Thursday, 25 December 2014

have a GOOD one

winter sky

As 20014 draws to a close I think I will be pleased to see 2015. I have been ill for the past two weeks and so the things I planned to do such as some writing and preparation for the new year were put on hold. I haven't felt so rough for a long time. Today is the first time I have felt like doing a few things and lying in bed half the day gets a bit tedious once it feels enforced. Any way onwards and upwards after all,  it is Christmas eve. 
For most of you I guess this is still a big deal.  Most of you that read my stuff here will know I have turned my back on what I call Free Market Christmas or it has turned it's back on me and so I won't go on about it here and now.

I have had a wonderful year artistically. The diversity of gigs has never been so marked. From Sheerness on sea, on the south coast of the UK to the far flung northern regions of my beloved Norway.  I have to thank so many people for the good times that I won't make a list here. You know who you are and I hope we will re connect in 2015. I had a couple of inviting offers for December but I'd had enough and post touring commitments were already in the way of doing December shows. Still folks there is 2015 so if you want to book me for a public or private show you know where I am.  

I suppose it is always difficult to pick the artistic high light of any year but if pushed I would have to say from a musical, performance perspective I would choose the Saturday concert at Galleri, Alta in Norway.  If I had to choose the show that provided the best feeling it would be a contest between the private show for Tim  in Flitwick UK and the show Our Daily Bread in Upholland UK.............

............... It is now Christmas day so I hope you are all enjoying the day however you are spending it. I am chilling and feeling a little recovered from the cold I have had. The sun is shining here in the great metropolis and there is no sign of snow.  I am hoping to get out on the bike over the coming days so if you should  see me please don't laugh. I will be the big guy on the Bianchi gasping, cursing and bemoaning the fact that I should have done this sooner.  I have new year resolutions as always. There is a difference this year though. It is vital to me that now, some of the resolutions have to be kept. This is dictated by time passing and targets still unattained.  So much to be done eh? If you find yourself with time on your hands, over the holiday, have a look at the current crop of 38 DEGREES petitions and campaigns. The viability of the electronic vote is stealthily creeping up on the outmoded form of electoral participation we currently employ.

There are plans afoot for the new year and there will be at least one guaranteed, major surprise. I will keep you posted as to what is coming as soon as I know. Mean while I wish you all the best things. Look out for the most needy and lets do it all again and more in 2015. 


Friday, 14 November 2014

So ........

sheerness on sea

So it is time to reach out to you with a new post.  So you will notice my repeated use of the word "so" at the beginning of the sentences. The word has begun to appear at the beginning of peoples answers during media interviews like a linguistic, low level virus.  Have you noticed this strange trend?  I believe that until recently the word "so" was mostly used in the following way. "My mind is made up so, I will make the announcement right now".  The new usage works like this.
Question - "What is the likelihood that the deficit targets will be reached as planned"?  Answer  "So it is believed by most experts that targets will not be reached".  Do  I find this irritating?  So I may get used to it in time but why?  Senior grumpy moment over.

Years ago when the EBB was playing gigs on an almost  constant daily basis, we would suddenly find that over a month or so we would be travelling a specific road / route on three or more occasions.  It was not as though these gigs were carefully planned to make our lives easier. Far from it. The zig zagging we endured was seemingly, of little concern to those who booked the gigs for the band. We would travel the same road for seemingly random reasons and then we might not travel it again for half a year or more.  Coincidence.  As I just typed the word a film critic on BBC  Radio 5 said the word coincidence.  It happens to me frequently. How about you? Is there a difference between one kind of coincidence and any other in so far as some things occur in sync and others are random / accidental.   I ask this because the process  of making Our daily Bread in the the church  in Upholland  lead me to meeting the Rev Hilary Hanke, a lovely woman who impressed me with her calm assuredness and clear purpose. This meeting and subsequent events has lead to only good things and continues to evolve as an ongoing process.  So, was it a coincidence or some kind of synchronicity that the next gig was a gig for the Rev Ken George in the form of a FDPFAFDW at his home in Sheerness on sea?  Ken is the chaplain in a local prison. I flow along with all antennae extended these days. I am on full listening and watching mode and my mind is wide open. I am fascinated by the path I'm on. Never a dull moment because I never know which connection will lead to what.

 enjoying the post gig chat

I was warmly greeted by all at the George household and soon relaxed before the show. Ken and Gill have a long dining lounge which was soon converted with an array of chairs that gave it the  look and feel of a very small theatre. Very cool! A wonderful selection of buffet food was on offer and as is usual at these gigs, most people attending work with people in some way.  What an eclectic and interesting bunch they were. The young people attending are always of particular interest to me and they were  lovely. I  like to listen to the chatter and I can usually learn enough to gauge what might work in my performance. I knew my stories would strike a chord with this audience and they did. They were one of the most attentive and appreciative of all my FDPFAFDW audiences. 

part of the original art work for Ken and Jill's gig "in the front room"

