So.  The Half Moon All Stars will perform their final gig some time later this year.

Not sure exactly when, or where, or how. But I can reveal why.

Due to a series of mini-disasters, band commitments just became impossible. First we lost Sam Twigg, after ‘the incident of which we never speak’. Then Mando Josh was kidnapped in the Pyrenees, and we lost Hannah G when she went out to rescue him. Laura’s past finally caught up with her when she was arrested for zoo animal theft. Vince got religion (don’t even get me started on that). Tracey got the lead in Pitch Perfect 3. Uke Josh became the next Doctor Who. Louis became obsessed with being an opera singer. And all the while Calum, as the world knows by now, was just on the verge of becoming a globetrotting multi-platinum Trap DJ.

I should really have seen it coming, I suppose — it was all pretty inevitable to anyone who was paying attention. But maybe there was a deeper underlying problem… Continue reading

So. On 18th April, Jonathan and Jane, owners of the Isis Farmhouse pub — home to the Bastard English Session, and most of my alcohol consumption — sold the establishment to Noreen and Adrian. I have met them. They are folkies. They do a mother of a version of ‘Come On Eileen’. But that is a tale for another time.

I remember the first time I walked into the Isis and thought: ‘This would be an amazing pub for a session’. So much of the session’s success is down to the shape, layout and general war-torn personality of that room.

But at least as much success is down to Jonathan and Jane themselves, who have been not only supporting but promoting the session for more years than I can remember. From that time when the 50 Morris dancers descended on the pub and started dancing inside, to the time when a very drunk and distressed ex-soldier (and all joking aside, with some legitimately serious demons to deal with, I don’t doubt) started to accuse us of being responsible for the deaths of his friends, to the great outdoor Delilah party boat sing-along, to a million and one emotional crises and people storming out in a drunk rage or tears or euphoria or all of the above. Oh yeah, to the time when Hannah and I had our wedding there. Continue reading

For me, the second week in April always starts of what I tend to think of as ‘Folk Month’.

It always starts with the Bastard Session (in this case on the 14th), and then the week after that it’s Folk Weekend: Oxford, the local folk festival that I am an artist director for (handing the local artist stages). Now this year, for the first time, St George’s Day falls on one of the Folk Weekend days, so that’s sort of two fiddles with one bow. But normally it falls on a different day, and there’s often a separate session just for that.

And then the week afterwards it’s May Day. Which, in Oxford, is a big deal:

Continue reading

Photo by David Bleasdale (CC BY 2.0)

The last full album I recorded under my own name was in 2013.  Since then I’ve done plenty of gigs, produced an album for someone else, written a lot of blog and social media posts…

What I haven’t done is release any new music.  Which is odd, considering I consider myself primarily a recording artist.

So why not?  Well, paying the bills, to be honest.  And it takes so long to organise all the other stuff that I tend to try to get it out of the way first, and then do the fun part (recording music) when I have time.

Well, I realised quite a while ago that, realistically, I’ll never have time.  Not unless I make time. Continue reading