I just realised what a shockingly long time it is since I updated my news on this page. My wonderful webmaster and I have been working on an overhaul and a new look for the website (which will go up soon) – a timely reminder to catch up on all that has happened since the summer.
I took most of July and August off, for some time with my family, (specifically my younger daughter who went off for two years of school in Denmark) and returned to gigging with my Kempen concert on September 10th. With perfect weather and a sold-out venue, it was another memorable show in a tradition going back, once every two years, for well over a decade.
It was great to play with Uli Kringler again after a break and I was delighted that my daughter Holly was able to join me again. She stole the show as she always does!
That left a short gap before my 2 week tour (mostly with Uli again) starting in Muenster on October 5th. We had been trying out a new onstage set-up with just one condenser microphone in front and both agreed that having no leads and no monitors added a new and wonderful dimension to our already stripped-down performances. The ‘pin-drop’ simplicity of this ‘back to the thirties’ concept made all the shows particularly intense and enjoyable. We shared a stage one night in Luxemburg with Kieran Goss and Madison Violet and then had a run of really fine shows around Germany.
For many different reasons, I had been considering stopping touring for some time and decided that these October dates would be my last for the foreseeable future. My initial e-mail message announcing this caused some confusion, as I didn’t want to discuss my reasons in great detail. Some people then assumed that I must be ill again or worse. We sent out a second message to assure people that I wasn’t about to check out. I can’t imagine going for very long without playing music, but since I have never stopped in 36 years of touring and recording, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to step back for a while and see what life is like outside of the car and the inside of an airport.
I have lots of stuff to catch up on at home and will definitely not be idle.
As it looks right now, apart from the Blue Rose Christmas Party next week in Berlin and one or two book readings in the spring, the next time I will be playing live will be with Plainsong (Iain Matthews, Andy Roberts, Mark Griffiths and I) at the end of the summer next year. 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the legendary ‘Amelia Earhart’ album and we’ve chosen the moment to release a studio album we recorded in front of a live audience in Holland the last time we toured together. It will be an anniversary as well as a farewell tour for Plainsong, as it has become harder and harder to get all four of us in one place. There are already more than ten confirmed shows and we should be playing in the UK, Germany, Holland, France, Luxemburg and possibly also in Spain and Scandinavia.
I’ll be back in the USA in February, showcasing at the Folk Alliance in Memphis and doing some more work for the Nicky Hopkins book. It’s too early to say exactly what the sales are, but I continue to get very complimentary reviews both from the UK and North America and lots of e-mails from happy and grateful Nicky fans. Even without a big marketing campaign, the book seems to find the people who need it.
I’m hoping I’ll still hear from some of you via the guest book while I’m in ‘retirement’ and look forward to coming back refreshed and with new songs and new ideas later on.
Best wishes to all of you who drop by to look at this website – look out for new additions very shortly,
Love from Somerset,
Big day at home today…My daughter’s school prom: Big dress, big shoes, fancy car and the end of an era! Then off to visit Steuart Smith with the Eagles again tomorrow, then France…
I just got the details for the ‘once-every-two-years’ concert I do in Kempen. This time it is on Saturday 10th September at 8.00pm – outside if the weather is good, in the beautiful church if it’s raining. I’ll be with Uli Kringler and some surprise guests and tickets can be bought by phone (02152 917264) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m looking forward to the show and hope to see lots of friendly faces there.
Have a great summer everyone,
I just came back from a Saturday morning interview with BBC Scotland and realised that I needed to catch up again on recent events, most of which have been related, one way or another, with ‘the book’.
My stay in San Francisco was very productive. I met and made friends with Sylvie Simmons, legendary ex-pat British author and journalist, who writes for Mojo in the UK. She helped open other doors, including introducing me to Joel Selvin, the city’s oracle on all things rock’n’roll. I spent a lively afternoon in his company and look forward very much to reading his opinion of the biography.
