(Designs by Al Rowe)

Hello there,

Richard Dawkins says that we are more like waves than things. I think he’s right – I use the term ‘waves’ a lot (being menopausal); I feel a tremendous pull towards the sea and can’t begin to describe the depth of awe and happiness I always feel when faced with the ocean in all it’s splendour, whether on Sandown beach, on a ferry in the middle of the Irish Sea or looking down from a plane.

It resonates truly and deeply.

I have also been reading more of that book on Clarity by Jamie Smart. . .

(photo by Amber Skye photography of Gower, Wales)

. .  . and he was exploring the idea of the way we viewed life as a child. . .we were deeply engaged, easily amused and satisfied with the simple joys of life. . .we were present and in the moment. I can be like that with glitter so I guess the trick is to extend it to everything and throughout our lives. . .

Anyroad up with Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I’d show you another Al Rowe design, above.

Again, they are available by contacting Al via his website www.potting-shed-cartoons.co.uk or email him :


Valentine’s Day makes me think of Derek Jarman’s ‘Chroma’ – a gorgeous book in which every chapter explores a different colour – the chapter on RED is so beautiful. He wrote the book as he was dying of AIDS and every page is inspirational, often witty, very informative and also poignant.

Last weekend, I played a concert and taught at an accordion workshop near Bangor – both were great fun and were the first in a little series. I managed to catch up with the superb pianist, Huw Warren and I must say, that apart from his heart achingly beautiful accompaniment to the singing of June Tabor and wonderful music he creates with the other  Perfect Houseplants crew, it is still his recording A Barrel Organ Far From Home that inspires me beyond words. Cor.

There are now 3 more suchlike concert and workshop weekends over the next few months in Shrewsbury, Somerset and York. I will keep you posted.

Before last weekend, I was down the road in Llansilin, happily learning the  basics of calligraphy from master lettercarver, John Neilson.


I first came across John‘s work when he had booked myself and Ian Carr for a concert in Oswestry sometime in the mid 1990s. The contract I received in the  post was accompanied by the most beautiful hand drawn map and John was amused that I was more keen to talk about his map than the logistics of the concert when we arrived at the venue. You may have seen his work in the designs for Johnny Coppin’s Christmas show leaflet designs or the last logo the New Rope String Band had.

For those of you near Birmingham, his work can be seen in an exhibition at the Parkside Gallery, Birmingham University until the end of today :

John is also in a very very beautiful duet with Faith Brackenbury :


. . .and John also composes super tunes which are starting to frequent local Shropshire sessions and my repertoire.

I am not sure how many of you had heard of Marcus Turner, multi instrumentalist, singer songwriter based in New Zealand. There seem to have been so many deaths in the last few months of people who have somehow touched us a little more deeply. . .and this very sad news about Marcus, who would have been 60 this week, has crystallised my thoughts following the passing of Caroline Clarke, my Uncle Derrick, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, so many others and now Marcus.

It is true that death is an event we cannot avoid and it is a leveller. . . it reaches us all, it makes no concession for gender, age, background or wealth.

Yet we are never prepared for the loss, grief and resulting frustration, anger and futility it so often carries with it. We know it could and does happen at any moment, yet we avoid talking about it or how we might deal with it until it occurs.

What if,  in the words of Liz Gray‘s book, ’99 words’ would we say, if we only had the breath left for 99 words. . . Irish flautist Kevin Ryan told me of a great radio programme on RTE he had heard about older people talking about nearing the end of their lives. None had regrets about things they had done, but regrets about what they had not done. 

These days, I feel that I am more at ease with the event itself and feel honoured to participate in honouring and celebrating a life, which death always highlights so very intensely. . .the fact that this spirit has touched, ignited, inspired us in some way. . .

. . . for the impact is never, ever small.

Perhaps death and the funeral ceremony is to make us stop, reflect and really heed how a loved one’s life has made our life more special in some way and to look, suddenly to those still here and heed more consciously how very lucky we are before we step back into a world that is spinning too fast and takes us into its tornado once again.

When I got the news that Marcus had died, time stopped.

I have read so many tributes to him this last week and it occurs to me that we cannot even begin to put into words the wondrous things this man was. . .I am not making him into a saint, it just occurred to me that the small facet I knew and understood of this incredibly gifted, creative and compassionate man couldn’t be covered in mere words, let alone a tribute or a eulogy.

Every one of us has an important story, a contribution which can never be truly recognised or explained. We only fully realise that when a person dies.

I keep going back to words on the funeral card from my old friend, John Walden :

‘The wonder of the world

The beauty and the power,

The shape of things,

Their colours, lights and shades,

These we saw;

Look ye also while life lasts.

You may have heard Andy Irvine sing When The Boys on Parade, one of Marcus songs.

One thing that struck  a massive chord with me, when listening to the eulogies at his funeral from his colleagues from the TV company he worked with was the number of times the words ‘gentle’, ‘people’, ‘fairness’ and ‘wise’ were used.

He cared deeply and it was his gentle care  and attention to detail that I shall miss.

I thank him every day for making me stop and making me smile broadly.



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

Thurs 24th MarchKaren Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
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Tues 12th & Wed 13th AprilKaren Tweed & Timo Alakotila Teaching NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY

Tues 19th AprilKaren Tweed Teaching at WORCESTER
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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
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Fri 22nd AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SHREWSBURY
Bradbury Hall, The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury SY3 9HF
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Sat 23rd AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SHREWSBURY Accordion Day
10am – 4pm
Venue : Bradbury Hall, The Trinity Centre, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury SY3 9HF
Tickets : £40
Info and tickets : www.karentweed.com

Fri 29th AprilKaren Tweed: Solo SOMERSET
Venue : Roxy Cinema, 36 High Street, Axbridge, Somerset BS26 2AF
Tickets : £10 / £7 unwaged
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Sun 1st MayKaren Tweed SOMERSET Accordion Day
10am – 4.30pm
Venue : Priddy Village Hall, Somerset BA5 3BE
Tickets : £40
Bring and share lunch
Info and contact : 01749 870078


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

Karen Tweed is represented worldwide by
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email: lorraine@differentstrings.co.uk

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