I think it is fair to say I’m not up to this regular blogging mullarkey. This is the first post in almost a year. I’ve spent a lot of time doing and reflecting but not necessarily feeling the urge to share all my private family happenings. I continued to grieve for my late dad but poured it into the creative process and being constructive. Conscious that my time at home with my children was coming to an end as full time education hurtled towards us, I left traddad alone, beavered away at the music in the mornings and concentrated on savouring our afternoons messing about and getting geared up for school standard self sufficiency. I’ve decided to return to the site for a while. Writing about my musical adventures but leaving my children to their own private world. Less dad more trad.
During the last year I’ve made slow but good progress on recording. I think when I look back on my first foray into recording a solo album it will be better for taking my time. During the long nights of grieving I made lists of what I wanted to express through music and who I thought would be my dream companions for making the music I wanted to make.
I continued to develop ideas with my neighbour and wonderful cellist Liz Hanks. We managed our debut gig as part of the Front Room series at Spinning Discs Sheffield and a further performance at the Not Quite Light Festival in Salford organised by the brilliant photographer and musician Simon Buckley. We received a wonderful reception and it confirmed to me that the music we were making would move people.
We finally got back in to the studio late last year at Powered Flight In Sheffield with the wonderful Tom Wright. The first sessions were with Liz Hanks Cello and Helen Gubbins on lovely Red Paolo Soprani box and tin whistles. Liz and I returned to the Powered Flight studio in 2018 with the arrival in Sheffield of Llan de Cubel legendary fiddler Simon Bradley. It’s lovely recording in Tom’s studio. He has a great way with him, making us feel relaxed and sound the best we can.
I wanted to find a Manchester voice for how I felt about the loss of my dad and could hear the voice of Manchester poet Mike Garry in my head. I’ve known Mike for years and watched his work with admiration. ‘Gorton Girls Know All the Words to Chaka Kahn’ is my favourite Mike Garry Poem and he’s perhaps best known for his Ode to Saint Anthony, his tribute to Anthony H. Wilson. I asked him to write something on the theme of fathers and sons and he came back with the most beautiful, heartfelt prose. We got him into the studio on the day of his last concert in Manchester. He popped round to Michael McGoldrick’s and recorded it in one take. Some cello from Liz Hanks and samples and wizardry from Michael McGoldrick. It’s a thing of beauty and I can’t wait to share it.
I’m off to Asturias next week to record a duet with one of my favourite singers. My first time singing at the front of stage. I’ve been lucky so far with the generosity of the musicians involved. I’m waiting for some very special guests to add their contribution in the next eight weeks. Fingers crossed.
When it came to images for the album, there was only one person for the job, Simon Buckley. We hooked up online last year. He liked my Tunesday videos and I was blown away by his work on Not Quite Light. Simon has morris dancing pedigree. I’ll leave him to tell you about that. Last Sunday morning we arose at 3.30 a.m. and shot the photos in the centre of Stockport, my home town. The results are wonderful. Chasing the light to get the right shot until it was fully day time.
The wonderful Simon Buckley @http://notquitelight.com
Liz Hanks @ http://www.lizhankscello.com