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:
You know how I said in December that the Food of Love album was going to be released then? Well, er, I was wrong. It’s being released now, and the album’s producer Tom and I went on BBC Radio Oxford to talk about the making of the album. 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
So, the Isis Farmhouse pub, just south of Oxford city centre, where we’ve been holding the Bastard English Session for years, where my boat-dwelling community would meet when in the depths of flooding, and where H and I got married just a few months ago, is on the market. Continue reading
It was high time, really.
I noticed that one of the designers responsible for this website’s design has quoted on his profile somewhere that he’s motivated by ‘bad memories of MySpace’.
I actually liked MySpace. (In its heydey, at least.) I thought it was great that you could have this information in one place, in a standardised format. And it really didn’t hurt that everyone could customise sites how they wanted: as the quickest of glances at a band’s MySpace page could probably tell you more about them than their music.
Of course, whatever you did it looked ugly as the proverbial fuck, but that was the days before everything had to be clean and shiny.
But everything has to be clean and shiny now, which is a trend that I myself have succumbed to. And I was conflicted about it. Part of me wanted to make a really dirty website. White on black, with strong primary colours and everything in a small Verdana typeface.
I still might, actually, depending on whether all that beauty and that style gets kind of smooth after a while.
But right now, I’m actually very impressed with the beauty and the style of the AudioTheme websites, and I’d highly recommend them to any other musicians who just want something that’s fairly simple to use which can hopefully free them up to make some actual music.
And yeah, it’s a lot better than MySpace.
P.S. For anyone who doesn’t know how MySpace met with such a disastrous end, this is a fascinating read:
Financial Times: The rise and fall of MySpace.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)