No I don’t want to play you a tune…

Dear all,

Greetings from North Wales where I write to you from the ever classy Wetherspoons. Don’t judge me, it has wifi and most of North Wales doesn’t it seems! It does a job that’s all I can say and one of the great things is I don’t feel guilty about staying for ages and only having a couple of cups of tea!

Anyway, it’s been a slightly less hectic time since I got back from India. Well sort of…straight after India I was into a crazy few days with gigs in Leek and London with the UFQ, the latter of which was great craic particularly and then it was on up north to Huddersfield to play for the first time at the annual event organised by Eagle Music and Deering Banjos. Finally then I was able to settle down for a bit of much needed rest with only some teaching and admin catch up right up until November 5th when UFQ played a blinking freezing Bromsgrove Fireworks Night! It was fun though and the audience liked us but my god it was cold.

Next up it was down to Kenilworth in Warwickshire to play and lead a workshop at the National Care Forum conference. As many of you know, music in care homes is something I feel very strongly about and thanks to Live Music Now I’ve been able to do it quite a lot and even abroad I managed to do it in Canada and New Zealand.

Then came a trip to London to see…PAUL SIMON! I didn’t actually mean to press caps lock there but it probably reflects my feelings about it rather well. Back when I was just three I used to lie next to a tape player and listen to Paul Simon’s Graceland album virtually on loop. I loved it then and I love it still. It is a peerless masterpiece of an album and of course both solo and in his duo with Art Garfunkel he has written seemingly endless supplies of superb music all delivered in that instantly recognisable and charismatic voice. I got to see him a few years ago as followers of this blog may remember when he performed the Graceland album in full along with the original Graceland band. That was a momentous day for me but on this occasion he was even better. His voice was in astonishing fettle – you would never believe he was nearly 75. He sounded, and I say this with no exaggeration, as good as ever and the setlist was a thrilling tour through the many varied stages of his career including some excellent new songs. The man is a genius and I was nearly in tears more than once! A special night that’s for sure.

I was therefore in a position to make my bandmates in UFQ extremely jealous as we embarked on a two gig trip to France firstly in a sold out theatre in Valognes and then a big festival gig an hour or so away which was a real thrill with some seriously impressive lighting! We got back on Saturday so I spent a rare Saturday at home before heading to Wales on Sunday and here I am. I’ve been working in a fabulous school yesterday, today and tomorrow with children with a variety of special needs but who are so wonderful to play music for and getting them all involved is so much fun! Really not a bad way to spend my time…

Just want to say I send my very best to my friends out in New Zealand in the earthquake zone. It broke my heart to see Kaikoura, a place I spent two nights in back in February, looking as damaged as it did. Today I saw a facebook status from one of my Kiwi friends ‘if anyone is stuck around here for a few nights you’re more than welcome here’. That just about sums up why I love that place so much.

Finally, one of the biggest pains in the whatnot about being a musician is the expectation amongst seemingly the majority of people that I want to play music ALL THE TIME and that carrying an instrument means I am actively seeking attention. Well here is a message – neither is true! On the tube recently a man asked me if I was going to play a tune and then laughed hysterically. You’ve seen tubes right? You know those tubey trains that are always colossally crowded so you can barely move your arse without inadvertently assaulting someone? Just how exactly am I supposed to get an instrument out if its case and play you a blinking tune? And what exactly is the joke behind ‘play us a tune’? I’ve never understood that one. Is the sight of a man carrying two instruments really so exhilarating that you can’t stop yourself from uttering a remark? Ah. Maybe it is.