Happy New Year! Here’s to 2020…

Happy New Year from me and Bev to our friends and family all over the world! And a huge thank you to everyone that has supported us on our travels and supported me and the band over the last year.

We started the new year in Girona, in Spain – listening to parakeets in the trees above the van – after a great NYE celebration in front of the cathedral in the old town. Typically English, we were very punctual – we went out about 10.30 and the town was eerily quiet. But by about 11.30, revellers started pouring in, with hats, wigs and streamers, champagne flutes – and grapes! The ritual is to eat a grape with each of the midnight chimes to ensure good luck for the coming year. There were thousands of people and a very friendly family atmosphere. There was such a noise from the crowd we missed the first few chimes and had to scoff them quick sharp. After the chimes, we followed the crowd to another square and finished our fizz, dancing for an hour of more while the band ‘La Tropical’ did their thing. A fantastic experience. Here’s to more of those moments!

What’s next?

The plan is to move on to Figueres today, then into France, through Italy, up to Austria for a week cross country skiing, then heading back to the UK around March time. I better get some gigs booked in along the way!

Again, thanks to everyone that has listened, liked, shared and bought my new album Brass Neck! Keep up the good work 🙂 It’s been a long time coming – 17 years! – and a painful process at times so I’m really pleased it’s now out there.

Wishing good health and happiness to you all…

Out Now!

Brass Neck! limited edition CDs in stock

So, at last, very pleased to say the album is out now and live on bandcamp – 10 tracks, ‘ten bob’ a track or a fiver for the lot 😉 Physical CDs should arrive early in the New Year.

Huge ‘thank you’ to all involved – especially Bev, the band Phil Muriel and Richy Clarke, my guests Lyndon Anderson, Phil Moore, Gary Grainger and Gav Warrender, and to Dee at Ginger Music Company in Gateshead.

Special Cheers to Jimmy Carlyle and Aston Bowles, who were the first to pre-order, much appreciated!

I’ve got some work to do in spreading the news, but delighted I’ve already had some airplay…

Jimmy played the opening track ‘Certain Something’ on his Shades of Blue show on BBC Radio Shetland.

Gary Grainger gave the first airplay to ‘New Ramblin’ Blues’, ‘9 Miles to Rosedale’ and ‘Journeyman’ on his award-winning Blues Show on Bishop FM. He’s played tracks 3 weeks in a row, top man!

Wondering if the remaining 6 tracks will get a play, and who might be first to share them…

New album update #2 – pre-order live on bandcamp!

The Brass Neck! pre-order page is up and running on bandcamp! Very grateful to those that have placed an order already – thank you so much for the support, it means a lot 🙂

You can now hear the first 3 tracks, inspired by the early years of the blues – a solo slide guitar number, a guitar and harmonica duo with Lyndon Anderson, and an early electric blues combo with Phil Moore on double bass and Phil Muriel on drums. 

And we’ve already had some airplay – thanks to Gary Grainger for playing the songs on the Bishop FM blues show! You can hear the shows on mixcloud.

More tracks to come over the coming days and I’ll announce a proper release date soon. I’m just finalising the artwork while Dee at Ginger Music finishes the mastering and then it’ll all be sent off to produce a limited run of CDs.

If you pre-order a CD, you get the digital versions of the songs as soon as they are released and the CDs will be sent out as soon as they arrive. As Bev and I are now back in the van headed to Spain, I’ve had to enlist someone to handle the posting – thanks Mam!


New album update #1

Good afternoon at Ginger Music studio yesterday, things moving along with the new album. The title is….

Brass Neck!

There are 10 tracks…
4 we play in our live set, but I promise you’ve never heard them like this!
2 are from my secret stash – it’s 17 years since I last recorded anything and I’m always writing, so there’s loads to choose from there.
5 brand new songs, including 2 co-written with Bev on our recent adventures around Europe 🙂

There’s no specific release date yet – but if there’s a guitar player or blues lover in your life, leave some room in their Christmas stocking 😉

New Album!

New Album! It’s been a long, long time coming, but I’m very pleased to say a new album is on the way.

10 original songs, arranged in styles loosely inspired by various shades of the blues over the last century. It starts off with echoes of the Mississippi delta – stomping resonator slide guitar and a heartfelt holler – and each track builds on that musical foundation. There’s hints of folk blues, Memphis sounds, Southern rock, soul, blues-rock and more modern interpretations. I’ve got some fantastic guests lined up and it’s sounding great.

Loads still to do though – may need some help/advice from those in the know! More details soon.

Foraging, baking and fishing…

Part of van life is to try to make it feel like a home from home, especially if you’re using it as a long term base. For me, this means eating as healthily as we did at home, and to trying to ensure a varied diet. So, I’ve been out foraging – trying to find fresh, free ingredients on our travels. Sweden in particular was great for this, not just because of the timing of our visit there, but because foraging and fishing are allowed pretty much anywhere. Since then, we’ve kept our eyes open along the way – through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and now back in the UK.

Things we have foraged include…

Elderflowers

Made some delicious refreshing cordial in Slovakia.

Blueberries and bilberries

I’ve made several pies and some lovely jam. I’ve also added them to our morning smoothie.

Samphire

On the Dutch coast, we found plenty and enjoyed it blanched with a sardine salad and also with tuna pasta dishes. It’s salty flavour really goes well with seafood.

Cob nuts

A type of hazelnut, I waited for them to go brown, toasted them and added them to our breakfast bars instead of almonds. We don’t have a nut cracker in the van… so I used the pliers!! Everything has more than one use, it’s about time those pliers earned their keep.

Apples and Blackberries

Now we’re back in the UK, there’s plenty of blackberries and apples, so I’m looking forward to long walks foraging with the dogs, and a surfeit of crumbles… mmm!

Wild raspberries too – Didn’t find a huge amount (Boo learned how to pick them, so we lost a good few!) but they were great on top of our breakfast cereal.

Fish!!??

Our good friend Guy has lent us a fishing rod, so if and when we head back to Europe, we’re going to be spending some time in the lakes of Germany and Sweden trying to catch our supper. We’ve had a first foray in the North sea at Robin Hood’s Bay, hoping to catch sea bass…will keep you posted…

Lavender

I made some scented wardrobe hangers from flowers we collected in Hungary and Slovakia.

Baking Update

In addition to baking breads and pizzas as previously reported, I’ve made all sorts – Here’s a selection of the best efforts…

Bread

Cracked this now – the secret is turning it 5 times in our Thetford gas oven. Home-made blueberry jam on home-made toast – perfect!

Melting peanut butter chocolate puds

Another favourite comfort pud from home, works a treat in the van.

Flarn

A Swedish recipe, from our friend Ucci’s Dad. They are thin, coconut and orange biscuit – deliciously with or without buttercream filling.

Pizza, Ciabatta and garlic bread

Thin crust pizzas, made from scratch – they require careful turning in the oven, but well worth the effort.

Chelsea buns

Sticky, cinnamon goodness – Another firm favourite!

Cookies

White chocolate and cranberry! We had mixed results with a certain batch of Italian butter, but these are usually a quick and tasty treat.