It’s trying hard to look like high summer here in Somerset, but today it’s a losing battle, with grey skies and pouring rain. I can’t complain though, as I have managed to achieve my version of a suntan, with time spent outside and in France.
I made myself unpopular last month by flying back mid-holiday for three days, to visit with Dan Penn (producer of my upcoming CD Living Good ) and his onstage partner Spooner Oldham, who were making their first UK visit in 12 years. Dan and I had forgotten to take pictures when we were recording the album last spring in Nashville, so we had a photo session in his Bristol hotel, with my old friend Karl Hofer behind the camera. Given the short time available we came out with some great shots. It was wonderful to see the two of them again (and their lovely wives too). Karl and I caught two shows in Bristol and in London, both very well-attended and, of course, with brilliant performances. Dan sang their song ‘Living Good’ (originally a ’60s hit for the Ovations) and was gracious enough to give me a namecheck and mention it as the title song of the upcoming album.
The official release date is October 2nd, but with a bit of luck, we’re hoping to have copies at my two Kempen shows in September (see tour dates). We worked hard last month on the album cover art and I’m really happy with the result. David Suff from Fledg’ling Records has put up a Facebook page dedicated to the album (Living Good!). You can admire the front cover and listen to the title track already. We’ll be adding back stories and updating as we go along.The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of one unhappy musician friend in Berlin – you can read his opinion of the cover on my Facebook page.
In between a really good run of gigs in June, I was delighted to be invited to join German guitar company Duesenberg as an endorser. This puts me in the company of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Eagles (including Joe Walsh and my old friend Steuart Smith), ZZ Top, Angus Young from AC/DC andâ€¦Johnny Depp! I don’t know anyone currently making better electric guitars and it is a huge honour to be in such amazing company. Thanks Ingo! I’ll be using the beautiful Rezobro model as of September.
I came back last week from a fantastic weekend of music up in Yorkshire, organised as a fundraiser by my old friends John and Bev Walsh. It was a real success and a truly joyous three days of music making and friendship. I met up with old friends like Clive Gregson and Al Stewart guitarist Dave Nachmanoff, there was a surprise visit from Plainsong colleague Iain Matthews and I met a whole bunch of fine musicians that were new to me. Personal highlight, by some distance, was Emily Lee. She currently makes a living busking in London, has made one excellent 5 song EP but is destined for greater things. She has an incredible voice, some great songs and I haven’t seen a better performer in years. I persuaded her to join me for an impromptu version of my Lucinda Williams duet ‘How Can I Sleep’. I hope she remembers me when she’s famous!
I also made the acquaintance of a fine Yorkshire-based booking agency and it looks like we’ll be working together, so expect more UK shows in the future. I’m also planning a return to the USA. Time permitting it will be in November, otherwise next spring.
I have gigs happening all through the coming season, starting in September. If anyone doesn’t know what to do with themselves the last week of August, you can still come and join me for a week-long workshop on guitar-based songwriting and performance near Strasbourg in Alsace. There’s a link on my tour dates page.
Best wishes to everyone, keep your messages comingâ€¦I’m always glad to have your feedback and I hope to see as many of you as possible at one of the upcoming shows.
Best wishes, Julian, Somerset