I took part in the ‘West Coast Live’ radio show, which is syndicated all over the USA on the Saturday of the much-heralded ‘rapture’. As the day unfolded, it appeared that we were all still here. The two highlights of my California visit: the truly delightful fundraiser concert in Santa Rosa, with Richard Thompson headlining. I played my own set and ended up performing together with all the acts on the bill, including three songs with RT at the end. I now have a great picture of Richard reading the Nicky Hopkins book and hope to publish it soon.
I finished off my visit with a performance at Book Passage in Corte Madera – another stellar event organised by Deb Grabien, at which we had an audience of 85 enthusiastic Nicky fans, including a number of his friends from the ’70s. I read from the book, disgraced myself by tearing up during a solo performance of ‘You’re Listening Now’ (something about realising I was done after 13 years) and redeemed myself to some degree by playing with Mark Karan and his band as the people danced, sang along and partied. I left on a cloud of goodwill and adjourned back to author/radio producer Kathi Goldmark’s house for an impromptu ‘hootenanny’, which left me somewhat the worse for wear next morning when I had to gather myself for my flight home. I felt like we’d achieved a lot during the three-week visit, though American Amazon customers need to know that to find the book they have to enter ‘Nicky Hopkins’, ignore Amazon’s notice saying ‘currently unavailable’ and continue with one more click to the Plus One Press site where they can order the book. It’s frustrating that corporate disputes can have such an adverse effect on a small publisher.
Back in the UK the hardback book was waiting for me and looks really outstanding. I’ve had two full days of regional radio interviews and have seen positive reviews in most of the music monthlies, with more to come.
Now that the book is finally out, my attentions will be returning to musical thoughts and plans. I’ve just updated my tour dates for September and October (all Germany still I’m afraid, but there are UK and US dates coming up too).
May 4th NEWSFLASH: ‘…And On Piano…Nicky Hopkins now out in the UK and USA and available on Amazon.
A disgraceful gap since my last posting – but what can I say? It’s been almost non-stop since I came back from Austin in March, so here’s some catching up…
SXSW was crazy and cost me some dollars and a few headaches, but was still a lot of fun and my part of the proceedings could not have gone better than they did. I had a few days to acclimatise and bumped into several colleagues and old friends – Syd Straw, Willie Nile, Mark Johnson, Sara Hickman, Mark Hallman and Todd Thibaud – and I even managed, despite her more recently acquired superstar status, to get some quality time with Lucinda Williams. I met her husband Tom for the first time after seeing Lu play a Lost Highway show and also caught Ian McLagan’s Bump Band on St. Patrick’s Day.
My first appearance was a book-reading at Waterloo Records on the Friday afternoon. There were something in the region of 2,800 bands showcasing during the 4 days of the conference, which made me very glad that I was promoting a book not a record. The Waterloo show was sandwiched in between two bands playing right outside the shop window, so I had to condense my show into a half hour. It seemed to work and it was a thrill to sign a couple of dozen English books for the first time.
On Saturday we had our Nicky Hopkins panel in the Conference Centre. Having Chuck Leavell and Ian McLagan there helped to give us a full house, (many of the panels take place in front of rows of empty chairs). Our ‘referee’ Dave Marsh kept things flowing and everybody chipped in with Nicky Hopkins stories. We finished up the hour with an impromptu version of “No Expectations’, with Chuck on piano and me singing and playing a guitar borrowed from Sara Hickman.Thanks to publisher Deb Grabien who drove all the way from San Francisco with ‘house’ photographer Anneliese Moyer to join us. I’ll be posting photos as soon as I can.
The response was overwhelmingly positive and Dave Marsh was singing the praises of the book to everyone he encountered. I had one day to wind down before flying home and, after a lightning visit to Cologne for Wolfgang Niedecken’s 60th birthday, I was back on tour a week later.
