It’s been a busy Summer of music

The big project this year has been Stolen from God, and wherever possible we’ve been promoting that. There has been plenty of great solo appearances too. Kimpton & New Forest Folk Festivals have clashed for the past few years but this year for the first time I was able to do both.

Kimpton is a gorgeous small town festival run by Brian & Di King and their team of volunteers. With top class acts and lots of opportunity for new and emerging acts, it was a lively and vibrant place to be. I was extremely sad to read that Di King passed away shortly after and my thoughts and condolences go out to Brian and family.

The New Forest Festival was as wonderful as ever. It was great to catch up with the Curtis family who run the whole shebang and who are always so welcoming. And all the New Forest ‘Family’ who have made this festival an annual pilgrimage. Sadly though also touched by sadness with the presence of the accordionist, Gareth Turner, hospitalised in a marquee behind the stage and who finally passed away this month. Gareth was the main man of Little Johnny England and a main stay at this and many other festivals and folk events, He was a brilliant musician and much loved, something that was evident in the final concert in which he was featured playing up a storm from his wheelchair.

Then on to a 3 day songwriting workshop at the beautiful Halsway Manor. The sun shone and the songwriters shone too. It was a truly uplifting and inspiring experience to see so much friendship and camaraderie in the service of the song. This was followed by a welcome return to the newly blossomed Trowbridge Folk Festival. A much smaller event than before but sold out with some great acts and lots of familiar faces keeping Alan Briars’ Trowbridge torch burning.

In August I met up with the Stolen from God musicians, Suntou Sussou & Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne to make a video of the show in the gorgeous Forum Theatre in Bath. More on that later.

Then a run of three sold out Festival appearances for the trio at Sidmouth, Whitby & Shrewsbury. It’s in such an environment where you really get to see what you’ve got on the stage. The power of the narrative and the sheer musical brilliance of Suntou and Cohen was astounding, and the feedback from the audience endorsed that. In Whitby I had to walk down a long line of shocked audience members filing slowly out of the theatre.

The expressions on their faces said it all. I knew I had written something significant and important and with the performance created something of real worth and impact. In Shrewsbury we had the added bonus of Steve Knightley as brilliant guest narrator. There are big plans cooking for the show, more gigs before the year’s out and in to 2024 also, so watch this space.

Then Solo to a field in Hulme End, Derbyshire to play the Peace through Folk festival. Once again, like Trowbridge, a small field event but with some great acts and volunteers keeping everything running smoothly. Great to see so many familiar faces including Damien Liptrot, and the remarkable singer songwriter Tom Reid. Along with Esther Brennan and other singers we managed to have a little session in the pub. There are very few people who can make my hair stand on end when they sing but Tom’s singing is like electricity and his songs are so focussed and powerful. |Check him out if you get a chance.

Next one of my favourite festivals of the year, Priston. A little village event run beautifully by Sue Hunter & Owain Jones. Full houses in spite of the rain and once more the familiar friendly faces.

Finally some Black History month shows in October. The first three with just Cohen in Shoreham, Winscombe & Bedford and to cap those three fabulous performances by the concertina virtuoso, a trio show with the remarkable Suntou in Stourbridge with special guest Katie Whitehouse performing the narration.

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