Nash & Friends @ the Crew, Nuneaton
All bar one song from my set at Kenneth J Nash & Friends’ touring showcase gig when the tour stopped at the Crew in Nuneaton. Despite some technical issues and some slight curveballs for the lead guitarist, a good time was had!
Live @ the Roadhouse on Silver St., Coventry
A common thread for me the last few years is that I keep writing songs that are far too difficult for me to play reliably at my current skill-level. This is good (I keep telling myself) because it makes me improve faster! … I’ve been trying to get the timing right on this piece for a couple of years now, and have finally got a not-terrible take of what it should sound like. Progress! Recorded live @ the Roadhouse on Silver Street by Ian Bourne Music.
Jackson C. Frank’s masterpiece by way of Bert Jansch and several hours glaring at youtube and muttering. There’s still a few rough edges on the arrangement, but I’m fairly pleased with this one. All in this section recorded live @ the Roadhouse on Silver Street by Ian Bourne Music.
I got earwormed with this Neil Young classic by another of the local musical community, and had to learn it in self defence. Worth developing, I think!
This one is a blues canon classic from the Depression era, and has been recorded by all kinds of people. I was doing my first feature set of the year and found myself with an extra song in my set, so I gave this a shot and thought it went ok. Recorded by Ian Bourne Music at the Roadhouse, Feb 2015.
My catharsis song, written about my experience of chronic depression. I don’t play it often, but have been getting requests for it from some regular listeners and this take is good enough to be going on with.
About three hours before this take, I had a whimsy and blew the dust off one of my very first songs from 1989 back in Ghana; and it shows… I suspect I haven’t played it in 20 years. I’m still exploring the vocal ornamentations and dynamics here, and the guitar is flaky in places. It went a lot better at Brinklow a few days later, and it’s a seed for a solid arrangement. I think I might feed it to the boys from the Merry Band and see what happens!
This song is an oft-forgotten piece by Robin Williamson form his days in the Incredible String Band. This arrangement also comes by way of Bert Jansch, and I grabbed the opportunity to play it at a gig which was actually in October, for once.
Richard Thompson’s classic road rebel anthem, I was very glad this came out well. I’ve known it for a while but hadn’t much confidence in my playing til recently.
A satirical homage to Paul Simon, originally by Fred Wedlock. Just to prove I know what I sound like sometimes…
Live @ the Stag
A playlist of my feature set from July, recorded as always by Ian Bourne.
I thought the whole set went fairly well but was particularly pleased with the cover of Eddie Reader’s Alleluia and with this version of Conversation.
Live recordings from the Shakespeare
Original: Riverflow first presented 17th March 2012
This song earned me my best testimonial yet from someone who doesn’t know me personally: “The best river song since Nick Drake!” Wow; reading that never gets old, or at least it hasn’t yet. I’d been trying to write songs for something like twenty years before Celebrity came to me. Opening that door was catalytic in my spiritual experience, and having written a song left me euphoric. In Druidic language, I had experienced the awen in an entirely new and powerful way. I wanted to express what that made me feel, and I wanted to write a song which described my engagement with the awen, some touch of why I am a Druid and a Bard in the first place.
I also wanted to work in a traditional piece of the Druidic canon; in this case, the Song of Amergin, one of the most beautiful, enduringly popular and determinedly enigmatic of the medieval Welsh cryptads. The result was Riverflow; a partially finger-picked 3/4 dorian hymn. A song much too difficult for me to actually perform at the time: my skills have finally caught up with my inspiration enough that I managed to get a live take that didn’t feel like I’d let the song down. And here it is…
Original: Conversation first presented 9th Nov 2012
This was my fifth original song, and was written as the result of a heckle. I’d been booked to play at a four-act acoustic singer/songwriter showcase at Browns in Coventry, which was a bit of a compliment as it was one of the few solo gigs I’d had come to me since I got to town. I got heckled during my set for singing depressing songs in minor keys (folky, right?) and while it didn’t phase me much, it did settle into my brain as a kind of challenge, so I set out to write a major key song about things I liked.
What ended up arriving is about as close to a summer-season nostalgia track as I think I’m emotionally capable of writing; evoking recollections of chatting to friends, school days, festival fields and good whiskey, it rapidly became a firm favourite of the other Pathwalkers in choosing our set-lists. It’s a good laugh to play :)
Original: The Ballad of Spring-Heeled Jack
first presented 15th Apr 2012
This was my third essay in song-writing. If you know me and the Cov music scene of the relevant era well enough, you can usually tell by listening to my earlier songs exactly which local act I’d seen live most recently that had really impressed me (Conversation, above, was written shortly after seeing Kristy Gallacher play). This one came to me shortly after my first time seeing Wes Finch and the Dirty Band; who do not play swing/folk, particularly, but this is where the inspirations fell out.
I wanted to make a try at a traditional ballad structure and I wanted to pick up an old story that doesn’t see enough daylight. Spring-Heeled Jack is a London ghost-story, a mythical serial killer on whom a number of unsolved knife killings of young women were blamed in the early Victorian era. Since then he’s been a comic opera villain, a penny dreadful hero, a costumed superhero in the 1950s, and the subject of a book by Philip Pullman. I decided to add my contribution to his continuing legend.
Cover: October Song by Robin Williamson, via Bert Jansch
I learned this arrangement courtesy of Dan Gascoigne: this is one of my favourite hippy songs of all time. I’ve been getting lessons from Dan to pick up the fingerstyle and rag-time guitar techniques I needed, and this one he gave me for my birthday. As mentioned on the profile page, I’m studying for the Bardic degree in the BDO, and Robin Williamson is Chief Bard of that order: one day, the man who wrote this may well be on the panel I have to present my original work to for Bardic qualification.
At this point I’m still playing it a little too fast, and tripping a bit; there should be another version along in a month or so, we’ll see if I’ve improved!
Cover: The Folker, after Paul Simon via Fred Wedlock
Another song that was suggested to me by Dan; he introduced me to this track on the grounds that he was drunk and thought it would suit me. Once I’d heard the line, “To the rhythm of an off-key British one-string thatched guitar” I knew he was right and set about learning it forthwith. Bit of comedy just to show I know what I sound like sometimes!