The paperback is now officially out in N. America and will be followed May 9th by the UK hardback version. We’ve already received favourable reviews in MOJO and Record Collector as well as full-page 4 star pieces in Uncut and The Word. After thirteen years it is very gratifying to find that people like the book and to see them both available on Amazon. Even the German copy seemed to experience a new surge of activity!
I’m writing this from Chicago, my first stop on a book tour of the USA. I’ll be doing book events, some music and radio and print interviews between now and my return on May 25th. Dave Marsh in New York is giving me 2 hours on Sirius Satellite Radio and artist/singer Jon Langford the same here in Chicago. I move on soon to San Francisco for more stuff on the west coast.
Greetings to all out there in cyberworld,
Here’s some news of a happier nature and particularly for my friends in the USA.
The Nicky Hopkins book will be launched with a celebrity panel at the SXSW music conference in Austin on Saturday March 19th. So far confirmed are Ian MacLagan (of Small Faces, Faces and Stones fame), Richard Perna, Nicky’s publisher and Chuck Leavell, who has held down the pianist’s chair with the Stones for more than twenty years. I’m grateful to all of them for being so generous with their time and I’m sure that with their help we’ll be able to give the book a great start in North America.
Meanwhile I leave in 3 days for a month of concerts and book-readings in Germany that take me right up to the SXSW visit. Busy, busy…
Sometimes it seems like the only news I post here concerns another friend or colleague who has left us. Today was a big one though, as I just heard that my dear friend Charlie Louvin died early this morning.
He was and always will be one of the greats and it was an amazing privilege and a joy to work with him on ‘The Longest Train’ back in 1996 and an honour to have him record some of my songs.
I will miss him and am glad he left us so much fantastic music to remember him by.
After six weeks of solid work at my desk – and eleven years and counting -I handed in the Nicky Hopkins manuscript to the English publisher on Monday this week. Having my first ‘Hopkins-free’ day was really strange, but it is a relief to me and to all those I share my home with, that it’s finally done.
The US launch at SXSW in Austin, Texas will take the form of a panel, and there will be a book-reading as well. Special guests are being confirmed ‘as we speak’ and will include some surprise celebrities – all friends and colleagues of Nicky’s. The UK hardback has a publication date of May 4th. More news on that later.
I go off to Germany again on February 7th and have 18 shows between then and my departure for Austin on March 14th. There are 3 book readings, some solo concerts and some with my friend, guitarist Uli Kringler.
All the details and booking information are on my tour dates page.
I am specially glad to be going to South Germany for 2 concerts and a book reading in Munich. I always look forward to playing in Waldkraiburg and the Erlangen date is a replacement for my cancellation in November.
I am spending most of the month of May in the USA, plugging the book and revisiting some favourite haunts.
Details will be posted locally.
If you have friends or family who you think might enjoy a Dawson experience, please spread the word and bring them along. I promise I’ll do all I can to give them a great evening.
Thanks for the good wishes and cards that came in over Christmas time. Happy New Year to everyone and I’ll hope to see you at a show.
Love from here, XX Julian
It’s time for a pre-Christmas greeting to all of you faithful people who check in on this website from time to time. I now have an occasional look at facebook, but still haven’t quite grasped why it is superior to a website and good old e-mail. I guess it’s a fashion thing…
2010 has been a very busy year even if a lot of my activities have been confined to Germany. I started in early January with a visit to Nicky Hopkins’ widow Moira in Nashville, followed by brief stopovers in Chicago and San Francisco. I then toured through March and April right up to the publication date of the Nicky Hopkins biography in Germany on May 10th.
My live double CD and DVD recorded with band in 2008, (and imaginatively titled ‘Live’) also came out in the spring on Blue Rose and has sold well.
For the rest of the year I added book readings to my usual concert activities and there was enough demand to keep me on the road again from the end of August to late November. It took a little while to learn how to best present the book, but after one or two rather rushed readings early on, I soon got the hang of it and found that a combination of words and music worked well and, most importantly, helped sell the book. Random House reports place our sales so far somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 copies – not bad for a subject nobody had heard of. The book received extremely positive reviews (with one notable exception – thank you SZ) and I have had dozens of e-mails from people who bought and enjoyed it.
