News-December 2014

George Clooney

An odd start to my news page, and I'm sure that those would be your first thoughts, but, please bare with me, if you will, and all will be revealed! Some time ago I came across a small quote, from the man himself, in my chosen daily newspaper, where he elaborated on his luck, and good fortune, to be in the position in life where he now found himself. To put it in a nutshell he was where he was by nothing more than good luck, and it was nothing at all to do with any effort on his part. So, there you have it....Rob, Pete, Colin and anyone else, myself included, from those good old 'Stonefield Tramp' and 'New Morning' days. It wasn't our fault that fame and fortune eluded us. Lady Luck was just looking in the other direction, that's all! Not our fault that we never met our 'Brian Epstein' who could make that phone call, or knock on the right door for us.

 


FFG Studio

It was during the latter part of this years lovely summer that I began to get a few of those old 'restless inside' feelings, coupled perhaps, by the knowledge that I had still only written one new song over the last two years. An idea gradually took shape in my mind, and I thought this would be the ideal time to record an album of songs written by the songwriters that had inspired me to wish to become a songwriter too. So I contacted my old pal Brian and we made arrangements to turn up at David Pick's FFG studio in Bredon to lay down the first six songs. This was on the 4th and 5th of September where all went according to plan. I returned, on my own this time, on the 30th of October to lay down three more. To which Brian plans to add his contribution to, in February next year. Nine songs templated, and with a possibility of three more to go! And it feels so nice to be active again, and getting stuck into a brand new recording project, although I suspect it will be some time before the actual CD will see the light of day.





















 


Christmas

Yes, it is just around the corner, again! Why, oh why do they come around so quickly? Nevertheless, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the compliments of the season, and that the impending winter will not be too hard to get through!

 


















News-May 2014

Worst winter for 100 years?


Well then, I don't know about you, but whatever happened to their promise of the worst winter for 100 years? I didn't notice the falling of any snow flakes whatsoever! Boy! Did they get that one wrong! Although I expect anyone unfortunate to be residing in a flood plain might have viewed that statement with a severely jaundiced eye! And the Spring, does seem a little reticent in warming up. But at least it is making its presence felt, and I just can't wait to get the central heating turned off, for I have never had it on this late in the year before. Strange weather indeed!

 

Baldock Folk Club
Turned up in January to see my old recording buddy Phil Beer and have a bit of a chat with him, an excellent entertainer and all round decent fellow to boot! Spoke to the club manager and he informed me about a session night in February. I turned up and made a noise and was quite relieved to notice that no one ran screaming from the room! Gave renditions of the songs 'Dreaming Again', 'In a wind swept Cemetery' and 'Wild blows the wind'. First live performance for a few years.

 



Videos
After a gap of almost a year we finally launched the long awaited Alamo video in February, and have swiftly followed it up with three more last week. The Christmas song from the 2006 album Natural Noise, 'Old Flame' from the 2008 album Red Sky Descending, and the poem 'Tiger' from the 1977 vinyl album Come the day. And, as I type these very words, my video man is steadfastly beavering away on three more. Bless his little hard working heart!

 



Gibson J-29
Due to the unexpected gift of a legacy recently I have been able to raise the funds to be able to purchase a lovely Gibson acoustic guitar. My dear old Epiphone is now almost 40 years old and, a bit like myself, a little battered and frayed around the edges. Time for the dear old thing to put its feet up and get out the slippers and cocoa.








And I am off to Gibraltar this month for a little change of scene, and I am sure that Pip, and my grandson, will get up to tons of mischief during my absence! Farewell for now. And, oh yes, I finally wrote a new song! But, one song does not an album make!

 







The Acetate
I have been corresponding recently with Jorma, from Finland, who is the proud owner of my original 'home made' cover for my original copy of the Acetate.(see previous news item) He informs me that he also has a copy of the Acetate as well. But it cannot have been the one that I sold in the late eighties, for I had played it to death. Jorma also informs me that he knows of a copy in Holland. And I think Rob may have one. That leaves two copies unaccounted for. Now can anyone out there shed a light on this little mystery of the missing Acetates?








