(Photo : KT)

Well hello again!

I’m down here on the Isle of Wight, staying with the very lovely Peter and Elaine Ellis in Sandown. (See photo above)

Crikey – what a beach! That and the beaches of Overstrand (Norfolk), Freshwater (IoW), Ballybunion (Ireland) and Kilkee (Ireland) are my firm favourites after 52 years of strolling down quite a few beaches in the world. There are 2 more – one in New Zealand and the other in Donegal but it’s early in the morning, I haven’t had my steak and duck eggs yet and the brain is only slowly kicking into gear. I’ll remember them by the next blog, I expect.

Last night, I was asked where was the photo of me with the shipwreck taken – it was in Donegal.

(Photo by Peter Crann www.itchyfeet.ie)

Yes, I did say, steak and duck eggs – my new routine since taking up the Paleo Diet 2 weeks ago. My word. . . what a difference to my sleep, energy levels and everyone keeps telling me how well I’m looking. It’s also the hibernation process but I do feel quite chipper, I must say. I won’t bore you with it – read the book and give it a whirl; I also eat grapefruit and prunes after the breakfast and that helps balance / regulate my digestion.

‘The Paleo Diet’ by Loren Cordain ISBN 978-0-470-91302-4

‘The Paleo Diet Cookbook’ by Loren Cordain ISBN 978-0-470-91304-8

Anyhow – something VERY exciting has happened!!! I’ve begun to re-release old recordings of mine as downloadable cds (with artwork).

The first is a CD I made with Ian Carr (guitar), called ‘Shhh’ in 1995. Some of my students weren’t even born then! If you’d like a copy, here’s the link :


There’ll be more to follow. . . .

And WHAT a day and a night, yesterday! I think I mentioned that I was going to meet up with friends on this beautiful beloved island , generally, and also for a wee tune? Well, we did!
First stop was to meet Vic King (below), Tony O’Nions (from Vaguely Sunny Promotions) and Mhairi (from VFringe).

(Photo : KT)

Vic and Tony are also part of the Harp On Wight team and this year’s dates are now set :
Tues 6th – Sun 11th October – HARP ON WIGHT

Whlle this year’s VFringe runs from 11th – 16th August.

I’ll keep you posted about the fantastic workshops, concerts and more (at both events) on this blog.

Then, later, at the Wishing Well, between Nettlestone and Ryde, set in an idyllic landscape, the acoustics are marvellous and the staff SO friendly. I’ll have photos next time – I left my blinkin lead at home (but have been snapping, happily away). Oh I do still love the Isle of Wight and have decided to come back and visit regularly.

Between the Ventnor lunch at Cantina (yum) and the session, we had a super Mrs Miggins at Michelangelo’s Restaurant (just opposite the pier) in Ryde. This is a restaurant NOT to be missed; apart from the delicios food, the staff are great fun, the Tiramisu is unbelievable and Anna Sacchini, Dante, Rosy, Lucia et al are a joy to meet. We had a leisurely nosh but you can also have a quite (yummy) bite on the way to the ferry (and ofcourse it has fantastic views of the Solent). After an evening meal there, it’s fun to take a stroll down the Pier which is really lovely.

At the session, we had lots of tunes with Bob Huxtable, Donal O Riain, Theresa Ellis and Pete while songs were interjected by 2 of the Dollymopps (who also played us some great Isle of Wight waltzes!), Peter Ellis, Mark Hickman, Ian Watterson and me (don’t faint – it was ‘The Spider in The Bath’ song by the amazing Marcus Turner) and Angelina Grimshaw – what a voice that woman has!!

Clive Mead and I went down to Sandown Beach for a peek at the moon on the way home and ended up in stitches when we were admiring the Pier, which had, in great big, lit-up letters ‘Sandown Pier – A Whole Day’s Fun In One’. . . .!!! As hard as we tried, we couldn’t see that there was a word missing off the end of that sentence and we giggled all the way home. I love England and it’s eccentricities.

