Monday 8 February 2016

Stand Up & Be Counted Concert

Had a brilliant time at the Stand Up And Be Counted Concert in City Screen Basement Bar in York last night. It was a concert organised by Toni Bunnell to raise money for Arc Light a homeless charity in York. It was a night of poetry from the brilliant Don Walls, John Gillham & Janes Cramphorn along with songs from songwriters Toni Bunnell, John Storey, Paula Ryan, Stan Graham & myself. We all chose songs that highlighted people who stood up to be counted. I chose 4 songs about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. My set list was; Calum's Road, The Brave Women Of Runswick Bay, The Two Brothers & The Queen Of The Air. It was a lovely venue with a good singing crowd. Really good night.

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Around Yorkshire (And Beyond) With A Guitar (And A Ukelele) March 2015

It's been a great start of the year for me. I have recorded and released my 7th CD 'Time & Tide' and I am delighted with the response to it so far. I am also delighted that it is getting lots of air play on lots of local radio stations around the country and I will be appearing on some local stations to play songs from the new CD. And I'm really looking forward to my CD Launch at The Sun Inn in Pickering on Saturday 18th April. 

I really enjoyed going on Tony Haynes' Folk Show on Vale Radio and it was a privilege to take part in the VicFest he organised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance in February. I performed 'A Waggoner's Lad' for a local branch of the University of The Third Age and loved playing with The Blarney Smiths at Cottingham Live. I performed with my good friend John Scoble for another fundraiser at The Rainbow Centre in Scarborough and I thoroughly enjoyed playing in a fine local inn The Black Swan. 

I'm still enjoying doing my music teaching and have started a new teaching job at St. Hilda's Primary in Ampleforth as well as my current job at Nawton. I am teaching music for the majority of the time so that is making me happy and I run an after school Ukelele Club at both schools. 

Can't wait for the rest of a very busy year so hopefully see you somewhere along the way. 

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Ryedale Songwriters Circle

We have been running a Songwriters Circle in Pickering now for about 6 years. It was originally set up under the 'Ryedale Live' umbrella and has been continually meeting each month since that time. We began meeting in The Bay Horse in Pickering but now we meet in members' houses on the 1st Monday of every month. 

There is a fantastic music scene in and around Pickering with a lot of talented singer/songwriters. There is a huge range of styles of music too. Most of us see ourselves as folk or at least acoustic musicians and there is at least one of us singing unaccompanied songs. Many songwriters have come and gone and we now have a solid membership of around 10 people. 

The Circle provides a friendly, cosy, environment where beginner and experienced songwriters alike can 'try out' new songs in an encouraging atmosphere. We discuss new songs and songwriting methods. Members can discuss the stories behind their new songs as well as how they wrote them. We discuss guitar chords and techniques as well as discussing tips regarding performance. 

You can find out more about the Ryedale Songwriters Circle on our Facebook Page. 

Thursday 26 February 2015

Songwriting In Schools Lullaby

Meet Ellie. She featured heavily in a class activity I did at school today with some wonderful infants. It was an activity I learnt about at a recent NYMAZ Conference. 

I introduced her and the children called her 'Ellie.' I told the children that she never went to sleep at night until someone sang her a song. We decided these songs were called lullabies. I asked the children to come up with some lines for a simple 4 line lullaby. They came up with;
Little baby sleep
Close your eyes 
You've had a busy day
Sweet dreams Ellie

Then I asked some children to 'sing' the lines and we quickly found a tune. I played the guitar and we sang the lullaby to Ellie. Unfortunately she kept waking up so we had to sing it a few times! 

Thursday 19 February 2015

Leaving On A Train

Although songwriting is essentially a solitary activity I do occasionally write with other people. My favourite collaborator is Mike Bennett who lives in Cottingham in East Yorkshire. Mike is an amazing musician and writes lovely fiddle tunes. I usually get an idea and maybe begin writing some lyrics. If I get stuck on a tune I'll take the lyrics to Mike. He will have a go at writing a tune and then we'll meet and finish off the song together. I love writing with Mike because he will take me out of my comfort zone and will encourage me to try different tempos, keys and chords. 

This song is our latest effort. I got this idea of a couple sitting in a station platform cafe. I had Pickering station cafe on The North Yorks Moors Railway in mind. They are sitting waiting for a train which will take her away from him. It's a kind of 'Brief Encounter' moment. I didn't want to give too much away of the story that is left to your imagination. Hope you like the song when you get to hear it. 

He'll never forget this time and this place
The smell of her perfume and her warm embrace
He's trying to disguise his sorrow and pain
Of her leaving on a train

Monday 16 February 2015

Low Tide At Runswick Bay

I have chosen the painting below as the front cover for my new CD Time & Tide. 

It's by a wonderful local artist called Kezy Feaster. Kezy lives in Pickering and paints fabulous landscapes of coastal villages and moors scenes. She recently had an exhibition in The Sun Inn in Pickering and I was taken by this painting of Runswick Bay and it's lovely bright colours. My partner Jo bought me a print of the painting and I knew it would be perfect for the songs I was putting on the new CD. 

I would like to thank Kezy for letting me use the painting for the CD cover. Please check out her work she really is a talented artist. Her website is; 

Saturday 14 February 2015

The Brave Women Of Runswick Bay

I have just recorded a new CD. It will be my 7th and I can't wait for you all to hear it. In the meantime I thought I might just tell you a little about the new songs I have written for it.

I first heard about this true story when I saw a photograph reproduced below. It showed a group of fishergirls and had the caption 'The Brave Women Of Runswick Bay.' On 12th April 1901 the fishing fleet set sail from Runswick Bay in bright sunshine. Unfortunately a freak squall came in and the fleet were in danger. Because all the men were out fishing only the older men of the village and young boys were left to man the lifeboat. It was left to 20 or so fishergirls to launch the boat. It involved dragging the incredibly heavy boat into the water putting themselves in great danger. The lifeboat guided the boats back to shore and the fishergirls waited on the beach until every last boat returned.