Ps, Brummies, Qs and Teas


(Photo : Nick Wiseman – Ellis)
Is anyone tricky time with hay fever? I find cucumber helps, but the best is cold tea bags (I’ve spared you the picture!)

Now then! Brace yourself – there’s TONS to tell you and that is happening – in brief (she says, adopting her plumiest BBC accent) this weekend, I shall mostly be playing Irish music, mussettes and tangos at the Paddy and Anne Molloy Summer School in Birmingham (See for more details or call 07964 873355); next week, I shall mostly be skipping around Longford Arts Festival ( and my website has undergone some mighty surgery as I’m launching new downloads of ‘Shhh’ (a vintage CD by Ian Carr and myself), ‘One Roof Under’ (another by Andy Cutting and me) and ‘Half As Happy As We’ (featuring all the above plus Chris Wood) in the next few weeks plus not one, but two tunebooks and 3 creative music weekends. Oh, and a Jurassic cd of myself and Adrian Burns (available on a real CD!).

, , , ,STOP PRESS!

Harp On Wight 2015 is 6th – 11th October – see  for details.

And now, here is the news :

Tea plays quite an important part of my life. I’m still doing the Paleo diet and people do say I’m looking very well indeed. I thought I would’ve grown tired of the steak and duck eggs every morning but now I’m back in England for a bit, I’m pining for it.

I tend not to stick closely to the PD when I’m away from home; it’s not fair to inflict such a diet on others’ hospitality, although I’ve been surprised how many people are keen to try to streamline their menu for me. . . not that it takes much streamlining (any lean unprocessed meat, fish, veg, fruit and nuts but no potatoes, rice, noodles, pasta or lentils).

(Photo by Richard Faulks

It was my birthday recently (I’m sure I told you – usually it lasts for around 6 months) and my dear friend Citroen Clive gave me a fantastic surprise in that he had composed not only a poem, but two in my honour and sang them to me, accompanied by his Lady Pricey.

(Photo :  Clive  Mead)
One of the teas I really adore is the mix of Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong Tea. Sadly, the latter is not to be found in the counties of Roscommon and Longford in Ireland, where I live, so CC (aka Cotswold Clive) has become my tea correspondent (as against Marcus Turner in New Zealand who has been, for many years, my chocolate correspondent, just as Crikey has become my
Resolution-Tea-From-Whitby correspondent on the Isle of Wight).

I can’t allow you to hear the full sonic performance of the poems (Citroen Clive would at least stall, if not do a very dangerous emergency stop if he found out, which is highly unlikely as he owns neither a mobile phone, computer nor broadband. . .actually, none of us ‘own’ broadband, do we? Who does?). . .but I can share the poems with you.

As you’ll read, they are right up my street. (Talking of which, have you heard Karen Street’s latest CD? ‘Unfurled’ – brilliant as is the artwork by Andy Tweed).

By the way, they (the poems – keep up!) can be read individually, with a tea break in between or done as an ensuite kind of thing. Or do I just mean a medley? Hmmmm. . .

Collapsing Shoe Song ( no guarantee )

In May I bought new shoes from Stead and Simpson
But well before the month had yet elapsed
They had collapsed
And so I took them for repair to Timpson

The cobbler looked me in the eye
He said, ‘Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!
Did you not know, did you not see?
These shoes are Stead and Simpson ”Collapsible model 33”?

I bought a pair for my good wife
To bring some drama to her daily life
But when they pitched her down an embankment
She did not give me any thankment

Well I could fix them up for now
But truth be told, I don’t know how
To make them last for all that long
Perhaps they’d make a subject for a song?’

