(Photo Tom McElvogue)

Hello there,

These lighter evenings and slightly clearer days have lifted my heart of late. A lot is going on as usual. . .There’s apparently been a musical written completely by computers and new scientific ravings in Sweden confirming the importance of trees and woodland in helping to repair and heal our immune systems (which happens the more we walk in them).

(www.letterexchange.org – “Hopes and Dreams” Exhibition, Birmingham University Parkside Gallery, Feb 10th 2016)

I’ve been focusing on drawing, cartoons and calligraphy. . .and trying out lots of different accordions as I’m now very interested in more than just the sound.

And the more I see machines and computers take over our lives, the more it makes me take to the pencil, brush or paper again.

(www.letterexchange.org – “Hopes and Dreams” Exhibition, Birmingham University Parkside Gallery, Feb 10th 2016)

Here’s a video made by fiddler / painter Terry Hulf. Absolutely beautiful – check these out on Youtube and tell your friends. His way of looking at the world is really inspiring. This particular one is called, ‘My Dancing Days’ :


You may remember that I launched an old recording of myself and Adrian Burns from 30 years ago, called ‘Bootleg Panini’ – I thought I would share with you what Niall Keegan of Limerick University had to say about it. . .

‘Traditional Irish music is now just another of the media driven music cultures of today. We learn tunes from Youtube, Facebook and Soundcloud.  We take lessons online or over Skype.  In this culture the world has become distanceless – it is cheap and easy to get from where you are to where you might hear Irish music (most of the time).  This was not always the case.  In the nineteen-eighties you were dependent on new album releases (in one year you could usually count the number of them on one hand), very occasional radio broadcasts and most importantly meeting new musicians, which again might happen rarely.

A cassette culture developed in this context.  Sessions, gigs and impromptu performances were recorded and copied and distributed and copied again and again.  Some recordings, such as this one, became infamous.  When you lived outside of the heartlands of tradition, these tapes were doubly important, a fact further multiplied for those living beyond Ireland.  This tape was even more important as it was recorded in a Wood Green living room.  Karen Tweed with her rare Irish tunes, mixed with traditional and newly written tunes from other folk traditions but played in a beautiful yet idiosyncratically Irish style.  Adrian Burns was that rare thing: a great bouzouki and guitar player. Flute and fiddle players were two-a-penny off the Kilburn High Road but when you met a backer of Adrian’s immense talent you stuck to him like glue.

For me this tape was vital. I wore out multiple copies and had to beg, borrow and (perhaps) steal more.  This tape reflected the best of the tradition.  They played against the big-studio, audio perfection agenda of popular and commercial music – there are mistakes here and the recording is all the more endearing for it.  They were freely given – I never bought one.  They came from the music and a battered old tape recorder, not a desire to become famous, get gigs, or make money.

And now Karen and Adrian have gone and made a commercial download out of it and have sold it to you – sod ‘em!’

Dr. Niall Keegan
Director of Undergraduate Studies,
Associate Director,
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.


(Photo : Richard Faulks www.rfaulks.com)

I’ve been really enjoying playing the melodica again; it was my first instrument and weighs nothing. I play it at sessions and sometimes at concerts. . .much to the bemusement and sceptical eyes of friends and public. Often, I manage to becalm the raised eyebrows, mainly, I expect, due to my massive enthusiasm for this fun instrument but isn’t it funny how image / perception always wins over the possibility that I could make more than just ‘poisonous sounds’ from such a ‘joke’ instrument?

Take a look at this. One of my favourite guitarist / bouzouki players of all time, Ivan Miletitch sent me this last weekend :


The melodica, like the accordion can be an item of ridicule. Brendan Power and Alistair Anderson have nudged me to play it more, for years.

And now I am.

Stephen Rees, fine accordionist and fiddler at Bangor University, alerted me to this publication and if you follow the link, the radio interview is very interesting.

Marion Jacobson,
Squeeze This! A Cultural History of the Accordion in America (2012)


I don’t mind anything being ridiculed. To me, it’s almost a term of endearment. I’d rather that than the accordion was taken too seriously (which it can also be). . .surely it’s about balance? It’s the player, not the instrument and I have heard terrible sound from professional string quartets, almost every instrument, including voices and have sat, bemused while being lectured by some self appointed panel, instrument seller or ‘expert’ about what is or isn’t ‘good music’. Especially on accordions. . .