I could run through the list of songs but I played everything I wanted to play. Well almost. I always seem to leave something out that I had planned to play and on this occasion it was the song On the news.  A pity because I think it would have been well received.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the time flew by.  A few cognacs later I was happily chatting with folk and finding out all sorts of very interesting stuff. I was chatting with a guy who told me that the old guy in Kings Lyn I sing about in the song Beggar Man is a well known character. It is a small world these days and full of coincidence and there was more to come.  Later I was telling Ken that during the most recent conversation with my roadie John, I had mentioned that I thought it was time to reach out in 2015 trying to do something special and different. I guess this came out of our work on the Upholland gig for The Brick homeless project in Wigan. I suggested a prison gig or two. There has been a plan to play a secure hospital in the pipe line and we were both interested in putting together a string of off the wall, useful shows. Ken smiled and told me that a senior prison officer had been at the show and had asked Ken if it might be possible I would want to do a gig in the prison.

After a good sleep in a local hotel ken picked me up for breakfast and that was very welcome. We had chance to chat some more before it was time to leave. Ken very kindly drove me to Rochester with two of his friends who were travelling north via London. This saved us from a couple Sunday Service bus rides. I dozed for most of the journey back to London and was soon back home.
Gill, yours truly and Ken

I'd had a great time in Sheerness. I usually have a great time on the road but there was some thing about this trip that left me with the feeling that this would be a story not yet complete. At home I turned on my computer to check a few things in the diary and a letter arrived. It was connected with the secure hospital gig under discussion. It had been months since there had been communication on the matter.  A day or so later Ken emailed me to say the gig in the prison was under discussion. So, what is going on? So it is a case of coincidence or synchronicity and I am not sure which.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

in upholland

pic Bev Edwards

Final preparations for the concert in the church at Upholland were coming to a close by Thursday evening. My rehearsal with the St Thomas the Martyr church choir for their chorus parts on the song Our Daily Bread was a fairly short affair. I had sent them an MP3 of the song and they were soon singing the song. I really enjoyed this at the end of what was a long day. The rehearsal with Ella and Brenda for my improvised yoik piece was even shorter. We had quickly reached a stage where it seemed that we should leave refining any thing and yoik some thing on the night. I think the concept was understood and so we left it there. 
The day had seen our electrician Ken fix the church chandelier and test all the electrical gear. Other lighting was minimal and a few spots supplied by Richard Hart, our sound engineer, fitted in nicely. I wanted the interior of church to be seen and enjoyed rather than fill the stage area with flashing lights and other rock props. So many people worked hard through out the day and we managed to sound check a couple of the local artistes who dropped by to check out the church and the stage set up.
Friday saw me in church after lunch. Luke was first to arrive by train. Arthur arrived soon after and we got his bass sorted while we waited for Steve, Rik who was to record the show and Ramblin', my mate Dave Randell who was driving them from London and who would be taking photos on the night.
Soon every one was sound checked. The stage was set and the die cast.
So many people had worked hard for this and many hours of preparation had gone into the planning and execution of the various aspects of promoting and rehearsing for a show like this.
By eight oclock on Friday evening the church was nicely filled. Ian, who had supported the project from it's early days, started the evening with a cool compere style and he kept the show moving along nicely between acts through out the evening. There was an expectant atmosphere as the concert began with Leah Wallis. Leah is a fourteen year old singer who opened the show with a lovely version of the show song I had a dream. 

pic Dave Randell

As I listened to Leah's vocal soaring around the stone walls of the church, I began to relax and enjoy the wonderful acoustics of this very beautiful place. Her choice of song seemed a perfect opener as a dream was where it had all began. I stood at the back of the church with Arth and Steve and I admit to feeling a little proud of what we were doing and that all the voluntary work by so many was coming to fruition.

pic Dave Randell

Next up was Joe Kirkbride who performed a song of his own. Every one had tried to choose a song that would fit with the theme of Our Daily Bread and the ethos of the event. Joe's song was about being down and the support of a friend. My son Luke remarked how Joe had all the traits of the north western approach to song writing. It is easy to see why so many great song smiths have emerged from the north west.
Next on stage was young Sam Birchall who is thirteen years old.

pic Dave Randell

He played Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles as an instrumental on acoustic guitar. It was a real treat and like all of the young ones on the bill he will go far. Sam stayed on stage to accompany Olivia Garcia as she sang Imagine by John Lennon. 

pic Dave Randell

I was becoming quite emotional as I watched the thing I had imagined take shape. It was a lovely rendition and as they did for every act, the audience burst into delighted applause as the song ended.

