Ferguson Four Engineer Winds

(photo : Tom McElvogue www.tommcelvogue.com)

Gosh – I’ve been quite busy and I’m all of a flutter!!! I’ve been over to the Easterly Island (a.k.a England) for a quick visit to see my Dad and my Uncle Derrick, who’s been a bit under the weather lately. He’s a really positive soul and quite hilarioous company; I’d forgotten that he and my Dad were carpenters – my Dad left his apprenticeship halfway through, fed up with not having any money while Derrick stood the time and became a master carpenter. Their stories (which I luckily remembered to record on my dictaphone) of post war England were fascinating and I now know how sprung floors are constructed and why Blackpool remains the holder of the top dance floor spot in the UK (both Derrick and my Dad are keen dancers)!

After their discussion, I found myself thinking about engineering a lot and also about ‘what’s in a name’ – my dear (and very patient) and superb agent is Lorraine Carpenter; I’ve worked with Chris Wood (a long time ago) and my late mum hailed from Kerry. . .Kerry Fletcher is one of my favourite people to collaborate with, stunning dancer and choreographer with the most infectious smile that could light the National Grid. One of my favourite singers-of-the-moment is Daoiri Farrell whose name is from one of the Oldest Kings of Kerry / Ireland. I’ve probably got that info a bit mixed up but it’s definitely to do with Kings and Kerry because I wrote a tune for him once called ‘The Quiet Kings’ which is also now dedicated to Vic, King of the Isle of Wight. 🙂

So yesterday, (I won’t go into the fyasco of Sunday’s Virgin Train journey from Holyhead to MIlton Keynes – that’s for another rant) I took the rail and sail back from Milton Keynes via Holyhead (cancelled ferry) to Dublin. As Tony Benn used to point out, when transport goes wrong, people talk to each other. So I met a family from Illinois, touristing in London and then Dublin; a medical lawyer who’d just returned from her graduation ceremony in Bangor and was about to start her PhD in Cadiff but is from West Meath and, on the train from Dublin to Longford, I had a fabulous discussion with a lovely couple, Lesley and David Thompson from a small village near Dundee who were about to visit their grandchildren.

David is a retired engineer for Michelin while Lesley and I swapped stories of craft fairs, glitter, knitting and the importance of being in the WI. I’m about to join the Irish equivalent here and am seriously considering being in the WI nearest to my Dad in Northamptonshire. Now. . . I wonder if I got David and Lesley’s names right? (uh oh).

So I’ve been pondering the idea of Arts versus Science and then Engineering.

Isn’t everything arts and everything science and everything engineering? Isn’t it all craft of the highest order?????


Thanks by the bucketload to Tom McElvogue who has transformed my website recently.

Do take a peek.

You can now purchase, online, downloads of my back catalogue (Gordon Bennett, I feel jurassic or is it just a Pre Cambrian moment? No wonder I feel senile and get info mixed up – I must be ancient) including the following CDs :

– ‘SHHH’ (Ian Carr and me)

– ‘HALF AS HAPPY AS WE’ (The Two Duos Quartet – KT, Andy Cutting, Ian Carr and Chris Wood)

– ‘ONE ROOF UNDER’ (me and Andy Cutting)

– ‘MAY MONDAY’ (first CD)


and also Tom McElvogue and Paddy Kerr’s beautiful CD, ‘THE LONG HARD ROAD’ as well as Johnny Coppin’s ‘BORDERLAND’ (the latter I guest on).

See http://www.karentweed.com/online-shop/

There will be more soon. Including a pile of music-themed and accordion-themed products that I have had a massive amount of fun sourcing.

Plus, due to repeated requests to buy my posters / artwork, they will be available to buy in two sizes – A4 and A3.

I do take commissions (both in music and in art) but on the basis of time. By that I mean, if I have time! Otherwise, do ask and if I am a bit busy or just doing the life-work balance thing (ie having a life), I can suggest other brilliant composers / artists.

Crikey, I think I’m developing a Black Books personality. . .

Talking of which (great artists, not Black Books although Dylan Moran is one of my favourite great artists!) have a look at


David also plays the piano accordion and I simply LOVE his work.

Do you know, I tried to buy in 5 copies of each of the SWAP back catalogue from the Swedish record company who now own them but was told I could only do that if I paid full price (c. £15.99) for each copy as I wasn’t a retalier (apparently being the musician on the record and a member of the band doesn’t count!!!). . .I haven’t given up yet, though, so watch this space.

And! The Bunch of Keys Tunes Book 1 will be launched at the All Ireland Fleadh in Sligo next week (I’m transcribing the tunes, doing the artwork and layout). Harper Kim Fleming has been helping me with proof reading (thank you Kim!) while the dulcet tones of piano acordion recordings day and night here have nearly sent my flute-playing partner almost batty! Ha ha. Revenge is sweet (no offence, Mr Matt Molloy, but I know your back catalogue backwards, you know. . .). Tee hee.

I love the Fleadh – for me that word can only mean the All Ireland (World Championship) one organised by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE) which I have spent many years playing in, competing in and most of all, meeting friends from all over the world for a wee tune in a bar, up an alley or in the middle of the street at all times of the day and night. Lifelong friendships are forged, music is celebrated and a lot of giggling goes on. You really need to go along one year.