News-December 2013

Hard to believe that we are almost at the end of December, and yet another Christmas fast approaching! The year has indeed flown past, and it is to be hoped that this coming winter will not be as severe as the media are claiming that it will be. Statements like 'Worst winter for 100 years' leave me reaching eagerly for the whisky bottle to cope with it all!

 

Some old Tramps meet up

In October, Rob Van Spyk jetted in from the States to attend to a family matter. A good excuse for three of the surviving members of the band Stonefield Tramp to get together and, as fellow Stonefield Tramper Brian Balster from Tewkesbury might have put it, 'a good excuse to sink a jar or two'. And, sink a jar or two we most certainly did! The 'we' being myself, Rob, and Pete Kiely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Anniversaries

And all of them being a first. Pipsqueak, my retirement present's, first bithday. Nathaniel, my Grandson's, first birthday. And, last, but not least, my first year of freedom from the shackles of the dreaded work place, and I savoured every lovely minute of it! Should have done it years ago! Nothing more to be said except to wish you all a very, merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News-August 2013

Canada

I have just returned from a rather wonderful visit to my old Army friend Dave, and his wife Vivien, who live in Port Hardy, Vancouver Island. My very first attempt at Salmon fishing, on Dave's boat was such good fun. Nothing like catching the fish in the morning, and dining on them that evening! The same thing to with the Crab hunting, and we all spent a most enjoyable day Whale watching on a lovely boat called the Seasmoke. Lot's of walking through the woods, but rather disappointed because I never saw a bear!

 

Stonefield Tramp

Much mirth,and astonishment, between Rob Van Spyk and myself recently, as we discovered that my 'mock up' cover (I used an old Beatles white album cover for this!) for my copy of the 1971 Acetate went on sale at Ebay. Not the acetate, just the cover! And it eventually went for 82! Someone out there seems to be very interested in Stonefield Tramp memorabilia.

 

Meadow Lane

I had the pleasure, on Saturday the 17th of August to travell to King's Lynn to witness a gig by a brand new band called Meadow Lane, as they strutted their stuff a rather lovely watering hole called Merchants. I mention this because within their ranks are two friends of mine, Richard, and former Stonefield Tramp stalwart Pete Kiely. You can't keep an old Stonefield Tramp man down! I was so reminded of the good old days when the original Stonefield Tramp were fully involved in the old pub gig game. Do I miss my 'Stonefield Tramp' and 'New Morning' days........you bet I do!

 

 

 

 

Follow the Sun

Sadly, news has recently reached me that an old flat mate, of Rob and myself, was rushed to hospital due to a serious heart attack. Let us wish him a speedy recovery. For he gave of himself, and his talents, so freely to design the cover for the 1974 album 'Follow the Sun' by R.J. Van Spyk and Friends. Get well soon Charles, our thoughts and prayers are with you. That is it for this time. And this year's glorious summer just 'keeps on keeping on', as dear old Uncle Bob once put it, and haven't we been due one for such a long time!

 


 

News-December 2012

Well, that's it then, the finale days of 2012 are now drawing to a close. Bringing, naturally, another Christmas in their wake! It has been a rather interesting year, not only in my personal life, but on the creative aspects to. There was, of course, the album launch for Time for a Song in the early summer. Speaking of which, just where did our summer get to? Did you notice it's passing? And, sod the passing, I'm not all that sure that it actually bothered to turn up at all! And here we all are again, facing another Winter. One which, so the headlines scream out, will be the worst one for the last 100 years. Thank you very much! That's just the sort of thing we need to hear right now!

The Videos

Much of this year has been spent in creating a series of videos of some of my songs. And I have been very fortunate in my choice of the man to carry out this task. Please do not take my word for this! Just turn to the new Video page, in this website, and view the results for your selves.