I apologise for my terrible geography (just as well I’m not an agent for a band!!!) – re the Duck-crossing the-road-story in an earlier blog, Banbury is in Oxfordshire, not Northamptonshire as I was politely reminded by the wonderful photographer, Chris Bates.

Luckily, my fantastic agent, Lorraine Carpenter has a degree in Geography and just smiles sweetly when I get it all wrong again (having thrown the sat nav out of the hotel room window. . . yes I know it’s supposed to be a TV but I didn’t want the bill and yes, I did open the window first).

I thought I’d throw in a photo of Lorraine and Clive at Shanklin Chine :

(Photo : KT)

OK – so I made my decision and I went to the County Fleadh in Cavan a weekend or two ago. And I’m going to the big one in Sligo (All Ireland – in August) although I had booked accommodation for when it usually takes place only to find out it is actually the week before. Crikey, at this rate I’ll be dyeing my hair blonde again. . . .

I also went to the Tubercurry Fleadh – these are all qualifying rounds; I didn’t make the competitions because the sessions were so brilliant. There’s such a super session scene in Ireland just now and the ages range from 7 to 90 – all mingling together, playing music and having a great laugh. I was involved in 2 sessions in Cavan and Tubercurry – both of which lasted 8 hours and I didn’t move except to hop into the piano driving seat a couple of times in Cavan.

I played and listened to some great tunes played by Philip Clarke, Jim McLoughlin and Noel Sweeney (amongst others) – then went for more ‘punishment’ back in Roscommon Town (Carthy’s Pub – Thursday evenings) with the delightful Frank Kelly (piano accordion – father of Alan), Patsy Hanly (flute), John Wynne (flute), John Carlos (flute) and his beautifully gifted fiddle-playing son, Dylan. Life down’t get better than this.

(Photo : Tony O’Nions)
Sorry – I thought that there was a distinct lack of scarecrows so far in this blog. . .

Yes – flutes. Roscommon is known for them – I was in a session recently with 3 flutes. Heaven. I’m used to boxes and fiddles taking the seats, but 3 brilliant wooden flute players (Wynne, Hanly and McElvogue) was amazing – I was happily drowned out ha ha.

While writing this, the sun is still sleeping from behind the clouds. I’m having a birthday month (which started on 27th May. At my age, the best thing to do is to make them last as long as possible); Herb Alpert is on the stereo making me smile broadly – did you know there is a Herb Alpert music college in Los Angeles?

(Photo : Tony O’Nions)

Anyway, back to me (:-)

I was told recently that everyone’s ‘New Year’ starts each year on their birthday. . . . and it’s a time to close the door and let the old year close and walk, smiling broadly (as original LAO member, Anne Humphreys would say) into the future.

I like that. Sorry if I have told you all that before, I can’t quite remember. . . too many tunes buzzing around my head.

Anne (keep up!) smiles and laughs a lot; I met her when I was living on the North Norfolk coast and I do miss her.

Talking of which, I’m planning workshops (on accordion and also ensembles – any instrument) sporadically throughout my ‘new year’ – the first is in Bishop’s Castle in 2 weeks – and I’ve been listening to many of my old CDs. Apart from Stevie Wonder, Yazoo, Roy Orbison, Edith Sitwell, Bill Withers, Sammy Davis Junior and Nina Simone, I’ve been listening closely to recordings by SWAP, the 2 Duos Quartet, The Poozies, me and Ian Carr and May Monday. I don’t make a habit of listening to my own recordings much – most musicians don’t because you are sick of hearing them in fine detail during the recording process.

It was a necessary evil (listening to ourselves is often as cringeworthy as hearing  one’s voice on a recording or seeing oneself on a video – ‘Double Yuk’ as Bruce Molsky would say. . . ) as I’m in the process of getting them ready to be available as downloadable CDs from my website. And I was pleasantly surprised (NB note the use of the word ‘pleasant’, which can have negative connotations) by a lot of the tracks. ‘Seagull’, written by Ian Carr, ‘Love On A Farmboy’s Wages’ (written by Andy Partridge of XTC and introduced to the Poozies by Sally Barker), ‘I Feel A Smile Coming On’ (written by Cheery-Chops Chris Wood especially for the 2 Duos Quartet), ‘Abid’ (written by Kathryn Tickell) and ‘Hope’, a set I perform with May Monday Quintet – the first tune is unbelievably amazing and written by Timo Alakotila (imagine your surprise).