In May I bought new shoes from Stead and Simpson
Entirely unbeknown to me
They were ”Collapsible model 33”
I sold them on e-bay for 50p

Lapsang Sue Song

There once was a girl an’ a girl I knew
Went by the name of Lapsang Sue
Drank more tea than me ‘n’ you
Never met a girl like Lapsang Sue

Lapsang Sue, Lapsang Sue
Five feet two and eyes of blue
Drank more tea than a railroad crew
Never said no to another brew

Wouldn’t drink coffee, didn’t like wine
Another cup of tea? That’ll do just fine
Kept one by her all the time
Hot and sweet and so divine

Lapsang Sue, Lapsang Sue
Any kind of tea would do
She drank Earl Grey and Oolong too
Tetley, PG and Typhoo

Pour it on out, don’t let it stew
Like it in a cup but a mug will do
She’d have one, she’d have a few
Drinkin’ tea the whole day through

*Lapsang Sue, Lapsang Sue
Died too young of tannic flue
Wager that she never knew
What drinking too much tea could do

Lapsang Sue, Lapsang Sue
Never met a girl like Lapsang Sue

(*Alternative last verse, only for use when the song is sung subsequent to The Collapsing Shoe Song) :

Lapsang Sue, Lapsang Sue
Eight foot two and eyes of blue
Went to drink tea with the railroad crew
Died in a fall from a platform. . . shoe

Stead & Simpso o  o   o    on
Collapsing model 32

(Poems by D.C Mead 2015)

Maybe I should write something similar about my US Visa experience. . . .

Apologies for giving you the wrong link to Dermot Byrne, in the last natter, spelling his name wrong (unforgiveable) and saying he played ‘Tico Tico’ instead of ‘Chico Chico’ (or was it the other way round?). . .I often get names wrong.

Always have.

My Dad does too and has done all his life. He gets around it by calling people nicknames (and oddly, he can recall reams of people by their nicknames).

No one gets a choice, here, by the way.

I’ve always been called ‘Cow’ (oi, I heard that!), for example whereas Anna Esslemont was ‘Cinderella’ to him and so on.

I think there’s a lot of people out there with the same thing. Most people refer to my collaboration with Timo Alakotila as ‘May Morning’, rarely ‘May Monday’.

I wonder what would happen if we called our next CD, ‘May Morning’? It doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

I understand what they are talking about. .  or like the promoter in Nottinghamshire during a village halls tour I was on (in a duet with Kathryn Tickell) some years ago. He went on stage, looked at the audience, looked across at us and said,

‘Ladies and gentlemen. . .’

He looked at us again, seemed a little flustered and, with a raised voice said,

‘Please give a warm welcome to . . .Carol Tinkle!’

Classic moments.

. .  .and talking of which, May Morning / Monday is one long classic moment for me. I really love having musical conversations with Mr Alakotila, anywhere, anytime.

Timo and I are out and about again in November on a small, beautifully planned tour of a bit of England and we’re talking about a new CD.

Like you do.

I know what you’re thinking, but actually it may surprise you to know that sometimes, Timo can out-talk me (on specific subjects he feels strongly about, like chocolate or music, for example).

. . .I’m also launching the CD of a cassette I made 30 years ago because quite a few people kept asking me to put a few of my favourite / quirkier session tunes down on a tape so that they could learn them. After about 7 tapes, I thought, hang on, where’s Adrian?

Adrian Burns is from Willesden, London (like myself) and at the time, I was living in Cricklewood, London, having finished art college in Leeds and doing any jobs which would fund me to go across the Pond to Ireland and play in as many sessions as I could possibly fit in to the time I had available. Sleep was for the rest of my life. . .

Adrian and I used to meet up with various musicians regularly for sessions in North London, such as Siobhan O Donnell (glorious flute player and singer), Jackie Wynne (splendid guitarist), Kathy Walton (super silver flute player), Marcus Hernon (and another glorious flute player), Peter McAlinden (tin whistle playing you have to hear to believe) etc etc.

Adrian played (and still does) guitar and bouzouki, beautifully, and, at that time, flute. Camden Town was like a mini Roscommon, I can tell you!

People often talk, these days about the numerous button box players there were in London at that time, but for me, it was all about flutes. And we were all talking Matt Molloy, Thomas McElvogue and Niall Keegan even then, as against French or Spanish.