Trust your ears. I may have played music of one kind or another for nearly 46 years now but I don’t think I am an expert. I know what lifts my heart and I see what sells.

What is important to me is that music is played, fun and respected. Technical expertise is very helpful but doesn’t replace musicality. The world is big enough for so much music and so many styles and if music brings people together to share ideas and fun, then great.

Why people worry about what is hip or cool or worse, ‘best’ is beyond me, although I guess, it’s all about money, eh?

Anyhow, when I get tired of the politics of music, I look elsewhere. Like here :

or here :


When I was taking a workshop recently in Bangor, North Wales, we were discussing Danish Music. I’m a big fan and have been involved with a lot of the collaborations Eskil Romme, a super musician and organic farmer has invited me along to. Chintamani, a wonderful guitarist I know based in London sent the following link of The Danish String Quartet (which Tom McElvogue and Rune Barslund had also introduced me to last year). This is their performance of ‘Wood Works’ – classical music also exploring their arrangements of traditional music from Denmark, the islands of Faroe and Fano.


Now then, there’s a very interesting drawing exhibition on at Leighton House in London from 12th Feb until 29th May, called ‘Pre-Raphaelites on Paper’, an exhibition of drawings by the PRB from the Lanigan collection


. . .and worth taking a look at this link, which Tom McElvogue sent to me :
Marie Spartali Stillman – one 19th century woman who, as a model, embodied their idea of beauty but also, as an artist, ranked as one of their equals.


I’m getting used to doing things in a more leisurely way these days. I seem to have to work harder at being healthy and take things emotionally more deeply and slowly and I enjoy the process. You’ll see by the date list below that there are some solo concerts and workshops dotted around and about; I’m teaching once a month in Worcester; skype lessons seems to be more popular (you can book these from the website and there are offer bundles too) and it all allows me more time.

On that note, my Merrie Melodies Vol 1 Tunes Book is going to press in the next few weeks – Irish TV were talking to me about it last November. . . so this gives you an insight of the book which will be launched shortly! It contains 18 tunes, all fully cartoonishly illustrated in colour and quite a bit of background info too. It comes with a CD (of me playing each tune) and there will also be a simple notated format as an accompanying download, should you need less illustration and more music! I am sorry that this first volume has taken so long to finish but I am delighted with the results. . .


It will be on my website soon. . .

Lastly, congratulations to flautist Orlaith McAuliffe who has just won the TG4 Gradam Young Musician of the Year Award. I was delighted to have a few tunes in a session with her at the Sligo Fleadh last year and she literally blew us all away with her beautiful music, tone and sense of fun.
I’m also delighted to share my award. . .
Hope to see you at a concert, workshop. Museum exhibition soon.

Oh and oops! I nearly forgot!!!! This year marks my 27th year of being a professional musician and as my birthday (27th May) lands on a Friday this year, I’m having a bit of a do.
It’s a free event – a birthday-concert-party at the Hen and Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol and there’s some lovely guests including Roger Wilson (who got me into this in the first place), accordionist / saxophonist Karen Street, saxophonist Andy Tweed and accordionist Richard Hughes with more to be announced.
If you’d like to come along, you’ll need to reserve your ticket by emailing me with BIRTHDAYPARTY27 in the header :


or by text to 07522 606871.

It promises to be a great night of fun and we’ll be welcoming donations towards Alzheimers UK and The Samaritans.

And the same weekend!. . . look what’s happening in Wells, Somerset – many thanks to Karen Street for this :

Residents of South Horrington are resurrecting the Family Fun Day that took place every summer on the old Mendip Hospital site.

Throughout the 1960s to 80s the Mendip Hospital Summer Fete, run by the League of Friends, evolved to become one of the biggest events of the summer, opened by a local celebrity and with attractions such as The Red Devils, police display teams, the Somerset Light Infantry, maypole dancing, an antiques market, a donkey derby, skittles, children’s fancy dress and a pig roast.

