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:

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Monthly recommendation #1. The documentary film Heaven Adores You about musician Elliott Smith.

If you’ve been here before you might well know that I am a bit of a fan of Elliott Smith. Just over 2 years ago I wrote a long and winding blog about… maybe more the enigma than the man. This documentary goes some way, I reckon, to dispersing the enigma. And for a fan it is utterly fascinating. Continue reading

Monthly recommendation #2, and a slight departure from the norm: a fantastic resource (that I’ve been using for years) for anyone interested in playing traditional English tunes. Particularly useful if you fancy playing at a folk session like the one we hold in Iffley.

These two books by Nick Barber have nearly 200 tunes in them – many of which will be familiar to sessioners countrywide.

But one little tip: if you do feel like buying them, get them from him directly at the link below, as I’m told he doesn’t actually make any money from sales on other websites.

Or alternatively, you can go to Sidmouth Folk Week and find him in the Radway Inn, and buy them off him in person!

Current Favourite Tune:

Impossible to say. Depends on the day really. Today it’s probably the Gypsy Hornpipe. (I likes a good hornpipe, me.)


Don’t think I’ve yet shared this live version of March’s bonus tune.

Spring doesn’t usually come until mid April in these parts, but it really seems to be busting out all over, and currently – writing as I am from my boat on the river – I would have to say I concur with this tune’s sentiments.

Monthly recommendation #3.

In 2011 a group of economics students at The University of Manchester started a revolt. They put forward the claim that the economics that they were being taught – the same economics that underpinned the global financial system before the 2010 crash, and continues to do so in Britain and the US – was, to use an academic term, a heap of fucking bullshit.

They set up the Post-Crash Economics Society. They were written about in the media. That said, the orthodox economists are still preaching the same old gospel. 

One of the very few economics academics rebelling against the orthodoxy is Cambridge University professor Ha-Joon Chang. Continue reading