pic Dave Randell

Next we had Acoustic Routes. A lovely family act that have the trad folk sound down. Mandolin, acoustic guitar and four sweet voices. Celtic sounding and pure. What a great way to pause on the journey before the next phase!
So it was time for your's truly to take to the stage and the audience gave me a very warm welcome. It was all coming together. I knew we had sold enough tickets to give The BRICK a nice sum for their coffers and with the contribution from Mike and Julie at The White Lion via the barbecue and beer sales, now it was all about the music.
I played five songs and then Brenda and Ella from the church choir came on to help me perform our experimental yoik. No words just sound and vibes. This was so good! It just came together in a moment and there we were, out there some where new. I know for many in the audience, the yoik was a high light of the evening as it was for me. My good friend Jarle who came from Stavanger in Norway to see the gig, said that I was beginning to sound like a Sami. Praise indeed.
There was an interval of half an hour while people got a drink and some barbecue from the White Lion. The church bells, silent during the first half of the concert, pealed to announce the second half.
Hilary Hanke, the vicar, spoke about the event and how it had developed and then Louise from The BRICK homeless project, spoke about the project and thanked every one for their good work.

pic Bev Edwards

Next up was my son Luke. He performed three of his own songs in his very distinctive style and that all went down very well. He has a lovely song that brings me to tears. It did at the sound check but I kept it together during the show.
So next was me, again. I sang a relatively new song On the news which is about that little black girl who stares out of the Oxfam, et al, adverts for aid. Of course it isn't necessarily the same child but it could be and I am sick and tired of seeing her sweet little face, so sad.

pic Bev Edwards

pic Bev Edwards

After this Arth and Steve took to the stage and we played a selection of old and new songs. It was so good to have the guys with me again. All of the rehearsing and planning had achieved it's aim and we were all very happy to be there. I had written the song Our Daily Bread for the show and the church choir joined us for the choruses. What a nice noise that was!
pic Bev Edwards

A rousing Poppy was the encore and then it was over. Wonderful!
Special thanks to Hilary and Ian and Richard, Sue and Mike and Julie, the Totally Wicked shop, Dean for his wonderful art work, Clusky for his special vibes, Ken for his electrical supervision, all of the church community who supported and worked for the event, Winstanley College for filming the event and my special thanks to Val and John Bradshaw who look after me and work hard to support my dream. If I have left any one out then I am sorry.
So it was back to John and Val's for the apres gig party and some top snacks. Apparently our audience had cleaned out the barbecue stocks and no one thought to save us any ha ha! Actually Val had a back up plan, as always,  and we all tucked in. It was very nice to have every one together and we all sat up very late enjoying the company. The drink flowed and eventually it was time to retire after what had been a momentous day. It was great to see old friends at the gig and many folk for whom I had performed FDPFAFDW shows.
Onwards and upwards. It looks like there will be spin off events from this and I like that. Thanks to all who supported OUR DAILY BREAD. I hope this event will be the first in a series and a sign post to other fund raising events in churches, by the people.


Friday, 19 September 2014

music in my head

photo by Bev Edwards

It was near dark on the Suffolk Stour when the big momma pike took my little jerk bait. A ten minute struggle ensued and this fine fish was on the landing mat and then quickly back in the depths of the weir pool from where she had come. I can hear a choir in my head as I stand shaking at the waters edge. They are singing the chorus to Our Daily Bread, the theme song for our show in Upholland. Yes I do hear music in my head some times and yes it might be part of a dysfunctional cerebral process. Milliband drones on about what the Westminster gang will do as a response to nearly losing Scotland in the Scotland referendum. Sounds like a very poorly programmed replicant/droid chewing marbles. The lights go out on pathway 5 but a light goes on in the mind of a teacher coming to terms with needs of a beautiful boy child with autism. My great friend sends Reiki vibes to the poorly and poorly serviced and I can feel the waves that touch my need. 
An Irish road builder once told me – Life is hard if you don't weaken. So I acquiesce, I give in to the ministrations of an ex national and European Karate champion as she works her magic osteopathy on my aching body. Life is good and I am ready. I know that some thing special is about to happen. Though I do not know the nature of it, I know it is a good thing. 
I was sleeping in a Yurt some nights ago. It was wonderful. I closed my eyes and drifted off to the Mongolian Tundra where I watched a man string a bow against the curve he had fashioned to double it's power. He is a warrior who before a battle would be given a clean pure silk shirt to wear. A barbed arrow piercing his leather armour would be wrapped in the silk and easily removed from the wound. The Yurt is hot like a sauna as the wood burning stove shows off. A little less wood next time I think.
In a real world department of the Instantainium a little girl rolls across “the Lilly Pad” wrapped in its warm and soft fold as it moves to accommodate her every movement. As she stretches and flexes soft lights are triggered and sweet ambient music follows her efforts to gain control of her body. She is learning to make happen what to others comes as a package with their body, software ready to go, and is mostly taken for granted. My new friend Tim looks on smiling. He gets it.The little girl makes joyous sounds like angels breath as she develops her own path ways to personal achievement.
Some where a little sickly roach is making a lot of noise as it tries to turn itself the right way up. Shhh! Says the little girl. The big momma pike has already heard the pathetic splish sploshing and the little fish disappears behind seventy backwards facing teeth. The little girl gets it and she joins in with the pike's after dinner sing song.
Over the past days bits of songs come in small mini sets. They all sound similar and I like the consistency. Each drafted lyric calls me to make it count. We'll turn the lights on. We know right from wrong. No one is stronger than we. I have renewed and increasing faith in what we can do together and this will be demonstrated to the max in the church in Upholland on the 3rd of October. Time is at the gallop and the next week or so will see the last couple of rehearsals for myself and the guys. All will be revealed in Our Daily Bread. 

