Hello out there. . .

Does anyone else out there feel happy when they see a tractor? I’ve been off-radar for a while, taking time out and starting to feel much better for it. For one thing, I’ve noticed more tractors and like tea, there are many varieties. Eilidh Shaw (during a tour with the Poozies many many moons ago) introduced me to her interest in tractors. It was much more interesting than the orange cones we were faced with in whatever traffic jam it was at the time. . .

I’ve also done a little teaching, some concerts and (always) inspirational time with Colum Sands – more about the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe / Bronte connections in another missive – and am starting again to do skype lessons – contact me by email :


or on the www.learningaccordion.com website.

I needed to postpone my monthly Droitwich teaching until January 2015 but meantime, 4 of the regular accordionists have been performing at their first concert in Worcestershire which is fantastic!

HARP ON WIGHT is fast approaching and there are some great events happening all week from 24th – 30th November – see :




for more details. Great concerts, harp tuition (come along and try out playing a harp for the first time!), harp making workshops, lectures and sessions!
Plus, I’ll be teaming up with Mary Macmaster, Patsy Seddon (who I used to play with in the Poozies) plus Mark Hickman and Ian Watterson to play at a ceilidh on the Sunday – should be quite a hoot!

I thought I’d start with this video clip of The Chaps – a great band from New Zealand performing one of Marcus Turner’s new songs :


I’ve been doing a little bit of work in the last few weeks with students on the concept of arranging (which seems to take up a lot of my brain these days) and performance. Well, the Chaps are inspirational to me in those terms – they rarely come north but look out for them as they sometimes do.

I do love songs, great tunes (I played 2 of my favourites in the last 2 days quite by accident) but more and more, I realise it’s the arrangement that floors me, whether it’s Stevie Wonder (I’m sure I haven’t mentioned him in way too long), Arvo Part, Baltic Crossing, Joni Mitchell or XTC.

Fyn Titford-Mock sent me some Sacred Harp Singing clips from the Norwich workshops – have a listen to this :


. . .and I love the venue, too. Being a newcomer to this type of singing arrangement, I didn’t know where the ‘Sacred Harp’ fitted in and Fynn kindly explained to me that the voice is seen as the sacred harp, and it refers to a style of singing which enables singers to understand music without notation.

If you’re looking for Sacred Harp singing in London or Cork (and they’ll direct you elsewhere, should you need it) see :

Sacred Harp:
in Cork – http://corksacredharp.com/  – look in links for info on Dublin singing

in London  http://londonsacredharp.org/
I’ve also been thinking about the concept of ‘enigma’ recently (which has come up in conversation). It seems to me that there have been a lot of fantastically creative and sometimes very successful people who, once caught in the eye of the public, lose faith and decide to wander off the public-eye track. Few people seem to understand or even look at what led up to that decision and are rarely interested in looking at the angle of the creative, only annoyed that this has happened and the creativity or public view has been snatched away.

As Bill Withers said on his documentary, he hadn’t ‘quit’ from being a ‘star’, he just decided to do something else because he felt he wasn’t very good at ‘this fame thing’. The recurring element seems to be that once you are ‘successful’ or ‘famous’ then you lose your identity because the public / publishers / record companies / promoters etc feel they have a right to own you.

I don’t feel that ‘enigma’ is a concept I’d apply to anyone. All the ‘enigmas’ I have known, met or heard / read about seem to be very passionate people needing to get some personal space / a life beyond the creative conveyor belt. That’s quite understandable. There are hundreds of incredibly talented and creative people all around me, the more I look. Most of them don’t see it that way – it’s what they do and they care very much about what and how they do / perform it but it’s a natural process and often isn’t about making money or being famous. It’s a craft.

Once craft becomes an industry, that’s when things can go wrong.

Is an enigma simply something / someone we don’t understand or is simply beyond some kind of rationale? And how Bill Withers or Kate Bush choose to be is so far out of what we expect, that it makes them an enigma?

Eskil Romme could be called an enigma; he’s a farmer and has put more and more time into his music and continues to care and act passionately about nature, eco-friendly farming, the culture in Denmark and music. I recorded on his latest CD ‘Fornemmelser’ (Senses) last January and it’s always terribly exciting to wait for the album to pop through the letterbox because it’s never what you expect (not that I expect anything anymore – the music is always brilliant).

It’s Eskil’s latest collection of compositions, arranged and edited by Eskil and Peter Rosendal (piano / flugabone) and I can’t begin to describe the music properly. It’s great, whacky, poignant, joyous, serene. . . and all the other musicians (Ayi Solomon – percussion; Pierre Dorge – guitar; Jens Krogholt – bass; Ditte Fromseier – violin, viola, vocal; Torben Sminge – flugelhorn; Jens Ulvsand – bouzouki and ofcourse, Eskil on saxophone, Peter on piano and flugabone and me on accordion) weave their magic throughout the CD. It’s beautifully produced and engineered (Torben Sminge) and beautifully designed and packaged by Gunhild Buskov Romme.
I’m not sure it’s available over here yet but you can contact Eskil :


or order one from www.tutl.com     the CD number is SHD158.

I’m having a quiet autumn – (check out that tune written by flautist Sarah Allen, it’s beautiful) and learning tunes from a great session I get to in Clondra, County Roscommon and from Nick Wiseman-Ellis and Nic Zuppardi (after the marvellous concert we shared in September in Norwich).

Colum Sands was also telling me about Breezy Kelly – a lady who is trying to get everyone to bake bread and even takes a wee oven on stage with her (when on tour) and goes into schools to teach children baking. Maybe I’ll give that a whirl too. Breezy writes down what the children say about it all and one lad, known for his more disruptive behaviour and not impressed with the idea of baking, said, after Breezy bade him to stick his hands into sifted flour :
‘It’s like putting your hands into the clouds,’ and has continued to bake bread ever since.

Kt Dates:

For Karen’s teaching (UK) schedule, see