A belated Happy New Year greeting to everyone. The English weather is an unpredictable beast and while Christmas featured mostly rain and drizzle, Im writing this with snow coming down outside the window! I’m now three months into my voluntary disappearance and am gradually getting used to a life without travel deadlines, soundchecks, traffic jams and airport security. Im spending my time, exactly as I planned and predicted, catching up on all the things at home that never seem to get done, ranging from house repairs and re-decoration, to computer clear-outs and updates.
I do sometimes get itchy feet when I see some songwriter colleagues tour dates advertised, or when Ive attended a local live show. I went out to see Steve Gibbons and the Dylan Project, which features old friends Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway, and ended up playing harmonica with them for a couple of songs and caught up with blues guitarist Dave Kelly when he played as a duo with Paul Jones (who’s harp playing and stage presence really impressed me). Like Robert Johnson, he must have made some secret pact with the devil as he is about to turn 70 but looks and sounds thirty years younger. I may be appearing with Paul on his BBC Radio 2 blues show later in the spring to talk about Nicky Hopkins â€“ more on that nearer the time.
By the way, in the UK the book appeared in the â€˜Top Ten Books of 2011 in both Shindig and Uncut magazines, while US sales recently took a leap after my 10 minute NPR interview was re-run nationally.
My trip to the USA is getting closer and includes another visit to Chicago, 4 day attendance at the Folk Alliance conference in Memphis and a get-together to celebrate Nicky’s life and work in Nashville. I hope the weather is kind and doesn’t leave me stranded at Gatwick due to snow in Chicago!
Plans for Plainsong have been going extremely well and there are now confirmed dates in the UK, Germany, Austria and Holland, with strong interest from Italy, Denmark, Norway and France still to be finalised. The ‘live in the studio’ CD has 19 tracks and will be released in early summer, titled ‘Fat Lady Singing’.
A lot of the news in my life at the moment has more to do with my close family than the world of music. Without the pressure of having to produce a new CD, I’m finding that I’ve started writing new songs and will be spending time with Gene Pistilli and Dan Penn when I go to Nashville. I’ll keep you posted as things develop.
I do miss playing live, but I hope this break will make it even more pleasurable and productive when I go back to work.
Very best wishes from here to all of you out there in cyberworld,
from Julian in Somerset