So one Saturday morning I ‘persuaded’ Ade that it was a great idea to go to Thomas Nagle’s house and borrow his piano accordion, his ghetto blaster (remember them??) and put a few tunes down on a C90 cassette.

Thanks to Thomas, his mum (we drank SO much tea!) and Adrian’s endless patience, that cassette was not only made, but given to so many people. . .and apparently got bootlegged (with our blessing) all round the UK and Ireland.

I forgot about it until a few years ago; a fellow came up to my Dad and presented one of the tapes and asked if he remembered it? Dad did, accepted the gift and called me later that evening.

I told Niall Keegan about it. He said that his had worn out and why didn’t we bring it out (especially as I had no plans, outside of the Dave Mallinson Irish Tunes book, to ever bring out a strictly ‘Irish trad’ album – as far as I was concerned, people could hear that kind of thing in most decent pub sessions in Ireland)?

7 years (or so) later, that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s entitled ‘Bootleg Panini’ and edited / mastered by Andy Bell and Tom McElvogue, it’s the old tape, warts and all. Don’t expect pristine CD quality production and do expect some good howlers from me.

Adrian plays superbly and I have to say, I still love and play those tunes and the whole thing makes me smile broadly.

Mostly Irish Trad tunes, there’s a few of my own early tunes, one of the brilliant box player Ailbe Grace’s and some Shetland and Scots tunes all played as Irishly as possible on the piano accordion, guitar and bouzouki.

It’s first launch is at the Newry Fleadh (Sep 11th -13th) but we are also playing as part of ‘The Headers’ band which also features Noreen Cullen (fiddle), Grace Kelly (voice / tin whistle), Tommy Diegnan (button accordion) and Brian Kelly (banjo), performing this Saturday evening at the Paddy and Ann Molloy Summer School in Birmingham  – and teaching (with a host of other great teachers of traditional Irish music) all weekend too!

I’ll be teaching beginners accordion and a ‘have a go at the melodica’ class!!!

Saturday’s concert is definitely going to be a brilliant hooley as there’s also Ciaran Clifford (tin whistle), Ivan Miletitch (guitar / bouzouki), Des Hurley (fiddle) and, rumour has it that myself and Chris o Malley (piano accordion / piano) will be doing a Mussette Waltz medley.

ooh la la ta da!

There’s also sessions all weekend – see below :

4th Anne and Pat Molloy Summer School 18-19th July 2015
South and City College, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 5SU

The event has grown each year and is a wonderful tribute to Anne and Pat for their contribution to the Irish Traditional Music scene.

Wide range of instruments including fiddle, whistle, button accordion, piano accordion, banjo, mandolin, flute, concertina, guitar, bodhran and bones, as well as ballad singing and sean nos dancing.
All levels are catered for and tutors include well known and respected musicians as well as experienced teachers.
Saturday workshops: 2 x 1.5 hrs followed by a session trail led by tutors, enabling participants to join the session suitable for their level.
Sunday workshop – mixed instrument groups, followed by group performances.

Friday evening session in Spotted Dog to welcome everyone to the weekend, from 7pm onwards.
Sessions will take place all weekend in the surrounding Digbeth pubs. The weekend will finish with session at the Spotted Dog Sunday from 4pm which is likely to spread to The Big Bull and continue through Monday morning!

Don’t miss this one off event – concert featuring collaborations of top class performers from the Irish Trad scene.
The Headers: brilliant, highly energetic, well known and respected performers come together for one night only!!  Tommy Diegnan​, Noreen Cullen, Adrian Burns​, Karen Tweed, Grace Kelly​, Brian Kelly​.
Lampa: Dan Green​, Tom Green​, Matt Murphy​, Tom Davis​, Roisin McGrath, Emily Thomas. The ever popular and entertaining young Irish trad band from Birmingham.
Palandri, McGonigle & Healy – Brilliant trad group, including beautiful melodies on fiddle, harp and flute.
Ivan Miletitch​, Joe Molloy​, Des Hurley, Chris O’Malley​, Órlaith McAuliffe – these renowned musicians come together for a one off collaboration – not to be missed!!!
Molloy family are proud to be joined by Patsy Moloney, Karen Ryan​ and Pete Quinn, well known and highly respected musicians.
Sean-nós dancers Ashline Scanlon (Cunningham)​ and Micheal Cunningham of Fuaim Chonamara and Atlantic Steps fame will join the groups with some lively steps!

