John's Blogs

27th December 2023

The New Year is upon us and I have to say the world is in a bit of a mess - and most of this is stuff we have no control over. I despair at what's going on in the Middle East, Ukraine, in our own parliament, and with world "leaders" with regards to climate. This unequal world seems to be on a terminal downward slide and I wonder fearfully about the environment my grandkids will be growing older in.

But that's enough of the misery... I wish you all a peaceful, fulfilling 2024.

2023 has been a year, personally, of more ups than downs (though one particular down really upset my equilibrium) and there have been plenty of hours spent in the studio ( finishing off my next collection of songs which should be available on Bandcamp ( or direct from me in January. This album is a bit different to the last, as I've already said, but I'm proud of itn all the same. And I'm already thinking of songs to work on over the next year or two. It's not a cheap hobby but worth every penny to me - and I hope others, you maybe, will get some pleasure from my efforts too. Watch this space.
2nd September 2023

Well, where did the year go? It's been busy, really full of, well, stuff. Travel - as mentioned below - all very enjoyable. Two plays already and a third soon to go into rehearsal. Cropredy Festival was great again - though if I go next year, I may have to rethink my camping options! Also, I've been busy with music, a few live performances (I wish alwqys there had been more but I'm absolutely useless at promoting myself) - But also much work in the studio. There should be another album completed before Christmas. This new one is far less folky, much more varied and therefore harder to promote. Maybe I'm provoking the "what is folk music" question again but it'll be interesting to see what reaction I get, if I can get any radio plays, etc.. I fit best in the folk scene, I think, but my musical interests are far wider and as long as I can still make music, I'll continue to explore here, there and everywhere for inspiration.
2nd January 2023

Happy New Year. This year I say that as a wish for you but also as an expectation for me! This year I have plans, big adventures, around which I intend to fit smaller adventures - and it goes like this. Proper holidays have been in short supply over recent years but I now have a planned trip to Singapore and Australia to look forward to (I have a daughter who lives in Melbourne); then later in the year I will be crusing to the fjords. These will be big deals for me as for years I didn't go abroad (until a recent weekend in Venice) but now it's time to follow some dreams. However, there still has to be time for music and drama. I'm in a play in February with the Ashton Hayes Theatre Group (google them!); then I actually have half-a-gig at Lymm Folk Club in March. I will be seeking out more opportunities for both music and drama as I'm increasingly aware that if I don't do things now, I may run out of time! After all, in April I start my 70th circuit of the sun. Eek!
1st November 2022

I recently took delivery of a box full of copies of my new album, English Blood. I still make these collections into cds because I like to have a physical product, but anyway, many of my friends don't go for downloaded music much - and I'm the same. I still collect vinyl. I also like to make time to listen to music, really listen, rather than just having it on as background, and I find having a cd or record to put on makes me think more about what I want to listen to. Sometimes I do 'background' music as well, mostly when I've got a tedious chore to complete, but often I'll choose silence so that my creative thinking has space to work in. Sometimes I can go many months without a creative idea so I need to give them a chance to get in! This year has been more about recording than composing but at last there are some ideas that I can start to work on. I already have a number of songs, mostly in a less folky style, recorded and ready to mix but I'll take my time over completing this next collection while I try to 'market' English Blood. As ever, the main reasons I do this are a) because I enjoy the process, and b) on the off chance someone will hear one of my songs and decide to introduce it into their own repertoire. If that happens, I'll be so proud.
18th August 2022

I spent a (mostly) wonderful three days sat in a field with 15000 other people last week. It was only the blazing sun and occasionally unbearable heat that spoiled the afternoons. Otherwise, great music in amongst friends (many of whom were strangers before I got there). Fairport's Cropredy Convention is a family friendly warm fuzzy sort of occasion where, for instance, I left my phone and digital SLR under my seat when I went for a wander and never feared that they wouldn't be there when I got back. Got loads of lovely photos too (they can be seen in the Fairporters group on Facebook). After what has been a busy-ish year with moving house in April and having a part in a play in June (The Ferryman at the Harlequin Players), I was overdue some time that at least felt like a holiday. In amongst other stuff, I'm now looking forward to completing my new recordings - mostly mixing and mastering now - with Dan Logan down at Fox Barn Studios. I'll let you know when we're done!
22nd February 2022