This year it’s in Sligo and me and my Dad will be enjoying it to the full – I may even take a look in at the under 15 Piano Accordion competition and the lilting competitions (which are always fantastic, as are the whistling competitions). I do hope John Ferguson will be there; one of the finest and most respected Piano Accordion teachers from Leeds (for a long time, now, living in Ireland).

A quiet man who pulls no punches and produced such an array of incredible accordionists over many years. He’s up there on my pedestal with the likes of Nicky and Anne McAuliffe (Co Kerry), Frank McArdle (Glasgow), Brendan Mulkere (London) and Lisa Austin-Strange (Stockport). These in-the-background teachers, encouragers, nuturers are priceless and we would be nowhere without them. Apart from Lisa, I doubt that any of the others have ever been formally recognised which just bewilders me. I expect they are not famous enough really. . .

The same goes for Timo Alakotila, Maria Kalaniemi, Niall Keegan, Sandra Joyce, Dylan Bible, Sturla Eide and more.

People forget that these superb performers are changing the world in education terms – encouraging the young’ uns to get out there, be creative and push the creative boundaries of imagination.

Astonishing teachers and never really rewarded. No change there then (as Chris Wood used to say).

‘Tis awful sad, awful sad.

I do detest this celebrity-knocks-type award system we have. While it has a few positive points (altho I’ve only thought of one so far this email), it reeks of self-congratulatory, jobs-for-the-boys nominations and panels that are laughable.

Hey – tho I’m just an accordionist, amn’t I? (another reason I don’t  go on panels or adjudication jaunts).

Anyroad up, my Merrie Melodies Tunes Book (Vol 1) will be available from Sep 10th; there was a hiccup in the printing but it’s back on track now. The first 100 pre-ordered copies will be signed (to whoever you’d like them signed to) and will be available from my shop in the next few days – but you won’t receive them until c.7th September, OK?

I had a great time explaining the process behind my tunes book at Longford Library as part of the CRUTHU festival a few weeks ago and have decided to launch the book at many small libraries throughout the UK and Ireland as I feel passionately that we need libraries in our communities; that we need to encourage ‘composition’ in terms of art and music from as young an age as possible and to make learning fun.

Plus, I’m on a mission to get music scores (classical, traditional folk, jazz etc) along with ‘how-to-play’ manuals / Dvds / videos in their own area / shelf in every library everywhere. Just like in Ventnor (IOW) library.

At the moment they are only available from good music stores and otherwise are starting to gather dust in those music stores that are on the brink of closing down.

Now, talking of Daoiri Farrell (I was – keep up!) – and he’s certainly not closing down, rather the opposite in fact! – his band ‘FOUR WINDS’ have just released their debut CD.

Entitled ‘Four Winds’, it’s fab – especially the songs and the singer. Don’t forget the singer. He’s great. He sings great songs. Daoiri Farrell. That’s him. Mighty.



I tell you- there’s at least 4 winds around here and one of them is Arctic.

Oh yes!!!!!!!! and TRACTORS! Look at this –

From: Nick Wiseman-Ellis <nickwisemanellis@googlemail.com>
Sent: 06 August 2015 07:59
To: Karen Tweed
Subject: TRACTORS!

Hi Karen,

Came across this website on Facebook.  Haven’t read it but it seems to be about tractors!



Nick x

OK, see you in a while (as the great fiddler here in Longford, Seamus Thompson, always says). I have SO much news to tell you about the Longford Collection, compositions, fancy dress ceilis and so on. Keep the weekend of 18th September free; all sorts of workshops and concerts and fancy dress (optional) ceilis in Longford being planned as I write. . .

What fun!


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

KT dates :

Sun 9th August : KT & Tom McElvogue playing as part of Moya Brennan and Tim Jarvis’ Family Band evening at Leo’s Tavern, Donegal.

Tues 11th August : Mark Hickman & Karen Tweed : ‘Reels, Airs and Songs from the Heart’
Pier Street Playhouse 8.30pm – 10.30pm
Tickets : £7 / £5 (unwaged / under 16s)
VFringe Box office : 01983 716767 (also available online)
This event is part of the VFringe Friends / members opt in 2 for 1 scheme

A gentle trip looking out towards the musical horizons inspired by a life around Priory Bay, Isle of Wight. . . in the words and music of Mark Hickman (songsmith, musician, composer & luthier from St Helens, IOW) and Karen Tweed (accordionist and composer now based in Roscommon, Ireland).
‘So rarely do we meet living composers writing about the life they are living. These are not just brilliant musicians, re-telling beautiful stories, music is who they are,’ Shirley MacNamara

Wed 12th August : Karen Tweed & The Dustbin Corner Ceilidh Band :   Sailors and Shipwrecks Fancy Dress Ceilidh
Pier Street Playhouse 3.30pm – 5pm
Tickets : £5 / under 6 years : £3 / family ticket (2 adults and 2 under 16s – none of whom need be related) : £10
VFringe Box Office : 01983 716767 (also available online)

A gentle (no experience necessary) barn dance – fancy dress optional (prizes for under 8 years, under 16 years and over 16s). Music by Karen Tweed (accordion), Mark Hickman (guitar and voice),Lorna Brownswood (flute) and caller Ian Watterson. Fancy dress optional on the theme of Shipwrecks and Sailors. . . you can come as the Mary Rose, a crab or a lobster pot or pirate, for example. . .

‘This band is a barrel of fun and frolics – get to see them or even better, book ’em!’
Shirley MacNamara