I hope you can be there. I have decided to keep some “walk up” tickets back for those unable or unwilling to buy on line and those who don't live in the Wigan area. These will be available at the church.
I can hear the choir again. In the choir there is a Russian speaking Polish woman and we shall duet in new language and we shall sweet noise make for pikey, Tim, the little girl and all.


Friday, 12 September 2014

at Tim's party

Galadriel - Tim - your's truly

People ask me for impossible things sometimes and sometimes I tell people that some thing I don't want to do is impossible. A little bit naughty but better to do that than to offend. Some time ago Galadriel Potter asked me to play a FDPFAFDW gig for Tim. Tim has MS. He has been a fan since about 1998 when a friend turned him on to the EBB. I agreed a token fee of a 50p 2014 piece with Galadriel. She gave me a one pound 2014 coin which meant my fee doubled. This was a win, win evening so that fitted perfectly. 
Galadriel told me her plan was that I would be the surprise guest for Tim's birthday party. I arrived on time, some how that seemed very important. I was lead to the garden where Tim was seated in his wheelchair holding court with the assembled guests. Unfortunately Tim's illness is quite advanced and yet he is so alive and engaging. He struggles to talk at times but we were able to have a good old chat about lots of things early on. Tim's smiles like an angel and has a power that is hard to describe. This is clearly a man who knows how to make what he can of what he has and he is full of life. Awe inspiring and I say this with out reservation.

Galadriel used to be married to Tim. She has her own health issues as many of us do but she is also some one who fights the good fight with what she has. Her request to me could not be ignored and I can honestly say the evening with Tim and Galadriel, his carer and friends and family was a delight. If I ever need affirmation that my time on this planet has been useful then this evening was it. I feel where ever my travels through life might have taken me this was always going to happen.I would not have missed meeting and playing for Tim for any thing and I would have traded any one of many special happy days to play this gig.

Tim used to play guitar and so when I began to play and sing for him he listened intently and watched my fingers with interest. I was seated opposite to where Tim sat and every one else had to sit or stand where they could. Every one clapped politely and enthusiastically but the little show was for Tim. Between songs Tim asked lots of questions and I learned a lot about where he was coming from, where he had been and that there was a time when the massive sound of an over amplified guitar was one of his great delights. He asked me about the new songs and told me one of his favourite old songs is Poppy so I sang it for him and he sang along. It terrifies me sometimes when it occurs to me that some folk know some of my songs better than me so I tried very hard to get it right. I do make mistakes and sure enough I made small error ( lol) while Tim sang the correct line. I can't tell you how good it felt to play for Tim and to see how much difference it made to him that I was there. If I could do this every day that would be my new job.

With a journey to make it was time to leave. I was aware that Tim needed to rest and get organised for the night and I didn't want him to overdo things. Better to be safe than sorry etc. I had a very special time with Tim. He is a brother now and I wish him well and hope that he gets to have what he can have while he can. I know he is well supported and that is so good to see.

So Tim it was a privilege to meet you and your people. I had a lovely time and you taught me lots. You are an inspiration and it was an honour to be asked to play for you. This brings me to the woman who made it happen. Thank you Galadriel for inviting me and good luck with all your ventures. I expect we will be in contact from time to time. Keep me posted on Tim's life and adventures and bless you all.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

our daily bread update

Sometimes  a community  has  to  act  in  a  unified way  to  achieve  essential  solutions which  will  not  be  achieved  by other means.  

Our Daily Bread is as much about facilitating a community coming together to help others as it is about a concert.

Finally all of the preliminary stuff is set for the gig in Upholland on Friday 3rd October 2014. More info at > 

I hope the web site will continue as a tool for similar adventures and community initiatives.

