Newsletter – April 2011

Posted May 28, 2011

It’s been a slow year so far with regard to playing and singing. I am doing less these days but still enjoy it when I get on a stage. It’s the travelling I find exhausting. I used to enjoy that too but not any longer. Age, I suppose!

I have enjoyed singing at the new club here in Sheffield: Bright Phoebus. It’s a great evening - meets monthly and has some great evenings coming up. If you take a look at the web site and live anywhere near Sheffield, I urge you to give it a go. You’ll not be disappointed I’m sure. 

The year of singing started, for me with a tribute concert for a dear friend, Alistair Hulett. I met Alistair back in 1991, on my first trip to OZ. That was when I first heard and later recorded his great song of the dangers of asbestos ‘He Fades Away’ (‘Business as Usual’ - Fuse Records CFCD 400). We remained friends and comrades until his untimely death last year.

This concert was part of Celtic Connections, in Glasgow. What a line-up: Dick Gaughan; Karine Polwart; Rory McLeod; Nancy Kerr &James Fagan; Jimmy Ross, Gavin Livinstone and Phil Snell! I had to follow that lot…. I was a bit apprehensive to say the least! James and Nancy and Rory joined me for a couple of Alistair’s songs that I had recorded and Karine came on at the end for a rousing finale! What a great concert it was. I felt honoured to be a part of it and enjoyed it immensely. We had a great evening while, like me, wishing we weren’t having to do it. To find out more about Alistair and what is happening now in both the UK & Australia, just google: Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund. I’m told there was a similar tribute concert in OZ this year at Easter, during the National Folk Festival in Canberra. How I wish I could have been part of that too. My days of intercontinental tours are over sadly, but a fella can dream can’t he?
In February, just three concerts: Nottingham Playhouse, Holloway in Derbyshire and finally Bury St Edmunds with Tony Benn and our proramme: ‘The Writing on the Wall’. I don’t know how long Tony and I will be able to continue doing this concert but I suspect that like me, he’ll continue until such time as we simply can’t go on! We managed Hull Truck Theatre on April 24th and still to come this year are Sidmouth Folk Week (Aug 2nd ) and Wickham Folk Festival (Aug 5th ) – perhaps we'll see some of your there? March and April have been relatively quiet but I am grateful that wherever I’ve been, you, the audiences, have been generous and supportive. We have all enjoyed the concerts, I think. I’ll be sneaking in to Shepley Spring Festival on Sunday (22nd May) for a concert in the church! I shall be at Broadstairs Folk Week (8th & 9th Aug). This will be my first time at this festival and I’m really looking forward to it. After that I’m off to Saltburn (13th Aug). In fact, early August is manic, from Devon to Hampshire to Kent and then to North Yorkshire all in the space of about 12 days! I’m excited if a bit wary of all the driving but I’ll enjoy myself. After a couple of weeks resting I’ll be down to Towersey. I’ll be in concert with David Ferrard on Saturday (27th Aug) with a programme of songs we’ve entitled, ‘Singing Through the Hard Times’. Then on Monday 29th I’ll be in my now usual 90 minute or so show on the Concert Stage. I look forward to meeting up with old friends and making new ones at these summer festivals.
So in spite of my saying I’m slowing down I seem to be quite busy – especially at Festivals. That’s when I get an opportunity to catch up with people and have a drink and a chat without having to rush off home from the club.

There is one festival that involves flying: Cork in Ireland (2nd Oct). I am excited as this is my first time at this festival. I’ve been to Cork many times but only in my former life as an academic. I used to be one of the external examiners at this University College back on the 80’s. That was when and where I met Professor John Maguire. John was professor of Politics but was also a fine writer and teller of children’s stories in poetry form. Like me, he has now retired. I have included some of his poems on each of my current children’s CDs. They have been really well received. Indeed my latest children’s CD, ‘TOMORROW’ (CFCD 408) ends with a wonderful story called ‘My Pet Dragon’ and it has been suggested to me that I make a CD of his poems! We shall no doubt talk about that. Meanwhile, I’m grateful to him not only for his permission to use them but also for his help in getting me invited to Cork where, I understand, he runs the children’s concerts, as part of the festival. I’ll be doing a children’s concert and a ‘grown-ups’ one. A bit daunting really but I’ll keep in mind the piece of advice given to me many years ago by a friend and really fine children’s entertainer and singer, Sandra Kerr. The secret of performing to children & adults is she said “…treat children as grown-ups and grown-ups as children – you can’t go wrong” and she was and is, right!

I have no plans to record again but new songs keep coming my way and old ones get revised and interest me again - can I still sing them? Some I certainly can’t, I just don’t have the voice control now but some … well … maybe. Who knows what I’ll be attempting in the future (that’s rhetorical!) 
That’s about it. I wish you well. Have a great summer – sing and dance and enjoy the music, traditional or contemporary. It was all orally shaped or composed by ordinary people, just like you and me. These songs tell of peoples’ lives, their entertainment, they carried the news and expressed their views on the issues of the day. 

Roy Bailey, Sheffield
May 2011