rainy Camp singing weekend a couple of days ago.
The downside of the start of 2021 has been a bad case of writer's block, which has set me even farther back. Hence the late arrival of this update!
So let's see what February brings...
Meanwhile, check out my YouTube channel, to which I hope to upload some recent zoom recordings very soon.
My YouTube channel:
Update - 10th December 2020
Finally I might get some time to update this blog!? Wishful thinking over the past month - but I've not been inactive, just suffering from the frustrating combination of symptoms that for all we know may be the real Covid (but they're not telling us!). These span the gamut from mild depression to inertia, total unaccountable fatigue to frantic creativity, intense apathy to intense enthusiasm... all the while trying to maintain a reasonable profile by getting out there on zoom platforms and keeping singing. Oh, and also keeping my hand in on key spoken-word circles such as Talking Zebras and Australia's Newport Storytellers, where my performances have been especially well received.
Fortunately my perseverance has resulted in some wonderful singing experiences, including a number of memorable ballad sessions and some fun "zouets", also appearances on networked podcasts, live streams and prestigious zoom singing events. I''ve now just registered for the New Year Online Camp Harmony, hosted by the San Francisco Folk Music Club (https://www.sffmc.org); and I've been invited to host a ballad workshop there, which should be fun!
Update - 19th October 2020
Yesterday (Sunday) I was invited to participate in The People's Music Network www.peoplesmusic.org Trans-Atlantic Song Swap. The theme was Songs of Freedom and Struggle, and it was a great success. The event involved two dozen singers, drawn from both the US and UK, and an archive recording is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/1147512078976421 My song is roughly 1hr 29 mins in.
Update - 5th October 2020
Suffice to say that Covid inertia and permanent fatigue have put paid to much of my "normal" activity for some months now, and I've struggled to keep focused on anything due to life's hassles and a seemingly permanent tiredness (endemic, judging from friends' responses) getting in the way full-time.
But my sanity has been preserved by keeping singing. Participating in various zoom singing sessions, many run from the States and some quite select. As a result, I've probably sung more (and better!) in the past four or five months than I was able to do in the previous year and a half at my local folk clubs and sessions. Here instead I've been eagerly embraced into a whole new community of high-quality singers. And I mean high-quality! I have been spending the weekend in the company of these folks on zoom at the FSGW Getaway Singing Event, and it's really energised me. These are folks who've long lives of singing experience which they're keen to share, and they appreciate good singing. It's been great to experience their warm welcome, their friendliness, the supportive vibe, their respect and attentiveness, and the sense of being genuinely valued for my contributions, being appreciated as a singer. It endorses and vindicates my singing, and is such a contrast to the dismissive attitude I experience so much here in the UK. I was straightaway invited to host a Ballad Session at this prestigious FSGW event, which is scheduled today (Monday 5th) at 6.30pm UK time. Hopefully I'll be able to post more after... but for now I'll just heartily thank those who've so readily and positively embraced me over the past months - they know who they are...
Another enjoyable experience was to be offered a slot in the Glasgow Shanty Festival on 26th September. This went really well, and a recording of the event is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws5bnQH1Qbo
with my performance at 2hr 13mins in.
Update - May 2020
I have drafted an update almost on a daily basis since 16th March, but refrained from posting them because I've been overwhelmed by the pace of change, or should I say the pace of non-change. Everything's now so different, yet also in stasis. Limbo. It's all very unhealthy. It's a scary new world, and the old world will never return. What a sobering thought.
And yet ... there's a silver lining, in that I'm meeting lots of new singers from all over the UK and US (etc.) through virtual zoom singing sessions, some public and some private. We can't sing together in harmony, chorus or unison - but we can share our songs, attentively. I'm getting to sing more songs and revitalise my repertoire on a wider and more appreciative stage where the bar is raised higher. I will be adding to this column from now on, I may just scribble a highlight or two or I may offer observations or philosophical musings. I don't know which. At present, the "time when we all have so much time at our disposal" is not what it was billed - time is swallowed up in just standing still... Hence the tardiness in updating this. Watch this space!
Latest Update - 16th March 2020
The month started quite tolerably, with some nice relaxed club and session visits (Bacca Pipes, Linton and Darlington) and a pleasant Talking Zebras afternoon, and although I missed a couple of other regular sessions due to really bad weather the diary was looking more promising at long last.
But last weekend, on returning from a batch of hospital tests and a short trip to the north-east, I felt like I'd been transported into a parallel universe, a bad sci-fi movie not of my own making - and with no wakeup gambit to fall back on. All of a sudden and with no warning.
Things have changed so much since my last update, and all for the worse. The world has gone mad, the crackpots and idiots rule the roost and the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The only good news was that this week we may finally see an end to the atrocious weather of February and early March that had forced me to abandon trips to so many folk clubs and events. But no - sod's law comes into operation as any momentary joy was brutally truncated by today's death knell sounding where the "authorities" turned us into a "house arrest" society overnight and I received a whole flood of messages regarding immediate-effect club and session closures. So my hand too has been forced, in that I guess I will have to follow suit and cancel Just Voices for the immediate future (well, that does have the effect of postponing its permanent demise, I suppose!)...
There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. And no forecast for exit strategy. I feel sure most of you will feel much the same. Angry and dismayed. But hopefully still staying alive.
I will post again if I've anything to report, but I can only say farewell for now...
Update - 25th February 2020
Thanks to all who came and supported me and Lynne at our gig at the Booit Straps club on Monday - despite the prospects of bad weather (I'd woken up to snow that very morning!). It was a great night and we were very well received, like last time!! Thanks also to the radio shows for their plugs!
What a contrast with Tuesday's Just Voices session - a nil attendance, for the first time ever (in seven years). I'd received five apologies for absence, but virtually nobody on the mailing list had otherwise seen fit to respond to my cordial reminder to say whether they were coming or not. The future of the session is now in serious jeopardy. It is a real quandary, and very dispiriting. I can't believe that there is no interest in our session any longer.
Update - 21st February 2020
I've left it a whole month between updates, since there's been so little to report - and most of it not positive. Three solid weeks of atrocious weather, gales and rain and flooded roads, all resulting in cancellation of planned visits to a number of clubs and sessions, so I've been getting seriously stir-crazy and suffering singing-withdrawal symptoms!
Only one gig to look forward to and plug here - my joint appearance with Lynne Edmondson at the Booit Straps folk club in Chapeltown, North Sheffield on Monday next - 24th February. It's a very welcoming and appreciative club, and worth supporting.
Keighley's Bacca Pipes club has its annual Poetry Night tonight, so that's where i'll be, weather permitting - but then it's back to the doldrums for the next few weeks.
Next Tuesday sees our regular monthly Just Voices session, but it may well be the last unless attendances pick up - repeated requests for feedback have been met with silence, so I've no clue as to why folks have stopped coming to this once-thriving gathering all of a sudden. But if this session goes down the pan there will be very few decent sessions for singers anywhere hereabouts.
Update - 22nd January 2020
New year, and already three weeks old, but it's seriously depressing prospects all around.
There've been a few glimmers of light amidst the gloom - the Talking Zebras and Bacca Pipes gatherings and a violin recital - but by and large it's been a most uninspiring month so far. And yesterday was a further nail in the coffin, so to speak...
For various reasons, the year's first Just Voices session was put forward this month, to 21st (last night), but it made no difference to the attendance, with no change in the past four months' downward trend. A turnout of just two fellow-singers once again. The fact that out of a mailing list of some 25 people, nobody had seen fit to get in touch - which makes me wonder if it's worth carrying on with the session at all. "Where have all the singers gone?" is my current lament...
Update - 18th December 2019
Yesterday evening's Just Voices was once again really badly attended - I really cannot fathom where folks have disappeared to! It was still nice to share a few carols, but it was difficult to fill the room with sound. No comparison with the annual Bacca Pipes Carols Night of course - that will be this coming Friday, and always a highlight before the doldrums of the Xmas shutdown when there will be virtually nothing happening and nowhere to go and sing until the New Year. It all makes last week's Black Friday of Friday 13th-style bad luck seem an even bleaker midwinter. Still, the shortest day is looming... the tide must turn next week, surely?...
Update - 7th December 2019
Today's Spotlight Set at Talking Zebras spoken-word group was well received - even more encouragingly, since the new rules have permitted song to be included in these extended spots.
After another week of foiled attempts to attend folk clubs (mostly due to various road and traffic problems), my only successful visit over the past week was to Bacca Pipes (after four weeks' absence) - another excellent singers' night.
Next to look forward to - Linton tomorrow evening.
Update - 27th November 2019
Last night's Just Voices was another thin turnout, but still a good session, with over 35 songs sung in total. Many thanks to Lynne and Tom for their loyal support once again.
Monday's visit to the new session at Rotherham (Dragon's Tap) was an auspicious start to the week. Friendly, a good standard of performers and appreciative listeners, and well steered by Tony. I'll be going again...
Update - 24th November 2019
It's been a depressing month, with my plans for attending several sessions having to be abandoned, either due to certain parts of South Yorkshire being flooded, or else atrocious travelling conditions, or road closures, or in some cases gridlocked roads (mostly around Leeds) due to various accidents and police incidents.
However, I did manage to make it to Bacca Pipes (twice), Wakefield (the Polka Hop), the nice friendly Wednesday session at The Garden Gate, also Upper Denby (The George), and a splendid night at The Brit (Darlington).
Next scheduled drop-in should be the new club at Rotherham (Dragon's Tap) tomorrow, then it's round to Just Voices again for the November edition - hope we can get a better turnout this time. Tell your friends...
Update - 30th October 2019
Last night's Just Voices session was the most poorly-attended yet, in its seven years of existence. Only two singers. And yet the weather was ideal, the traffic was fine, there were no competing events that I know of. Two of our regulars were ill, but that's all I heard. Most curious.
However, thanks largely to Linn, we had a good evening of singing, with an emphasis on songs of WW1 and whaling and Gaelic (not all at once, I hasten to add) and some illuminating discussion.
Nothing else this week to look forward to however, except for a visit by Dan McKinnon to Bacca Pipes on Friday...
Last week's enforced exile in the north-east produced productive and highly enjoyable visits to three folk events including the thriving folk clubs at Darlington (The Brit) and Durham (Framwellgatemoor), where good singing is so genuinely appreciated and encouraged - unlike my recent experiences of clubs hereabouts (with one notable exception)...
Update - 17th October 2019
Tuesday's Ilkley Rotary Club event was a smashing gig - a very receptive audience and a grand selection of fellow-performers. Special thanks to Lynne, Alan and John & Vic, and honorary mention to the dancing ladies of course!....
The coming week holds no such promise, sadly!
Update - 5th October 2019
Highlight of the past week was last night's extravaganza, the annual Lend Us Your Ears concert of spoken-word and song, organised by Talking Zebras and this year in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Despite the onset of a bad cold, i managed to deliver 15 minutes of songs and five minutes of poetry - but I'm concerned that the virus needs to abate soon, as the coming week has a number of important events planned (ain't it always the way??), and my next scheduled gig (Ilkley Rotary Club) is right there on the immediate horizon.
Update - 25th September 2019
Sad to say, last night's Just Voices was very poorly attended indeed - our record lowest turnout, comprising just three singers (myself included) and two listeners, with just one apology for absence due to illness. Heartfelt thanks to Lynne and Barbara for their continuing loyal support, good company and lovely songs and singing.
Update - 22nd September 2019
Apologies for the hiatus in this column, which has been due to inactivity following a car accident on the way home on 3rd September.
Yesterday's Spotlight set at Talking Zebras went down really well - all the more surprising since it was only put together at the eleventh hour! Just 15 minutes for 8 poems and 2 songs on the theme of September, but it was heartily appreciated. Thankyou, Zebras!
Update - 27th August 2019
Another good turnout for this month's Just Voices, albeit an almost completely different selection of singers from last month! We were treated to a special one-off visit from Welsh John from the Booit Straps folk club in Sheffield, whose contributions were much appreciated. Special thanks this time go to Linn and Tom for their continued loyal support of the session, also to returning newcomers Alan and Heather.
Monday's Chapeltown Folk Day was also a success, with a well-received guest spot in the afternoon. Elsewhere, though, the sessions I managed to attend were depleted to say the least, and in reality rather disappointing ...
Looking forward to the next singers' night at Bacca Pipes, then Lynne's friendly session at Upper Denby.
Update - 31st July 2019
Well I never! Last night's Just Voices was almost a record turnout, and we were introduced to some wonderful new songs. Special thanks to Lynne, Barbara and Linn for their loyalty and continued support of this session, but it was also good to see some returning more occasional singers.
A quiet month lies ahead...
12th July 2019
Last night's appearance at The Purple Room Summer Celebration evening in Ben Rhydding went down extremely well, and bodes well for a possible full booking at that series of concerts next spring.
Cleckheaton festival last weekend was good too, and despite lower attendance figures generally the atmosphere was good, especially in the Sunday Sing session.
Update - 26th June 2019
Yesterday's Just Voices session was better attended and a good sing was had by all - but most of us were suffering from voice problems, virus and throat.
I need a few days' rest!
Update - 9th June 2019
Yesterday's gig at Raising The Rafters was great, a really good reception and vibrant atmosphere. Thanks to Lynne for her magnificent contribution, and to Andy the club organiser of course.
I'm confined to barracks again tonight due to the last-minute cancellation of the Linton session in anticipation of a severely reduced attendance for various reasons. Murphy's Law - another session bites the dust either due to venue problems or attendance problems. So another disappointing week in prospect.
Update - 31st May 2019
It's been a very disappointing fortnight, culminating in another poorly supported Just Voices session last Tuesday (but thanks again to our trio of loyal supporters)...
The other disappointing news is that I am unlikely to be appearing at either Mirfield Arts Festival (July) or Ilkley Literature Festival (October) this year, due to a radical scaling-down of the event (Mirfield) and a radical change of format (Ilkley festival fringe) respectively.
Looking ahead, the most exciting prospect by far is my appearance at the Raising The Rafters club at Wath on Saturday next, 8th June, in a joint booking with fine local singer Lynne Edmondson. Starts 7 pm (doors open 6.30 pm), and should be a really good night.
After which it's Sunday 9th at Linton, and thereafter the famine begins...
Sheffield's fantastic Play On Session is now once again without a home, as the venue had criminally double-booked in April and we were unable to meet there. Similar venue booking problems have also beset the monthly Showcase Folk sessions, so June's (on 16th) may well be the last for the foreseeable future. Sad.
"Another one bites the dust" seems to be the theme for this year. All most depressing.
Update - 13th May 2019
An excellent night at Raising The Rafters yesterday, a club with a great atmosphere (thanks Andy), followed by a pleasant (if quiet) session at Linton.
Update - 10th May 2019
A very enjoyable visit to Durham City Folk Club last night, tempered only by the news of club founder Ian McCulloch's death last weekend.
PS - I realise I have been remiss in omitting to thank Lynne for her excellent contribution to our last evening. Here's to the next one - at Raising The Rafters at Wath on Dearne on 8th June.
Before which, I'll be at Wath tomorrow evening too - looking forward to that one!