Tickets will be available from WE GOT TICKETS from Monday 1st September 


I could be your older brother
would you like to stroke my dog
I'm hiding here inside a door way
trying to believe in God
can I lie here
rest my aching head
give me protection
give us our daily bread

can I stay here
just for a little while
please give me shelter
give me a lovely smile
show me respect please
or I might as well be dead
lead me to salvation
give us our daily bread


we'll turn the lights on
we know right from wrong
no one is stronger than we
we'll turn the lights on
we know right from wrong
no one is stronger than we

see me standing on a corner
it's lonely after dark
I have tried I really have
but I am sleeping in the park
I don't complain it hurts too much
never dry or warm or fed
give me resurrection
give us our daily bread


Friday, 22 August 2014


Paraschiv Tony, myself and Trude giving it max after the show

What can I say about the trip that took me the furthest north I have ever been?  It is difficult to sum up the good times I had there with some of the loveliest folk I have met since I embarked on touring my solo show.
It is a two hour flight to Oslo with a two hour flight from there to Alta which nestles between the mountains and fjords.  The problem is the four hour wait between flights. The scenery during flight from Oslo to Alta is stunning. You would be hard pushed to find wilderness like it anywhere in Europe.
I was met at the airport by Tjere Ramstad who runs the club Galleri. I liked him immediately and soon I discovered why. This is a man committed to providing quality entertainment in Alta and he has a vast knowledge and understanding of the music of our times. He has a large command of the English language and so the discussions and debates began.

This is the  Lappish zone. The Sami live a short distance away. The light is wonderful with little darkness but it was much cooler than I thought it would be. The population of Alta is around 20.000 and it is a big town by local standards.  By coincidence the Arctic Tour bike race, which I usually watch on TV, came through town but I opted to hang out and rehearse bits of songs I planned to play for the first time in a long time.
I have to thank so many people for their kindness but it was Trude and Per Rane who welcomed me in their home first and where I stayed, except for one night after the Saturday show when I stayed very late at the club.  Per Rane plays a mean blues harmonica and Trude has a very sweet fragile singing voice. Per Rane's Halibut soup was northern gourmet food of the highest order. I like to eat any kind of sea food and though this kind of fresh fish meal is probably usual fare for the locals in Alta, to me  this was very special. Reindeer was also on offer and that was also a special treat.

On the Friday I went down to the club Galleri for a sound check and saw the town for the first time.  The whole place built mostly with wood was burned to the ground by the occupying German troops in World War two. People were forced from their homes and ordered to travel south. Consequently the town is modern and not to the taste of many locals I spoke with. Personally I like it. It has a functional quality and is laid out much like I imagine a colony on the moon might be. 
This is the place where the German battle ship Tirpitz was sunk in a nearby fjiord.  If you are interested in modern history check out 

The club Galleri is in the central part of town where my shows were part of a large festival taking place right in the town centre. Several stages with large PA systems were pumping out all kinds of music all day long and into the night.
As I walked into the club for the first time I was met by Daniel the club doorman with the warmest greeting and handshake. Daniel is a wise man from Nigeria and the kind of guy you would definitely make room for in your lifeboat. ( regular readers will know what I mean). later I watched Daniel deal with difficult customers. He had a kind and considerate approach but it was clear he would be very able to deal with anyone who was unable to get his clear message.

Two really nice guys, singer / guitarist Kurt Ivar Strom and Bjorn Hagerupsen on bass, were my support act. Kurt Ivar is legendary in these parts for, among other things, being the man most responsible for evangelising on the EBB back in the day. He played EBB material and turned a lot of people on to our songs. Evening over rooftops is like a national anthem in this area of Norway. I can't tell you how many people said it was their favourite all time song. It gives me a warm feeling to know that we were so much a part of people's lives and for such a long time.

The club was packed when the guys hit the stage at around mid night. The crowd were very drunk for the most part and very noisy. The guys ran through their set of well chosen covers. It went quite well considering no one was really listening. To make matters worse the pa system was not working well and I struggled at times. There was no point in my usual story telling. Eventually I got to what I later called " THE SONG" and played Evening over rooftops. Job done after a fashion. Some of us stayed late after the Friday show and Tony who works in the club decided to sing some karaoke followed by Trude.  I joined in with some backing vocals and then Trude and I performed some yoik together. I loved that duet as much as anything during my time in Alta and we did a repeat performance for friends back at Per Rane's and Trude's house, very late in the night. Outside the sun shone dimly through the gloom in the mountains that signalled a change in the weather and the coming of a long winter.

I prayed the following evenings concert would not be a repeat performance of Friday. I had come a long way to show off my stuff so I hoped for better on Saturday. Terje got a couple of PA guys to look at things next day and soon everything sounded fine. Marcela, lovely wife of Terje, buzzed around looking after every one and soon it was time to roll.
We played earlier than on Friday. Kurt Ivar and Bjorn played a cracking set. Kurt Ivar manages to choose songs to cover that really suit his voice and so he makes the songs his own, almost as if he had written them. They rocked. Great!

