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Feb 25th -2010
The Mike Harding show previewed the BBC Radio 2 Radio ballad of the miner's stike which is scheduled to be broadcast on March 2nd at 10.30pm and they featured Julie's song! If you have Radio 2 on in the day this week you'll also hear the trails for the programme and again they're using Julie's song. Tune in on tuesday night.

 

I've just taken delivery of my beautiful new Gazouki, hand built by Ken Powell at Powell Guitars.
Her back and sides are English walnut which as well as being extemely attractive, also gives jer a very reponsive bass end.Her top is AAA sitka spruce and sports the unique 'smiley' bridge, Ken's design that produces a very balanced and resonant sound as well as looking really cute and cheeky. It's been an absolute pleasure commisioning this instrument. From the first day I picked out the wood (from Ken's glorious and extensive collection) to the moment he put her in my hand he's kept me updated every step of the way and has shared my excitement about the creation of something that will undoubtedly in turn help in the creation of music for many years to come. Not only is Ken passionate about instument making (he's a fine guitarist himself), he's incredibly skilled and innovative in his design and engineering. I thank him from the bottom of my heart and wish him well in the luthier business.

 

Feb-2010
Well what a year it's been so far and February isn't even out yet! Two major projects took up most of January, first of all the new BBC Radio 2 Radio ballad commemorating the 25th anniversay of the miners strike. It was great to have the old team reunited to produce what is an unbelievably moving and powerful show. Executive producing was John Leonard, music production by Andy Seward and the writers contributing this time were myself, John Tams, Jez Lowe, Ray Hearne and Kate Sutcliffe. It's scheduled for broadcast on Radio 2 on March 2nd and really is worth dropping all prior arrangements for! Check it out.

 

The week after the Radio ballad recording found me embarking on what was to be one of the most challenging but equally rewarding projects I've been involved in. Under the initiation and direction of Brampton Live Festival 2010 I was invited to be one of five songwriters and two poets in "All Along The Wall" based on the experiences of life around Hadrian’s Wall both ancient and modern. The seven artists (Myself, Rory McLeod, Boo Hewerdine, Jez Lowe, Ruth Notman, Kate Fox, Elvis McGonnagall) lived together in a 'song house' for five days nearby to the wall where we wrote a 75 minute show of brand new material. I found the whole experience incredibly intense but so very inspiring and ended up writing three songs on my own and collaborating on a
fourth with Ruth. On the sixth day, the show was then performed to great critical acclaim in front of a live audience at The Wave Centre, Maryport. It was truly exhilarating seeing the whole thing come together from it's meager beginnings on a flip chart to a show that left many of the audience in tears. The performance was recorded by Fellside Recordings and is to be released on CD later this summer. The show will be performed again at Brampton Live Festival on July 17th 2010 where I'll also be doing a rare solo slot so if you want to see the brilliant 'All Along The Wall' for yourself, this is your chance.

 

Coming up are the Rejoice the Voice workshops which take Chris While, Helen Watson and myself the length and breadth of the country over four consecutive weekends in March.
In April I get to have a holiday and I'm fleeing the country for three and half weeks to beautiful New Zealand. I'm slipping in a festival while I'm there so if anybody is out there over easter weekend, come and say hello at Canterbury Festival.

 

Busy year in the studio coming up. In May, Chris and I are set to record our tenth duo album with a pile of new songs. We follow that with the return of our one day festival in June 'Party on the Lawn'. Back in the studio in July for a brand new St Agnes Fountain album. From there on out we start the build up to the tours, duo in Sept/Oct and St Agnes in December.

I'll keep posting news as we go so please keep checking in.
See you later.