UFQ-tastic November

Dear all,

Well we have reached the end of November so that…er…calls for a blog. What a month it has been! The Urban Folk Quartet tour was manic, tiring but utterly wonderful and I shall more on that as we go. To bring you up to speed…

First after my last blog was a jolly trip up to Hexham to record some banjo on an album of Scottish ragtime music. No really. Thanks to Vic Gammon for asking me! We had a good time chewing the fat about the English folk scene, all things good and bad. Then it was off to my folks for a weekend which is an all too rare pleasure owing to my silly schedule so that was really really lovely. Good old family!

Then UFQ happenings gathered pace as we headed to Ormskirk, Doncaster and Nottingham in quick succession and all three were good fun but special mention goes to the last one – Poppy Folk Club was absolutely wonderful and a sell out to boot. It was also in my view a shining example of how to run a folk club. A fuller blog definitely awaits on this topic so I’ll just leave it at that for now – Poppy Folk Club is marvellous!

Next up it was down south to Dartford for a gig at Dartford Folk Club and it was nice to be joined by more family as an uncle, aunt and cousin came along unexpectedly! Then it was to Denmark. Denmark in November is quite cold. No really. Anyway, the first gig was in a lovely little quirky music pub in Tonder where we played a lively set and then had some great drinks and laughs with the locals well into the night before I made one of the stranger discoveries of my life. We popped into a local pizza takeaway in the early hours and I ordered the ‘Manchester’ pizza purely because I’d never heard of it and it was so ridiculously wrong in its makeup: Kebab meat, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, cheese and god knows what else. It was rather good if wrong. The next gig was in a large hall to some lovely people and then we got up at ungodly o’clock the next day to embark on just about the scariest drive of our lives in the snow and wind to get to the airport on time to head back home.

Then it was a few days of teaching and Live Music Now-ing in Wales. I am in fact writing to you from Wales at this moment as it happens. I’m doing a great songwriting and filming project in a school for kids with behavioural difficulties which is proving a lot of fun! It means a long drive to South Wales once a week but all worth it.

Then back to UFQ action in Baston at a thriving series of gigs which are literally all sold out for the next six months! We had a great time there too and great to see a folk series thriving again. That blog will come soon…then to bring us up to date a few more local gigs. Firstly it was very local – Chebsey Village Hall about 20 minutes from my house! I stayed with Andrea and Paul afterwards which was the usual fest of cheese, whisky and music listening. What could be better I ask you? Then Saturday night was a little further north, up to the peaks and Alstonefield Village Hall which was a brilliant gig with a lovely crowd despite the equipment malfunctioning at regular intervals. The moment that particularly springs to mind is the mic stand that unexpectedly collapsed and fell immaculately between Joe’s mandolin and fiddle. A bit of a tense moment it’s fair to say…Then finally it was to Worcester last night at St Swithuns for an absolutely brilliant night.

At the risk of being sentimental, I really do love my band. It’s no secret that at the back end of 2012 I was at something of a crossroad in my musical life with the end of Walsh and Pound and a bit of a loss in musical mojo. I made a big go of the solo thing and I’m so glad that that has paid off and I’ve been touring like a mad man in my own right, something that has always been immensely important to me. But I knew I wanted to have another project on the go too and I could not have asked for a better one than UFQ. The day I got a message from them asking if I’d be interested in replacing the departing Frank Moon remains a great memory and those early days of writing new material together and first getting out and touring it were just indescribable. Best of all though, I am still as excited about it now as I was then and all three are very special people. Onwards and upwards, a brand new set will be out next year.