Update - 1st May 2019
Last night's Just Voices was better-attended, with a couple of new faces (voices) and the return of a couple of more recent absentees. Thanks to Nick Dow for his continued support and to Linn for singing against all adversities!...
Update - 22nd April 2019
What a rollercoaster of a fortnight! But in truth one with more in the way of plunging dips than exhilarating highs...
First though, outside of the folk ambit, I attended a top-class Lieder recital at the Ilkley Concert Club which creatively interspersed settings by Finzi and Schubert. A pleasant trip to Durham folk club the following day, but I missed Ken Wilson guesting at the Bacca Pipes, so the reliable sessions at Linton and Upper Denby were my next ports of call.
The ensuing week was spent getting caught up with some writing deadlines, hence no singing until Easter weekend. I travelled down to Sheffield on Saturday and attended two SeshFest events which, though well supported, gave me precious little in the way of singing-out. Sadly, and despite the session hosts' correct and timely reminders, other folks' selfishness (long songs, etc) ensured that each session barely got "round the r0om" (to sing just one song in three and a half hours is a long way to travel down for).
I returned to Sheffield on Sunday evening for the friendly welcoming monthly Play On session at the Banner Cross, only to find the organiser sitting outside looking glum with the news that despite repeated assurances the pub had double-booked the room and the session was therefore homeless. We did note that the pub was virtually empty, and nobody had by then appeared to run or attend the mythical "event", thus making our own plight all the more frustrating. This has happened before, and is just not acceptable, not least after having spent two hours getting to the venue. Glancing at the remaining SeshFest programme for the evening, it was obvious that by then (close on 9 o'clock) it would have been too late to guarantee getting (a) a seat or (b) parking space for any events thereon, so reluctantly I headed back home. What an annoying waste of an evening.
Update - 9th April 2019
Last night's gig at Rotherham Folk & Poetry Club was well-attended with an appreciative audience, just what I needed to get me back into the local scene.
Having just returned from a week in Cumbria, where the folk sessions were interesting... there was also a spoken-word open-mic night, which turned out to be a local poet on her own reading her own poetry to a small group of diners at the hostelry concerned. My own contributions were both welcomed and appreciated, which was nice.
As for the purely folkevenings, the best of them was at Cockermouth at The Bush, which boasted a high standard of performance and an attentive crowd. The others were unexpectedly sparsely attended, but again the audiences were appreciative and the organisers very welcoming and accommodating. ... Which is more than I can say for one well-regarded folk club in the north-east that I visited a few weeks previously, albeit on a guest night, where I was missed out of both singers'-rounds even though I'd travelled some distance, arrived plenty early, and asked to be put on the singers' list at the start of the evening. Particularly galling when the only other singers missed out were those who'd arrived late, and insult was added to injury when another singer (obviously known to the organiser) had got away with milking his song to six minutes' duration... Needless to say, I don't feel inclined to return to that particular club. It's hardly the way to treat a visiting singer, is it?...
Looking forward to next Sunday's session at Linton - where. coincidentally, one visiting singer a couple of months ago was a regular at the above-mentioned north-eastern club, and yes, he was given a hearty welcome having travelled a similar distance to support the session.
Update - 27th March 2019
Sadly, last night's Just Voices was barely quorate. Thanks Lynne and Tom for your continued support. The future is still very uncertain... I ask again, where is everyone these days?
Otherwise, it's been a very mixed fortnight around the scene. Pleasant singarounds at Linton, Darlington and Upper Denby, and a tremendous guest night at the Welly at Wolviston that was spoilt only by missing out on getting a song in the round before the guests...
Then being stricken with the viral bug again all of a sudden last week meant being confined to barracks until Just Voices...
Not much to look forward to in the next week or so, only the singers' night at Bacca Pipes on Friday which should be good (if my voice recovers).
Update - 8th March 2019
Highlights of the past week were the Poetry Night at Bacca Pipes, then Barnsley's guest night with Graeme Knights and a lively session at Upper Denby (thanks Lynne!), followed by a brace of quality singers' nights at Wrenthorpe and Ossett (what nice welcoming clubs!). Looking forward to the Windmill session on Sunday.
Update - 27th February 2019
Just to report that our Just Voices session yesterday was a good one, with some marvellous songs and excellent company. (But no new faces, and no returning absentees.) It was a select gathering, for we seem now to have settled down into a loyal small core of singers and supportive partners. Friendly and good company without being in any way cliquey - so why not come and join us next month (on 26th)?
Update - 26th February 2019
I've been remiss in updating this past month, due to a sequence of singularly uninspiring events and frustrating domestic setbacks. Bad weather forced the cancellation of last month's Just Voices session, which didn't help!... But February did get off to a better start, with reliably worthwhile sessions at Linton and Upper Denby and Sheffield's Play On, and three fabulous guest nights (Two's Company at Crookes, Alan Fitzsimmons at The Brit, and Ragged Trousers at Bacca Pipes). A first-time visit to Durham City Folk Club last week proved - hmm, interesting, partly because no fewer than 18 songs from my repertoire were sung by other participants during the evening's singaround (was that a record?!).
Bringing us up to date now, I must mention last night's excellent turnout for my return-by-popular-demand booking at the Booit Straps folk club at Chapeltown, Sheffield, where I received some great support. Thanks especially to Lynne, of course, but also thanks to the Durbervilles' folk show on BBC Radio Leeds for the plug.
So, round to tonight, why not come and join me at Just Voices - the weather forecast is good, so it's the right time for a good sing (before the spring snows set in next month!).
Update - 14th January 2019
Ten fairly uneventful days, of which the highlights were Gordon Tyrrall and the singers' night at Bacca Pipes, the session at Linton on Sunday, and a pleasant trip to Darlington mid-week for the Brit and the Travellers. Disappointingly, my planned visit to Raising The Rafters at Wath upon Dearne on Saturday had to be abandoned due to bad weather, and tonight's club session at Rotherham was cancelled due to venue closure resulting from Saturday's high winds...
Update - 4th January 2019
A Happy New Year to all our readers...
It's been a very lean three weeks since my last entry on this page. The betwixt-Xmas-and-New-Year week yielded only two "outings": the customarily fine "recovery singers' night" at Bacca Pipes, and an excellent evening at the Ossett club. In fact, the latter was so good that I was inspired to revisit last night, and it sure was worth the trip. My thanks to Tom and the gang!
Update - 19th December 2018
Last night's Just Voices broke the attendance record yet again - only four singers! Still a nice relaxed session, including some unusual carols and seasonal material, but where was everyone else??
Update - 15th December 2018
Excellent night at Raise The Roof on Thursday, everything a folk club should be! Thanks to James Fagan and the RtR team for restoring my faith! Then there was the customary seasonal roof-raising Carols special at the Bacca Pipes yesterday, another night that never disappoints - there really is no other place to be!
Update - 11th December 2018
Yesterday's shared gig at Rotherham's Folk & Prose Club was great - and well attended with an appreciative audience. Seasonal songs aplenty, and a healthy variety of repertoire. And good to see so many friends from the Acoustic Rotherham days including joint headliners Tina and Matt. I'm already looking forward to my next booked gig there, in April next year.
Update - 1st December 2018
A splendid night at Bacca Pipes f/c yesterday with the irrepressible master of lyric prestidigitation Ray Hearne, at his very best and in total rapport with his audience.
Notwithstanding all my despondency in the entry below, Thursday at Ossett singers' club was also an excellent night, and well worth the distance travelled. Ossett is always a very welcoming club. Cheers!
Update - 28th November 2018
In spite of being awarded the "Recommended Singers' Night" accolade by the Durbervilles' radio show, last night's Just Voices session inexplicably attracted the lowest turnout so far (in 5 years), which was boosted - for only part of the evening - by a visit from a female four-piece harmony group. Admittedly, two of our most loyal regular attendees were beset by car trouble and a serious health issue respectively, but it's a mystery how everyone else seems to have dropped off the map. This whole week is turning out to be thoroughly depressing, with the darkest days and most miserable evenings - I do so need the buzz of a good session or club night to keep up the failing morale right now. And that's not mentioning the "C"-word!
(Q: How many versions of While Shepherds Watched does it take to change a light bulb? - Answers on a postcard please...)
Update - 18th November 2018
It's been a fortnight of mixed fortunes! Last night's Play On session in Sheffield was an excellent turnout, and it was great to see and hear so many of my friends from the Acoustic Rotherham days - all of whom are still making good music in Sheffield. Before that, however, the previous week was a bit of a disaster, when I was prevented from getting to two successive events due to accidents on the motorway. Apologies to the organisers concerned.
Latest Update - 2nd November 2018
I think I'm just about rid of the nasty and persistent viral cold-and-cough infection (for now), and last weekend's Lend Us Your Ears fundraiser went really well, with over £400 raised for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. This helped things along into last month's Hallowe'en instalment of Just Voices. Another small turnout, but special thanks to our loyal supporters Lynne, Barbara and Tom, and to Nick Dow for making the trip from deepest Lancashire to share his songs and good company.
Very little to look forward to in the coming week however, after the Upper Denby folk night on Monday 5th.
Update - 24th October 2018
Having suffered for the past ten days with one of those nasty and persistent viral cold-and-cough infections, I'm now looking forward to getting out and about again, starting gently with the Lend Us Your Ears fundraising concert (in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance) organised by Talking Zebras. At which I'll be performing songs and poetry and also compering the event. After the weekend and some singing practice at Upper Denby, it'll be this month's Just Voices session on Tuesday 30th. And Hallowe'en? - not a ghost of a chance! ...
Update - 7th October 2018
My hour-long recital of songs and poetry at Ilkley Literature Festival yesterday evening went very well, with an attentive and appreciative (although small - as befits a fringe event!) audience. Thanks to all those who came and supported my endeavours, and the ILF staff for making me so welcome. So here's to next year!
Update - 26th September 2018
Another month almost over, and with it another relaxed Just Voices session - and yes, I said that last month!! But this month we broke all the records for attendance figures, getting round the room nine times and sharing a total of 36 songs! Especial thanks to those super singers Lynne, Barbara and Nick Dow for travelling the distance and supporting our humble session.
Update - 29th August 2018
Another month over, and with it another Just Voices session. This was again a nice relaxed affair, with lots of good songs shared and information and views exchanged by a small but appreciative and supportive core of like-minded folks whose encouragement and commitment have enabled the continuation of these sessions in the face of wholesale - and puzzlingly unfathomable - apathy from the singing fraternity hereabouts. Heartfelt thanks to our loyal supporters - it's great to sing with you!
Next to look forward to on my calendar, the periodic sessions at Upper Denby and Linton, with perhaps a couple of trips further north.
Update - 15th August 2018
Highlights of the past fortnight have been the clubs at Darlington (The Brit and Traveller's Rest, both last week), and the excellent Bacca Pipes singers' nights, while a great time was also had at the friendly gatherings at Ossett and Linton, and the Ray Hearne evening at Raising The Rafters (Wath). Thanks to all who continue to make me welcome at these venues.
Update - 1st August 2018
Another disappointing turnout for Just Voices last night. Although those who did turn up had a whale of a time (literally!)... Apologies were received from folks with car trouble and an unavoidable dinner engagement, but there was only a resounding silence from other quarters. I may now have to seriously consider a change of night in order to secure the session's future, but this would also involve a change of venue, which is not an easy trick to pull off in this day and age when another pub closes down every month.
Update - 21st July 2018
A storming singers' night at Bacca Pipes yesterday. Thanks, Baccateers!
Update - 15th July 2018
My appearance at Mirfield Arts Fest today went well, and I received several compliments. The library room was comfortably full (they had to put out extra chairs!) and those who came stayed to the end! Sadly however, my specially-compiled "In Bloom" set is probably destined to gather dust on the shelf now, unless any enterprising organiser is interested in taking a chance with a recital comprised of songs and a little poetry.
Update - 9th July 2018
A really good weekend at Cleckheaton Folk Festival, albeit little in the way of singing aside from a nice friendly Open Mic evening (where performers were doing battle with a saxophone and football-relted mayhem!) and our special edition of our Just Voices session. This was less well supported than anticipated, largely I suspect due to folks' mobility being affected by the sauna-like conditions and thus deciding to stay put!
Following this pleasant weekend, a relaxing session at Linton was the perfect wind-down to the weekend. It also enabled me to practise some material for my forthcoming set of songs and poetry on the theme of "In Bloom", at Mirfield Arts Festival next Sunday (15th July).
Update - 5th July 2018
A couple of great singers' nights this past week - Bacca Pipes last Friday and The Brit at Darlington on Tuesday.
Update - 27th June 2018
Last night's Just Voices session was a good one despite the sweltering heat (well we tried to sing some "cool" songs"). Interestingly, this time all but two singers were male, and it was an almost totally different roll-call from May's turnout.
The next Just Voices session is a special extra, and will take place as part of the programme for Cleckheaton Folk Festival, in the upstairs room at The Station Tavern, Cleckheaton on Friday 6th July at 8pm. Free entry. Hope to see you there!
One more item of good news - I've been selected to perform at this year's Ilkley Literature Festival fringe. This will be a special hour-long recital of songs and poetry on the theme of Following The Seasons Round, and will take place at Ilkley Playhouse on Saturday 6th October 2018 at 9.15 pm, with free admission.
Update - 21st June 2018
Following two good sessions last Sunday at Showcase Folk and Play On in Sheffield, I was able to concentrate energies on my guest appearance on Tony Haynes' renowned FAB (Folk & Blues) Show on Tempo FM radio (Wetherby) on Wednesday. I sang four songs live on air and chatted with Tony and played a half-dozen favourite CD tracks that have provided me with inspiration over the years (a difficult but rewarding choice!). You can listen to the entire broadcast on Tony's podcast, archived at https://www.mixcloud.com/tonyhaynes52/fab-folk-and-blues-20th-june-2018/.
Update - 12th June 2018
A very pleasant and relaxed session at The Windmill, Linton on Sunday night. Didn't make it to Rotherham on Monday however, which is doubly annoying since next month's date for that club has been cancelled (see Appearances page).
Update - 2nd June 2018
An absolutely storming evening at Bacca Pipes (Keighley) last night with guest Jeff Warner (aided and abetted by Alice Jones!) and some consistently great singing from the assembled multitude. The kind of evening that restores my faith in what it's all about. Thanks Jenny and the very special community of Baccateers.
A good Talking Zebras session this afternoon too.
Gripe Of The Week: Normally I would be heading off to York Folk Weekend for a couple of days - but for the second year running the organisers have completely ignored my offers to contribute and help out, They also seem to have imposed a restrictive covenant on booked participants - that all must be resident in York or have a "strong local connection" ... but then they proceed to make exceptions to that rule where it suits them. I feel doubly insulted after having loyally supported the Black Swan folk club for over 20 years prior to these two years of cold-shouldering. Nothing makes sense...
Update - 30th May 2018
This month's Just Voices session turned out to be another lovely friendly evening, thanks to the fine singers (all ladies this time!) who turned out to support the session. We got round the room eight times, and still managed to enjoy plenty of relaxed chat.
Update - 25th May 2018
May continues to frustrate, with very few opportunities to get out and sing.
I spent a week in Scotland last week, but I only found two events described as "traditional folk music sessions", which however were dominated by those running them (two guys with guitars playing popular covers.... ). Hmm...