Retirement

Yes, it has arrived! And I am now finally shot of the dreaded wage slave status. A lot poorer, but a damn site happier! And I'd like to introduce you all to Pip. My retirement present from my youngest daughter. He and I are bonding together delightfully, and I am looking forward to spending my remaining time, on this planet, in his company. Man's best friend indeed!

Grandfather

And finally, the Friend tribe has just been increased (sorry Pip,you don't count!) by the addition of Nathaniel William Nixon, the first born of my eldest daughter Fiona, who arrived in the afternoon of Friday the 16th of November. Both baby and parents are doing well. Christmas will be a little more interesting this year!

So, I shall bid you all farewell for now and go and rediscover all of those 'how to look after a baby books' that I discarded so many decades ago!


 

News-May 2012

I don't know about you? But if I see any more rain I'm going to develop web feet and gills! Enough of the weather, I'm sure you're all as sick of it as I am! The main item of news is the launch of the new album 'Time for a song'.

Swan Song?

Is it, or isn't it? My swan song? An interesting question, and I'm not really all that sure that I can give you an entirely accurate answer. My earning capacity will be taking a 'bit of a dive', in six months time, when I retire. And it very much looks like expensive recording projects will be out of the question. However, who can tell what the future may hold, for I'm sure that I shall continue to write the odd song or two, here and there. And if they are written, they ought to be recorded, but definitely no more big fat production jobs! But if there are to be no more albums, I am going out with a bang, and not a whimper. For the new album, if not the best one I've ever written and recorded, is certainly one of the best ones I've ever recorded. And that's not a bad way to draw a line under things.

Time for a song

Recorded at David Pick's delightul little FFG studio in Bredon with most of the same team that I have used in previous recordings there. David himself, Brian Balster, Pete Kiely, Maurice Hipkiss, and newcomer to the team, Heather McFarlane (from the band 'Celtish') on fiddle. The album comprises of mostly new songs, but also looking back at some of my older favourites, from earlier times, that have been revamped for this project.

Freedom!

I'll always remember my first taste of freedom, and just how much I enjoyed savouring it! That was the day that I walked out of school, for the very last time, and soon, I shall be walking out of the dreaded workplace for the very last time! I have a feeling that the sensation of freedom that I experience this time around, shall well and truely put the previous one right in the shade! And what shall I do with all of this free time? As long as my health permits I shall be promoting this website and my albums, books, and songs. It aint over yet!


 

News-February 2012

FFG studio, Bredon

It seems that winter has finally showed its Brutish face, and as I type these words, snow has covered the ground. Good job it didn't arrive last month, for I was Bredon bound again, on the 26th of January, for a two day session devoted to adding one of Brian's songs to my new album 'Time for a Song', and to the finale mixing and mastering of said album. The session went well, which came as no surprise to me at all, for haven't all of the sessions gone well here! All of us involved being in the very capable and highly competent hands of our in house studio Engineer, and Producer, David. And I must take this opportunity to welcome Heather to the New Morning Recordings label family, and her session took place last December. Thank you Heather, you have added the perfect flavour to those two songs of mine that you worked on. Heather is a member of the band Celtish, whose website is now to be found in my Links page.

Brian's Song

I was most amused by Brian describing how he wrote his song to me. Apparently he went to his library and took random book titles for the lyrics! Wasn't it David Bowie who once claimed to do something similar? In his case, as I recall reading somewhere, he cut up words and drew them out of a hat to write his song? Good job for me that my songs seem to write themselves, other wise I might have to resort to such interesting methods.

The Galactic Ramble

That is the title of a book, that was published fairly recently, which claims to highlight the most influential 3000 albums from 1963 to 1973. And how proud we all were to discover that Stonefield Tramp's 1974 album 'Dreaming Again' was included. I also learnt, through a blog, that my 1977 album 'Come the Day' was also a contender, the said blog ending up with the statement 'should make the Galactic Ramble.' Sadly it didn't! But hey! One out of two's not bad, not bad at all!