Since then I have been busy preparing for the UK and US publications, both due in spring 2011. It is a wonderful feeling to know that, after more than a decade, Nicky’s story will finally be available to fans. My thanks to all those who have supported us so far and all three publishers.
Highlights this year included my guest appearances with Richard Thompson (at his London Meltdown concert series) and with Little Feat (at Fairport’s Cropredy Festival), although this was marred by Richie Hayward’s death just the day before. The band were brilliant however, and turned what could have been a sad occasion into a triumph. I was very proud to be onstage with them and to send out a heartfelt ‘Willin” to Richie.
When the writing and preparation of the Nicky Hopkins book are finally complete, I am hoping that I will be able to concentrate on getting out a bit more in the UK and elsewhere in 2011. There are already quite a few shows (and further book readings) in the calendar for my friends in Germany.
For now I wish everybody a peaceful and joyful Christmas, with just the right amount of snow, and a very happy New Year too. Please keep my dear friend Charlie Louvin in your thoughts and prayers (if you pray) as he is now in his eighties and is having to deal with pancreatic cancer . I talked to him two days ago and he sounded positive, as always. An amazing musician and an amazing man!
Thanks to everyone who came to a show, bought a CD (or book) or sent me a message during the year. I love hearing from you all and remind you again that the guest book is always there for enquiries, comments or messages.
Season’s greetings to everyone,
Julian, Somerset, England
I’m heading off tonight for the Blue Rose party and will be fitting in a harmonica session the day after for my old friend Colin Wilkie. The working week in San Francisco was very productive and we finished up the US book manuscript and cover (to send out for review) fifteen minutes before I had to leave for the airport! Still got the UK book to finish off and then looking forward to my first time off since the end of August.
Season’s greeting, Julian, Somerset
I mentioned my trip to San Francisco in my last posting and I’m writing this from a hotel on Van Ness Avenue, two days into my visit. I had two days at home between the last run of shows in Germany and flew to the States on their Thanksgiving Day. I went straight to work with the US publishers – the last adjustments to the book, now titled ‘And On Piano…Nicky Hopkins’.
Last night I took a break to go and see the current version of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, still featuring original member David Nelson and pedal steel whizz Buddy Cage. They were playing in a nice little theatre called the Mystic, the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in Petaluma. I love all the music history in San Francisco and had a few words with Nelson about Nicky, who played on their ‘Powerglide’ album. Now back to work…
Love to all – and I hope to see some of you at the Blue Rose party on 11th December.
Hi to everyone,
I hadn’t realised how long it had been since I updated my news page…comes from all that work and travelling! I was on the road solidly from August 27th to October 3rd and again from October 14th to 21st. The brief time I did have at home was spent preparing photos and manuscript for the upcoming UK and US versions of the Nicky Hopkins book, (which, by the way, is on its way to selling almost 3,000 copies in Germany – not bad for a little-known subject and above expectations).
I must admit that going back to the text for the sixth time was less gripping than before, but I’m still excited that it is coming out.
The US publication will still be launched at SXSW in March, while the English book has been put back (again) to April 4th, to give us time to publicise it properly.
I went up yesterday to Bristol to see my old friend Vinnie Santoro who was drumming (and singing) for Mary Chapin Carpenter. It was great to catch up with him and we discussed working together again next year.
Meanwhile I am back out again in Germany (see the dates page) in November, followed by a swift visit to San Francisco to meet up with the American publisher. It looks like my last appearance this year will be at the Blue Rose Christmas Party on December 11th in Heilbronn – a fun way to wrap up a busy year!