It was good to get back to the welcoming Showcase Folk and Play On sessions in Sheffield last Sunday; these were good, but the remainder of May looks distinctly thin.
Update - 11th May 2018
May's been a bit of a seesaw month so far. I took a few days away (= as far away as possible) from the mess of the Tour De Yorkshire to spend time in the north-east, and took in the Open Mic at Staindrop on 4th May then the singarounds at The Brit and Travellers' Rest midweek. Then it was the monthly folk club at Denby Dale yesterday evening - great atmosphere, well run, and worth the effort and distance to travel.
Update - 25th April 2018
An enjoyable evening of Just Voices last night, despite the rain - but sad to say the attendance was very low indeed. Thanks to our loyal supporters - and to those who sent their apologies and were unable to make it for legitimate reasons including a motorway breakdown and that horrendous throaty cough that's been doing the rounds again! But shame on those who've deserted us completely since our move to Hunslet - they don't know what they're missing!
Of course, it might just be that some thought we'd got the date wrong - 24th did seem too early, until you remember that April has only 30 days!...
Update - 20th April 2018
Highlight of my month so far has had to be the Folkathon in Darlington, on Saturday 7th April, at which I performed three 20-minute sets - a very curious (and unique) experience, singing in the foyer of Sainsbury's Superstore!! In total, the all-day event raised in excess of £1100 for local charities. There was also a vibrant evening post-Folkathon Sing at The Brit, Darlington - the perfect way to end the day!
On the previous evening, I'd sung a completely different five-song set at the Open Mic at Staindrop Village (Scarth Hall), another amazingly well-patronised and high-standard event.
Two complementary sets at Rotherham's newly-relaunched Folk Song & Poetry Club (joint billing with our good friends New Pippin's Fancy), then Singers' Nights at Wath (Raising The Rafters), Linton and Denby Dale - and some much-needed singing practice! - have brightened an otherwise uneventful month so far (see below). For I've been remiss in updating this column since the start of the month, partly due to an intermittent but frustrating recurrence of the rasping cough and sore throat bug that plagued me last autumn. (It's improved a touch this past week, so I've been able to get out singing on some evenings at least.)
Looking forward to returning to the Bacca Pipes tomorrow, which I'm sure will be another fabulous singers' night (huzzah!!!). Then it's more practice on Saturday, followed by the Talking Zebras group meeting, and then (on Sunday) it's Folk Showcase at High Green.
And then round to Tuesday and Just Voices - which is where we came in...!
Update - 28th March 2018
Just Voices last night was not especially well attended - surprising in view of last month's enforced cancellation due to the snow - but those who came pronounced it a nice relaxed session with some fine singing and an interesting choice of songs, also featuring some premiere joint performances from some of our members.
So where is everybody these days? Surely it's not that the Hunslet venue is any less convenient than the Black Bull was? Answers on a postcard please...
Update - 20th March 2018
Well, what a dismal start to March! Grounded due to virtually every folk club and event having been cancelled for the first week of the month because of the spell of snow and ice that made travelling conditions so treacherous over such a wide area. There were just a few days last week when a thaw provided welcome relief and I was able to get to the friendly afternoon session at The Travellers' Rest and then a splendid night at the Bacca Pipes featuring guest artists Sara Grey and Kieron Means. But then driving home over Cringles straight into a veritable star-field of snowflakes blowing a blizzard in from the east proved the harbinger for another cold snap, and all events over the weekend were cancelled due to the snow.
So, let's hope for better fortunes next week, for our Just Voices session on 27th March. Come and help us raise the rafters of the Garden Gate!
STOP PRESS -2 --- Urgent Update - 1st March 2018
Sorry for the short notice, but due to the major problems with adverse weather and heavy snowfall the Lend Us Your Ears fundraiser event at Millbridge tomorrow (Friday) evening has had to be CANCELLED. It will be rearranged for later in the year. That's a real shame - we were all looking forward to what promised to be a great evening of song and poetry courtesy of Talking Zebras. More info as and when...
STOP PRESS -1 ---- Urgent Update - 27th February 2018
Sorry for the short notice, but due to heavy overnight snowfall - and more forecast this afternoon and evening - I have been forced to CANCEL tonight's Just Voices session, particularly in consideration of those who would travel some distance from equally snowbound climes!
Latest Update - 19th February 2018
It's been a rather uneventful February so far, brightened only by my weekly visits to Bacca Pipes and two lively Talking Zebras sessions, then a fine singaround last Wednesday at Darlington and Play On in Sheffield yesterday. Not much on the horizon now until next Tuesday's Just Voices at Hunslet. See you there!
Update - 6th February 2018
I have only just heard of the recent passing of a good friend, poet (and much else besides) Don Walls from York, at the age of 88. Too late for me to attend his funeral last Thursday, sadly. He will be greatly missed.
Update - 31st January 2018
Yesterday's Just Voices session was boosted considerably by the voices of our good friends Nick Dow and John Bowden & Vic Shepherd, all of whom travel some distance on a semi-regular basis to get to the session. Thanks also to Rob who had come across from Manchester, and the (this time depleted) handful of loyal local contributors. And thanks again to the Durbervilles for their diary mention and recommendation on their trusty radio show.
Next event on the calendar is Poetry Night at the Bacca Pipes, closely followed by Talking Zebras' first February meet.
Update - 9th January 2018
Well, the half-hour set at Rotherham last night went really well, with an enthusiastic and receptive audience - who also just happened to be celebrating Maureen's birthday! I managed to maintain the Scottish theme, with the inclusion of three Burns songs and an original poem, and I still had around half a dozen further songs left over for next year (or any other Scottish-themed event in the near future).
Now for another quiet spell, in the runup to the next Just Voices session on 30th.
Update - 5th January 2018
Nice to get some airplay yesterday evening on Ange Hardy & Rob Swan's wonderful Folk Findings show on the internet (Blues & Roots Radio). The CD track chosen, "Mandalay", was the final item on their programme. You should soon be able to listen again to the whole show (as with all past shows in the series) via a Mixcloud podcast at www.bluesandrootsradio.com.
Thanks, Ange & Rob!
Update - 20th December 2017
Another quiet and fairly inactive fortnight, brightened up only by the superb Play On session, a lively Talking Zebras afternoon and another excellent night at Bacca Pipes.
Last night's Just Voices - the final one for 2017 - closed the year with a somewhat subdued seasonal bias, and a poor (albeit enthusiastic) turnout. Taking stock at the end of another year in which Just Voices has consolidated the keenness of its regular participants and yet inexplicably both failed to draw in any fresh singers and encourage erstwhile attendees from the Black Bull days to return. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do, as the future looks bleak right now. Publicity - even the excellent plugs from the Durbervilles and other radio shows - has also failed to generate any further interest. Any ideas welcomed...
Update - 29th November 2017
Another fine Just Voices session last night, although more sparsely attended than last month's. Especially good to see John and Vic from north Sheffield again, but thanks too to our core of regular supporters. It's still a puzzle, though, why some of our erstwhile regular attendees have simply dropped off the map (not all since we changed venue 18 months ago).
The Rotherham bash on Monday was great fun - clearly, the meaning of life for Roy Blackman is now 82!.. Live long and prosper, Roy!
Update - 26th November 2017
Confirming that my slot at Rotherham's Trades Club tomorrow will be at 8.25 pm (see Appearances page for details). Should be a good evening, with Ray Hearne topping the bill and other artists appearing including Toein' In The Dark and John Young ...
Then it's Just Voices on Tuesday - hoping for another good turnout after last month's session.
Update - 20th November 2017
Glad to report that my Spotlight Set at the Talking Zebras group on Saturday was a great success. It puzzles me that these days there seems to be more interest in my performance of poetry but very little takeup of singing.
But at least yesterday's "double-bill" (local carols at High Green, and the Play On session in Sheffield) provided some good opportunities for singing.
Now I'm looking forward to some folk-venue "guest nights" this week: beginning with my good friend Martyn Wyndham-Read at The Brit, then Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland, and finally Matt Quinn. Then another "dead weekend" to prepare for a spot at Rotherham on Monday 27th and our Just Voices session on Tuesday 28th.
Update - 12th November 2017
It's been a rather quiet couple of weeks singing-wise, apart from a nice friendly relaxed afternoon singaround at Darlington last Wednesday - shortly after which I came down with an annoying sickness bug which lasted for four days and prevented me from getting out at the weekend.
With no singing bookings in the offing still, I can only look forward to my next engagement on the spoken-word front, where I have the Spotlight Set at the forthcoming Talking Zebras group meeting, on Saturday 18th November at The Wickham Arms, Cleckheaton. I've probably lost count, but I think this will be the fifth or sixth time I have been invited back for a 15-minute Spotlight Set, at which I shall perform a sequence of poetry. This is likely to contain something of my own, as well as works of other poets. These sets are always highly enjoyable and tend to be really well received, and the Talking Zebras group is very much thriving and most supportive.
Update - 1st November 2017
A big thankyou to those who attended last night's Just Voices session at The Garden Gate, Hunslet - we had a near-record attendance figure, and some fantastic quality singing and songs (and still managed to get round the room four times!). It was especially good to welcome back Nick Dow (all the way from Lancashire), and John Bowden & Vic Shepherd (up from Sheffield), as well as Lynne (from Penistone) and our other regular supporters from closer to home. But it's still a bit of a mystery why some erstwhile regular supporters who came to our previous venue still haven't ventured across to Hunslet (which if anything is easier of access for many). The new venue is proving popular and welcoming, and we have already been assured of a home for Just Voices for 2018. Come and find out why the Durbervilles' esteemed BBC radio show so often accords Just Voices the accolade of "recommended singers' night" - our next session will take place on Tuesday 28th November, starting at 8 pm as usual.
Update - 23rd October 2017
Apologies for not updating over the past couple of weeks. Truth to tell, it's not been a specially remarkable few weeks, although I've been beginning to get around again following my slow recovery from the surgical procedure. Highlights have been the friendly sessions at Linton (Oct. 8th), Red Deer (12th) and Play On (15th), a superb night with Graham Pirt and Val Marsden at the Bacca Pipes (13th) and the lively Showcase Folk afternoon at High Green Miners' Welfare Hall (22nd). All marked by some good singing and some LIFE (which is so sadly lacking in many clubs and sessions these days).
Update - 27th September 2017
Many thanks to those who braved the backwash from the Leeds United match last night to attend our Just Voices session at Hunslet. It was a lovely relaxed evening, with this time almost exclusively lady singers and some great songs. Already looking forward to next month's session, on 31st October.
Update - 25th September 2017
It was great to return to the welcoming Play On session at the Banner Cross on 17th, but it's been a rather inactive week since then. I did manage to get to one event - yesterday, at a lovely tiny venue in Settle, a performance of Dreaming The Night Field. This is a retelling, with original music, of legends from key Welsh literary work The Mabinogion, in which master storyteller Michael Harvey was joined by singer & musician Stacey Blythe and singer Lynne Denman. What a team - and a most compelling performance. Magic - go and see it (on tour during October then most of November)!
Meanwhile, back on the home front, I'm missing the singing-out, especially now that so many sessions are falling by the wayside. Only a short few months ago we lost Uncle Tone's fab FAB (Vale Radio) singaround nights at Haxby, and so many other folk clubs are less than welcoming to us singers who don't happen to have musical instruments strapped to our bodies.
Update - 16th September 2017
More apologies for not updating the site for the past few weeks. In the end, due to complications with recovery processes, I was unable to make it to Just Voices last month. In general, my recovery has been frustratingly slow, but I think I can now see light at the end of the tunnel and I'm starting to get out and about again at long last, albeit cautiously and not yet able to drive long distances. I should be back to full strength to take bookings again soon, however, so do get in touch. And I hope to see some of you at this month's Just Voices session, which is on 26th September.
Update - 9th August 2017
Apologies for not updating the site for the past three weeks - it's been a very difficult time, largely due to some short-notice major surgery. I was discharged from hospital only last week and my mobility is going to be very limited for a few weeks, with a slow and painful recovery process. I do however still hope that I'll be sufficiently mobile to be able to drive again by the time of this month's Just Voices session which is on Tuesday 29th.
Update - 17th July 2017
After a couple of very quiet weeks with very little singing-out, it was good to finally fulfil a programmed booking last Saturday - two sets of song and verse at the Cabaret Evening at Mirfield Arts Festival, which according to the organiser were very well received. Great venue and a nice reception. But sadly that appears to be it for bookings now, as there's nothing else on the horizon.
However, there's soon another session of Just Voices to look forward to - it's in its regular last-Tuesday-of-the-month slot, on 25th July. Hoping for an improved turnout this month - please do make the effort and support this session, otherwise we may be in danger of losing the one and only regular unaccompanied song session in the whole of West and North Yorkshire.
Update - 3rd July 2017
Great weekend at Cleckheaton Folk Festival - especially a vibrant Sunday Sing in the Masonic Temple (fabulous room to sing in!).
Update - 28th June 2017
Another quiet week. Excellent Bacca Pipes gig last Friday - Cloudstreet - followed on Sunday by a visit to a session at Wardlow which was very worthwhile. Last night was this month's Just Voices session but the turnout was most disappointing. We still had a good, friendly, relaxed session - but where is everybody??
Update - 18th June 2017
Very little to report after a largely uneventful fortnight, since aside from a couple of notably good singarounds at Darlington last week most of my time has been taken up with frustrating medical matters.
Update - 5th June 2017
Apologies to any of the regulars at York Folk Weekend who noticed I wasn't there this year. It was the first year I've missed, and it felt really strange not being there since it had always been a highlight of my year. The sad truth was that my offers of help were completely ignored by the organisers (I have no idea why), and this made me feel distinctly unwelcome and unwanted. Since I am currently experiencing serious health issues, for which the prognosis is not good, I am having to avoid making any longer journeys which may lead to difficulties or awkward situations (not least getting stuck in traffic in central York for nearly two hours last year...). Having said that, I would gladly have made the commitment and supported and performed at York if I had been invited and rostered as usual.
Update - 31st May 2017
Next month (June) there will be two Just Voices sessions - the usual last-Tuesday one on 27th, then a special one at Cleckheaton Folk Festival on Friday 30th.
Update - 21st May 2017
Highlights of a mostly quiet and unproductive past two weeks have been a marvellous CB&S gig and a fine singers' night - both at Bacca Pipes folk club - and a couple of good sessions down in Sheffield.
The best review of my CD so far has just appeared in the new edition of Folk Roundabout magazine (issue 184), on sale throughout the folk clubs of the north-east. Thankyou, Eric Sharp, you're a gentleman!
Unfortunately, another nice review - by Kevin Loughran - was submitted to, but not printed in, Tykes' News. Presumably they ran out of space...
I'm still awaiting news of further radio airplay.
Update - 26th April 2017
Last night's Just Voices session was one of the best so far, despite another inexplicably thin turnout. The quality and breadth of songs was inspiring. Thanks to all who attended, with special thanks to Nick Dow for continuing to support our humble gathering and sharing his fine songs and singing.
Sales of my CD have (equally inexplicably) stalled, although I understand that some positive reviews are shortly due to be published which will hopefully reverse that trend ... there's no news of any further radio airplay as yet, however.