The Great Folk Discography

And, whilst we are on the subject of books. Here's another one! Written by Martin C Strong, and this one, which is part one, sub-titled 'Pioneers and Early Legends', has given Stonefield Tramp and myself (as a solo writer) a whole page! You know, sometimes, when you have those dark moments and wonder if it's all worth it, something like this comes along. Almost like a bolt out of the blue, just to remind you that, out there, in the big old ugly world, someone is listening to our work.

Time for a Song

And finally, things can only get better. They had better get better, for if they don't, we have all well and truly had our chips! My new album is set to be mastered and produced on April the 12th. I'm hoping to be able to feature it in this website sometime in May or June. farewell for now, and remember, Spring, with all its sweet promises of renewal, is only just around the corner! Yippee!


 

News-September 2011

It's been a fair old while since I updated my news page. Truth is, although I have not exactly been working my fingers to the bone in my song writing, or recording, quest, there has been some activity going on quietly in the background.

Stonefield Tramp

Alas, I have been unable to get any idea when the new album ‘Full Circle’ may actually get released, although there are now two Youtube clips of songs from that album on view. Strangely enough there seems to be far more activity going on with regard to the reissue of their 1974 album ‘Dreaming Again’, and I recently came accross two rather lovely reviews of that album which you will be able to read in the Reviews page of this website.

Time for a Song

‘Time for a Song’ is the title of my current work in progress, which, I am pleased to say is coming along very nicely, and, if all proceeds according to plan, I expect to fully complete the project by the end of this year, or the early part of 2012 at the latest!

And that's it, for now, at least! Not much of a news page this time, but, so far, it has been a fairly quiet year for me. A rather good summer though, and we don't get many of those!


 

News-March 2011

Texas

On the third of March, and just as darkness was descending, my plane landed in San Antonio, Texas. Where I was met by the newest (very soon to be!) member of the Alamo Society, my old buddy Rob Van Spyk from Stonefield Tramp. There followed a very busy schedule of Alamo events, thanks to my dear friend Joan, who was most helpful in allowing us the honour to attend the D.R.T. Ceremony, as well as that of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, in which we were seated in the V.I.P. area. Both of us suitably suited and booted for the occasion. We also attended the Alamo Society Symposium and spent many a joyful hour eating and drinking at our favourite watering hole, The Mad Dog's Pub on San Antonio's famed Riverwalk, where we were treated most admirably by Terry, the CEO, and his truly lovely assistants.

Stonefield Tramp

Upon my return to the U.K. on the 9th of March I was pleased to find my complimentary vinyl copies of the Guerssen re-issue of Stonefield Tramp's album 'Dreaming Again', waiting for me. They have done an amazing job, and these albums are a faultless copy of the 1974 original version. I wish them well on the marketing of this project.

Time for a song

Progress is steadily being made on my new studio project and I have just heard the positive news, from my old friend Pete Kiely, that he is in the finale stages of adding his guitar tracks. And, as things stand at the moment, I have every confidence in the project reaching a successful conclussion by the onset of Autumn this year. And speaking of one of the seasons, it really has felt like Spring lately. Better things, weather wise, are surely now just around the corner. Farewell for now, and let us hope that the Summer proves to be a fair one.


 

News-February 2011

Here we are again then, another bright new year is about to unfurl itself before us. And what will it hold, now isn't that just the million dollar question? As for myself, it will be a bit of a landmark, for it will be my last full year in employment. And you know what they say in Folk Music..........Don't give up the day job! Speaking for myself, I can't wait to give up the day job! But, enough of this wishful thinking, let's just get on with the News updates.

Stonefield Tramp

The Stonefield Tramp 1974 album ‘Dreaming Again’ will be on sale in this website for only £10, and that does also include postage and packing to anywhere in the world! Quite possibly the cheapest price that you will be able to obtain this, much respected, and sought after album. I shall only be stocking the CD version, should you desire the re-issued vinyl version you'll have to go to the Guerssen website for it. Riverman (Korea) have done a fantastic job with the remastering and original artwork reproduction on the CD, and there is no doubt in my mind at all, that we can expect the very same high standards for the vinyl version from Guerssen.