(Photo : Tony O’Nions)

I thought it might be fun to do solo versions of my back catalogue (ha ha) but rather than get myself a long list of ‘new’ repertoire, I stumbled at the first hurdle when I tried to learn ‘Mosquito Hunter’ an amazing tune written by Ola Backstrom of SWAP.

What inspired that was me reading Robert Wyatt’s biography (yes, I’m reading biographies again) : ‘Different Every Time’.

It’s brilliant, beautifully written and, as Brian Eno commends on the back cover, gives a very comprehensive history of the British Pop scene. Somehow, I’d never heard The Soft Machine (a reference to the human body) even though they were, apparently, standing among Genesis, Pink Floyd and others at the time.

After a terrible fall, Robert was in hospital for months, having broken his back and from there, continued his career as an amazing vocalist and songwriter.

It also transpires that his missus does pretty much all his CD artwork and is his co-lyricist. Ian Carr tried very hard to get me into Robert Wyatt years ago but I’m a slow learner and very stubborn. It was finally ‘Cuckooland’ that got me hooked.

Robert is very political and it was really thought-provoking to read all about that while the UK elections were going on. I went to a hustings up north with Hannah James and I was not surprised but saddened to hear how all the MPs (except Labour who couldn’t be bothered to turn up) always spend ages NOT answering the question or slagging off the other parties. Except the Green Party who seem to be the only party who look at the longterm picture. I’m not adamantly in support of any party, myself, because there’s good bits in almost every philosophy. . .it’s just a pity that most MPs these days can’t concentrate on the good of the country and the diminishing sense of community rather than try to outdo each other with ridiculous promises that we all know won’t or can’t happen.

OK – so the quote from the Robert Wyatt book I loved is:

‘I haven’t ever tried to be deliberate or the same,’ shrugs Wyatt, ‘It just so happens that when I am doing my own thing, what I hear in my head doesn’t seem to me to be very much like anything else. What I do, it’s not even in a category that I could name. And this is not some attempt to be different. It just isn’t : it isn’t rock and roll, it isn’t jazz, it isn’t modern classical music, it isn’t folk music. It doesn’t exist as a genre. It’s like a Galapagos Island animal, some kind of underwater duck. Just some sort of thing that I turned out to be.’

OK, me dears, there’s a cloudless blue sky out there enticing me out onto the beach this beautiful morning. I’m off to clear out my storage space and then head for the ferry crossing the magical Solent.

(Photo : Tony O’Nions)

Oh! and dates for your July diary – the Longford Arts Festival has announced it’s dates too :

Ta da.

More soon (I warned you. . . .)

Agency : Lorraine Carpenter at Different Strings Agency
Tel : +44 (0)117 904 1870 / (mobile:) +44 (0) 7929 135744
KT dates :

Friday 12th June : Karen Tweed Solo at Bishop’s Castle Town Hall, SY9 5BG
7.30 p.m. (for an 8pm start)
Tickets : £8 advance / £10 on the door.
Information and Tickets from : keith@woodmail.co.uk   Tel: 01588 638242 or from Bishop’s Castle Town Hall.

Saturday 13th June : Irish Music workshop for Piano Accordion and other instruments with Karen Tweed at Bishop’s Castle Methodist Church Hall, SY9 5AQ
9.30 a.m. (for a 10 am start) – approx. 4.30pm
Tickets : £45 (includes free entry to the Friday evening concert).
Information and Tickets from : keith@woodmail.co.uk   Tel: 01588 638242

Thursday 13th August : Karen Tweed Solo at Gandara Festival, Portugal.