Update - 9th April 2017
The complete performance of Those Coal Town Days at Wath yesterday evening, in aid of CISWO (Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation), was very well received, and hopefully the word will be spread around so that Jim and I can get further bookings for this programme. We were supported by a fine series of floor spots, which included a "flying visit" from Louise Jordan in between dates on her No Petticoats Here tour!
This followed a truly exceptional (Friday) evening at the Bacca Pipes club, where the guest artists were Moira Craig and Carolyn Robson... not a dry eye in the house!
Update - 1st April 2017
My Spotlight set at today's Talking Zebras meeting was very well received! I presented a sequence of poems loosely concerned with the season of spring and its unseasonal unpredictability... and all on a beautiful spring day too!
Update - 29th March 2017
Our Just Voices session was sparsely attended this month, due to several holidayers! But in compensation we welcomed a couple of new singers, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxed evening sharing songs. Thanks to all who attended.
Update - 25th March 2017
Great night at Bacca Pipes club yesterday, with guest artist Steve Turner on absolutely splendid form, as was the famed Bacca Pipes "chorus"!...
A review of my CD has appeared on the Fatea website, written by its editor Neil King,
You can check it out at
Other reviews are expected in due course - watch this space.
Update - 4th March 2017
Fatea Editor Neil King, on his Along The Tracks internet radio show, played a further track from my CD (A Penny For The Ploughboys) in last week's programme, which is now available on Mixcloud. The link is https://www.mixcloud.com/AlongTheTracks/along-the-tracks-show-243/, and the track starts at around 49 minutes in.
After a sparse week to end the month of February, last Tuesday's Just Voices session at Hunslet was well attended, with some excellent singing.
Other highlights of the past week have been a superb singers' night at Bacca Pipes Folk Club (it never disappoints!) and a stunning night with The Fates at the well-patronised and well-run Crookes Folk Club in Sheffield.
This week I hope to revisit The Brit and the Traveller's Rest at Darlington and the fantastic Raise The Roof singers' club at Sheffield. Then at the end of the week (Friday 10th March), all being well, I shall be performing a mixture of songs and poetry at the annual Talking Zebras "Lend Us Your Ears" fundraiser concert.
Update - 11th February 2017
A track from my CD (Beeswing) was played by Fatea magazine's editor Neil King on his Along The Tracks internet radio show last week; this programme (show #240) is now available on Mixcloud at https://www.mixcloud.com/AlongTheTracks/ and the relevant track starts at just over 17 minutes in. Neil tells me the track got a good reaction and sparked a lot of interest. He'll be playing another track in a forthcoming week. Many thanks Neil!
It's been a good week for singing out too, with an absolutely excellent night at Raise The Roof (The Red Deer, Sheffield) on Thursday, preceded by a pair of sessions back-to-back at The Brit and the Traveller's Rest (Darlington) earlier in the week.
Update - 1st February 2017
Yesterday's Just Voices session was by all accounts sparsely attended but a good time was had by all. Sadly I was unable to be there, but I'll be back for the next one, which is on February 28th.
Update - 29th January 2017
Still not quite clear of the bug yet - but (touch wood) the middle ear infection seems at last to have cleared up and I can hear more or less normally today (rejoice!). It did, however, mean my missing out on two key gigs for which I'd had tickets.
The good news is that Fatea (online) magazine will shortly be featuring my CD with a review and some radio play of a track or two. The site is kept bang up to date, has great content and is always worth a very regular look; so go get it bookmarked!
http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/ will get you the home page to start off with...
Update - 19th January 2017
The bug lingers on....
It also threw a bad middle-ear infection at me before starting to subside, so I've not been out much - but the monthly Play On session last Sunday was ACE.
Update - 31st December 2016
A whole ten days "confined to barracks" with the raging cough-and-cold bug that's doing the rounds again, causing almost complete loss of voice at times... worst of all, it caused me to miss the annual Bacca Pipes Carols Night , always a year-highpoint.
Update - 21st December 2016
Sales of my CD "Songs Worth The Singing" have thus far been quite slow - very probably because I've been unable to get out much and promote it!
But for those who might be considering purchase, here's a sneak preview of the tracklisting:
FACTORY LAD (Colin Dryden)
BEESWING (Richard Thompson)
LAST OF THE WIDOWS (Jez Lowe)
COAL NOT DOLE (wds Kay Sutcliffe, tune Paul Abrahams)
/ YORKSHIRE COLLIERY (Ray Hearne)
MORLEY MAIN (Keith Marsden)
A PENNY FOR THE PLOUGHBOYS (Colin Cater)
WHERE RAVENS FEED (Graeme Miles)
THE ROSE IS ALWAYS WHITE (Roy Blackman)
NOW WESTLIN WINDS (Robert Burns)
SWEET SUNNY SOUTH (William Leach Bloomfield)
FOLLOW THE HERON (Karine Polwart)
CHINESE WHITE (Mike Heron)
THE LAST TRIP HOME (Davy Steele, John McCusker)
MANDALAY (wds Kipling, tune trad. arr. Bellamy)
BLACK CLOTHES (Robin Laing)
LOVE WILL LINGER ON (Peggy Seeger)
/ YOU CAN CLOSE YOUR EYES (James Taylor)
I've not yet managed to work out how to get sound samples onto these pages, but I shall persevere (and succeed eventually, said he hopefully)...
Another frustrating week, with an excellent Play On session on Sunday followed by a rather disappointing turnout for last night's Just Voices, with several unaccountable no-shows, a fairly subdued atmosphere generally - and me suffering from yet another outbreak of the cough-cold virus, which is seriously threatening to scupper my attendance at the much-anticipated (and under any other circumstances unmissable) Bacca Pipes carols evening later this week.
Update - 14th December 2016
Absolutely storming evening at The Brit yesterday with a roomfull of brilliant singers raising the roof and more - and guest Mike Wilson the focal point of the entertainment. Followed today by a nice friendly relaxed afternoon at the Travellers' Rest monthly singaround. Even managed to sell a couple of CDs too...
Update - 9th December 2016
Yesterday provided another fabulous evening; this one was at the charity-fundraising club Raising The Rafters at Wath - loads of talent, great atmosphere, and all for an excellent cause (this month Rotherham Hospice).
Looking forward to the vibrant monthly Mews session at Wetherby tonight, which hopefully will afford me the opportunity to sing out some less-often-ventured seasonally-oriented offerings.
Merry Christmas everybody (already)...
Update - 9th December 2016
Fabulous evening at Raise The Roof (Sheffield) yesterday - a special night with guest artists Sound Tradition, an excellent four-piece harmony ensemble based in East Anglia. Plenty of fine chorus singing and a great atmosphere, just what a folk club should be!
Good news re my long-awaited CD, "Songs Worth The Singing". It contains 18 of my favourite songs. Stock arrived from the manufacturers today, and will go on sale in the next few days.
Update - 4th December 2016
Just got back home from an excellent late-afternoon session at the Three Stags' Heads, Wardlow - in the middle of proverbial nowhere and decidedly eccentric in nature, but natural and unpretentious and plenty of good singing and playing. Highly recomended if you're in the vicinity on a Sunday.
Update - 30th November 2016
NellieFolk's November meeting was a cracker, with over a dozen singers and poets present including Ray Hearne.
In contrast, though, yesterday's Just Voices session was, sadly, rather more sparsely attended, with several folks unaccountably missing in action. Compensation was at hand, however, with the quality of the songs and singing, including a lovely take on The Briar & The Rose (thanks Lynne).
Don't forget, December's Just Voices will happen on Tuesday 20th, to avoid all the eccentric uncertainties surrounding seasonal opening times.
Update - 27th November 2016
The past week's highlights were Louise Jordan's superb No Petticoats Here show at Neasham Reading Room, then a typically excellent Bacca Pipes guest night with the supremely entertaining Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer.
Update - 21st November 2016
Last week's highlight was a very rare appearance by Bob Pegg at Keighley's Bacca Pipes club, one of those really special evenings that will be remembered for a very long time. Sunday was spent down in the Sheffield area: firstly at a pleasant fund-raiser at the Miners' Welfare Hall in High Green where I performed a couple of songs (inevitably on the mining theme!), and then at the Play On session, always a most friendly, welcoming and appreciative gathering, where it was a pleasure to re-connect with folks from the Acoustic Rotherham heyday whom I see only too rarely these days.
I'm finding that there are so few clubs and sessions these days where one's contribution is genuinely valued, These also (with one exception) tend to involve the most effort in terms of travelling-time and/or distance, unfortunately - but the likes of Play On and The Brit are well worth it.
Update - 16th November 2016
It's been a rather uneventful and uninteresting fortnight. My planned trip to the north-east last week was scuppered by the snow falling on just the wrong overnight time... so I've not managed to get out for any singing except visits to the Bacca Pipes and Wetherby, fine nights both.
But I did manage to get to Darlington yesterday for what turned out to be one of the best club nights I've experienced for ages - Dave & Anni Fentiman were guesting at the Brit. Great atmosphere, great singing, great craic. Just what a folk club should be - and what sadly is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence these days.
Update - 29th October 2016
Really enjoyable Spotlight at Talking Zebras spoken-word group this afternoon, themed loosely around Hallowe'en, mystery and strange occurrences. Sadly the muse had deserted me once again this week, so I was unable to bring a new poem of my own to the table, but my programme of choice from other poets' work went down very well I'm pleased to say.
Update - 26th October 2016
Another fine session of Just Voices at Hunslet last night, and thanks to all participants (including listeners) for their contributions - especially those who'd travelled some distance to be with us (Nick Dow from deepest Lancashire and Lynne from deepest Penistone). Here's to the next one - 29th November, still at the Garden Gate.
Update - 20th October 2016
Having finally (I think!) got rid of the nasty attack of flu I suffered since the start of the month, I enjoyed a vibrant session at Sheffield's Play On club last Sunday, and it was great to meet up again with some old friends from the Acoustic Rotherham days, I'm now looking forward to getting out singing more again, and especially to next Tuesday's Just Voices session at the Garden Gate. Last month's was really good, and it would be nice to see the momentum continued.
Update - 2nd October 2016
Really enjoyed the performance of From Both Sides at Ilkley Literature Festival yesterday evening. Audience most appreciative, the only downside being a smaller audience than anticipated, probably due to the late time-slot (9.30 pm). I since found out that it was a bad weekend for illness and bereavements...
Talking of the former, I had been looking forward to my booked guest spot at the Booit Straps Folk Club in Chapeltown on Monday 3rd, but I've just gone down with a really bad cold bordering on flu, so have had to postpone this engagement. I'll post the new date as and when it can be arranged.
Update - 28th September 2016
A splendid session of Just Voices at Hunslet last night, with an almost-record attendance figure, some great singing and plenty of unusual and interesting songs. It was especially good to welcome participants from Manchester (good friend Zoe Mulford) and Sheffield (Phoebe, Sylvia and Steve aka New Pippin Fancy), and newcomer Lynne. But we're still missing some of our favourite local singers from the Black Bull days who've not followed us to the new venue - which is a gorgeous Grade-2-listed building with a fantastic room to sing in and a genuinely welcoming atmosphere... and it's surprisingly easy to get to -- so what's not to like??!!
Update - 17th September 2016
It's been a fortnight of decidedly mixed fortunes, with some fallow times interspersed with some brilliant nights. Those at the Bacca Pipes were firmly in the latter category, with a wonderful "concept night" (songs about the moon) followed by a great singers' night and then the magnificent Pete Morton as booked guest last night, on the best form I think I've ever seen him (and I've seen him lots of times!). Other highlights included a sojourn in Darlington to take in the Brit (Tuesday) and the Travellers' Rest at Cockerton (Wednesday), an afternoon at Naburn Lock Heritage Open Day, and a couple of fine evenings at Ossett. I'm hoping to get down to Sheffield for Play On's new venue on Sunday, traffic and weather permitting.
Then it'll be time to get on with the preparation for my performance of From Both Sides at Ilkley Literature Festival Fringe on 1st October.
Update - 31st August 2016
Last night's Just Voices session was a good one, despite the unexplained absence of several of our erstwhile stalwarts (is the venue change to blame, I wonder?) Thanks to all who came and sang, especially those who'd made the trip across from Swinton!
'Twas an excellent (if long!) day at the Booit Straps Folk Day on Monday, in good company with some brilliant singing. Thanks to June and the gang for a fantastic welcome, and a really well-run event that's always worth the extra mileage to attend each year. Great to see Monkey's Fist again too.
Update - 15th August 2016
It's been a rather mixed week! Highlights: first, a lovely afternoon at the Travellers' Rest in Cockerton last Wednesday at the friendly monthly singaround run by the good Hambones folks. Then Saturday it was down to Wath upon Dearne to perform by invitation at Raising The Rafters folk club's evening of mining songs raising cash towards the memorial commemorating the Oaks disaster in 1866. And on Sunday it was the turn of the ever-vibrant monthly session at The Mews in Wetherby, which was as good fun as ever with some excellent musicians and singers. Inevitably, the past week also provided a low-point, which was the day's visit to Saltburn Folk Festival, where I travelled some distance to get to sing only two songs in the space of a five-hour singaround span; faced with the prospect of a lengthy (close on three-hour) gap between this and the next programmed event (the evening's Festival Folk Club session), I called it a day since there was clearly no prospect of any informal singing sessions starting up. Oh what a disappointment...
Update - 27th July 2016
'Twas a very good session of Just Voices last evening, although quite a few of the erstwhile stalwarts were unexplainably absent (can it really be the change in venue, I wonder?). Even so, and with a rather small, select gathering, great fun was had by the singers present, and we even welcomed a couple of new faces - Sue and Tom, who both gave us some fine songs and excellent singing to savour and remember. Thanks!! Next month's Just Voices will be held on the Tuesday following Bank Holiday Monday - ie 30th August; and the venue will again be The Garden Gate.
Update - 15th July 2016
Enjoyed a lovely friendly singaround at the Travellers' Rest (Cockerton) on Wednesday afternoon, presided over most ably by the Hambones folks. Well worth the trip!
Now here's a bit of good news for a change! I've just heard that my From Both Sides programme of song and verse (joint collaboration with Jim Saville) has been accepted as a Fringe Event for the prestigious Ilkley Literature Festival this coming October. It will be performed on Saturday 1st October - almost the first day of the festival - at 9.30 pm.
Progress on my forthcoming CD is encouraging too - the tracks are now reaching the final stage of mastering, and artwork is being prepared.
Update - 10th July 2016
Fabulous night at Wetherby at the slightly revamped Mews (round table!) session. Great company, as ever, and a nice relaxed atmosphere at this anything-goes session.
Update - 4th July 2016
It's been a very topsy-turvy week. last Tuesday seeing the first Just Voices session at its new venue, The Garden Gate. Perhaps due to the heavy rain that evening, it was only a small (but select) gathering' but we had a good time! The room is fine, the acoustics good, and the hostelry welcoming - so we will try it out again for the 26th July date.
Last weekend was Cleckheaton Folk Festival, without doubt the mightiest of the small festivals. The best of the weekend was very good indeed, but there were some surprisingly small turnouts for some events. Still, I had a really good time, and once again I heartily congratulate the organising team on a job thoroughly well done. I've put nest year's dates in my diary already!