See for more details or call 07964 873355

. . . here’s an article about the whole event :

“Brum Is Home Of Irish Trad – Say it Loud And Say It Proud!”
by Tony Horswill  24/6/15
Brummies don’t like to boast – I know that. But after three successful years of the Anne and Pat Molloy Summer School and the runaway success of the Trip to Birmingham TradFest it’s time to own the pride of place that we have earned in Irish Traditional Music. This came home to me as I was thinking back to those lessons with Pat in the family home, lost in a lazy dream about what I could say this year, and getting a little sad thinking of times gone. Pat would have no time for such self-indulgence. I could hear his voice in my head saying “Well I’m surprised you are still writing about me, you should be writing about the school”. I could also hear this delivered in the tone he used after quizzing me about my practice regimen.

Well sorry Pat, I have to write a little bit about you if only to illustrate the “good kind of proud” I was talking about. At last July’s Summer School Noreen Cullen took a moment in her class to recall a particular occasion when Pat entered a fiddle competition in his later years. He might be expected to play it safe. Not a bit of it! He decided to play Carolan’s Concerto. This is a tune written by harper Turloch O’Carolan in the eighteenth century, inspired by the Italian baroque music of the time.

It is a tricky tune, beloved of classical crossover musicians, but that is not the reason most traditional players avoid it; it is because it is difficult to “make your own”.

As Noreen explained, not only did Pat make it his own, but he stood proud, two feet square on the ground, and laced into it, swinging and variating – playing “in the pocket” as the jazz boys say, but still on the high wire.

The message was clear, not least because Noreen also spelt it out – “don’t be afraid of falling on your arse”.

This year is going to repeat last year’s successful formula by making maximum use of the South and City Birmingham College campus, including a Saturday night concert.

The line-ups for the concert are fascinating as we are seeing “supergroups” forming for the event: the Molloys with Joe Molloy, Karen Ryan and Peter Quinn; the Headers with Tommy Deignan, Grace Kelly, Brian Kelly, Karen Tweed, Noreen Cullen and Adrian Burns; the “gan ainm” (unnamed) of Ivan Miletitch, Des Hurley, Órlaith McAuliffe and  Chris O’Malley.

Such mouth-watering combinations bring to mind the sort of successful collaborations that I have seen at festivals in the States, in particular the meeting of Sean McComiskey, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Bernadette Nic Gabhann and Sean Gavin at the Catskill Irish Arts Week from which evolved the group NicGaviskey. These sort of coming togethers tend to happen naturally as festivals and summer schools mature. The concert will also feature favourites from last year’s shenanigans with Birmingham’s own young and energetic Lampa and the magnificent Healy, McGonigle, Palandri (from the Trip To Birmingham TradFest), and Liam Scanlon who “owned” the floor of the auditorium at last year’s concert.

That’s enough about the concert as I can now hear Joe and Ronan Molloy’s voices simultaneously in my head (time to up the meds?) saying “don’t forget the pubs”. Quite right, Joe and Ronan.

The sessions take place in some of Digbeth’s famous old Victorian pubs including the Big Bull’s Head, the Spotted Dog and the White Swan. Maybe it is being an expat in the US that makes me so fond of these places, but I think it is more the case of distance giving perspective and appreciating these treasures for what they are, as something that should be preserved in a resurgent Birmingham.

Pauline Molloy’s sweet tones have now entered my cranium, saying “never mind the pubs, what about the workshops”.