Well, the world seems to be moving from one form of madness to another. We're all cosy in our homes, watching horrors unfold on our tv screens and internet devices, but underneath our normality, many of us will be watching and getting fearful. Back in the days of the cold war, the arms race, Vietnam and the Falklands and more, there were protest songs - from Masters Of War to Shipbuilding. Who is writing these songs now? Who dares to perform them? I don't hear many songs with an 'edge' these days. Is that because back then we were young and fiery whereas now we have grown old and comfortable? I wish I could write something - I'll try - but I think I've forgotten how. If I did, would anyone want to listen?
30th December 2021

Another strange year comes to a close and, it seems to me, everyone you ask has a different opinion on how we should deal with this troubled world. Despite it all, life goes on and so does music. I've been to some excellent gigs and sat at the mixing desk for some others - all good fun. I've also played at Northwich Folk Club and, after lazy habits crept in during our Zoom nights, I'm trying to perform from memory rather than from a handy sheet of paper as a prompt. A highlight was doing a 25 minute spot at the club as support for Wet The Tea. There will be another 25 minute spot on the 18th February as part of a club showcase night. Meanwhile, more trips to the studio are planned for what will now be a double album release, hopefully later in 2022. Financially foolish but what the heck... Until next time, have a Happy New Year and stay safe.
8th October 2021

Today would have been Ailsa's birthday and, while I pause for a moment to reflect, I also consider where my life is going and I am cautiously optimistic. I am still recording songs, occasionally writing something new, playing every now and then at my local folk club (now meeting in person again, at last - though I am not with them tonight due to a cold!) However, I have been learning (or at least, developing) new skills. I have looked after sound systems before, but over the last few months, I have been a "sound engineer" for an eight piece covers band (in which my good friend, Lucy, plays saxophone and sings backing vocals). This is quite a step up and I have had to deal with more cables, more knobs and sliders, more complications than ever before. It's been fun! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
20th May 2021

I've been so grateful in these interesting times that my favourite recording studio has been able to open (it's a commercial thing so it's allowed) and I've been able to spend some time down at Orchard Studios working on new music, another collection of original songs, again some new, some not so new. One track I worked on I have made available now as a free download because it is almost the anniversary of the death of George Floyd - and that's what prompted me to write the song. I know it's not going to change the world - and heaven knows, we need it to change - but it's me making a statement in the same way as hundreds of protest songwriters before me. Check it out on the Recordings page.
The other songs will be finished soon and handed over to the dark arts of mixing and mastering. I am slowly getting a feel for what happens in mastering but please don't ask me to explain!
15th March 2021

It's almost a year since we hit our first lockdown - I know, you didn't need me to tell you that. It's also nearly a year since our 'live' music experience has been confined to Zoom and the like. It's not the same, and most of us, I'm sure, can't wait to get back to our favourite venues to enjoy live music amongst friends. However, there has been one surprising bonus that has come about because of internet folk sessions and that is distant friends. We have had visitors from all over the world (nearly), many of whom would never have had reason to visit us otherwise - and whether it be Canada, the USA, Israel or the wilds of Bromsgrove, we have welcomed them all and can now count these people as friends. Hooray for something positive! I'll still be glad to be able to see and hear people in our club venue - but I may be more inclined to drop in on clubs further afield too. Music fans are friends. Agree?
9th October 2020

The world has changed and who knows if it will ever change back? I'm sure there are plenty of adjustments still to be made. Meanwhile, music still matters to me and I'm still working on new material, still visiting the recording studio, still finding new stuff to listen to. I do wonder what I'm going to do with it all. I don't do Spotify, I don't keep my music collection on my phone - I still play vinyl! If I can't play cds in the car, I'll need help to make long journeys bearable! As for live music, I want to be amongst friends while I enjoy - and I want to be amongst friends when I perform. But will future artists focus more on videos, YouTube and Facebook? Oh, I hope not...
3rd July 2020

Three and a bit months into lockdown and anyone with any soul is missing live music and still no idea when it'll return. In some places, I'm sure, it'll be gone for good. My worry is that all the focus will be on big music, things like Glastonbury, the Proms, tours by Coldplay or Ed Sheeran, filling the big arenas. But those aren't the areas that are suffering most. These have sponsors, million pound contracts and global audiences. But what about the little theatres, pubs and clubs where the next generation learn their craft? What about the artists who barely get by when times are good? What about those who do it for love, because it's in their blood? And what about the managers, roadies, sound engineers, producers and recording engineers and all the rest who earn their (often meagre) wages from these lower rungs of the ladder?

I just hope there's enough possibility left when this is all over. I'm pretty sure there'll be the desire, the passion for live music, but we can't all be buskers.

Stay safe.