TEA-BREAK OVER, BACK ON YOUR HEADS: NEWS

busking paris

Busking in Paris, 1980


As of July 2017 I'm currently wrestling with all sorts of ideas and projects. Here they are, in a list:

1. There's a new blog about the year-long Seacroft project which has just finished. The blog is here. It's called Process, Performance, Cabbage & Peas and it's another rumination on art (what's the point? Does it work? Who's it for?)

2. The Commoners Choir album is finished and available on pre-release at:
…and I'll be talking a bit more about closer to the official launch in September.

3. The 'Our Street, Our Song' project in Hull was great fun and successful and a good excuse to have a proper look at how Hull's City of Culture status is working around the city. The scratch choir gathered to sing the songs we all wrote together with me and Dan Bye were a fantastic bunch who went from slight puzzlement at our songwriting and arranging methods to wholesale throw-yourself-in-at-the-deep-end enthusiasm.
What I saw in Hull was art that spread right out of the city centre and into people's streets, schools, shops, cafes and church halls. Where art ought to be. If Leeds is to have any success in its bid for European Capital of Culture it needs to address its obsession with the city centre, with the city centre institutions and shopping centres.
I may come back to rant about this soon.

4. I'm writing a song for schoolchildren to sing in celebration of the history of a local fire station in East Leeds. It's just a bit too complicated to explain right now, but suffice to say there are two primary schools with choirs who are learning the song over the summer and the result will be a performance as well as a film.

5. I've learned to play The Beatles' 'Blackbird' on guitar, at last.

6. I'm still going to write a book, when I have time. I think it's going to be a sort of anti-self-help book. With a swearword in the title, because they seem to sell well nowadays. Or it may be about the Luddites and the connection to today's digitally-driven zero-hours warehouse retailing (there's a sentence). Or it might be that novel about John and Paul at Woolton Fete.

7. I'm going to work with Harmony Choir in Leeds – a great choir made up mainly of asylum seekers and refugees who've wound up in Leeds – to write a song telling their stories.

8. I've written a blog about the Commoners' tour of libraries which can be found here.

GET OFF YOUR ARSE (PT 2)

Commoners Choir have been busy. 2016 was a year of strange events, festivals, lots of new songs and plenty of plans for the future. We went from walking and singing up on Ilkley Moor to sailing along the canal to Castleford, commemorating food riots in Ely, belting out a song on top of the Hebden Bridge moors and singing about homelessness and housing at various places. 

There are accounts of several of these events, along with film and a few pictures, on the Commoners Choir website

We also made an animated videos for our songs 'Mechanical Movable Type', 'Three Boats'  and 'Boris Johnson' which are all up on the Commoners Choir website

WE'RE NOT GOING BACK

'We're Not Going Back' had its final run in February, playing in Sheffield, London and finally a few days at Leeds City Varieties. It ended beautifully, and may yet re-surface.

See this review from What's On Stage. The play's had big and enthusiastic audiences, standing ovations and the like. All power to the girls who took it around the country in a big white van, and who will no doubt (along with everyone who worked on it) miss being part of such a clever, funny, committed bunch of people. They're alright, Red Ladder, y'know. 


WHAT'S THA KNOW, OWT OR NOWT?

The 'Protest Walks' idea (writing a book based on a selection of walks around Britain on the sites of famous and infamous radical acts of rebellion, sedition and protest – see 'The Next Book' below) is currently stalled, waiting for a publisher to decide it's worth publishing. But there's another book planned on the revolutionary potential of singing. The search for authenticity in a post-Situationist world, and how singing is part of that search. 

WRONG 'UN

‘Wrong ‘Un’ is still being performed around the country – more dates and added reviews here. It’s been well over a year now since the play hit the ground running and in that time it's grown and developed, almost entirely down to how Ella has taken on the role of Annie.


MUSIC

I'm fascinated by the idea of Pantheism and decided that as a philosophy, all it was lacking was a signature tune. One that you can whistle while you trek across mountains and through forests.

Here's the result. For more on John Jones and the Reluctant Ramblers - of which I'm a part (see blog) – go to JJ's page.

A song I wrote in collaboration with O'Hooley & Tidow for their new album 'Hum' is now released and available, the album picking up brilliant reviews all over the place. More on the Music page.

 TURNER AT THE TATE

Over on the Music page there's a new recording – it's the hastily-assembled choir brought together to rehearse and perform a song I wrote about the artist JMW Turner and about us as polite voyeurs of his madness. Have a listen. 

"The individual interests me more than what he makes; because I've noticed that most artists only repeat themselves."  (Marcel Duchamp)