Blog vs social media

Dear all,

When I first had a website back in 2009ish, my blog was quite a feature and in fact gained a lot of readership. The format basically was my report of the previous couple of weeks gigs and stuff followed by some sort of daft rant about something. It even resulted in a few other sites hiring me as a writer! But do you know what killed my blog? Social media. The devil that it is.

I resisted social media for as long as I could. Everything that people described to me about it I hated led chiefly by ‘it’s great because anyone can find you’. It struck me as a haven of self indulgence with a fair amount of ignorance thrown in and an ingenious way to divide the population into tribes ever more. Having caved long ago principally because it became apparent that it was actually holding my career back not having the blasted things, my opinion hasn’t changed much! But coming back to this blog…the problem I had was the ‘instantness’ that social media demands in order to be effective. Something every couple of days at least be it a photo, video, rant, advert for gigs – it’s all about content these days. And quite simply I had to prioritise social media because, love it or hate it, it is a supremely effective way of reaching followers and potential followers in a way that a blog on a banjo player’s website can probably never be. So I allowed the blog to slowly slip away until it became an occasional vehicle for posting big news about albums and tours. Many folks have said just how much they miss it, much to my surprise!

So I am back! This is back! Let’s blog…and to go with the formula that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, let’s try the old way. So let me catch up you up as September draws to a close. After the joy of Towersey (see previous blog) came Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, a cracking little fest held unusually in an airfield down in Gloucestershire. I had played the festival many times before but this was my first outing there with the wonderful Brooks Williams and I have to say it was one of the gigs of the year. Sometimes for whatever reason things just click and this was a great marriage of a lovely and lively audience, terrific sound, a well chosen setlist (ok, a bit self congratulatory that bit but it was!) and just being totally up for it.

Then the following Monday, I was off to Chichester for a solo gig at a rather lovely folk club. A great time was had by all it seemed and it was lovely to be welcomed in to such a lovely community of people, especially as they had just lost a friend sadly. It was as though this was a musical celebration which was a rather lovely sentiment.

An enormous amount of teaching followed that week but also a chance to return to one of my favourite care home gigs in Stoke which was lovely as it always is. I’ll jump forward a bit here and mention some other lovely ‘outreach’ gigs I’ve done this month including a particularly lovely one at a spinal unit in Shropshire where a patient loved hearing (and singing!) Loch Lomond and afterwards said to me ‘I remember someone lent me a CD in the mid-90s of a band doing that song and I loved them but I can’t for the life of me remember their name’. ‘That wouldn’t be Runrig would it?’ I said…it was! And now he knew the name he loaded them on his ipad to listen to all afternoon but only once he’d said to me – ‘you’ve brought a tear to my eye today in the best possible way. Ain’t music the best.’ It sure is.

Anyway, other gigs – Brooks and I headed up to surprisingly sunny Scotland for two gigs at the incomparably lovely Swallow Theatre in Dumfries and Galloway. We had a wonderful weekend there as well as a cracker of a show in Staffordshire the following weekend in Moreton. The organiser there is so bloody lovely and had collected raffle money all year to raise for the neonatal unit where my lovely daughter was treated so wonderfully in her early life. One of the nurses was presented with the cheque on the night so it was a lovely gig all round.

To complete my round up of September gigs…I was back in Stafford to play a special show for Pocket Film Festival at the fantastic Candid Beer. I played for an hour before a screening of none other than the greatest ever films Oh Brother Where Art Thou! I’ve mentioned this film in the last blog – it’s ace. Then I was up to Harrogate in Yorkshire to play the wonderful Harrogate Folk Club with the legend Alistair Anderson. We had a wail of a time and we also got to see my uncle, aunt and nana who all loved seeing Heidi!

So there it is folks, this blog is back. Armed and dangerous. We’re off to Portugal next for Costa del Folk, Brooks and I playing two gigs yet somehow we’re staying for a week…the intervention of my wonderful lady there. But I’m not exactly complaining…