Update - 27th June 2016
Twas a magnificent FAB Folk & Blues Club night at the Cottage Inn, Haxby yesterday, with star guests The Foresters and superb sets from Dez & Cath Allenby (great to meet you again after all those years, Dez!), David Swann and John Storey. I even managed a few songs myself, which were well appreciated by the keen audience. One of the songs from my set, a shanty, was included on Tony's Vale Radio broadcast (the FAB Show) on 27th June, around 75 minutes into the programme - which also includes plenty more excerpts from the night's entertainment, and is available on podcast (as are several previous shows). Tony's doing a grand job of promoting live music of the folk and blues varieties and showcasing local talent, and his weekly 2-hour show is one of the highlights of my listening week.
Don't forget that Just Voices tomorrow evening is to be held at its new venue, The Garden Gate PH in Hunslet, Leeds. Come and join us for a great evening of unaccompanied singing! And thanks to the Durbervilles' radio show for according our session the "Recommended Singers' Night" tag once again - we must be doing summat right!
Update - 15th June 2016
Following last weekend's bombshell that the Black Bull in Birstall, the venue for our Just Voices session, has once again closed its doors with no warning, I've been seeking an alternative venue as a matter of urgency, and this has proved very difficult indeed.
However, our session has been granted the use of a smallish room in the Garden Gate pub in Hunslet, south Leeds (Whitfield Place, LS10 2QB), and the next session will take place there - initially as a trial one-off - as planned, on Tuesday 28th June. It'll be the usual start and finish times (8-11 pm). Hope lots can make it, as it will be essential to gain feedback on its suitability as a permanent venue should the Black Bull not reopen in the future.
Update - 6th June 2016
York Folk Weekend was great - and lots of good response to my set at the indoor concert.
Update - 1st June 2016
Great Just Voices session last night - thanks to every participant for his/her enthusiasm, good singing and good company. Particularly to those new to the session, who readily embraced the spirit of Just Voices and shared some fine songs. And to those travelling some distance to be with us - Nick and Mally from Lancashire, and John and Vic from Sheffield.
Good news - our planned performance of These Coal Town Days at the Raise The Rafters folk club in Wath-on-Dearne is now rescheduled and confirmed for Saturday 8th April 2017.
Update - 30th May 2016
Last Thursday's Josienne & Ben gig at the Black Swan was superb - thanks J & B!
Yesterday, I spent a really enjoyable three hours at the weekly song-&-tune session at Wardlow (Three Stags) . A long trip into the wilds of Derbyshire, but well worth it. Thanks to all for the hospitality and warm welcome.
Now - it's that time of the month again! Just Voices reconvenes tomorrow evening (31st) at the Black Bull, Birstall, 8pm start as usual. Hoping to see a good turnout, especially after the nice plug on the Durbervilles' radio show (cheers, guys!).
Finally, in a change to my advertised Appearances page, please note that our performance of These Coal Town Days is having to be rescheduled following the re-branding of the Raising The Rafters club night on 13th August to raise funds for the Oaks 150 Memorial Appeal. We're hoping to perform it at RTR early in 2017 - watch this space!
Update - 23rd May 2016
The final session of recordings for my upcoming CD project (last Tuesday) went well, so now it's time to start making the difficult decisions regarding presentation, packaging and the like.
Looking forward to getting out and about for a couple of clubs this week: NellieFolk at Rotherham on Monday and the Black Swan at York on Thursday (guests Josienne & Ben - should be magic!),
Update - 14th May 2016
Last night's Talking Zebras Lend Us Your Ears fundraiser was well supported, and the standard of performances was excellent.
Plans for the coming week include a trip to a nice little folk club up in the north-east, and a second studio session to follow up the earlier recordings for my cd.
Update - 30th April 2016
Today my booked Spotlight Set at the Talking Zebras spoken-word group meeting was extremely well received. As well as performing one of my longer poems, I included in the set the first part of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land - just for a challenge! Well, April is the cruellest month after all...
Thanks to everyone who came along to Tuesday's Just Voices - it was another memorable session, and we were able to welcome two singers new to the group. With some regular attendees away that night, it was a encouraging turnout which bodes well for their return next month - on 31st May.
Update - 25th April 2016
Just to let you know that this evening Tony Haynes' Folk & Blues Show on Vale Radio Online featured several excerpts from last night's singaround at the Cottage Inn, Haxby. These started with my opening song - you can find it on the Vale Radio listen-again or podcast facility, accessible from https://www.mixcloud.com/tonyhaynes52/fab-folk-and-blues-25th-april-2016/. My song starts at around 10 minutes into the programme.
Don't forget -- Just Voices (the Durbervilles' "recommended singers' night" for this week - thanks guys!) is happening as planned, tomorrow, Tuesday 26th April, at the Black Bull in Birstall. Hope to see you there.
Update - 15th April 2016
It's been an interesting though wildly variable week out and about. After one particularly (and unexpectedly) unaccommodating and moribund club night, luckily the remainder of the past few days were altogether more stimulating. Wednesday afternoon found me visiting the Traveller's Rest at Darlington for a thriving, welcoming and well-steered singaround, then it was back on home territory the following day for MC duty at the singers' night at York's Black Swan. It's always guaranteed to be an interesting night, and although the mix of music and the number of performers can vary enormously the reception is always enthusiastic and I normally meet at least two new faces on such a night. This was no exception, with contributions from two individuals from a well-known Scottish folk club and a very assured performance from the young lady who was serving behind the bar that night! We will definitely be hearing more of her - watch this space ... !
The next event on my personal calendar will be to MC and perform) at the FAB singaround at the Cottage Inn, Haxby on Sunday 24th. I've been tipped off that something special is in the offing - so if you can't get there just tune in to Tony Haynes' FAB Show on Vale Radio online and I'm sure he will feature some highlights from the night's performances.
Two nights further on, don't forget, is Just Voices- still at the Black Bull, Birstall which has had a reprieve of sorts and will be available for the foreseeable future. Hope to see you there on 26th.
Update - 11th April 2016
It's a pleasure to report that yesterday's performance at Cliffe Castle Museum went well, with an appreciative and attentive audience. I hope to be invited back next season, if the programme continues. Next engagement, on hone ground, is to MC the Black Swan singers' night on Thursday (14th). Should be fun! After which, things are set to go quiet again for a while in the runup to Just Voices on 26th.
Update - 2nd April 2016
Just back from a short break, during which I dropped in at Darlington Folk Club (at the Copper Beech) on Thursday night and received a most hearty reception. It was a most enjoyable singers' night, with a high standard of performance. Thanks to everyone there for their exceedingly friendly welcome; I shall certainly return when I'm next in the area.
Some good news to report: today I had a phone conversation with the new manager at our Just Voices singers' session venue (the Black Bull). He tells me that his tenure is "for the foreseeable future", and that our room booking dates will be honoured.
So I'm glad to say that it's now an "as we were" situation, with the 2016 calendar again reading as follows: every last-Tuesday-of-the-month – i.e. 26th April; then 31st May; 28th June; 26th July; 30th August; 27th September; 25th October; 29th November…
… until December, when we plan to meet on the penultimate Tuesday (20th) instead.
We will, naturally, also be continuing to put out feelers for a potential "Plan B" should the situation change again suddenly!
Finally, I was privileged to be invited to compere the Vale FAB folk night at the Cottage Inn, Haxby last Sunday. This fortnightly club, run by "uncle" Tony Haynes, is the (newly relocated) latest incarnation of the club latterly at the Lighthorseman (York), and the new venue is an excellent function room in a rather nice pub... Now I've been asked to MC a couple of future nights too, so I must've done something right!
Update - 19th March 2016
Don't forget the March session of Just Voices will be held on Tuesday 22nd March. I've just heard the bad news that the venue, the Black Bull Inn, is to close its doors after Easter, permanently as I understand it. This means that Just Voices will be without a home from April. If anyone has any suggestions for a suitable replacement venue, then please get in touch with me urgently. In the meantime, I hope to see a fantastic turnout for our final session at our current venue.
Update - 29th February 2016
Another week of enforced inactivity due to yet another attack of the dreaded virus that seems to be doing the rounds again.
Luckily, before that, this month's Just Voices session was a really good one, with both some welcome returns and the first visit of some fine singers from Sheffield...
Update - 22nd February 2016
I'm not sure what's happened here, but the three news updates I wrote since 7th January have vanished from the site! It's been such an unmemorable few weeks, though, that I can't recall anything much worth mentioning!
January's Just Voices session was one of the few bright spots, with a much improved turnout and some new faces - and some interesting songs. I'm hoping that tomorrow's (February) date will see the return of some of those folks who were unavoidably absent from last month's.
The only other project on the horizon - indeed, possibly quite imminent - is the recording of my CD (finally, after all these years!)... watch this space.
News Update - 7th January 2016
It's been a truly dismal fortnight, with no events or sessions aside from Just Voices on 29th December, which was so badly attended we had to abandon entirely. Where have all the singers gone???
Things are getting desperate...
2016 can only get better, then - can't it??...
Update - 24th December 2015
I've been remiss in updating the site recently, simply because there's been almost nothing to report and almost no activities worth mentioning. The seasonal poetry afternoon at Cleckheaton Library was worth the horrendous trip along flooded roads... and the same day (December 12th)'s Raising The Rafters Xmas Special Night in Wath Upon Dearne, featuring my good friend Ray Hearne, was an honourable (or should I say "hearn-orable"?!) exception... as was the Magical Christmas Tree event (featuring Pete Morton, Emily Sanders & Chris Parkinson) at York's Black Swan on 20th December.
Despite a persistent and nagging, recurring viral infection (racking cough etc), I've managed to sing at a few other seasonal gatherings, the best of which was easily and by a long way the annual Carols Night at Bacca Pipes folk club. If it could be bottled, as they say...!
Update - 25th November 2015
I mentioned the 12th November singers' night at the Black Swan, York - well, you can hear extracts from that occasion on Tony Haynes' FAB (Folk & Blues) show on Vale Radio, in the edition broadcast last Monday (23rd). A good proportion of those artistes appearing are featured on the show, with tracks including one of the songs I sang, together with a couple of examples of my compering the night. The show is available to listen again on http://thevaleonline.com/fab until next Monday, and thereafter through Tony's Mixcloud site, which is linked from the FAB page. The Black Swan feature starts at around halfway through the two-hour programme.
Yesterday's Just Voices session was a touch depleted attendance-wise, due mainly to illness and shift work commitments, but there was ample compensation from the attendees, who gave of their best in an evening full of fine songs, revealing background information and keen conversation. Thanks to all those who attended. Next month's session will be on 29th December.
Update - 23rd November 2015
Last Saturday's Spotlight set at Talking Zebras went really well, and was brilliantly received, despite my struggling with the remnants of a vicious cold that had suddenly arrived three days previously and refused to release its grip.
Apologies to those who were hoping to see me at other clubs and sings over the weekend, as I was forced to rest up - I am cautiously optimistic that my voice will return for the NellieFolk session tonight, and for tomorrow's Just Voices. (If it doesn't, then we will need all the extra singers we can get!)
Update - 15th November 2015
Apologies to my friends at Wakefield, I was unable to make it today because all roads out of here being closed due to flooding. Hope to see you next month.
News Update - 14th November 2015
Another week with very little to report, and only two "outings" - but both of these were really good evenings. First was Thursday's singers&musicians night at the Black Swan, York, which I made a rare appearance as MC as well as performer. Things went very well, with around 15 performers, and we even finished bang on time! Then there was the singers' night at Bacca Pipes, when even the superstition-ridden nature of the date and the exceedingly wet weather didn't deter folks from attending. Excellent quality and variety as ever from this fine club. Plans for today had to be cancelled due to the atrocious weather in these parts, but if the heavy rain stops for a moment tomorrow it'll be off to Wakefield for the lively afternoon session. That, however, will herald the start of another quiet week, before my eagerly-awaited (so I'm told!) Spotlight set at Talking Zebras in Cleckheaton on Saturday 21st and the next Just Voices session on Tuesday 24th.
Update - 2nd November 2015
Very little to report since our last Just Voices session which was a pleasing little evening's singing, thanks to those loyal supporters. Now for another quiet month...
Update - 19th October 2015
The past ten days have been uneventful, but a-propos the below-mentioned proposed future fuller performance of our mining-themed programme, Jim and I are proposing to stage this in the early spring - we hope to have a date for this shortly, so watch this space!
Update - 9th October 2015
Last night's performance of Those Coal Town Days, my song-and-verse programme in collaboration with poet Jim Saville, at the Ilkley Literature Festival fringe, went really well. It attracted an above-average-size audience who were both receptive and enthusiastic. Thanks to all for their support, and to the staff at Ilkley Playhouse, but thanks most of all to to Jim for his excellent and committed contribution, without which ... (etc.). I received a number of enquiries from folks as to when they might be able to see the full, non-condensed version of the show. Sadly, we have none planned at present - but we're open to offers, so please do get in touch if you know of anyone who might be interested in staging it.
Update - 30th September 2015
A very quiet but relaxing session of Just Voices last night, but some great songs were shared and group discussion voted for the continuance of the session into 2016. Thanks especially to loyal supporters Joe & Maureen, Nick Dow and Jim for their keen interest.
This followed a really good night at Nellie Folk, Rotherham, on Monday. Thanks Roy for keeping it going!
Update - 28th September 2015
Last night's half-hour song-spot at the FAB Singaround at the Lighthorseman, York, went well, and I seem to have found my voice again thank goodness.
Update - 21st September 2015
A quiet week, and more progress on the recovery front. A typically grand if also typically unpredictable singers' night at the Bacca Pipes was just what the doctor ordered. Then a fine session at the Bull & Fairhouse yesterday, where it was good to be back amongst the friendly and appreciative singers and musicians who gather there.
Then of course, on Tuesday week (29th), there's the return of Just Voices at Birstall after its enforced August break. Come and be welcome, singers (and listeners!) one and all...
Update - 3rd September 2015
Apologies to anyone who missed my booked appearance at Chapeltown Folk Day on 31st August, I was forced to cancel, being simply too weak to travel due to the post-op complications mentioned below. I am still hoping to start getting out and about over the next week, however.
Update - 29th August 2015
I'm recovering from last weekend's major surgery, the result of which is cautiously optimistic. However, as a result of complications post-op, I'm almost certain to have to cancel my booked appearance at the Chapeltown Folk Day on 31st August, one of my favourite events on the local folk calendar and one that I'm loth to miss.. Big apologies. Antibiotics permitting, I hope to be sufficiently well to fulfil my commitment to the Black Swan Folk Club on 3rd September. Thanks to all those who have sent me good wishes; that means a lot.
Update - 12th August 2015
I'm still getting really positive feedback from my Spotlight set at Talking Zebras at the start of the month! Most encouraging....
Otherwise it's proving a quiet month, with little chance to sing out. My mind is, naturally, rather more preoccupied with the impending major surgery. I'll try to post more as this progresses, and keep you up to date as to when I might reasonably be expected to be back in action.
Please note that August's Just Voices session is unavoidably CANCELLED - largely due to the above medical situation.
