Posted Jan 21, 2014


Newsletter/Blog  January 2014

….. and a Happy New Year to one and all! [whisper:] “I hate the Tories, virtually, the first thing I heard from Gidiot Osborne in 2014 was he wants to make further cuts of £12 billion and mainly to welfare! The middle class is beginning to think their “sacrifices” (what sacrifices?) are paying off and things are looking better. So let’s clobber the scroungers, the wastrels, the disabled, the immigrants and the pensioners (the Winter Payments, the Bus Passes or whatever.) He’ll buy the election victory, if it kills someone on the way to do so! Happy New Year……..?

I had a really good wassailing time…. The whole family joined us for a meal. We first went on our annual walk along the river then home, something ‘bubbly’ and nibbles followed by the exchanging of gifts. “Such fun!” I got two pair of braces, which I like a lot. So much so, I don’t want to wear ‘woollies’ when it’s cold ‘cos they hide the braces!

Dinner was delivered, as for the last 50+ years by Val. She said, quite softly but firmly (I thought) “This is the last time!” This declaration was accepted with understanding and approval by the assembled persons. New arrangements seem to emerge to everyone’s satisfaction.  The kids were wonderful – they played together without any apparent quarrels. There was no screaming or tears among the grown ups either!  This was followed by everyone ‘doing a turn’! Molly, Katherine and Martin performed as trio! Molly confidently played the flute, (we didn’t even know she was having lessons!) Kit played the recorder and Martin the guitar. Siobhan and Henry attempted a song together (Henry’s choice) although H got embarrassed and Siobhan finished up singing alone (she got embarrassed too!) I read a poem, ‘A Very English Thing’ by Les Barker and Val read ‘The King’s Breakfast’ by A.A.Milne, something to do with a little bit of butter for his (i.e.the King’s) bread!  It was a perfect day. Val and I went to bed very happy and content. (I didn’t think about Cameron et al all day!)

Gigs are slow coming in this year… I’m sure I’m a forgotten soul …. and I didn’t even say farewelll! It bucks up a bit later with a few festivals and clubs. I suppose the quietness of the early months is OK cos I don’t like driving around (or being driven around) if it’s snow and ice underfoot and tyre!

            The most exciting thing is, I’ve made an ep kind of CD. It’s called “Stories” and will be available online via iTunes or Spotify and elsewhere but not in shops. There won’t be hard units of CDs to buy. The tracks are accompanied by the wonderful musicians that are Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting and my friend Marc Block has added his harmony to two tracks. The whole thing has been recorded by the star engineer, Ich Mowatt of Sounding Post Studios, Nottingham. The tracks are:

  1. I Remember Loving You (Utah Phillips)
  2. We Tell Stories (Jim Woodland)
  3. Welcome (Jon Fromer)
  4. I Thought I had No voice (Scott Murray)


I have written a few notes about the songs and how I came to find them. In each case, from the writers themselves. I must admit I really like them. Martin and Andy were amazing in that neither of them had really worked on, or rehearsed the arrangements, yet they provided the perfect feel to the songs and the way I wanted to sing them. How do they do that! (rhetorical) I know how they do it…. They are great musicians who listen to the stories and understand my intentions almost before I sing a note or a word!

As I write this I’m not sure the tracks are yet on iTunes etc but I’m assured they will be “…any day now…!” Go to the iTunes Store I’m told and they will appear (eventually.) Maybe, before I finish this little blog thing, I’ll get word that they’ve been submitted!? I’ll let you know.

I do hope you will buy from online distributors. I know it’s not usual but it is the only way I can do this now. One or two of you have argued, very strongly and cogently that folk songs are not as “ephemeral” as pop songs. They are not part of, or should be resistant to the disposable culture of the day. Folk songs are songs of substance be they the great traditional ballads of the past or contemporary songs of social commentary or observation. These are sung or indeed, written to last, not just for a season or a week even. On the other hand I’m assured that this mode of distribution is compelling and will soon overtake hard copies (CDs.) I don’t want to engage with this debate, my problem is simple. I am currently selling and storing some 11 titles and the storing bit is overwhelming. I don’t tour as much as I have done in the past and furthermore, don’t wish to leave hundreds of CDs behind for Val to deal with when I …. do what everyone, eventually does! I am in the process of putting all my catalogue of some 30+  recordings - albums, EPs and CDs, online. They’ll be there for anyone who might want to listen or own a copy long after I’ve departed. For me the practical problem is the most pressing and online is the only way I can see of resolving it.

To conclude, this online ‘EP’ entitled “Stories” with a cover design by our son David, has been enthusiastically received by friends and family so I’m confident it is a good deal. So please, overcome any reluctance you might have re online purchasing and go and listen. You might even like to consider buying the ‘set’ of four tracks!

 I’d like to have your reaction to the recordings. If any of you feel so inclined, please email me your conclusions.  Thank you.

 I’m looking forward to what seems an annual trip to Celtic Connections to contribute to the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust concert. This year the artists on the stage will include Tom Leonard, Ewan Mclennan, myself and maybe others? Mark Block who doubles as my driver, minder and carer (doubles?) and will join me on stage to play and sing  (an all round good guy, wouldn’t you say!) Should be fun. If you’re in Glasgow or nearby, why not join us?

I’m going to send this even though there may be other things I should write but if I don’t send it tonight, the Glasgow concert will have come and gone before I ever do send it!

 ‘til next time…….

 Love  -  Roy x

Sheffield  - January 2014