May 2023 News Update
Monday, May 1, 2023
Well my friends isn’t the year speeding by swiftly well for me it certainly is because I have been doing so much and have much to tell the main one being my trip to Southern Ireland with my daughter Sadie and her partner Gordon. More on that in a moment.
First of all I want tell you about a remarkable recording yet to be released and much more information next month.
OK where do I start? About four years ago Hilary and I spent a very pleasant few days at the wonderful Haselbury Mill hotel complex near Crewkerne in Somerset. I was there to perform in concert and conduct a small guitar workshop in the afternoon. One of the attendees was a lovely lady called Rhona Dickson. Rhona has been battling Parkinson’s disease for many years plays the guitar and writes songs and poetry.
Since that time we have become good friends and she had often sent me tracks she had recorded purely for her own pleasure and healing journey and I would give construct observations about her creations. Whilst visiting Sadie in February I met with Rho for coffee. I related a personal experience two days after Hilary passed. A few days later much to my surprise Rho sent a basic recording of a song idea that she came up with purely in response to my experience and as a little gift to me.
Well what I heard was truly lovely and in its way very powerful. What she had done was to create a song over her favourite track from Scattered Chapters… Starfield! I was so moved by it I sent it to Paul Ward for his thoughts. He loved it.
We now move on to a lovely vocalist named Susy Wall who had been working with my pal Nigel Bates on some of the tracks we had worked on together. Susy has a very gentle voice not dissimilar to Enya she is also a songwriter in her own right. I invited her to interpret the song in her own way this agreed to. A date was arranged for the recording to take place at my house. Paul arrived with all the equipment and off we went. Susy had already been working on the song at home the end result is truly beautiful and VERY moving. What Susy had done was to get right inside the song and make it her own.
Bearing in mind that Rho took no more than ten minutes to write this song and record straight onto her phone with no idea how fantastic it was. I can’t wait to get it out there for the world to hear because I believe it could bring great comfort to folk who like me have lost a loved one.
A few close friends have heard it and it has effected them in much the same was as I. This was proof perfect that it just wasn’t me responding to this midst my grief and therefore couldn’t be truly objective about it. For Paul and I this marks a new direction for us in terms of introducing a strong vocal element into our music thus making it a tad more accessible thanks to dear Rho and Susy.
So now I have two remarkable singers; Susy Wall and Carrie Martin to call on to hopefully contribute their unique talents to what Paul and I create following on from Scattered Chapters. More on this remarkable collaboration next month!
On Wednesday the 29th at a lovely little Arts Centre in Athy, Southern Ireland I did a concert organised by the Irish branch of the Giltrap family my dear friend Will Giltrap.
The 90 strong invited audience were a joy to play for. I did my usual two forty five minute sets. What made it special was the fact that this was my first official public performance since the beginning of my beloved’s illness almost five months ago. Also I played the entire evening on my Travel Air fold up guitar which sounded amazing and was only purchased to save the risk of one on my other gigging instruments being damaged in the hold of the plane!
To say that there was a presence of love and spirit in the room that night would be an understatement.
My heartfelt thanks go to Will for making this happen, to the sound and light guys and to all at the Arts Centre for hosting me that evening. What was really special was having my beautiful daughter Sadie and her partner Gordon there to witness the event. Their beautiful smiles when I came off stage touched my heart very deeply. For all the sadness we as a family have experienced over the past few years times like this remind us that the kindness of the universe is still there shining down on us even in our darkest of hours.
I just had to share this beautiful letter that was sent to Will the day after the concert which brought me to tears and reminded me that the gift I have is a privilege and receiving letters like this is truly humbling.
My daughter and I had the most wonderful, magical evening last night, listening to the astonishing Gordon Giltrap.
Being honoured by the wonders that this legendary master shared through the guitar is, well…no words are enough.
Thank you and all those in Athy Community Arts Centre, for making this happen.
Please pass our deepest gratitude to Gordon, if in any way you can, for this huge gift. For sharing his stories, his mastery, his compositions.
For reminding us, and those we pass on his gifts to (well, I am all day today, anyway), of the power of music.
For bringing kindness, family and love.
My Hilary I know would have been proud of me and still is of course. I promised her I wouldn’t stop playing and the results were made manifest on that special night on the 29th of March 2023 a night I hope I shall remember until my last breath.
God bless you Will, your Dad and all your lovely family. This pic was taken from my phone WhatsApp pic but doesn’t do true justice to the joy in all our faces.
Please God I return to the country of my grandfather Giltrap’s birth someday to play for you all again but an evening like that March 29th could never be repeated in quite the same way.
God Bless you all and THANKYOU again. Xx
Gig with Carrie Martin
On Friday night the 21st of last month at The Wrecking Ball in Hull I opened for Carrie Martin's launch for her superb new album in vinyl form ‘Evergreen’. It was a lovely evening and the crowd was very appreciative. I played for about 20 minutes and then joined Carrie toward the end of her excellent set where we performed Time After Time, Holly Blue and a completely unrehearsed version of the Corrs classic Runaway and it wasn’t half bad.
Like so many fine artists I know Carrie deserves wider recognition but the world today refuses to recognise so much good music. I feel privileged to have grown up in a period when the music scene here in the UK was truly a golden age of invention and discovery. I doubt we shall see it’s like again but life is change and we all have to try and change with it.
Towards the end of last month I did a similar thing for Carrie at her Brum launch in Hockley but will report on that next time.
May 6th Tewkesbury Gig
Great news (but not surprising really with the name of Rick Wakeman on the poster) the concert with Rick Wakeman, Oliver Wakeman, Carrie Martin and I at The Roses Theatre, Tewksbury on May 6th (Coronation Day) has now sold out! It’s going to be a special evening for a great cause. I shall be reporting back next month with hopefully loads of pics and stories.
The Photo at the top of this page
Whilst staying with my family over my birthday period I got my 10 year old grandson Braden to take an up to date picture of me for Facebook. I had recently used an older pic of me where I looked reasonable but didn’t want to cheat folks into thinking this was taken today. Anyway I thought I sort of looked OK but what can one expect at the age of 75 (I still can’t get my head around it) but thank the Lord I was still here to look after my beloved Hilary until her last breath.
My lovely Hilary could turn her hand to almost anything craft wise and many years back she did a decoupage job on this old guitar and gifted it to some friends (see the date and inscription) it has been gathering dust for years under the spare room bed but thought it should see the light of day.
We still have a few copies of this magnificent vinyl version of Scattered Chapters. It is a limited edition so once it’s gone its gone the link is HERE folks.
This short video was filmed at Pete and Linda Bonner’s
On April 13th my friend Nigel Bates and I visited Brum Radio to an interview with the charming Gabriella Jones to chat about our joint musical ventures, Nigel’s role in running the wonderful Artifex Gallery and his invaluable help in finding the artists that were commissioned for the Scattered Chapters book along with his own band Ha Ha Hats. It was a gun live session and I knocked out a few tunes for the listeners. Playing live on radio can be daunting but it was certainly fun.
Gabriella Jones with Nigel Bates. For some reason no still shots of the three of us just a video.
Morgan pub in Malvern
As you all know I just love turning up unannounced at various venues and on Sunday the 16th last month I played at the lovely Morgan pub in Malvern whilst staying with friends Paul and Chris White.
Paul is standing behind me looking bemused while I did my best to impress the punters playing Heartsong.