I was soon having a great time on stage. People listened to my songs and stories and it all went well.  They were a lovely audience and they made the gig special. I finished with " THE SONG " (EORT) played my little outro, a variation on my intro, and that was that. I left the stage with the sound of the crowd ringing in my ears. What a great night!  I hung around for a long time after chatting and drinking copious amounts of cognac, filled with good energy and high as a kite. It was very late and time to go. I was offered a bed for the night with Roar and Mary Ann Olsen. They live in a beautiful wooden house by the fjord.  Mary Ann is a very talented painter from the Philippines and has her work exhibited in the club Galleri where she works behind the bar with Tony from Romania  and Anastasia from Russia. This is an international family. I was so surprised when Roar offered to buy one of his wife's paintings for me. I was very touched by this and I look forward to it arriving here. thank you so much for that guys.
Mary Ann's work was evident in the room I slept in where her organic decorating work on the walls was still a work in progress. I woke to a a very welcome breakfast of noodles and eggs and a view of the fjord to die for. It was a beautiful sunny day. 

Later that day Terje, Marcela and Toni took me to friends where "Grill Master" Paraschiv Tony  made splendid barbecue. It was another very nice evening with lots of happy chatter and warm hospitality.
Next day it was departure day. It is always good to come home to the UK but I really felt a little sadness when leaving Terje at the airport to check in. The good thing is that we have plans for the future and so I am sure we shall all get together again one day soon.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip so very special for me - Terje and Marcela Ramstad, Per Rane Moland and Trude, Brita ,Ole Anton, Roar and Mary Ann Olsen, HÃ¥kon Johansen Tom Tangen, Hallgeir and Bente, Rita Heitmann  and Rolf Erik,  Paraschiv Tony, Daniel and Anastasia.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

our daily bread latest

Any one who has hosted a FDPFAFDW event can apply directly to 
for tickets for the show below. 
Tickets are £15-00.
First come, first served, first supper :)

T I C K E T     O U T L E T S     T O    B E    A N N O U N C E D   S O O N 


See the report on Friday from Galleri , Alta in the land of the midnight sun.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

for Heinz

I had met up with Walter some months ago at the house of my friends Val and John, who is also my road manager. Walter Kohl is a writer from Austria and a fan. We talked about collaborating on a book based on my songs, writing and his teenage memories back in the day and other things. We also talked about an idea I have for a project I call The Definative Interview.We hit it off together straight away and I felt very positive about things. We began to work out how these projects could be developed and we agreed to meet at a later date when we would have given the ideas some more thought. Later Walter invited me to go to Austria to play a FDPFAFDW party for his brothers birthday and to undertake some interviews with him towards work on the book. 

Walter and Christiane mein hosts

I arrived at Vienna airport where I was met by Walter and his daughter Isolde. We drove for a couple of hours to Linz where we dropped Isolde off at her home in the city. Linz has a heavy industrial area on the edge of town. It is not a pretty sight but then the huge of footprint of steel works and chemical industries never is, where ever it is. The centre of Linz is very beautiful and the city has had  a significant role in ancient and modern history. Thirty or so kilometres from Linz is where Walter and Christiane live high up in in the wooded hills. The road up to their place and the descent down to the main road is both a cyclist dream and nightmare, depending on the weather. By the time we had passed up and down this road a couple of times I knew it well. 
The Kohl's house a timber and glass construction on the side of a hill. Christiane designed most of it and it is a very spacious, inviting place with lovely vibes. The art that decorates the place and the many interesting objects make it a very unusual and special environment. At night it is quiet with out any sound. In the sun butterflies and insects of many varieties fill the air with their buzzing and in the evening the cicadas fill the air with their distinctive sound. One afternoon a young deer came by to have a look around. I thought of the deer that came to visit me while I was fishing in Larvik on my last trip to Norway. Perhaps this my deer spirit and has followed me always. I like the idea, reminiscent of Native American beliefs around animals.
I slept well after my journey to Austria and collected a few insect bites during my unconscious hours. I rose quite late, as I generally do on the day of a gig and still there was time to relax and prepare my head for things to come. This wasn't difficult. The atmosphere in the house is calm and very relaxing and the conversation invigorating around the widest ranging topics. Some how it always came back to some kind of alternative way of looking at and perceiving this world of ours or tales of our lives, shared as comrades and friends. I felt so at home here already.

a very surprised Heinz when we all turned up to party

The birthday party for Walter's brother was a complete surprise. When we all tuned up with old friends of Walter's he was visibly surprised and delighted. A barbecue was in progress and a large tent erected for guests. The second Kohl house was as beautiful as Walter and Christiane's house in a different way. I signed some albums for Heinz. He had every thing the EBB recorded. After this he took me on a guided tour of his lovely garden with it's standing stones and swimming pond, not a pool but a natural looking pond with lilies and other flora you would see around a pond in the wild. It was all very impressive and the view across the valley was lovely as the sun slowly began to dip over the hills beyond.
The barbecue was superb. Not having a garden this is always a welcome meal for me. I was careful not to eat too much before my set. It does have a slightly detrimental effect some how.

