Well, here we are hurtling toward the end of another year (I may well have said that at this time last year and, if spared, I probably will do again next year). When I was a kid I never understood it when adults would say that time travels faster as you get older – one day at school seemed like an eternity to me back then – but there’s no doubting it does. I dare say Stephen Hawking could explain the reason for this if he were still with us, but the chances of me understanding it would be pretty remote. Having said that, we watched The Theory of Everything recently in which Eddie Redmayne brilliantly portrays Stephen Hawking. It’s a wonderful film, well worth a watch and has bugger all to do with this blog.
Back to the plot.
This isn’t intended to sound smug, but it may well do. We’ve had a cracking year. Given that the world is definitely going nuts, we have reached the end of 2019 in pretty good shape. A few creaking bones, aching joints (fewer teeth on my part) and several more wrinkles, but all are a small price to pay for the adventures, the laughs and the lovely folks we’ve met along the way.
Our first gig of the year was a return visit to the Illawarra Folk Festival in New South Wales, Australia. We spent most of January and February performing in NSW and Queensland, which was great (check out our Ozblog for the stories) . It wasn’t all glory though, we both started the tour bunged up with cold, I had a tooth infection (extraction number one) and performed the latter half of the tour in mono as my left ear got an attack of the gunge through too much swimming in the sea. Kip also managed to leave her flute at the very last gig, but thanks to some good friends and Australia post, we got it back several weeks later.
Once back in the UK we had a couple of weeks at home to get the house sorted, visit family and friends and start working on tour promo for a string of dates up and down the country.
In May we had a few days in Spain courtesy of the the English Folk Club of the Costa Blanca – very nice indeed! Then a few festivals and clubs back in Blighty along with a trip to play in Belgium for the Ghent festival in July.
August was flat out with festivals along with one night in Edinburgh to perform on the Fringe.
August also saw the launch of Live & Unconventional, our live album which we’d recorded on the road in 2018 while touring with Fairport Convention. The launch took place at Fairport’s Cropredy Festival and as always they were very generous and gave the album a huge push.
The reviews for Live & Unconventional were far better than we could have hoped for. We were absolutely delighted with it and huge thanks go out to the brilliant Johnny Gale who was on the sound desk for all of the Fairport tour and also mixed the album for us. Johnny’s magic ears have placed him amongst the cream of sound engineers, a highlight of his work this year being his collaboration with Bjork to help produce her amazing Cornucopia show.
Not that we had a lot of time to sit back reading album reviews. Following the August festivals we had three days at home and then headed off for our our first tour of Canada.
We were in New Zealand in 2017 and a Canadian by the name of Dan Tonner guy came along to a gig. Dan suggested we tour Canada. “They’ll love you” he said. That set me off on a quest to set up a tour. After one false start, a stack of emails and hundreds of hours in front of a computer screen, it all started to come together and we finished up with an eighteen-date tour over twenty four days. Kip, the logistical maestro, sorted out flights, accommodation and car hire etc (as with all overseas tours) and the whole thing went very well. We had one gig cancelled due to slow ticket sales and another streamed a gig live because it had sold out and many of their regulars couldn’t get tickets, so they let them watch for free. Swings and roundabouts. Check out Canadablog for all of the details.
We arrived back in the UK on Tuesday October 1st feeling elated, jet lagged and knackered. On Friday October 4th we went to Derby to perform at the Folk Weekender. Someone posted some photos of us on stage – our eyes looked like p*** holes in the snow.
We knew that Canada would leave us feeling drained. Some of the drives between gigs were tough and we clocked up several thousand kilometres without including the flights. Not that it wasn’t worth it mind, and plans are afoot to return. After Derby we had the rest of October free so we went on holiday to the Canary Islands, doing very little other than swimming and sleeping (sometimes at the same time).
November saw us back on the road for our annual “Must raise some cash for Christmas tour” (nine grandkids don’t you know). We saw a sizeable chunk of motorways with gigs from Aberdeenshire to Cornwall and various points in between.
We do appreciate how lucky we are and count our blessings daily. There is no master plan; our only goal is to keep doing this for a living until we croak or decide to retire. We’re eternally grateful for the support we receive for people all over. From the folks that pay their money to see us perform, buy the CDs, whoop and cheer at the right time (there isn’t a wrong time), to those that put on the gigs, feed us, give us beds, let us do our washing and sit up for hours on end putting the world to rights.
We will be doing more of the same next year. We have plenty of gigs lined up for the UK and a couple of short tours into Europe are in the can. We have also applied for some festivals in Canada that take place in the summer, we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out.
We hope you have a great Christmas and wish you all good things for the year ahead.
We can’t do this without you, thanks again for another great year.