Update - 1st August 2015
An excellent session at Talking Zebras today, and my Spotlight set was well received. Hoping to be back there in November for another Spotlight.
Just Voices was very quiet this month, with many folks away due to illness or holiday commitments, but those present enjoyed a nice friendly relaxed session comparing notes and songs in convivial company. Sadly I've had to cancel the August session, due partly to advance warning of most folks being away and partly due to my impending major surgery (thus absence) and uncertainty regarding recovery time. August is likely to be a rather uneventful month, at least prior to this, and health may preclude my getting out much during the next couple of weeks.
Update - 6th July 2015
Just returned from a fantastic weekend at Cleckheaton Folk Festival. Not only did the event boast an impressive and top-quality lineup, but the organisation was its usual efficient self and the buzz was considerable. Even sweat-drenched (or on one afternoon rain-drenched) weather didn't dampen the spirits!
I was honoured to have been part of the Shantyfolk group who opened the Saturday night concert at the Town Hall with a 40-minute set of mostly shanties. There may only have been nine of us, but we came together fine and had some lovely appreciative comments from punters. John Conolly collared me in the bar and pronounced our set "a darned fine spot of shanty-ing"... !
Our little group also participated in the following morning's Sunday Sing, at the Masonic Temple venue, this year's edition being a tremendous event which proved the weekend highlight for a good many festival attendees including myself. 90 minutes of stunning singing from what seemed like every single full throat present in the packed room, with glorious acoustics to boot. A very emotional occasion, and a real privilege to share. That event alone was everything a good singing session should be, and reinforced my view that latter-day festival sings just ain't wot they used to be! It also brought back memories of the old Saddleworth Festival Sunday Sings.
So now it's back down to earth for a few weeks, with very little to look forward to. I'll try to summon up some energy to get out to a few local sessions - we all need the practice after all!
Update - 1st July 2015
Good turnout for our Just Voices session yesterday, although there were also some unexpected absences. Great to welcome some new faces too, including the enigmatic Cohen (from YFA-nominated trio Granny's Attic), a distinctive singer of real character. Special thanks go to our most loyal supporters, Joe & Maureen and Cath, and some other fine singers who are becoming regular fixtures at the session in recent months.
We must be doing something right if the Durbervilles' folk & roots radio show brands Just Voices the "recommended singers' night" on a regular basis!
Now I'm looking forward to a change of tack, with Cleckheaton Folk Festival this coming weekend - at which I'll be bringing out the maritime material again for performances with Shantyfolk, the specially-convened-for-this-festival group featuring some notable shanty singers within its ranks. Hopefully I'll also get to do some solo singing at some point during the weekend. Looking forward to the whole event though, as Clecky is one of the finest of the country's small festivals without a doubt.
Update - 29th June 2015
Great day spent at the Yorkshire Mining Museum yesterday, the highlight being engaged to perform two complete half-hour sets of mining songs during the afternoon, to an appreciative audience in the cafe courtyard. Thanks to the Museum's events organiser for the invitation, and hoping to sing there again in the future.
That event followed on from another fabulous club night at the Bacca Pipes on Friday, guests were Dana & Susan Robinson who've been favourite artists of mine for years now and just never fail to please. Of course, the famous Bacca Pipes response and singing sets the seal on an already brilliant atmosphere... this is exactly what a folk club is about. Unmissable!
Update - 21st June 2015
I was privileged to attend an absolutely magic concert yesterday evening at York's National Centre For Early Music - one of the closest dates for Peggy Seeger's 80th Birthday Tour. Peggy herself was in magnificent form, especially vocally, and Neill and Calum MacColl provided such sympathetic and convivial accompaniment where needed. A wonderful, and very emotional, celebration of this very very special lady. May she live long and prosper!
Prior to that, Friday's Lend Us Your Ears fund-raiser staged by the Talking Zebras folks for Kirkwood Hospice) was both well-attended and of a particularly high standard this year, and it was a pleasure to be compering the event once again. Here's to next year!
Update - 18th June 2015
Sadly I have had to withdraw from my originally-scheduled participation in Whitby SeaFest next month due to difficulties in the programming of my (and collaborator Jim's) various planned contributions.
Jim has posted the following explanation on Facebook, which conforms to my own experience: "I must warn those of you who have noticed my name on the Whitby SeaFest (publicity) Programme that I will NOT be appearing. Unfortunately it appeared before (the festival organiser) and myself had a chance to discuss the matter and compare timetables. I ... will not be at the event in any capacity this year."
So for now, the next event for me to look forward to is tomorrow's Talking Zebras poetry-and-music fund-raiser at Liversedge, which promises to be a lively evening. See Appearances page for full details of this worthy event.
Update - 8th June 2015
Had a good day at York Folk Weekend yesterday with the Rolling Folk Club singaround and a half-hour spot on the bill of the evening's indoor concert, both of which went really well. I even received some enthusiastic comments about my hosting of the RFC too. It was curious, though, that almost none of the Black Swan Folk Club's regular attendees came to either of these events - indeed, the whole day was quieter than previous years' counterparts have been, but this aspect probably added to the relaxed atmosphere of it all.
Update - 5th June 2015
The Crookes premiere of Down The Mine was a success, I'm glad to say, and we got a really good response from the crowd - all of whom (after the one or two who needed last-buses etc) stayed right through to the bitter end, applauded heartily and even demanded an encore! Jim and I would like to take it on to other clubs and festivals. If you know of anyone interested please get in touch using the contact form below.
Update - 28th May 2015
This past Tuesday's Just Voices singers' session was less well supported, sadly - four regular attendees having given their apologies due to holiday commitments - but thanks to those who did brave the unduly pleasant May weather and came in the glorious sunshine to sing at the Black Bull.
Here's hoping for a good turnout at next month's - 0n Tuesday 30th June - but more importantly, before that at the Crookes Folk Club premiere of Down The Mine, which attracted some very favourable comments from folks at the "dress rehearsal" last week.
Update - 24th May 2015
The runthrough of Down The Mine went well, and we're feeling very positive for a successful and rewarding premiere on 4th June at Crookes.
Update - 14th May 2015
The new Down The Mine show is now ready, and we're holding a runthrough on Tuesday 19th May at the Black Bull, Birstall, in good time for the premiere, at Crookes Folk Club, Sheffield, on Thursday 4th June (see Appearances page). Otherwise, it's going to be a quiet next-couple-of-weeks, I suspect.
Update - 6th May 2015
It might seem like old news now, but I'm pleased to report that April's Just Voices session was well supported, although some key attendees were unavoidably absent. Looking forward to May's session, which will be on 26th...
Otherwise, April flew by and I hardly got to sing out at all, due to a combination of throat problems, loss of voice and other bouts of illness. Jim and I are working hard towards the premiere of our Down The Mine show, which is set to take place at Crookes Folk Club, Sheffield, on Thursday 4th June 2015. Watch this space for further news.
That aside, it promises to be another quiet month ahead, with further medical issues looming - but still hope to see you around somewhere.
Update - 2nd April 2015
The March edition of our monthly Just Voices singers' session was really well supported - with some new faces to boost the staunch regular attendees. Special thanks and commendations to Nick Dow, and Ron Day and his Daisy Chain quartet, all of whom had travelled some distance to be with us - and by all accounts were not disappointed! Here's to the April meeting!
Update - 21st March 2015
Thanks to all who came and supported me at my Poetry Showcase (Spotlight) at the Talking Zebras spoken-word group meeting in Cleckheaton this afternoon. It was a well-attended gig, and my poetry was very warmly received - I was actually rather taken aback at the enthusiasm of the reception and the feedback received, and this will give me the confidence to put together more extensive programmes of my own poetry more often in the future!
Update - 19th March 2015
Enjoyed two consecutive weeks' attendance at the lovely friendly and appreciative session at Wrenthorpe Club, another at The Drovers, and a typically fine evening at the Bacca Pipes. Otherwise, it's been a disappointing month thus far. Hoping it picks up in time for Just Voices on 31st.
Update - 12th March 2015
The month has begun inauspiciously, but I much enjoyed two nice friendly laid-back evenings - Friday's Bacca Pipes singers' night and The Muse, Wetherby last Sunday. Nothing much in the pipeline for the immediate future however, so I'm ploughing ahead with preparations for the forthcoming premiere of my Down The Mine collaboration with Jim Saville, hopefully at Crookes folk club on 4th June..
Update - 27th February 2015
Highlight of the past week? A magical gig at the Black Swan, York, with Fil Campbell & Tom McFarland the booked guests that night, which included a nice long chat with Fil, what a lovely lady. Earlier in the week, Rotherham's NellieFolk gathering was its usual stimulating self. But on the following night our Just Voices session was not so well supported, with two of our number unavoidably detained elsewhere and another enjoying a night at the opera (full marx to you for that one!), but the small but select gathering was "pleasant and delightful" in its own sweet way. Oh, and I can't forget last week's manic singers' night at the Black Swan, which the club organiser referred to as a "Herculean effort" at which as duty-compere for the night I had to fit in over 20 acts including a visiting 12-piece folk orchestra!! And it was great to meet Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage there too, on their "trip up north".
However, this coming week promises to be distinctly bleak, with no gigs at all to look forward to.
Latest bad news is that Sheffield's fabulous Play On session is homeless, the pub venue having double-booked the room last December didn't help... and the Robber's Dog folk club at the same venue has shared the same fate. Shame on the management of the Rutland Arms.
Let's hope things pick up a bit during March. Please!
Update - 16th February 2015
It's been a few weeks since I had anything much to report, but it's been a disappointing time. I've also been experiencing health problems, which have precluded me getting about quite as much as I'd like.
Update - 28th January 2015
Feeling recharged after a clutch of good gigs - Tony's New Acoustic Singaround (Sunday), NellieFolk at Rotherham (Monday) and then last night's well-attended Just Voices session. Many thanks to all who came and supported this event, and great to see newer recruits returning to augment us "old stagers", all in fine voice. Spread the word around - we could still do with some more singers...
Update - 1st January 2015
A Happy New Year to you all !!!
This follows a distinctly moribund Xmas week, which was brightened only by two events: an appearance singing some songs live on Tony's FAB Show on Vale Radio OnLine on Saturday 27th (available on podcast shortly, I believe - check out the Vale website), and then a most comradely evening at NellieFolk at Rotherham on Monday 29th with Roy Blackman and chums.
Tuesday was the latest instalment of our Just Voices singers' session, and sadly it was rather a depleted gathering, with several singers away for the holiday break - but we did benefit from the attendance of some new faces - folks who'd just moved into the area and were keen to pursue the art of unaccompanied singing. That's reassuring to know! So we had a nice friendly relaxed song-swapping evening with a few items of verse for fun. Otherwise, as we go into 2015, there's very little to report and very little to look forward to - so let's hope the change in the weather brings forth a change in our fortunes.
Update - 25th December 2014
Very little to report now - other than that the annual Bacca Pipes Carols Night was a vintage occasion, and the monthly session at Wakefield's Bull & Fairhouse last Sunday was another good 'un (although I was one of the few to sing anything seasonal, for some curious reason). For much of the rest of the past 2 weeks, I've not been feeling too well, so let's hope this lingering viral infection dissipates sufficiently by the New Year. Still, at least the days are now getting longer, as the year has turned...
Update - 5th December 2014
Another dire week! The straw that broke the camel's back was tonight, when after a nightmare journey of close on two-and-a-quarter hours (that should have taken less than 90 minutes) I - together with a good number of other singers and musicians and listeners - turned up at Sheffield's Rutland Arms for the monthly Play On session, to find the usual booked room occupied by a Xmas lunch in full swing. The pub staff had not bothered to tell the session organisers, or indeed anyone involved with it. Some of us singers and musicians had travelled quite a distance. Several very angry people. This really is NOT good enough, and seems to be happening increasingly. Is it any wonder that so many clubs and sessions are dying when we're treated like this, so badly, by the venues? Needless to say, it looks like the January 2015 edition of this excellent monthly session will now have to be cancelled in advance. Words fail me.
Update - 27th November 2014
Not a very happy week. Most of it spent suffering with a bad throat and headaches. I thought I was over the bug when I found myself able to sing and speak again on Tuesday (for the Just Voices session) and Wednesday (to attend the wonderful Nancy Kerr's Sweet Visitor gig). This was after four days of rasping cough and cold, but it returned with a vengeance today and I've been forced to cancel my original plans to go to Bedworth Festival this weekend - such a pity, as it's been a favourite event for over ten years and a permanent fixture on my calendar.
Update - 22nd November 2014
It's been a really emotional week. It all kicked off with the Memorial Event for Maggie Boyle at Keighley, a very special occasion celebrating her life and music which was attended by over 450 people from the world of folk. I can honestly say that I've never felt so much in the presence of pure love and affection. It was a tremendous send-off for Maggie, and I feel so privileged to have known her and that I could count her as a true friend. She touched so many lives, and inspired every one of them, and yet was so unassuming in displaying her own considerable talents as singer and musician. Unquestionably one of the finest singers I've ever known, she gave me so much, in direct support for my own singing and development as a song carrier, and in more indirect inspiration. I am still reeling from her tragic death, and I still can't believe she's gone from among us.
Barely three days later, I was reminded of my own mortality with a "significant" date that I should have been celebrating...
Compensation was at hand in the form of an excellent gig at the Black Swan, York, where I did a floor spot - the booked guests were Gavin Davenport and Tom Kitching, who gave a thoroughly splendid show! This was followed by another exceptionally convivial singers' night at the Bacca Pipes club. The day after this, I came down with a heavy cold - one of those late-autumn "occupational hazards" - which is forcing me to pull back on vocal commitments in the hope that I can make it for Tuesday's Just Voices session. And next weekend of course, it's Bedworth Folk Festival - which I was hoping to get down for, even though I've no official duties - simply because it's one of the best of the small festivals, and so worth supporting.
Update - 14th November 2014
The Roy Blackman CD launch concert on Tuesday was a lovely evening - magic - with Roy himself on magnificent form, and by all accounts thoroughly enjoying every minute of the gig. Special guest performers Ray Hearne, John Young, Rob Slow & Dave Neale and Mick Shaw did great, many of them performing songs written by Roy himself. I even performed three myself, and Roy declared himself well satisfied with these (sigh of relief!). Roy sold a number of copies of his new CD, and the assembled audience were very enthusiastic.
Now after all that excitement there seems very little to look forward to in the runup to Christmas, but I hope some of you can manage to make it to our friendly Just Voices singing session - the next one is on 25th November (see below).
Update - 7th November 2014
Have just received the most tragic news, that of the passing of Maggie Boyle after a brave battle with cancer. I've been enormously privileged to have known her, and been inspired by her, for most of the time I've been living in Yorkshire. Simply one of the finest singers on the planet, and a lovely, lovely person, thoroughly sincere and of great integrity, and she will be so missed.
Update - 4th November 2014
Last night's gig at the wonderfully friendly Booit Straps folk club at Chapeltown was most enjoyable, and extremely well received to boot (ha!). The room was full too - always a good sign! Many thanks to June the organiser for inviting me, and I look forward to visiting the club again in the not too distant future.