Quite right, Pauline. Expect the usual buzz of excitement on Saturday morning as young and old gather for expert lessons on flute, tin whistle, button and piano accordion, guitar, ballad singing, sean-nos dance, fiddle, piano, tenor banjo, mandolin, bodhran, bones and anglo concertina. Passing on the knowledge and tradition to the 100 or so anticipated students is at the core of the weekend ( school in the title is of course a giveaway).

Some reception problems up in the dome. Oh it’s Enda Molloy coming through. What does he want? Oh right, “the Sunday group performances are brilliant”.

Quite right, Enda, they are. And you definitely have the knack in getting musical and fun arrangements from young and old, novice and expert in your groups. Last year’s sean-nos dancing turn was especially brilliant, and it was here that we saw the “Noreen principle” in action.

There was one young woman in the group who was truly throwing herself into her performance. From my vantage point I could see Noreen from the corner of my eye, and I could see her stiffen in attention like a startled cat when the solo started. For each extravagant kick of the dancer, Noreen’s smile would widen; for every fling of the arm, Noreen would shift to the seat edge, entranced. One enthusiastic kick too high, and the inevitable “fall on the arse”.

Noreen leaped out of her chair, fist-pumping in triumph. I could swear she shouted “Yes” when the dancer got straight up again, wearing the biggest smile of the weekend.

Thankfully it has quietened down in the old noggin. Hang on, someone’s coming through. Oh great, it is Anne Molloy. What’s that?

Oh, “Make sure you look after everyone”.

Quite right, Anne. Don’t worry, we will.
Have a great  weekend. I can’t wait!


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

KT dates :


Fri 17th July – Sun 19th July : KT at Paddy and Anne Molloy weekend, Birmingham.

Thurs 23rd July : CRUTHU Longford Arts Festival (until Sun 26th July)
KT : ‘Merrie Melodies’ Book Launch in Longford Library, Longford Town, Co. Longford, Ireland :
Internationally acclaimed  accordionist Karen Tweed talks and plays excerpts from her first book of musical compositions, ‘Merrie Melodies’. Karen composed the tunes, inspired by her background in the folk music traditions of Ireland, Scandinavia, France and beyond; she has also illustrated the book and handwritten the music notation.
1-2pm Free admission.

Thurs 23rd July : CRUTHU Longford Arts Festival (until Sun 26th July)
KT joins Philip Bryne for an evening of stories – spoken and musical.
8pm at The Little Blue Room, Longford.

KT : ‘Friday 24th July 2015 : CRUTHU Longford Arts Festival (until Sun 26th July)
Longford Library :
Talk / workshop :  ‘The Lost Art of Letterwriting’. Internationally acclaimed  accordionist Karen Tweed talks about her passion for writing letters, gives a brief history of communication by post and hopes to inspire everyone to start writing letters, postcards and memoires again. . . Do bring a pen and some paper!
1-2pm Free admission

Fri 24th July : CRUTHU Longford Arts Festival (until Sun 26th July)
KT : ‘THE LONGFORD COLLECTION CONCERT’ at The Longford Arms, Longford Town, CO. Longford, Ireland :
The best of traditional Irish music from Longford and its neighbours, featuring (amongst others):
Noel Sweeney (flute), MairtinO Muiri (guitar / vocals), Donna McCann (concertina / vocals), Kim Fleming (harp), Niamh Francis (harp), Jim Braheny (button accordion), Frances Brennan (recitations), Jim McLoughlin (button accordion), Johnny King (bodhran, bones and spoons), Sean Thompson (button accordion), Michael Lennon (button accordion), Pat Finnerty (uilleann pipes), Seamus Thompson (fiddle), Olive Kilbane (fiddle)  and more . . .

These brilliant musicians also play and teach locally on a regular basis, ensuring local traditional music is alive and thriving. A fun, informal concert and a chance to hear how music cast it’s spell over them; they will be joined by guests, including Tom McElvogue (flute) and Karen Tweed (piano accordion).
A great evening of music, song and stories is guaranteed for all the family.
8pm – 10pm
Tickets : 7€ in advance / 10€ on the door / 5€ under 16s.

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




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