Best wishes to all,
Julian, sunny Somerset (at least today)
I just came back from playing with Little Feat at the Cropredy Festival. I’d flown back specially to be there and was greeted at home by the news that Richie Hayward, the Feat’s drummer, died yesterday after a long illness. It looked like today could become a real ‘Friday 13th’ experience, but all the guys in the band were incredibly welcoming and positive and played a blinding show to a crowd of 25,000 fans. I joined them on a medley of ‘Willin’, ‘Don’t Bogart That Joint’ and ‘The Weight’ – a real honour!
As always there were some interesting guests backstage including Stevie Winwood, Joe Brown and Bob Harris (who has written the foreword for the UK version of the Nicky Hopkins book). Bob filmed the Feat show for Sky Channel, so it will be on TV sometime soon. Back to the beach tomorrow morning…Byeee!
Off for three week’s holiday and delivered the book manuscript yesterday! See you in September. Have a good summer
I just heard that my dear friend Charlie Louvin has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is going into hospital in Nashville July 22nd. I talked to Charlie today and he sounded upbeat and positive. Please keep him in your minds and prayers.
Having expected to have a nice unbroken stretch at home to catch up on myself after being away, more or less, for 4 months, I suddenly received two invitations and ended up with a very Fairport Convention-flavoured end to last week, playing on Friday with Iain Mathews in Devizes and on Saturday at the London Festival Hall with Richard Thompson in his show ‘1000 Years Of Popular Music’, part of his 2 week ‘Meltdown’ programme – both quite magical. Now back to my writing desk…
Less than a month since my last posting and for those interested in the ‘cliffhanger’ at the end of the April message, I did make it home – and only a few hours late!
Since then I have been back and forth between Germany and England two or three times for various events, starting with the premiere of ‘the book’ in Berlin, together with Elke Heidenreich and two other authors. I had a quiet but joyous moment in my hotel room when the first copy of the German version was delivered by courier. After ten years work, it was an amazing feeling to hold an actual book in my hands.
Reading excerpts from it in German to a large audience was extremely nervewracking and makes one realise that one has a lot to learn. I got through it without too much damage and then sang three songs which went down very well. Signing the very first copy was another great moment.
I’ve done a number of radio interviews and had another delightful Nicky Hopkins evening in Hamburg at ‘Plattenrille’, (see the photo gallery), a great record store run by my good friends Paul & Herbert. They went to incredible trouble to make it a memorable evening, hanging up over 150 record covers Nicky played on, providing food and drinks, and printing up a fantastic array of Hopkins-related info all around the shop.
I’ve seen the book in a couple of shops and now the first reviews (all positive so far) are starting to appear (see the current issues of Germany’s ‘Eclipsed’ magazine and ‘Good Times’, both of which feature a two-page spread). I am meeting up in June with the English publisher and, with a contract in negotiation for N. America, I’m expecting a UK publication in the autumn and the US version in March 2011.
For anyone interested in buying a copy of the German book, if you click on the cover on this page it will take you directly to Amazon.de where you can order it. It’s interesting that Nicky’s biography should be launched parallel to the re-release this month of the Stones’ “Exile On Main St.” on which he played such a major role. The CD cover of my new ‘Live’ album likewise links to Blue Rose Records.
After the dramas of the volcanic ash last month, my last trip abroad was interrupted by the awful news of the floods that hit Nashville ten days ago. It seems that even in the USA, the story was buried by the oil spill in the Gulf and the Times Square bomber and in Europe there was next to no report at all, although thirty people died, hundreds of homes and businesses were underwater and the freeways in and out of the town were closed for two days.
A few phone calls to my closest friends established that they all survived pretty much intact, but there were poignant stories of huge numbers of vintage instruments completely destroyed: Vince Gill alone lost $3,000,000 worth. Many musicians have their studios and guitar storage in their basements!
Back home I’ve been putting the final touches to my first ever broadcast as a radio DJ (The show goes out on Germany’s NDR radio at 23.05 on May 22nd). After another week of promotion, I am looking forward to some time off in June. I’ve hardly been home this year.