Update - 30th October 2014
Rotherham's NellieFolk club on Monday was its usual lively, vibrant self, with host Roy Blackman on splendid form and proudly selling the very first copies of his new CD, the official launch concert event for which will be on Tuesday 11th November at the Bridge Inn, Rotherham, starting at 7.30 pm. I have been asked to compere the evening's entertainment, and in company with a small number of invited performers (including Ray Hearne) I shall be singing at least one of Roy's own songs by request. Further details on Appearances page.
This month's Just Voices session was one of the best thus far, with typically enthusiastic contributions from our regular supporters, while we also welcomed a newcomer, a fine lady singer whom we hope will become a regular attendee in due course.
Update - 24th October 2014
Our From Both Sides presentation at York last Tuesday was, sadly, not well supported, perhaps due to the inclement weather. Let's hope for a better turnout next time we perform this show.
Update - 8th October 2014
An enjoyable night at Morley Folk Club, participating in the special feature of Canal Songs by way of two songs (Lock-keeper and Narrow Boats To Tow), which were well received. Fellow-collaborator Jim Saville (the poet) was also involved in this set.
Update - 1st October 2014
Last Sunday (28th), my "by popular demand" return guest-spot at Tony's New Acoustic Night at the Victoria Hotel, York was really well received, and a repeat booking for the not-too-distant future has already been mooted (that'll be my third!). The room was nigh full, and it was such a pleasure to sing for such an appreciative crowd. The half-hour set went by all too fast, and the shanty encore was just what was needed!
Tuesday 30th was another grand night - the Just Voices singers' session attracted some fine singers, including Ann and Alan (formerly of Firm Friends). Thanks especially to them, and to Joe, for their support and songs. Here's to October's session...
The above high points now lead into a few weeks of rather thin activity, however. Time for some practice and reflection, before the next outing of From Both Sides, on 21st, at the famous Black Swan, York (see Appearances page for details).
Update - 28th September 2014
I need to heartily thank those three hardy souls who turned up to support myself and Jim at our From Both Sides show on Tuesday 23rd. Such a disappointingly pitiful turnout, especially considering the gig was in aid of a local charity and we'd made every effort to check that there was nothing significant on that night. We really hope to get more folks attending the matching 21st October gig at the Black Swan, York.
News Update - 22nd September 2014
Really enjoyed my guest appearance on Tony's Folk & Blues Show on Vale FM radio (on the internet www.thevaleonline.com/radio/) last Saturday. In spite of the gremlin-like wilfulness of the station's computers!!
I managed to get to sing four songs live in the studio, and helped Tony to cue in some favourite tracks from CDs that fortunately I'd managed to bring in. I've been invited back for a future programme - watch this space...
Meanwhile, Tuesday 23rd (tomorrow) sees the latest performance of the From Both Sides song & verse presentation, at Birstall - see Appearances page for full details. Hoping for a good turnout.
After which, my next guest appearance will be at the New Acoustic Singaround night at York's Victoria Hotel on Sunday 28th September, when I will be performing a half-hour song-set at the invitation of "mine host" Tony Haynes.
Update - 6th September 2014
Fantastic news - today I won third place in the prestigious Durham Traditional Song Competition held at Sedgefield Folk Festival (I sang the wonderful Graeme Miles song Where Ravens Feed). I must say that the standard of all ten entrants was especially high this year, however...
Update - 27th August 2014
A week of decidedly mixed fortunes, with a clutch of quite mediocre nights (the less said the better!) and one excellent outing... the latter being the Booit Straps Folk Day on Bank Holiday Monday at Chapeltown, Sheffield. Although the weather was appalling (driving Kintail-like rain all day), the Commercial Inn was welcoming and comfortable, with fabulous ale and truly exceptional meals, the singaround and guest spots were brilliant and well supported, my own singing was well received - and I was loth to leave before the end of the night! Thanks June for the invite...
Sadly, there was no such positive vibe about this month's Just Voices session on Tuesday (26th). Attendance count was dismal, with many regulars being away on holiday. It would be great if things pick up again for the autumn season. Spread the word!
Now it's time to prepare for the brace of performances of my joint venture with poet Jim Saville (From Both Sides: An Exploration of Conflict in Song & Verse), these being at Birstall (Black Bull) and York (Black Swan) respectively. This show has been well received so far, but it is facing stiff competition this season as so many other folks are jumping on what might be termed the commemorative bandwagon over the next few months. All proceeds will go to a local charity, so please do come and support one of these performances.
Update - 18th August 2014
Just back from a brilliant weekend at Moira Furnace Folk Festival down in Leicestershire. After performing the official Opening Song of the festival from the top of the Furnace Tower, I spent much of the time in (and/or running) the singarounds at The Loft (a wonderful venue for singing in!), in the company of some particularly fine fellow-singers, several of whom I was glad to renew acquaintance from previous years. Such a refreshing change, too, that these were not occasions when one was lucky to get to sing one song in each session - plenty of chances were welcomed by all participants, and the chorus singing was mighty even on those sessions with smaller turnouts. Personally it was a success in that I received some of the most positive feedback of my singing times so far. Also, I greatly enjoyed the lineup of booked guests for this small festival which would put many a more high-profile event to shame ... Here's to MFFF7 next year!
The previous weekend found me briefly at Saltburn Folk Festival, which I'd attended often in earlier years but had missed more of late. My return brought a measure of disappointment, partly due to the dearth of singarounds and partly due to the predictability of contributions from "the usual suspects". This was a prime example of a festival where chances to sing were few and far between (one song in a two-and-a-half-hour singaround is just not worth the long trip, however good it is to hear other singers...).
My next scheduled appearance is for an Invited Guest Singer spot at around 5 pm during the Booit Straps Folk Day held at the North Sheffield outpost of Chapeltown's Commercial Inn, on Bank Holiday Monday starting at 1 pm and going on through till closing time! This is an annual event, always really friendly and welcoming, with some lovely singers and great company, and well worth supporting.
Update - 21st July 2014
Well, the Dorman's Folk Festival came and went last weekend, and can be counted a resounding success for all concerned. Over 40 different acts, coming from all over the north - Tyneside, Teesside, Northumberland, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Dronfield, even Keighley - proved their calibre and loyalty, all playing for free. Top-quality PA was provided and operated by the reliable Yorkie (Hartlepool's finest!). Over £122 for Mountain Rescue was raised by programme sales and a collection. Heavy rain unfortunately necessitated the concert stage to be moved indoors into the concert room on the Saturday, but the Sunday reverted to the outdoor stage and the sun shone and everyone was happy. There was a great atmosphere, and I came home exhausted but satisfied. Big thanks to all the performers who gave of their time for their 15 minutes of fame - their cooperation was brilliant, and not one of them let the side down. I got some lovely appreciative comments on my own song-sets too!
Now for a lull in activity, time to recharge and hope for a good turnout for Just Voices on 29th...
Update - 13th July 2014
The coming week will be spent preparing for the Dorman's (free) Folk Festival at Middlesbrough next weekend, where I shall be performing two sets (one each afternoon) plus a set of mining songs with Hartlepool-based singer Kay De'Ath. In all, there will be over forty acts performing over the space of the two concerts, so it will be quite a feat to coordinate and compere!
Update - 4th July 2014
Tour De France weekend - grr! Why can't it stay in France??? Roads closed all over Yorkshire - getting stir crazy!
Update - 25th June 2014
This month's Just Voices (last night) was another vibrant session, with some great songs and fine singing - but what a pity there weren't more singers in attendance this time (two of the regulars were on holiday, another had a throat virus and another two had work shift commitments). Let's make July's date a record attendance - and tell all your singing friends it really is worth the trip to Birstall. And it must be good, cos the Durbervilles' BBC Radio Leeds folk & roots show gave the session its "Recommended Singers' Night" tag once again...!
Update - 22nd June 2014
Last Friday's Lend Us Your Ears concert went well, with my two short spots of linked poetry and song (and my compering!) well received. The event raised nearly £500 for the Kirkwood Hospice, which was even better news.
Off to the bi-monthly new acoustic singaround at York's Victoria Hotel tonight, looking forward to another convivial evening spent in the company of Tony and friends.
Don't forget - it's "that time of the month" again, with our Just Voices singers' session at Birstall's Black Bull, on Tuesday (24th). Come all ye !!!
Update - 9th June 2014
Greatly enjoyed my day (Sunday) at the York Folk Weekend as ever, and received some good appreciation for my 30-minute set at the Indoor Concert - eventually, that is, for the audience proved slow to build due to the attraction of the outdoor sunshine! Other highlights included the early-afternoon Poems & Pints session and the evening's Fringe singaround. However, after all that excitement, a very quiet week is in prospect now...
Update - 25th May 2014
A quiet fortnight, highlights being a fab Shanties Session last Sunday afternoon (which just goes to prove you don't need a massive crowd, just a few good singers!), and a couple of (predictedly) excellent nights at the Famous Bacca Pipes. Off to the Cuckoo's Nest tonight...
Then it's looking forward to seeing more folks at the next Just Voices singers' session at Birstall this coming Tuesday and hoping for a record turnout!
Update - 11th May 2014
A quiet week as predicted, enlivened by the Jeff Warner gig at York and a warm, friendly night at the Drovers (thanks Geoff and Mary). After The Muse tonight, it's another quiet week in prospect...
Update - 3rd May 2014
Wonderful evening at the Play On, Sheffield session last night - thanks guys for keeping the faith, see you next month!
Now a dismal week is in prospect... with only the Jeff Warner gig to look forward to.
Update - 28th April 2014
Great gig at the White Lion yesterday afternoon - a really attentive and appreciative audience, and a finely-judged PA courtesy of organiser Shaun Hutch. Thanks to all who came and supported me.
Update - 27th April 2014
What a fabulous, intimate night at the Black Swan, York on Thursday - guest artists The Short Sisters were just superb: such fine singers, and yet almost unknown over here in the UK - and what lovely people! Catch them while they're over here if you can, they're on a short (ha!) tour at the moment...
Voice recovered and look forward to seeing you on Sunday at the White Lion - it'll be a great afternoon of music!
Update - 21st April 2014
I had to miss out on Sheffield Sessions Festival last weekend due to a sudden recurrence of the chest infection-cum-throat-bug, but I hope to be recovered in time for my booked floor spot at the Black Swan in York on Thursday 24th, then - most importantly - my 40-minute spot at the White Lion, Sheffield as the opening act in Shaun Hutch's Afternoon Acoustic Concert, when I'm due on at shortly after 3 pm.
Update - 14th April 2014
After a week of comparative inactivity, I travelled up to Hartlepool for the Headland Folk Festival last weekend. Sadly my throat only permitted me the one day's singing, but it was a tremendous event, with loads of great singing and a fantastic buzz. All credit to the mighty Young 'Uns for a well-organised fest that got so much absolutely right.
Next stop for me (tho' again, subject to recovering something of a voice!) is likely to be Sheffield Sessions Festival over Easter Weekend. See you there!
Update - 5th April 2014
Just back from a week's break in Allanton, close to the Scottish border, where unfortunately there was very little in the way of singing opportunities (wrong week of the month!!). I did, however, return home with a bad rasping cough, which means that I may be unable to go out and sing at all this week unless it recovers swiftly...
Update - 26th March 2014
Yesterday's Just Voices session at Birstall was a success, despite it being a smaller gathering than the inaugural one in February. Thanks especially to Tom from Ossett/Wakefield, for some excellent songs, and to our good friends the threesome New Pippin Fancy who travelled up from Sheffield and gave us five fine songs in harmony. Some regulars were absent due to holiday commitments, so I'm hoping to welcome them back next month.
Last weekend, I enjoyed an afternoon and evening at the Darlington Spring Thing, a lovely friendly event. Recommended for next year already...
This was followed by an interesting and sing-intense afternoon and evening in Sheffield, at the Shanty Session and Kelham Island Sing. Shame about the 4-hour gap in between the sessions, much of which was spent sitting in the car feeling the hailstorms battering the roof!
Update - 15th March 2014
Very little to report, following a quiet ten days. Last week's monthly session at Play On was excellent as usual, as were the singers' nights at the Bacca Pipes and the monthly Drovers meeting. I'd hoped to be able to travel down for the Royston Spring Sing today, but other last-minute commitments prevented me from making the relevant slot in the schedule. With any luck I'll be able to keep things clear to get up to Darlington for some of the annual Spring Thing next weekend - always a fine event - and I've been invited to run the Saturday afternoon singaround there (at the Red Lion), which should be good.
Trying to plan ahead is becoming increasingly difficult however. There have been surprisingly few takers for the themed programmes I'm performing in conjunction with Jim Saville, especially From Both Sides... which is amazing considering the emphasis being placed on the WW1 commemorative activities in other areas this coming year, in which context I'd have expected a flood of interest from festivals at the very least. Any suggestions welcome!
Update - 4th March 2014
Great evening last Saturday celebrating 20 years of the brilliant Raise The Roof singers' club in Sheffield... thanks to organisers Bob, Vikki, Pete and Ron and the Melrose Quartet for a fabulous evening. That's what it's all about!
Update - 26th February 2014
Well, Just Voices was a decent success last night, and many thanks to those who supported, some from as far as 40 miles away! The total count was 43 songs (and 5 poems) performed during the course of the evening, and companionable banter ensured a lively and enjoyable time was had by all. Looking forward to the next one already!
Update - 24th February 2014
Reminding readers that tomorrow (Tuesday 25th) sees the inaugural session of the Just Voices singers' club at Birstall's famous Black Bull Inn (in Kirkgate, off A652, less than 10 minutes from j27 of M62). It is planned that Just Voices will meet on the last Tuesday of every month during 2014. The new club received an honourable mention on the Durbervilles' esteemed folk & roots show on BBC Radio Leeds last night, as the region's "recommended singers' night" for the upcoming week (thanks guys!). Looking forward to an evening full of song, the only stipulation being that all performing is a cappella, with no instrumental accompaniment. The plan is to start promptly at 8 pm!!! The format, though loosely structured, is informal and friendly, and all manner of songs are welcomed, from chorus to ballads - the purpose of the gathering is to share songs - and participation is positively encouraged (including the occasional poem or monologue perhaps). Audience/ listeners are as welcome as participating singers, of course. Enjoyment is the key. So, I hope to see a good turnout!
Otherwise it's been a really quiet couple of weeks, the highlight of which was the superb evening in the company of Belinda O'Hooley & Heidi Tidow at the Bacca Pipes folk club last Friday (21st): great singers, great entertainers and a packed house!
Update - 10th February 2014
The past week or so has seen three especially good but also highly contrasted evenings out. Last Monday I was at Barnsley Trades Club for a superbly entertaining evening in the company of the totally masterful songmaker Ray Hearne. On Thursday, York's Black Swan folk club played host to a storming gig by Pilgrims' Way, then the following night the Rutland Arms in central Sheffield was the venue for a packed and vibrant (and typically eclectic) Play On session. These cams a few days after a long-overdue visit to the thriving Talking Zebras spoken-word club at Cleckheaton on Saturday afternoon - I shall be back!...
And so, now to get ready for a trip back to the Red Deer for Raise The Roof on Thursday - another fine singers' club that never disappoints.