The new Horrington Fair will take place at South Horrington at Wells Cricket Club on Mayday Bank Holiday Monday, May 30, from noon to 4pm.
There is music all day with L’esprit du jazz and Karen Tweed and others tbc.
There will also be a dog training demonstration and games for children, and various stalls including a plant sale.
Refreshments will include BBQ, a licensed bar, tea and cakes and Mendip Moments ice cream.
COR!!!. . .if you were wondering what fun could be had that last weekend in May, come along to Wells Cricket Club, South Horrington, Wells.

It’s free, great fun and monies raised during the day will go to local charities.

I suppose you could stay indoors, too. . .

Well now.

Have a fab February.




Tues 22nd March : Karen Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
To book your slot, see :

Thurs 24th MarchKaren Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
To book your slot, see :

Tues 12th & Wed 13th AprilKaren Tweed & Timo Alakotila Teaching NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY

Tues 19th AprilKaren Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
To book your slot, see :

Wed 20th AprilKaren Tweed: Solo CHELTENHAM
Venue : Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1HQ
Info and tickets : 01242 500025

Thurs 21st AprilKaren Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
To book your slot, see : 

Fri 22nd AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SHREWSBURY
Bradbury Hall, The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury SY3 9HF
Info and tickets :
£10 / £7 unwaged
07522 606871


Sat 23rd AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SHREWSBURY Accordion Day
10am – 4pm
Venue : Bradbury Hall, The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury SY3 9HF
Tickets : £40
Bring and Share Lunch
No Beginners
Info and tickets : 07522 606871



Fri 29th AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SOMERSET
Venue : Roxy Cinema, 36 High Street, Axbridge, Somerset BS26 2AF
Tickets : £10 / £7 unwaged
Info and tickets : 01749 870078

Sun 1st MayKaren Tweed SOMERSET Accordion Day
10am – 4.30pm
Venue : Priddy Village Hall, Somerset BA5 3BE
Tickets : £40
Bring and share lunch
No Beginners
Info and contact : 01749 870078

Tues 17th May : Karen Tweed Teaching at Worcester
To book your slot, see :

Thurs 19th May : Karen Tweed Teaching at Worcester
To book your slot, see :

Mon 23rd  May : Karen Tweed: Solo CROYDON
Venue : Croydon Folk Club, London

Fri 27th May : Karen Tweed & Friends Birthday-Concert-Party, BRISTOL – free event
To commemorate my 27th year as a professional musician, I’m having a bit of a do. . Guests include Roger Wilson, Karen Street, Richard Hughes and Andy Tweed (more to be announced)
Venue : The Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 1JF
Tickets : Free by reservation – email :
info@karentweed.com or tel / text : 07522 606871
Donations on the night welcomed towards Alzheimers UK and The Samaritans.

Mon 30th May : The (new) Horrington Fair– free event; great fun for all the family!
Wells Cricket Club, South Horrington, Wells BA5 3DL
Guests inc L’esprit du Jazz, Karen Tweed and Karen Street. More to be announced.


Fri 17th – Sun 19th June : Karen Tweed and Nick Wiseman Ellis Accordion Weekend in GERMANY!
Geestland area near Bremerhaven

Mon 27th June – Fri 1st JulyKaren Tweed & Timo Alakotila teaching and in concert, FINLAND
Venue : Haapavesi Summer school 
Dates : 27th June – 1st July
Information : http://www.haapavesifolk.com/inenglish/

Saturday 2nd JulyKaren Tweed & Timo Alakotila in concert FINLAND
Venue : Haapavesi Festival
Info and tickets : http://www.haapavesifolk.com/inenglish/

Mon 11th – Tues 12th July : Karen Tweed & Timo & Tom McElvogue at KAUSTINEN FESTIVAL, FINLAND

Round and about. . .
1. The No 1 Ladies Accordion Orchestra Upcoming concerts :
Sat 19th March BRIGHTON

Venue : Exeter St. Hall, Exeter Street, Brighton BN1 5PG
Time : 8pm
Sun 20th March SHOREHAM
Venue : Methodist Church Hall, Brunswick Road, Shoreham BN43 5WB
Time : 2.30pm
2. Jazz in Bristol at Ian Storror’s Club :
3. Leighton House ‘Pre-Raphaelites on Paper’ Exhibition of Drawings by the PRB from the Lanigan collection

Karen Tweed is represented worldwide by
Lorraine Carpenter at Different Strings Agency

email: lorraine@differentstrings.co.uk

+44 117 904 1870 / +44 7929 135744

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