Best wishes to all of you – and wishing for some Spring weather,
Greetings to all of you out there kind enough to drop by my website. I’m writing this time on an off day, before the very last of my March / April tour dates (in Marburg tomorrow). This last week of travelling has been somewhat overshadowed by the volcano eruption in Iceland, but more on that later.
I arrived for my second set of dates by plane, in time for my guest spot with CSNY tribute band 4 Way Street, who were celebrating their 15th anniversary in Rendsburg, N. Germany on April 9th. It was a fine show but a late night and I found myself at 6.00 next morning in a train to Schwedt-an-der-Oder (between Berlin and the Polish border!) for another Beatles event. I started the proceedings in the afternoon with 90 minutes of Beatles songs and later interviewed guests, including drummer Pete Best, for the festival. A strange beginning to my tour!
Since then I’ve been all over Germany and Austria on very crowded trains, since all the people caught out by the flight cancellations due to the volcano, are changing to other means of transport. Right now I don’t know if I will be able to get home on Wednesday – not a good feeling after two weeks away!
I’ve been able to use my off-days to plan upcoming events in Germany for the imminent arrival of ‘Nicky Hopkins – A Rock Legend’ on May 10th. Between my contacts and Random House’s own efforts there are already a good number of book readings, radio interviews and launch events in the calendar. Everything confirmed so far can be read on my ‘tour dates’ page.
The other important piece of news affecting my activities in Germany, (always my busiest work place), is that my new start with agent Michael Behr is not going to happen, (due to family reasons of Michael’s), and I am grateful to be back in the capable hands of Juergen Stahl, with whom I have worked for ten years and will now continue to do.
Most of my September dates with Uli Kringler are already set and there there are plenty of new offers coming in.
At the moment I seem to be snowed under with work, but I’d always rather be busy than not.
I’m in the process of preparing my first ever radio broadcast (for NDR on May 22nd). For obvious reasons I chose Nicky Hopkins as my first subject and am enjoying the challenge. I’m doing everything I can to get more happening in the UK and have plans for South Africa and the USA lined up for later this year and next year.
I’ll have to wait until I get home to replace the ‘Deep Rain’ cover on this news page, as the first few hundred of my new ‘Live’ band CD have already been sold, many of them at the recent shows. I’ve had some very nice reactions from fans and friends (see the guest book) and a couple of excellent reviews too.
Right now I’m crossing my fingers that I can get home soon,
Best wishes to all,
Julian, (today from Hamburg)
Newsflash! I just heard from Blue Rose that the double CD/DVD ‘Live’ is scheduled for official release on March 26th.
I’ve had a sudden burst of writing new songs at home and am looking forward to getting back to playing live, starting March 16th in the Knust in Hamburg, where the show will be recorded by NDR Radio.I hope I see lots of you there…
Just a quickie to say that the German language version of the Nicky Hopkins book is already up on Amazon Deutschland (http://www.amazon.de/Nicky-Hopkins-Rock-Legende-Julian-Dawson/dp/3570580016), for anyone wishing to secure a copy on the day of publication (May 10th).
The last corrections went off this week so it is off to the printers now with no more changes or additions! A relief but a strange feeling too!
I just updated my Tour Dates page – all the shows seem to be in Germany so far this year, but there are UK, US and other places in planning…so please keep looking.
I am writing this from a front room in San Francisco, three quarters of the way through a month-long visit to the USA which has included two weeks in Nashville, where I was working with Nicky Hopkins’ widow, Moira, a three-day visit to Chicago for some music and to see friends, nearly a week here on the west coast and ending up with a few days on Long Island to see Nicky’s sister and niece.
