Sunday, June 17, 2018

F-A-B ... 'Thunderbirds are GO!'

"FAB Fest" is an obvious reference to the heritage of this great event (as the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival) as well as being a decisive break from it, such that it will never please everyone, as change never does.

In some ways, the kind of weirdness factor of all the different types of bizarre and wonderful morris dancers around this town at festival time, along with many dyed-in-the-wool folkies who would appear en masse from all over the country, with feathers in hats and other quirks that set them out as 'trad-folkies' is to be missed, although there were still a few to be seen, just not in the great numbers that there used to be when this was more of an out and out folk festival with just a few other types of acts that were perhaps more on the contemporary side of things.

On the other hand, a huge fan of folk music who used to run a record shop in Chester used to say to me "What is 'folk music' anyway?.. It's music for folks, it encompasses all kinds of music".

Nevertheless, plenty of the same vibrancy and excitement in the crowds remain as does plenty of quality music from all kinds of acts, from folk to rock and even pure pop, such that this is one of the key music festivals of the whole region, ranked in the Top 10 of the smaller festivals by The Guardian a few years ago.

This year's event was headlined by Peter Hook and The Light, and our fringe event by the enthusiastic hardworking and talented (not to mention award-winning) bunch that are Middlewich Music. Our set went a bit off piste in places a few times in the first half, we are still pretty under-rehearsed for lots of new songs and sounds we are putting in the set at the moment, though things improved through the set and by the second half we seem to have found our form (which is definitely the right way round to do things if you're going to have a couple of dodgy moments!), but our finding ourselves back in the flow again was not least in thanks to an enthusiastic crowd, good friends and new ones who turned up and gave us a good time.
Thank you all! XX

Set list FabFest 18

Venue Poster
Our Poster
Pic by Adam Roberts

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Transmission Belper!

After a shattering couple of days with not much sleep (for reasons I won't delve into here), as well as being a natural night-owl, perhaps at my perceptive and physical peak between around 10pm and 3am (I hate going to bed at night as much as I hate leaving it in the morning), I find traveling to daytime gigs particularly exhausting.

However, as soon as I got to the sight at Belper Goes Green Festival, my spirit and energy levels were lifted (as well as the coffee kicking in!).

What a fantastically chilled-out, relaxed, friendly feeling festival this is. My first time here, I also got a nice 45  minute solo set, enough time to really get into it. The PA system I was going through was really unusual (and really loud!), run by a guy who makes wind-turbines, I really should have asked him more about it.
I also had time to enjoy some of the other great music at the event including the outstanding songwriter Lucy Milford... do check her stuff out, beautiful). I'd love to come back here with The Blue Yellows one year, great stuff.

Incidentally, this being a green festival is a good opportunity to mention that, as someone who travels to so many gigs and rehearsals by train, feeling as if I practically live on trains in fact, it's heartening to see so many other musicians, and even entire bands plus all their gear, traveling this way these days.

1st stop in Belper; double espresso.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Audlem today.
Some people just seem more alive than others.

I know it's a cliché but Alex Bennett really was one of those few people who would light up any room or situation she walked into, would be the life and soul of every party or... would soon start a party if there wasn't one already. Never in a selfish 'look at me' way either, she was always thoughtful and wanted you to have a great time, too.

I met her as a fellow narrowboater, hearing her bell-like voice happily bellowing around the marina, before I even met her face to face a few minutes later. It soon became clear she was absolutely nuts about live music, and would on an average week, perhaps go to 4 or more live music events and in a festival week (like this weekend in Audlem), I'm not sure she even slept. She was the kind of person that, on persuading you to join her for a quick beer on a Tuesday night, it would soon be well after midnight and I'd start saying things like 'I'd love to but I've got to be up up at half 6', "you'll be FINE, I've got to be up at 5 tomorrow and I'm not going home"!

She cared and campaigned with a passionate vigour for her patients in her very demanding role in the NHS, she constantly moved not one, but two boats around the canal system along with her beloved rescue pooch Dexter, and seemed to be out 7 nights a week, and all weekend, dancing at the front of every gig she could get to. She was even making her first forays into musicianship in later months after buying a cajon, so that she could be part of the band on open mic nights and jam sessions.
Where she found the energy, I'll never know!

Although she had huge traumas and problems in her life, she was absolutely irrepressible, always fun fun fun to be with, and seemed to eke every nanosecond of possible pleasure available in life, hence the social-media hashtag #BeMoreBennett, a call to arms to all of us not to waste our lives but to make the most of every moment, and every person (including 4 legged people) we care about.
Today was a special event in honour of Alex as well as Dexter.
The wonderful artist and musician Michelle Martin also performed, and Paul joined me on Cajon, both were out with Alex having a great time with her on her last night alive before the horrible boat fire. There was also a raffle for her favourite charity MIND and there were stories, songs, a lovely poem and lots of anecdotes from about just some of the amazing scrapes and adventures she was constantly getting herself into.

Every one who knew her will miss her so much.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Playing the Tracks.

Today I was out with the gang, The Blue Yellows playing amid the historic railway paraphernalia of Crewe Heritage Centre for Rock and Rails Festival. It was a struggle to get into the set for a while as we had a few sound issues that are sometimes inevitable at such events, but it was a good chance to practice some new songs on those who made it along.

Today we were in traditional 'national dress' The 'knotted hankey' being in jokey support of the UK for tonight's Eurovision Song contest, myself and Dave from the band having appeared in a crazy Eurovision-themed version of The Doorstep Mixtape on the radio, two nights beforehand, with Dave sporting the infamous head-gear.

The BYs Rhythm Section not messing about. Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.

Don't laugh, you'll all be wearing them by next summer. 
Thanks to Martin Butterworth for this photo!

Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.

Em somehow managed to look good in hers... not fair!
Thanks to Tim Lee for the photo.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stanzas, Beers and a Song debut.

Chilling out at Alsager Mere, pre-gig.

Some unusual customers awaited my arrival

Copies of Petrol & Matches
A celebration of 10 years of the Words & Music Festival
were on sale too.
26th April, 2018

I've just come back from a lovely evening of poetry & pints at an an amazingly bohemian venue of the all-things weird and wonderful that prevails upstairs at The Lodge, in Alsager.
I enjoyed poems by the many talented local poets who gathered including Phillip Williams, Helen Kay who was on amazing form, and accomplished author Claire Bassi (who also runs the creative writing group and events, Nantwich Speakeasy)

I played, completely acoustically, not even a mic, to a lovely, not to mention talented, audience. Thanks all!
I played;
There She Moves
Valentine's Day (song debut)
Big Low Copper Moon

Toast the Night
Watch Out! (or I'll Stick you in my Poem)