Imperial War Museum

I had a meeting at the Imperial War Museum on January the 14th, where I was shown around the archive section, and was able to hand over two leather bound versions of my two biographies ‘The recollections of a fifties kid’ which recalled my Army brat childhood in Germany, and ‘With a pause of Two-Three’ which described my seven year Military service in the British Army. I also handed over two of my CD's, because of their ‘Northern Ireland conflict’ inspired songs. Those two CD's being ‘The Ulster Songbook’ and ‘Strange Journey-The Anthology-Part Two-The CD Years.’ It was pointed out to me, during my visit to the museum, that just because I wished to hand over material to them, didn't mean that it would be accepted! A statement that I was perfectly at ease with. I am very pleased to report that I received a letter from the Museum last saturday informing me that they would gladly accept my items. An outcome that leaves me feeling highly honoured, and proudly humbled all at the same time!

All this, and the snows gone, and it's not quite so cold! And I am off to Texas in March, where I know it will be very warm! Cant wait! Farewell then, untill the next time!


 

It's that time of year again, isn't it? When I almost wish I was born a Bear, for they don't mess about, do they? No! They don't struggle with it like we do. Sensible creatures, they hibernate and sleep through it all. I refer, naturally, to our very early, and very hostile winter. Would someone please do us all a favour and drop some napalm on that current waste of time known as a ‘Global Warming’ conference! Now, if you please, read on for some incredible Stonefield Tramp news!

Imperial War Museum

I am pleased to report the successful conclusion of my recording sessions with the lovely Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, the last 2 hour session taking place in my house on the 24th of August. Thank you Cathy for considering me for your project, and it was a real pleasure to share time with you.

FFG Recording Session

Once again I met up with Brian, at the FFG studio in Bredon, for a two day recording session, on the 11th and 12 of October. Brian and David, our producer and owner of the studio, worked their socks off for me. I am so lucky to be able to put my songs in the hands of such gifted people. This new album is developing nicely, and has already taken on a different flavour to the other ones that I have recorded there. If all goes well, and I see no reason why it shouldn't, the project should be completed by the end of next summer.

Stonefield Tramp

And now for the most important news of all! Rob Van Spyk and I were contacted, earlier this year, by a Spanish label (Guerssen) which specialises in re-issuing vintage albums from a certain era. Rob and I signed the contract on the 1st of November, and the 1974 album ‘Dreaming Again’ by ‘Stonefield Tramp’ will be re-issued in both vinyl and re-mastered cd format. And I shall be stocking the cd version in this website. As a songwriter, it's all very well to think that you write good songs, but when someone else confirms it by handing you a contract, it is indeed ‘the icing on the cake!’ Please keep your eye on this website for further details of the actual release date. And special thanks to our good friend, and fellow ‘Stonefield Tramper’, Pete Kiely for his assistance on this project.

All in all, it has been another interesting and rewarding year. May I wish you all a very, Merry Christmas, and a Happy new Year.


 

News-August 2010

Studio Session

I returned to David's FFG studio in Bredon on April the 26th for a two day recording session, in which I was joined by Brian Balster, in order for him to lay down some 12 string guitar, and harmonica tracks. David also kept him pretty busy with backing vocals as well. An impressive, and very useful, two days worth of work for the new Contemporary album. Which, if all goes well, is intended for release about this time next year. And will be entitled 'Time for a Song.' Brian did all of the work on the first day, and I laid down keeper vocal and acoustic guitar tracks for five new songs on the second day.

Mastering Session

May the 17th found me at the SRT Mastering studio in St Ives, near Cambridge. Where, once again, their Engineer Simon pulled out all the stops for me on this years album release. 'Strange Journey-The Anthology-Part Three-The Archive.' As its title suggests, it is the sister album to Anthology One, (2004) and contains early vinyl recordings from the seventies and eighties, including two very rare 'Stonefield Tramp' tracks, in CD format for the first time. It also includes several tracks from the 1988 CD 'Whispers in the Wind' by 'New Morning' and they do sound far better for having been remastered again!

