So then it’s review of the year time which I’m doing at a stupid time in the morning so forgive me if this is not my most coherent ramble (not that the competition is stiff). Just a last bit of updating though – the annual pre-Christmas gig at Joxers was a blast as ever and a great way to end the year so many thanks to all those who came, especially my girlfriend with whom I have been with for one whole year! Good lord…
So then how was 2012? Well for the most part…bloody awful to tell you the truth. A lot of stuff I can’t go into here but it has been a very challenging year indeed and I won’t be sorry to see the back of it. However, lots of good times were had and of course the aforementioned lady has changed my whole life for the better so that makes the
year more than worthwhile needless to say. It’s been one of those years where one really looks at one’s life. Being a musician is all I ever wanted to do and I know that I should be very grateful for the fact I’m doing it and dash it all I am glad I’m doing it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It’s about as unpredictable as it gets and any of you who know me probably know I’m not exactly a happy-go-lucky, oh-it’ll-all-be-fine type of chap. Other than the fact I’m quite good at playing the banjo (I hope) and love being on stage or playing music I’m about as unsuited to being a musician as can be…but in that sentence I’ve kind of proved why I should really carry on doing this. I love that bit of my job so much, it’s all worth it and actually the number of people who’ve said they’re grateful for my performances is another massive reason why I’m still doing it. So many thanks indeed to all those who have supported me so much over the years and I’ve no plans to stop doing it! Bigger and better things await I hope. Indeed, it’s funny how when you feel a bit despondent something remarkable turns up. I felt crap at Derby Folk festival then lo and behold I end up playing with Seth Lakeman and subsequently on tour with his band and then the Levellers and foreign stuff!
On a more personal note, a big change saw me leave the wonderful Northeast after six eventful years. My fondness for the region will never cease and the number of brilliant people I met there is…er…a big one. The time had come for me to go – the wonderful thing about Newcastle is however welcoming and friendly it is, it belongs to Geordies. That’s what makes it special and I had come to realise that I was still an impressed visitor not a resident. What with that, friends leaving and a ridiculous amount of travelling and living out of a suitcase the Midlands seemed a good idea! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being back in my hometown but I do undeniably miss Newcastle and a special shout out must go to the folkies for such a wonderful scene of sessions and gigs and of course Simma for all the brilliant covers gigs. A great place and I do miss it, but I think it was the right thing to leave.
Of course this year spelled the end of Walsh and Pound. I have to say I was ready for it after three pretty intensive years where much of my work was tied up with the Pound. We made, I think, some great music and both of us got onto the map so to speak and for that I will always be grateful. Working in a duo is not an easy thing to do, however, and both of us were more than ready to pack it in. Thanks to all those who helped us achieve what we did and came to see us and I’m sorry the second album never came out, but I really don’t think we had a better album than the first in us.
Next year sees some exciting times ahead. India, Germany and Ireland are to be introduced to my banjo which I’m very excited about and plans are afoot for one more new country to see it next year too but I’ll have to keep you posted on that. A busy Spring is falling into place with more to follow and then festival season and some more work at the end of the year too. The solo thing is something I’ve missed after so much duo work so it will be nice to get back to that and hopefully get the band out a wee bit more too. Playing with the legendary Alistair Anderson was also incredible last year and I’m looking forward to more of that. Other plans are also afoot so we’ll see what happens but it’s been good to refresh musically, write some new stuff and start collaborating with others again.
Before I do the annual silly countdowns, it’s also important for me to say this. I bloody hope that those around me have a bit more luck next year! One of the reasons 2012 was a bit crap, was it seemed every important person in my life was struck down by bad luck. For obvious reasons I can’t name them here, but I really do wish everyone a better 2013 and hope that life deals you a slightly kinder hand.
Right ho then the best gigs of the year:
20) Bulls Head, Chelmarsh
What a find! Looking forward to more here in future.
19) Swaledale Festival
…in Reeth…at 11pm…unusual but a lot of fun!
18) Warwick Arts Centre
…in Coventry. Great night.
17) Priddy Folk Festival
Muddy but welly-tastic fun.
16) Big Session
Brilliant festival and a very fun gig although disappointed there was no drum riser to jump off this time…
15) Burnham Folkfest
Enjoyed my gig on a truck…
14) Black Swan Folk Club, York
A hilarious night, particularly discussing one unfortunate man’s bladder habits…
13) Railway, Norton Bridge
Always a favourite and this was a much needed favourite after a ruddy awful gig the night before…
12) Ritz, Burnham
Wonderful to perform with Miss Andropolis again, really enjoyed it.
11) Gala Theatre, Durham
One of the best solo gigs of the year, really enjoyed this one.
10) Ram Folk Club, Thames Ditton
One of the best folk clubs in the country and I even got a birthday cake!
9) Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford
I bloody love my town, great duo gig.
8) Reeth Memorial Hall
A fantastic night playing with the legend that is Alistair Anderson. (I accidentally said f**king beautiful after he did a solo!)
7) Solfest, Somewhere-in-Cumbria
Maybe my favourite festival, love it!
6) Cecil Sharp House, London
A great way to see off the duo and Cormac Byrne and Lee Sankey to boot!
5) Corner House, Newcastle
A rather more chaotic night than it needed, but great to launch the album with the band.
4) Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club
A wonderful club and this was a lovely gig.
3) Joxers, Stafford
Always the best, my birthday gig gets my vote.
2) Philarmonic Hall, Liverpool
The best Walsh and Pound gig ever!
1) Alehouse, Stafford
This was a fantastic night. God I love Stafford!
Top 5 Walsh travel nightmares:
5) Breaking down on the m5 and playing the banjo
4) Train cancelled because of ‘really hot wheels’
3) Basingstoke multi-storey car park
2) The parking ticket machine…in cement
1) The Eastleigh taxi saga
Top 5 spanner moments:
5) Leaving my tuner, CD’s and instrument stand behind after my first gig with Seth Lakeman
4) Almost knocking out a member of the Levellers with my banjo
3) The pasta salad incident
2) My PA attacking people in Northampton
1) Walking in on a classical concert looking for Seth Lakeman
Top 5 quotes:
5) ‘You’re the one who’s had six affairs’, ‘I know but…’
4) ‘Well how about when you sat on the radiator and it fell off’
3) ‘Is it too late to be aborted’
2) ‘There was some excitement last week, someone was carted off in an ambulance’
1) ‘Can you watch my s**t while I go to the loo?’
Have a great 2013 everyone!