My word, isn’t it turning chilly. . .
Well. . .there has been quite a lot of action since I last nattered. . . yet it has all been fairly gentle.
And its Halloween! Here there is a festival taking place here called The Dead of Night Festival.
Are you coming. . .?
I do love all the seasons; we are now into the transition of autumn to winter which reminds me ever of growing older, the whole birth, life, death cycle.
I once read a super book called ‘Women Who Dance With the Wolves’ and in it there was a really interesting section about the moon phases. The moon has always been referred to as ‘she’ while the sun, ‘he’ and the phases of the moon can be seen as birth, daughter, virgin, grown woman, mother, crone and death.
Roy Bailey used to sing a beautiful song, composed by Bill Caddick (what a songsmith!) about King Sun and the Queen Moon.
Fabulous story and imagery. I love his (Bill’s) cowboy songs too.
(Photo by Tom McElvogue)
So. . .while serious terminal illness and death never get easier, but certainly, at my age, more frequent, I am becoming increasingly aware of the beauty of aging and even dying.
(Stained glass, St Mels Cathedral, Longford)
A dear friend of mine, Caroline Clarke, died just over a week ago and I was so struck by her lucidity and intense awareness of colours and shades which she was relating to me, 2 days before she died.
I had met her and her lovely husband, Pete Clarke on my first trip (with singer songwriter, Roger Wilson) to perform at the Hong Kong Folk Festival in 1989.
It was predominantly an English Folk Festival organised and ran by ex-pats living there.
Pete and Caroline were great fun, extremely kind and this was where I met singer-songwriter Sally Barker, who had flown in from her German tour, to perform solo.
On her return, she told Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster (who were then thinking of putting a female band together) about this female accordionist she had met with Roger Wilson in Hong Kong.
Roger, meanwhile, had fought quite a battle to get me to even consider playing on songs as well as tunes. I felt I wasn’t experienced enough.
There was a sharp intake of breath.
‘Sally,’ they chimed, ‘Harps NEVER play with accordions,’ (add a rather Paddingtonesque hard stare here)
‘. . .but she doesn’t sound like an accordion, more of a harmonica!
Trust me. . .’
That was where the Poozies all started.
A few years later, Pete, Caroline and the Hong Kong Folk Festival Committee, invited The Poozies, Chris Wood & Andy Cutting to the festival.
On arrival at Heathrow’s carpark, Sally asked, from the back of the car,
‘Do we need a passport for Hong Kong?’
at which we all laughed.
A series of fraught phone calls to her husband in Leicestershire (by phone box) and a taxi sent down with her passport in it (let’s not talk about the cost) and we made the flight by about 4 minutes.
That same trip, Pete and Caroline helped to organise a stunning trip in a friend’s yacht around the bay in glorious weather for me, Andy Cutting and Chris Wood. It was one of those afternoons where I was pinching myself – being able to enjoy this beautiful afternoon, on the kindness of some music-loving friends in an amazing part of the world in early November. How did that happen?
Actually, it was all because Roger Wilson had faith in me as a musician and performer. Roger remains one of my favourite songwriters of all time.
After a slight lull in the conversation, Chris Wood quipped, ‘I am SO pleased that I kept practising my fiddle.’
Next week, I’m playing at Caroline’s funeral and in excess of 250 have said they are attending – a fine and fitting celebration of a lovely, kind and inspirational lady.
May she rest, peacefully, now.
(Stone carving, St Mels Cathedral, Longford)
For years I tried to get into meditation because it seemed to work for so many people I knew and certainly made a big difference to their state of happiness.
Emptying my head of everything was dream that only others could make happen. . .and then it dawned on me only quite recently that the precise time when my head is only quietly focused on one thing and one thing only, blocking out everything else completely while being in a very calm, happy state is either when I am playing (as against practising) music or lost in doing art or looking at beautiful things like old comics such as the The Beano, stained glass, ancient architecture or nature.
It is my peace and perfect focus, from which almost nothing can distract me and definitely fills me with utter joy.
So I do loads of it, every day, now.
The difficulty is that I find that so much of my time and my energy has gone into emailing in recent years. No one uses the telephone anymore. . .I mean, why have a ten minute conversation which costs a few pence, and of course where someone can discuss back with you, when you can send 275 emails, back and forth and get lost in a sea of them. . .feel utterly overwhelmed and like you haven’t done a stroke of work all day. . .
So I am truly sorry if you don’t hear from me on email so much. I am just finding it drains my energy, wastes so much time and with so little light out there, I tend now, to write more letters, give lessons or discuss ideas by skype. . . .and get out in the air more. It is such a beautiful time of year and it is ticking by so fast.
Art work by Annik Cullinane, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Well. I’ve been having a good discussion about ‘industries’ in music and in general and they are all the same, aren’t they? All pretty much, like governments, short term, flashy and not really interested in the individual or great craftsmanship.
Wow, that’s a generalisation and a half but before I get carried away with ranting, let me say that there is pumpkin to make into a lantern with my IOW harper friend Theresa, while listening to Rodney Miller’s iconic ‘Airplang’ CD. Made in the early 1980s (yes, over 30 years old!), it features Rodney on fiddle, Peter Barnes on piano and Russ Barenberg on mandolin and I think, guitar. One of the very best recordings I own and, for me, on a parallel with Arvo Part, Brid Harper, Bill Evans or Richard Galliano.
We’ve already been listening to Tuulikki Bartosik’s new accordion CD, due out soon (and featuring Timo Alakotila, amongst others), a beautiful tune written for me by Peter Ellis called ‘Gentle Steps’ and Gordon Gunn’s new CD (which is FANTASTIC), entitled, ‘From Wick to Wickham’. It’s even made the sun come out here in soggy Roscommon.
And in November, Timo Alakotial and I are touring our ‘May Monday’ project in England :
May Monday are playing in Wylde Green and then Birmingham (with a very special guest or 2), Malvern, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (although that is already sold out!), Thropton in Northumberland and Nailsworth. See below for details. Timo and I are also doing a spot of teaching at the Newcastle Folk Degree course and later in the month, I’m back at the World Academy of Music and Dance at Limerick University.
May Monday are also out in late January in Ireland and in the UK in May next year . . .so if you’d like Timo and I to come and play at a venue near you, do forward suggestions to our lovely agent, Lorraine Carpenter :
0117 904 1870
You may not remember but I recorded on Paul Armfield’s new CD – a brilliant and very interesting project – well, it’s out now. A very fine CD, some wonderfully crafted songs and some amazing images!
For all the background and a lovely review see the link below :
Meantime, here’s a few interesting things – a brilliant talk by the super kinetic artist, Arthur Ganson :