a chat with Heinz about evening over roof tops

time to sing

I had selected a paved area for my performance and I had borrowed a little amplifier from Heinz's daughter. She and her boy friend had smuggled it to Walter's house the day before so I could try it out with out Heinz knowing what was planned. It was a beauty and reproduced my Tanglewood's tone much better than the average electric guitar amp. I didn't need a microphone. So, I ran through my set telling stories about the songs. I took a break in the middle and then played the remainder of my songs. The guest were a very nice audience. I really enjoyed it all. They listened and they understood most of every thing as far as I could tell and many of them were very complimentary afterwards. We all headed for the tent for a selection of delicous cakes and coffee.

cake and coffee and potato soup to warm us up as darkness fell

We stayed chatting late into the night and I had some very interesting conversations with Isolde, Walter and Christiane's daughter. One of my favourite outcomes of these FDPFAFDW shows is that some times I meet some one special with a compelling and fascinating life story. We discovered we had some things in common and some similar demons. We talked about Dr Steve Peters, the guy who wrote The Chimp Paradox and I promised to buy her a copy. Isolde it is on my list of action to be taken.

the Danube from the old castle restaurant in Linz

Walter and I worked on the book in the evenings and on Sunday evening Walter and Christiane took me to the restaurant in the old castle in Linz. The view of the Danube below was spectacular and the juxtaposition of medieval and modern architecture is cleverly executed. Heinz joined us for dinner and we had a very nice meal and a few beers. It was another opportunity to share and tell stories.

Heinz Walter and me in the main square Linz
the Kohl family

I'd had a great time. We shared a lot and it is just a beginning. I think this story will run for some time yet and will have some very interesting and satisfying outcomes. Thank you to all of the Kohl family and their friends for the kindness they showed to me. It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you all. I was a little sad to say goodbye but I had a very good feeling inside that will last a long time.
The flight from Vienna was a nightmare after the flood s at Gatwick Airport earlier in the day. I left for Vienna with Walter and Isolde at 4pm. I arrived back home in London at 2.30am. Still it was worth it.

This weekend I am going to Wigan for the auditions for local artists who want to join the bill for the Our Daily bread gig in Upholland church and to tie up a few more loose ends towards getting the show together. 
This will be a very special evening. Our Daily bread will be ticket only benefit for THE BRICK homeless shelter in Wigan on the Friday the 3rd of October.
Any one who has hosted a FDPFAFDW gigs will be offered tickets. You know who you are. Email me if you want to reserve tickets.
Arthur and Steve will be joining me for a few songs performed in a style you will have never heard before. 

The weekend after I will be off to the north of Norway where I will be playing two dates in Alta.



Monday, 14 July 2014

our daily bread

musicians in partnership with communities

A crack in the leaden sky is followed by the rumble of distant thunder. The icy rain begins to fall in sheets. The sky is falling on the street people in drenching waves and the pale sunshine offers cold comfort. Never dry, never warm and always hungry but here under the railway arches the rain cannot penetrate.
See me. I was just like you. I thought it would be alright. I thought some thing would turn up. I tried my hardest to make it happen.
I want you to know that my situation is not of my own making nor a choice. I made mistakes but the price is very high. Why me? Why any one? No one should be adrift among the Christmas spending, lending and debt or going through a bin on a lovely summer day while the tourists of the world stream by on their holidays. I want to be warm. I want to be clean. I want to be safe.
Honestly? I just  want to be wrapped up in a great blanket, go to sleep and wake up in a clean bed with a roof over me. Twenty eight years old and I hear myself whisper, so no one can hear, I want my mom.
I know the money lender's man is after me. This time I know failure to make payments will result in a broken finger or worse and still I will owe more than I have borrowed. If only I could get a helping hand towards a small change, towards a fresh start. If only.

O U R   D A I L Y    B R E A D

3rd October 2014

Friday, 4 July 2014

in hamburg

Gabi and Uwe

Uwe Ferrier contacted me some time ago about playing for his partner Gabi's 60th birthday, It has been a while since I had been in Germany and this was to be the first FDPFAFDW gig in the country. Strangely the venue turned out to be a section of the park that houses the venue where the EBB last played Hamburg. 

I arrived at Hamburg airport where I was met by Uwe and his friend. Soon we were in Hamburg and I was checking into a very nice hotel. Soon after that we were outside a house where Gabi was enjoying an evening with friends, She had thought Uwe was some where watching the German team play in The World Cup. She had no idea what extraordinary lengths the man had gone to keep this a secret.

We parked up and entered the house. I was welcomed and then we played the game - " You know who I am. You have seen me before". Poor Gabi stared and stared. She actually said you look familiar but she really didn't get it. Wonderful! She had been at the EBB gig in the park with Uwe. Eventually I told her who I was and I thought she was going to fall over. I think it took a while to sink in and then we all laughed as the story of Uwe's secret plan was told. I think she was very impressed with Uwe's birthday gift of your's truly. We chatted some more, I had a beer and then I got a ride back to hotel where I crashed out very early for me.

Next day Uwe picked me up from the hotel and took me on a tour of the city. I have been to Hamburg many times but I realised I hardly knew any thing much about it apart from some historical knowledge of it's part in World War 2. It is amazing how little you see on the road in a touring band which makes my FDPFAFDW experience such a contrast.