Imperial War Museum

I was asked, in March of this year, if I would like to participate in an Audio Archive recording, of the Northern Ireland conflict, for the Imperial War Museum. After giving the matter some thought, I readily gave my consent. I was expecting to be interviewed by a Dr Cathy Fitzgerald on the 17th of May, whom I fully expected to be some grey haired, rather crusty old academic, of my age group, or possibly even older! Imagine my delight to be met at my door by a rather attractive young lady from New Zealand! My first surprise was that she wanted my entire Army experience, and not just the Northern Ireland bit, including my ten years as an Army 'Brat' in Germany in the fifties! And she is also going to assist me in having my CD 'The Ulster Songbook', and my two biographies archived also. There will be another recording session with her on the 24th of this month.

And finally, Anthology Three was launched about two weeks ago. And what a long, warm and gloriously sunny summer we are all enjoying, long may it last! Farewell for now. There are two more days booked into the FFG studio in October. Well, you know what they say! You've got to make hay while the sun shines!


News-March-2010

Well then, what a tough, hard, and very long winter that one was! And I think the less said about it the better, don't you? One last word, perhaps, I hope we don't see another one like it for a very long time to come! Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty! Since my last recording session, at the end of last year, the creative juices have been flowing, so much so, that another recording session has been booked in Bredon for April the 26th and 27th. And there's no need for me to explain just how much I am looking forward to that, is there?

Texas

Having enjoyed the experience of attending last years Alamo Society Symposium in San Antonio so much, I just couldn't resist going along this year to re-engage with all of my new found friends again! My plane landed about three in the afternoon, on the 4th of March, and I was very soon happily established in my room at the Crockett Hotel in dear old San Antone'. This was ideal, as this establishment is located right next door to the Alamo, where most of the events I would attend were taking place. The first event to attend, on the evening of the 5th of March, was Joan's Alamo themed party. She has been holding these parties for 13 years now, and they are now a second home to many people, like myself, who have a passionate interest in the Alamo story. And it was Joan who enabled me to attend the private ceremonies at the Shrine itself, on March the 6th, of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and later on in the evening, the ceremony for the Alamo Descendents Association. Both services were extremely moving and it was both an honour, and a privilege, to attend them. The day began with myself attending the dawn ceremony at the Shrine, which, as the name suggests, does take place at 06.00 hours in the morning. Followed by the full day of activities, described above, as well as this years Alamo Symposium. Interesting, as always, but most rewarding too, for I sold 25 of my Alamo song cd's, and two copies of the limited edition of the Alamo print. And, as I am sure you can imagine, my five days in San Antonio, went by far to quickly for my liking, and I am already counting the days untill I can return next year!

Mad Dog Pub

This English themed Pub, on the Riverwalk, which is run by an Englishman, Terry Corless from Cambridge, has been my chosen watering hole in San Antone' ever since I discovered it on my very first visit here in 2001. Not only does it sell good food, reasonably priced, but those delightful young ladies that Terry employs, are very, very easy on the eye indeed! If you don't believe me, just go and check out my photo Gallery!

New Album Release

I am very pleased to announce that I have booked a Mastering Session with my production team at S.R.T. in May. This will be followed by the release of my third album in the Anthology series soon afterwards. And the new album that I am presently engaged upon recording, will be due for release next summer. And with that I shall bid you all farewell for now. Upon my return from Texas, I thought I was going to die of the cold! However, it felt a lot warmer today! Spring, and Easter, are just around the corner. Better days are coming!


Recording Session

My two days in the FFG recording studio in Bredon on the 12th and 13th of October were most fruitful and satisfactory. In all nine keeper vocals and acoustic guitar tracks were laid down. A good start to this new recording project. Sometimes, when intoducing a new song to the studio, the tempo may often alter pace due to which particular drum pattern is used to lay down the template. I was pleased to note that most of them kept pretty much true to their original conception. Although, on David's advice, the key was altered in several of them, stretching me a little! But well worth doing, as I believe it led to better quality vocals on my part. Most essential to a story telling songwriter such as myself!

