2014 (All of it!)

So I really haven’t been keeping on top of my website recently, something to go on my list of new year’s resolutions (probably should have gone on the 2014 resolutions, but lucky it didn’t as this is my first post of this year!) Well it’s been a very busy year looking back to January 2014, which now feels like a lifetime ago. The year started with a great tour all over England as part of the Maz O’Connor trio, playing with Maz and Laura Carrivik of the The Carrivik Sisters in a double bill tour with welsh folk band Jamie Smiths Mabon. This saw us perform at some lovely venues all around the country, meeting lots of nice people and travelling some looong distances (the 500 miles from Fareham to Kirkcaldy was particularly long).

The end of spring and into the summer was filled with various gigs, ceilidhs and lots of teaching, including the final stages of the Raising the Bar project at The Custom’s House, a 2-year project that I was very proud to be part of, aimed at introducing young people to being in a band. This was followed by a very enjoyable week teaching on the Coquet Voices project in Rothbury, introducing young people to their heritage and dialect through music-making and song-writing, and an inspiring week in Denmark playing with the Tappy Lappy Quartet as well as a brand new band brought together for the week, involving some of the best musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with.

The highlight of the year, however, has been the two tours with Världens Band, a 14-piece ‘Transglobal Roots Fusion’ group based in Sweden. First was a knackering but amazing month spent in Sweden during summer, playing at all the major folk festivals to fantastic crowds and with some really amazing musicians. There wasn’t much of a break after, however, as the final touches to the band’s first UK tour were needed, which I had spent the last year and a half organsing, before taking place in October 2014. And what a great tour, playing to sold out crowds at venues including Sage Gateshead, Musicport Festival (where we will return in 2015), A Carefully Planned Festival #4, Leeds and Newcastle Universities amongst others.

There are now lots of exciting plans for 2015, which I will write about in a later post as this has gotten rather long! But please check back soon or look at the rest of my website for the latest news and to see where my bands will take me during 2015…

Summer til Now

It’s been quite a while since writing something here so thought I may as well now whilst I’m waiting to start recording guitar parts for for Maz O’Connor’s new album.

So it’s been quite busy since last writing. First was the Create Choral concert at the end of June. It was great to see the Quay Lasses give such a brilliant performance of my piece ‘Maa Bonny Lad’ and to hear the work of the other composers and choirs in the Discovery Museum’s Great Hall.

July was filled with gigs and lots of teaching. A highlight was returning to Warwick Folk Festival for the fourth or fifth time, this time with Maz. I’ve been there in the past with Southwind, Last Orders and Maz and it’s always a great festival. Unfortunately I had to leave early on the last night to get to Lincoln, where I was teaching at a Summer School for ArtsNK the next morning. This was a week of writing music with three groups of young aspiring artists, who were also learning dance and drama, ending in a great performance at the end of the week in the Terry O’Toole Theatre.

Next was two more summer schools at Middlesbrough Town Hall, first creating a musical based on some Disney classics and then a week of the participants creating their own musical. A tiring couple of weeks, especially as it was split up by a drive down to and back from Kent to perform at Broadstairs Folk Week with Horizontal Sunday, but was really enjoyable and great to see all the participants get really involved in making music and creating a performance.

I’m now looking forward to a busy October, starting today with recording guitar parts for Maz’s next album. Just listening to Matt Downer put bass parts down and it’s sounding great, so look out for that next spring! Also keep an eye on my events diary (which I haven’t updated for a while either!) as I’ll be putting up details of a tour with the Maz O’Connor trio happening from January – March.

Crisis and Cap-a-Pie

There was a great event on Thursday night at Crisis Skylight called ‘My Tyneside’. This was part of the Festival of the North East and showcased some of the work that the different art groups at Crisis have done this term. I’ve been working with the ‘Music Making’ group on Saturdays to write some songs based on the different members’ experiences of Newcastle. We performed two songs that have been written and arranged over the past few weeks and they both went down really well. It was a fantastic event with performances also from the drama, guitar and creative writing groups and all of the members’ artwork displayed on the walls.

I’ve also had great fun over the past couple of days working with theatre company Cap-a-Pie to write an opera with sixty Year 3 children from West Park academy in Darlington. This was part of some work that the pupils have been doing since Easter, exploring the theme of happiness. They had been studying the book ‘The Quiltmakers Gift’ and discussing some of the philosophy around it before all helping to write songs and a script for the opera, which was performed very well by the children on Friday. Hopefully there’ll be a video about it up soon so keep checking back for a link to that!

Cumberland Arms with Andy Watt and Seth Tinsley

Going to be playing some guitary music with Andy Watt and Seth Tinsley on June 4th at the Cumberland Arms as support for Zor, a new project of some friends of ours including Tom Oakes. I think this is only the third time me and Andy have performed together so I’m really looking forward to it and have been practicing hard as there’s a few tricky pieces we’ll be doing! It’s not often I get to play loads of melody so I’m a bit nervous about that but I’m sure it’ll be a fun gig.

Tickets should be available on the door but to be safe you can buy them in advance at:


Doncaster Folk Festival with Maz O’Connor

Looking forward to performing with Maz O’Connor at Doncaster Folk Festival this weekend, on Friday 31st May. We’ll be performing as a trio, with Joe O’Connor playing melodeon. As well as performing a number of songs from the album, we’ll be doing a few brand new songs never performed before! Maz came up to Newcastle last week to work on a few new songs so we’re excited about trying those out at the weekend. To book tickets go to the Doncaster Folk Festival website.

Create Choral with the Quay Lasses

I’ve just got back from another of the Quay Lasses’ rehearsals down at the Sage Gateshead. I’ve been really enjoying attending the youth choir’s rehearsals over the last couple of months to hear them sing my arrangement of the traditional Northumbrian song ‘Maa Bonny Lad’. This is part of Kathryn Tickell’s Create Choral project, which will make up part of the Festival of the North East this summer. The choir, led by Mark Anyan, have done a brilliant job of learning the piece so quickly and are making it sound great.

The Quay Lasses will be performing this piece as part of their programme for the Create Choral concert in the Great Hall at the Discovery Museum on 22nd June. The concert is only £7 and will include a number of other original arrangements of local songs performed by five other choirs from the region, including a couple of exciting pieces that will involve all six choirs at the same time. To find out more information and to buy tickets go to the Sage Gateshead’s website.

Welcome to my blog

Hi, thanks for visiting my new blog! I’ll hopefully be putting up details of gigs, teaching, compositions and projects that I’m working on when I’ve worked out how to do it all! So keep checking back and hopefully it’ll al be a bit more interesting soon!