Uwe showed me the raised dykes where previously the dykes had allowed water from the river Elbe to flood whole districts causing the deaths of many workers. The area seemed a poor area and mostly inhabited by refugees.

view from the energy bunker

Uwe took me to a place called The Energy Bunker which is a massive concrete construction about 40 metres tall with walls 20 feet thick. It was built during the war and could shelter hundreds of Hamburg resident during RAF bombing. Well that is not the whole story. In fact the roof of the bunker housed huge guns which were never meant to be fired at British air craft. Hitler was very worried by the Democratic north of Germany, especially in the area of Hamburg. The main purpose of the massive fire power installed on the bunker was to fire on the people of Hamburg if they had opposed Hitler. Terrifying but totally in character for the dysfunctional Austrian. Now the bunker houses a massive array of gigantic solar energy panels. A cafe sits on the top where they serve the best coffee ever and typically gorgeous German cakes.

ship in hamburg dock viewed from energy bunker

From the Energy bunker you see how ravaged Hamburg was by the the RAF bombs that fell on it. Just like Coventry the gaps are filled by post war, some times, hurriedly constructed buildings to fill the land scape. Dresden, in the east is the most impactful example of this that I have ever seen.
There is a part of Hamburg that was clearly untouched by the carnage. It is an older more grand district with slightly imperial looking architecture. This district was passed over by the RAF but never bombed. It was to be the military headquarters district when the Allies would eventually occupy Hamburg.

towards the river elbe viewed from the energy bunker

Later we drove to the park where the party was to take place. It looked like raining but held it off mostly. The section of the beer garden reserved for our use was covered and also surrounded by trees which overhung unsheltered parts perfectly. Nearby the huge seated area with the big screens was preparing for another night of world cup soccer. I quickly sound checked with the equipment provided. It only took a few minutes and it was job done. Next I had some very fine German barbecue and various delicious salads and fruit.

the best wurst

I played around half eight. I was surprised at the warmth of the invited audience. I knew some of them had never heard of me though most seemed familiar with what I do. I should probably have taken a break but things were going nicely so I kept going. After a while people began chatting as folk do when they haven't seen each other for a while or when they are reporting the latest gossip to a friend. I have to admit it used annoy me a great deal but I have learned to curb my annoyance and enjoy the moment. After all it's never my party and I am hired to play and sing for my host. I noticed some of the new songs were well received which was very satisfying.

people beginning to arrive at Gabi's party in the park

I think every one had a good time. The diverse mix of guests was fascinating and the after gig chats were very interesting. I met some lovely people, as always, at one of these gigs. The hardcore party people were still going strong when I left to head back to my hotel.

Next morning Uwe collected me for breakfast at his place with Gabi and friends. After breakfast I played Evening Over Rooftops and a new song On The News for Gabi. I had omitted to play Evening Over Rooftops  at the party. I don't know why I didn't play it. Strange things happen in my head during a performance and occasionally I miss some thing out. Any way I felt I had redeemed myself a bit and most importantly, Gabi was pleased.
Looking out over the rooftops from Uwe's balcony, Uwe told me how from this vantage point, there was a time when he could see American Drone prototypes being flown over the city towards a nearby US base. I suppose the Americans have developed them a great deal since then even though drones still kill innocent civilians.

Uwe had wanted to show me some thing of the area he lives in and I chose to visit to Neuengamme, a World war 2 concentration camp way out on the very edge of Hamburg. It was grim in the pale sunshine. We were too late to see all of the place as they were closing but I saw enough to fill my head with unimaginable horrors. I tend to think I know about this stuff after all these years but the unknown stuff is, of course, in the detail. For example at one stage of the terrible history of the camp 80% of the prisoners were German. The prisoners were making prefabricated concrete blocks for the re building of Hamburg. More than 80,000 prisoners died here. They were either intentionally worked to death or shot for target practice at an onsite target range

 Uwe behind the wire of the main gate to neuengamme camp

I learned a lot in the sad place where birds don't sing but it was a worthwhile visit. I know people say we should forget but I do not agree. We must remember the lessons so that, at an early stage, we can resist those who would wish to take us back there or some where esle just as dreadful. We must also remember the Germans who resisted and who took the most unbelievable risks to save lives. There were many more of them than one might think.

The next photo is of a pool in the middle of what is now a residential area in Central Hamburg and within a small park where kids play and dogs are walked. It is likely that many locals do not know this is where the German battleship The Bismark and  the infamous U-boats were developed in conjunction with the nearby Hamburg ship building docks. 

So eventually it was time to go to the airport for my return flight. Uwe and Gabi had been wonderful hosts and I enjoyed every minute of their kind hospitality. Special thanks to Uwe for showing me around. I wish all good things to my new friends and every one who made it all so easy and pleasurable for me.