Three New Songs

Since my return to Letchworth, three new songs have been written, and I am now planning to return to the studio in April next year. Where I shall be accompanied by Brian Balster and Pete Kiely from Stonefield Tramp. Twelve new songs in all for this new project, but I do intend to add two bonus tracks, which will be two of my favourite Stonefield Tramp songs from the 1974 album 'Dreaming Again.' Those songs being 'Doing things Naturally' and 'Factory.' Lyrics by myself and music by Rob Van Spyk.

Seasons Greetings To You All

2009 is now drawing to a close, and how fast it has seemed to fly by! I can but wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


News-October 2009

The Soldiers Story -Northern Ireland

I am pleased to announce that the documentary film that I was invited to take part in this year, The soldiers Story-Northern Ireland, will be shown on Monday the 26th of October at 9pm - 11pm. It will be on Sky, The History Channel.

Recording Session

I shall be travelling down to the lovely village of Bredon in Gloucestershire on the 12th of this month, for a two day recording session at David's FFG studio. All being well I shall be laying the templates down for eight new songs. There's really no need for me to tell you all just how much I am looking forward to that, is there?

Afghanistan

I hope you will all join me in wishing my daughter Sarah God speed, and a safe journey, as she embarks on her first tour of duty in Afghanistan as a young, recently commissioned, officer in the REME.

And finally, and I guess I'm showing my age here, but, don't those recently remastered Beatle CD's sound superb? It's like revisiting them all over again! Not a large news item this time, but nice to finish it on a high note!


 

News-August 2009

Since my return from Texas, things have been fairly quiet on the musical front. Not, however, that quiet so that things have dried up and died! Far from it in fact, for I am working on some new songs and may well find myself heading for David's FFG studio in Bredon later on this year. At the moment I have no radio gigs lined up, but I have had my first TV interview. And that has been brought about, I believe, by my connection to Ken's two published books on the British Soldier's viewpoint of the Northern Ireland experience.

Povprod are an independant TV production company based in Plymouth, a pure coincidence of course! But that is also the home base of my former Military unit, 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery. I was interviewed by them at my home for four hours on June the 9th, although when their film is completed, I'm quite sure that my part will only be a small one! The film in question has been commissioned for Sky, The History Channel, and is to be aired sometime this Autumn. As details emerge I shall post them on this website. But they did film me performing one of my new 'Northern Ireland' related songs that didn't make it onto my 'The Ulster Songbook' charity CD. I found the whole experience most worthwhile and highly rewarding, despite the awakening of old ghosts from a highly intense period of my life that might, perhaps, had been better left undisturbed! But one cannot deny ones past, and I certainly do not intend to deny mine!

And for those of you that follow these things, my album 'Red Sky Descending' has not made the Mercury prize short list. Not that I ever thought that it would. But I did see the whole exercise as a PR opportunity that was not to be missed. And besides, I at least managed to get a distribution deal with Code 7 through this little idea of mine, and that was most definitely worth doing!

And that is all for now from myself, except for one more thing! All of you out there hoping for the release of the new Stonefield Tramp album 'Full Circle.' At this moment in time I have no idea if, or when, this event may occur! June was nice, July was awful. Better not put those umbrellas away just yet!

And there is a new on/off member of the household. She is rather adorable, or she is when she isn't sinking her teeth into me! And her name is Poppy.


 

News-April 2009

March was a most interesting month for me on several fronts, so, without more ado I shall enlighten you all.