Update - 29th January 2014
I can now confirm the imminent emergence onto the Yorkshire folk scene of JUST VOICES, the region's first (for over ten years) Gathering for Unaccompanied Singers. It will take place at the BLACK BULL INN, in Birstall, West Yorkshire WF17 9PB, in the historic upstairs function room (fine acoustics for singing!), on the LAST TUESDAY OF EACH MONTH starting 25th February, with a start time of 8 pm prompt. Admission is free. While adopting a friendly, singaround-style format, it is to be stressed that this is a gathering for SINGING (and not a chat-room, like so many folk clubs are becoming nowadays). It's for unaccompanied singers only (i.e. no instruments), and repertoire will be determinedly eclectic (even allowing for the occasional poem or monologue if the mood takes). And listeners/audience are welcomed along with actively participating singers. The venue is conducive, the staff equally welcoming. It will be a good opportunity for sharing songs, and for "singing out" those songs that have been waiting in the wings of your repertoire for ages...! I look forward to seeing some of you there.
Finally, I was pleased to discover a fresh venue last weekend - the Cricketer's Arms in Horbury, home to a fairly new venture, the Cuckoo's Nest folk club, run by that fine singing trio Berkana. Much recommended...
Update - 25th January 2014
Well, the inaugural performance of Maritime Miscellany, the latest in a series of collaborative shows with poet Jim Saville, went down a storm at Cleckheaton last Wednesday, with a very appreciative - if small - audience, whose enthusiastic joining-in would put some of the folk clubs to shame...! We also raised a reasonable sum for a local charity into the bargain.
We're hoping that we'll be able to give further performances of this programme and the From Both Sides (Conflict) presentation during the coming year.
Spread the word...!
Update - 23rd December 2013
Thanks to all who came and supported me at the Tap & Spile yesterday evening. It was certainly a challenge to be asked to do a wholly (or should that be holly?!) seasonal set!! But hey, no problem, for the reception was warm and appreciative, and even the group of visiting carol singers who sampled my singing stayed on to the bitter end! Thanks to Tone for organising the evening, and I'm now looking forward to the invited re-booking in the new year (though I do wonder what kind of set I'll be asked to do next time!)...
Update - 21st December 2013
My faith has been restored with an excellent communal sing at the Bacca Pipes club last night, the occasion of that excellent club's annual Carols Night. Packed to the rafters and full of atmosphere (and great singing), just how it should be... Thanks, Jenny and gang!
Update - 3rd December 2013
Just spent a great weekend at Bedworth Folk Festival. Managed to get to sing quite a bit, though rather against the odds (and mostly to an exceedingly small audience at the various programmed singarounds). The Mudgather was a highlight (as ever).
It's such a pity though that the various events advertised as "Big Sing" always turn out to be a succession of performances by booked festival guests, at which us mere mortals don't get much of a look-in as regards a chance to contribute with a song. This seems to be an increasing trend with festivals nowadays, and may well be a reason for a decline in attendances.
Festival weekend was followed by a really nice evening at Barnsley folk club, the guest being the wonderful Anna Shannon. One of the finest and most multi-talented performers on the circuit - do go and see her!!
As for me, now I guess it's getting down to the serious business of dreading the winter weather but at the same time hoping that there will still be chances to get out and about to sing!
Update - 21st November 2013
Another fairly fallow couple of weeks have passed, the only appearance of note being my 3+3 Feature Spot at Morley Folk Club on Tuesday 19th, which went down well by all accounts albeit with a small-sized audience (which seems to be the norm at folk clubs hereabouts this month) and not helped by a weather forecast telling of snow and ice...
Very little in the offing still, but watch this space I guess is the message.
Update - 9th November 2013
Aside from a fabulous evening spent in the company of Tom Lewis at the Black Swan (York) on Thursday, the past two to three weeks have been very quiet indeed, with very little in the way of singing - I'm still trying to get some songs sung out that I learnt during the summer! Also I'm trying to address the backlog of writing that has built up while I've been unwell and/or embroiled in family crises... ain't life kind? (Answers on a postcard...)
I'm hoping that the coming year (with all its various anniversaries and commemorations) will provoke a little interest in my joint ventures with Jim Saville, whereby we present a themed evening (or sequence) of song and verse. So far we've performed "From Both Sides" (Conflict) in two different variants, while we also have a "Mining" set ready for performance, and others are in preparation.
Discussions are already taking place for a local performance of Maritime Miscellany early in the New Year - watch this space.
Meanwhile, any of our presentations could well be something refreshingly different for your local folk club or festival or presented as a self-contained event or fund-raiser; we are always flexible to tailoring and open to suggestions and proposals, so please contact me using the form below.
Update - 26th October 2013
STOP PRESS - I shall NOT now be appearing at Acoustic Rotherham 19 (Sunday 27th October), as the event has had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
I have also reluctantly decided that the dire weather warnings for Sunday 27th would make the journey to Rotherham for the alternative, the evening Warm Down Acoustic Session, too risky. Apologies to anyone who had intended to brave the weather and come to Acoustic Rotherham...
Update - 19th October 2013
Just managed to regain my voice in time to consider a half-hour singing spot at next week's Acoustic Rotherham showcase - watch this space (and the Appearances page) for further details as and when.
Meanwhile, I'm pleased to report that the issue regarding non-forwarding of submissions from the Contact Forms on this website (caused by a routine blocking of the ISP concerned by certain international servers) has been resolved by a workaround on my part, and with any luck you should now be able to get through ok. Apologies for the inconvenience this has caused, and if you sent me a submission recently that you think may not have got through (simply because you've not received a reply yet), then please do re-send.
Update - 5th October 2013
Suffering at present from a really bad cough-cold thingy that has filled my head with cotton wool and banished my voice to the nether regions of inaudibility (although the cat considers that a good thing no doubt!). This forced me to cancel all appearances including a booked floor spot at the Black Swan (Thursday) - sorry Luce, miss ya! - and my favourite monthly session (Friday) and also to miss out on a concert I'd been looking forward to for ages. All of this was a real comedown after a lovely night at the Bacca Pipes last Friday and a good session on Saturday last, having just returned recharged from a week's holiday in Scotland (where I sang at Dunfermline and Falkirk folk clubs). So it's back to the slow recovery process, and hoping I'll be fit again in time for at least the latter part of the coming week's planned appearances.
Update - 15th September 2013
Another future engagement has gone the way of the unthinking planners - the organisers of the Morley Literature Festival have imposed a change in format on their 10th October Folk Club Showcase evening, and as a result my scheduled appearance has been excluded from the programme of events. I have only just found out about this; my apologies to anyone who had been intending to come to the gig.
News Update - 28th August 2013
Had a really enjoyable time at Booit Straps Folk Day in Chapeltown on Monday, where my set was very well received. A similarly enthusiastic reception greeted my appearance as special guest of the Wuthering Heights Folk Evening on Tuesday, but the audience size was disappointing - it seems everyone has taken this week off, or else they're recovering from Whitby?
Looks like September is going to be a fallow month, but I'll be attempting to keep my hand (= voice) in and hopefully get to sing out some new songs.
Update - 19th August 2013
Just had an excellent weekend at Moira Furnace Folk Festival, during which I received some lovely feedback on my singing which made it all worth while. Next to look forward to will be Chapeltown Folk Day (Bank Holiday Monday) - see Appearances page.
Update - 15th July 2013
Shattered on returning from the weekend spent at Middlesbrough virtually running the Dorman's Folk Festival. A brilliant weekend musically, with 45 acts performing at their best and truly excellent sound from PA man Yorkie Gibson. Lots of positive comments on my own singing too, which was really nice - but keeping the whole show together and to time was a bit of a trial at times even for the experienced compere! The only thing seriously missing was an ice-cream van!!!
Update - 7th July 2013
Just returned from a rather hot weekend at Cleckheaton Folk Festival, one of the best of the smaller festivals. Nice to be gently accosted by folks who remembered and complimented my singing at previous Cleckheatons, folks whom I'd not seen since! Now to get down to preparing for next weekend's foray into Teesside for the free Dorman's Folk Fest (the one that used to be at Nature's World). I'll be doing the main-stage compering, as well as a couple of solo song-sets (one on each day of the weekend).
22nd June 2013
Lend Us Your Ears went really well, and over £650 was raised for the Kirkwood Hospice. Thanks to all who attended and those who contributed towards this splendid evening of music and verse. A couple of photos are reproduced here...
7th June 2013
Last night's performance of From Both Sides at Crookes folk club (Sheffield) proved a success, and bodes well for future collaborations with Jim. Responses were very favourable, and I firmly believe the project has life outside the folk circuit although obviously that is its natural home. Thanks to all those who came and supported the gig.
31st May 2013
Not an awful lot to report since my return from a week in Scotland, where the Highlands produced its customary distinct lack of musical activity (unless you count the drumming of the rain and the cascading of the burns?). The highlight was a most convivial session in a palatial Glenfinnan hotel which was held in a bar with a panoramic view of Ben Nevis (on one of its few clear evenings, bedecked with fresh snow down to below 1000 feet!). The only drawback of this session was its late start (well after 9.30 pm), which was awkward since I was returning home the next day...
5th May 2013
I'm still experiencing problems with the contact forms on this site I'm afraid, which are apparently caused by Yahoo Mail blocking traffic from some servers. Why can't they get their act together? It makes me seethe... I'm working toward a solution, but as yet no success. I need a good techie to help me out, methinks!...
12th February 2013
One good development - the long-awaited Cold Spring CD release Dark Britannica 3 (Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief And Dear) is now available from www.coldspring.co.uk. It includes among its various-artists-menu of "30 tracks from the cream of current dark British folk music" two of my own performances, of songs by Mike O'Connor and John Thompson respectively. Needless to say, the whole collection is well worth a listen, and it's a privilege to have been included on the set. I've already received one really nice testimonial from Mike for my (I quote): "well considered and insightful performance of Summon up the Sun".
25th November 2012
Just returned from a vibrant yet very wet weekend at Bedworth Folk Festival - some fine singarounds and a compering job at a rather uncharacteristically sparsely attended concert (I'd blame the weather). It was really nice, however, to be met and greeted by several folks who'd remembered and enjoyed my singing at previous years' Bedworths, and even better to be selected for inclusion on a lovely new website "Songs From The Caravan", which can be found at www.songsfromthecaravan.org. This website has been set up by Terry Helyar to provide a record of songs collected from different areas of Britain. On his site, you'll find two or three songs that he recorded me performing informally (in the caravan - where else?!) at Bedworth; go check it out ... !
28th October 2012
Yesterday's Saturday Brunch Session at Rotherham Open Arts Festival was great, with no fewer than five guest acts punctuated by a few songs from me, and an appreciative throughput of audience in the Old Market Gallery, a fine place to sing with good acoustics.
19th September 2012
Last night's gig at the Cross Keys, Handsworth was great - a really good turnout, with a near-packed room and an appreciative and enthusiastic audience for my evening of songs interspersed with a few items of verse. Folks came from as far afield as Dronfield, Rotherham and ... Stockport and Greater Manchester! Heartfelt thanks to all who came to support the evening, which organiser Roy described in his closing remarks as having enjoyed so much he wanted to "bottle it" !... Now there's a compliment to savour!
20th August 2012
Just got back from a great weekend of singing at Moira Furnace Folk Festival, one to be thoroughly recommended - and I'm already looking forward to next year's! Very positive vibe around the whole weekend, and it's good to find a festival where singing is seriously appreciated rather than merely tolerated. Now, however, there follows a distinctly lean month, with very little on the calendar... so I must resolve to get out and about to some of the farther-flung clubs I've not visited in years.
16th July 2012
Just returned from a fantastic weekend compering and singing at the Nature's World free festival at Acklam just outside Middlesbrough - an event in its 20th year - this time showcasing 45 acts in total, staged on two successive afternoons. The rain stayed away for most of the weekend, the sun shone especially on Sunday and it attracted capacity crowds, who stayed right through to the end on both days.
My solo set on the Sunday was particularly well received. And the go-ahead was given for next year, so I'll be taking orders for the 21st Nature's World folk festival in a few months' time no doubt!
23rd June 2012:
Last night's charity do was a memorable experience. Braving the atrocious weather (12 hours plus of absolutely torrential rain) was only one element of concern... But it was a grand little event, raising more than £700 for the Kirkwood Hospice, which made it all worth while. An evening of poetry and song, unpretentiously entertaining throughout, and hopefully the first of more such fund-raisers. Even my somewhat croaky ten-minute spot went well, despite the sudden onset during the afternoon of a bad head-cold.
11th June 2012:
Just back from York Folk Weekend, another fine gathering, where I performed a half-hour set in yesterday's indoor concert shortly before the deluge! Every year I seem to play to a different audience, but invariably an attentive and appreciative one.
Before that, following a fairly lengthy fallow period, I attended two great evenings during the previous week - one at the excellent Play On session in Sheffield, then last Wednesday evening at a really friendly and eclectic open mic at a tiny cafe in Bronte country in front of a packed and welcomingly appreciative audience in whose company I enjoyed other folks' performances ranging from folk to a ukulele group, poetry to blues harmonica, didgeridoo to singer-songwriter.
Not much more news to report, so I'll leave the 9th May updates below until there's more to tell you about.
>>The compering stints at BAAFest went well, and it was a really lovely weekend all told, with a nice mixed session and some good singing thrown in as a bonus (thanks also to Canny Crack the hosts). My open-mic set on the Sunday was also well received.
The week before that I spent some time in a recording studio setting down a couple of tracks for a forthcoming compilation. All went well, and so I'll keep you updated as to their progress ...
Otherwise, it's been a fairly quiet few weeks since the splendid Easter weekend at Ellesmere Port at the second Shanty UK Festival. The "Titanic Concept Night" at the famous Bacca Pipes folk club was very probably the month's highlight thus far (I'm tempted to say "it went down well"...!). <<
I'll leave the earlier updates here for the time being too...
>>22nd February 2012
I've received a few comments from visitors to the site lamenting the lack of sound clips - a situation I hope to remedy when I get around to joining one of the recommended web-presences that host such recordings. Watch this space, and I'll keep you posted.<<
For the rest, though, I'll leave the earlier retrospective reflections intact here for a little longer just in case you missed the news...
>>2011 was a year replete with promise, with some really good gigs and a number of excellent singing experiences. Highlights for me were (I'm told well-received) solo performances at Acoustic Rotherham, the Ellesmere Port Shanty UK Festival, and the Cross Keys in Handsworth; the Keith Marsden Memorial Concert in his hometown of Morley (September); and April's themed evening (From Both Sides) in conjunction with Jim Saville.
Sadly, however, as yet 2012 is fairly deficient in terms of singing or compering engagements. It is mildly reassuring to learn that I am not alone in experiencing this by any means. Such is life...
So for now I'll just continue to support as many local sings and other events as I can - as long as the snow and ice keep away, that is!<<
I am still available for bookings, however - for singing or for compering. So, if you know of a club or festival which may be interested in hosting any of my solo ventures (specialist maritime sets, straight club set/s, Keith Marsden special sets or gig support set/s) or else "From Both Sides" (an evening of songs and verse on the theme of conflict) or either of the other themed presentations "Maritime Miscellany" or "Down The Mine", the latter three all performed in conjunction with poet Jim Saville, then please use either the main Contact Form below or any of the contact forms on the individual pages of this site....