Texas

Those of you familiar with my website will have by now discovered my lifelong passion for the story of the Alamo. For the last four years I have belonged to a rather exclusive group of people, from all walks of life, who belong to The Alamo Society. Every year they hold a Symposium, mostly in San Antonio, but not always! This year I made the effort to attend, for the subject of this year's Symposium was to be on the music of the Alamo and a book launch on the same subject. The book was written by Bill Chemerka and Allen Wiener. It is a very interesting book and I was so pleased to see that three of my CD's got a mention and my Alamo song CD's front cover got a full page colour spread. Those two gentlemen have done me proud, even giving me, and my song, a mention from the podium in the opening address about their book launch. Now that I did not expect! Thanks Allen and Bill, it was a real pleasure to be able to meet you guys, and I certainly hope to return again to Texas sometime in the future.

Riverwalk, San Antonio

There is, on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, a rather delightful English themed pub run by a guy called Terry Corless (originally from Cambridge) named 'The Mad Dog.' After I had informed him that his pub, and one of his waitress's, were mentioned in one of my recorded songs (In Texas, from The Anthology-Part Two CD) the ice was well and truly broken. He was most beneficial in giving me a good contact for my Alamo products. Prior to us leaving (Myself, Rob and Dave) he arranged for a photo shoot with some of his lovely girls. A most unexpected delight and surprise, the act of which brought the entire pub to an astonished halt! Thanks Terry, we all had a great time at your establishment and certainly do intend to come back for more! And yes! We do love those lovely girls of yours!

Brackettville

This is the home of The Alamo Village and the original movie set for John Wayne's 1960 film 'The Alamo.' It is a permanent film lot and is constantly in use for films, both wide screen and T.V. When we arrived it was almost deserted and so had the place to ourselves. Which just suited me down to the ground, and I was just like a little kid, running all over the place with my camera! I am also pleased to say that they will be stocking my Alamo CD in their shop. Most appropriate, as the artwork for the CD was based on their film set Alamo church, rather than the Shrine itself in San Antonio.

Phil Collins

I must say, it was both a pleasure, and a privilege, to have been able to meet Phil Collins. First at Joan's Alamo themed party, and then on the following day at the Symposium. He is a fellow lifelong Alamo buff, and when introduced told me that he had heard of me! A statement that did take me by surprise, although I suspect it was through Bill and Allen's book, and my Alamo song where he would have first heard of me. My first impression was of a very nice, down to earth type of person.




Mercury Prize

And last of all, but by no means least! I am very happy to inform you all that due to my having got a recent distribution deal for my CD 'Red Sky Descending' with Zone 7 this album is now one of this years Mercury Prize Nominees! So please! Fingers crossed everybody!

Ken Wharton's second Northern Ireland Book

Ken's second book is due for publication this month and, once again, I have been privileged to have some of my writing in it. Please keep your eye on this website for further details. It's been a tough winter, but have no fear, for Spring is upon us and Summer cannot be far behind. It's been a while now, so lets all hope for a good one this year! And on that positive thought I will say farewell for now.


 

News-January 2009

The good ship 'Britannia' seems to be charting choppy seas these days! So let me start off the year by wishing you all well, credit crunch and recession notwithstanding! Hanging on to an income may well be the best that we can all hope for. And speaking of hanging, the notion of introducing a few stout yards of good old English hemp to our witless politicians seems a very tempting prospect! But enough of this wishful thinking, let's talk of songs instead.

Red Sky Descending

My new album, Red Sky Descending, was released just prior to Christmas and is now featured on this website, Expertly engineered and produced by David Pick at his FFG studio in Bredon, and once again I was privileged to be joined on four of the tracks by Phil Beer from Show of Hands. Others taking part were Pete and Brian from Stonefield Tramp, a special guest spot by Kevin Brown from Bath, and not forgetting Maurice Hipkiss and newcomers Jimmy Flanders and Lexie Stobie. My warmest thanks to you all for your contributions to this project.

Stonefield Tramp

I have recently been informed by Rob, over there in Texas, that the new Stonefield Tramp album 'Full Circle' is being released as a download. A link to the relevant website will appear soon in a banner on my home page.

Sandhurst

And finally, let us all congratulate my daughter Sarah, on her recent achievement in obtaining a commission in her chosen Military career.