All this Nicky Hopkins-related activity signals the end of that apparently endless project – a fact that will be greeted with cheers by my family – as the first version of the book will be appearing through Random House in Germany on May 10th. I have also received the first concrete offers for the English-speaking world about which I will be able to say more after I get home in early February. Although the book is technically speaking finished, I used the opportunity of being nearby, to head up to Novato, north of San Francisco, to interview Terry Dolan, leading light of Marin institution Terry & The Pirates, with whom both Nicky and John Cipollina guested regularly over many years…a real gent and with some funny stories to tell.
I had a wonderful family break over Christmas – in the Bahamas no less – and then had to prepare for my trip to the States in less than four days. When I get back I should be able to read the printer proofs of the German publication to check them before they are printed. After such a long time it’s fantastic to see the book advertised on Amazon for those who want to buy it on its date of release. My upcoming live CD/DVD was put back again by Blue Rose and is now apparently set for March. I amd really looking forward to getting back to some steady gigging that month (and in April too).
There are already plans afoot for some dates in the US with my new agent there, Molly McDonough. More on that later…
The travelling on this trip began with a snowy nightmare both sides of the Atlantic! My trip to Nashville usually takes 15 hours and this time took almost two days. Passing through airports nowadays (especially with a guitar) is definitely no fun anymore, with multiple body checks, endless lines and extra fees for luggage. It can’t be helped, I suppose.
I’ve used some free time in SF to brush up on my facebook and myspace sites. I apologise to anyone who has been frustrated or upset by my lack of reply to their requests and ‘friendship’ offers, but I’m very new to the whole area of internet-based interaction represented by facebook, myspace and twitter etc. I’m resolved to be more conscientious about it in 2010.
I’m always delighted to hear from anyone with questions,comments or greetings on any of those platforms – or here at my website guest-book. I always try and reply sooner or later.
For now I’ll just send a belated new decade greeting out to everyone and hope that this year will be good for all of us.
Best wishes for now,
Julian, Haight-Ashbury, SF
Hi to everyone out there,
This is a real ‘quickie’ news update as I am about to depart for my last show with Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere (in Milton Keynes) and then leave straight for the airport and three weeks holiday with my family. It’s been hectic to say the least!
I’m leaving with a lot of good things on the horizon: the German version of the Nicky Hopkins biography comes out in May, I have a firm offer for an English language version, the new double CD/DVD comes out on Blue Rose in February and after a really wonderful gig in Somerset, with my son Robyn on piano and my daughter Clancy singing, I’ve had a great run of shows with the Little Feat guys. Dates are coming in steadily for next year with my new booking agent, Michael Behr – so I feel like I’ve earned my Christmas break!
For reasons beyond my control the Beverley Martyn project is on hold for the moment, but you can now admire the newly-minted Nicky Hopkins website on line (www.nickyhopkins.com).
In the meantime, I wish everybody a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy 2010.
Love from here,
Home again after 3 weeks away!
Right after my last posting, I headed off to Brighton to record with Beverley Martyn. I must confess to having been a little bit nervous in my role as producer, as we were starting Bev’s first record in years, in a studio I’d never worked in before, with an engineer I’d only just met and a bass-player who was new to me as well. Our rehearsal boosted my confidence, as both Bev and the songs sounded great and as soon as we were set up at Bliss Studios, everything fell into place really quickly and we came out after three intense days with five fine basic tracks. I drove back home on a wet and windy night and kept myself awake listening to what we’d done and everyone who has heard the songs so far has been excited and enthusiastic, so I can’t wait to get back to work, probably in early November.
I went almost straight off to Germany after the sessions, beginning with a press launch for the new ‘Elke Heidenreich’ publishing imprint (through Random House) that will be putting out the German version of the Nicky Hopkins book in May next year.
I played a couple of Nicky-related songs for the assembled journalists and TV people and got a good reaction and several invitations for when the book finally arrives. The next day I played a private outdoor show, which served as a chilly but perfect warm-up for my two-yearly show in Kempen, near the Dutch border, on September 5th. I was lucky enough to persuade my daughter Holly (and her boyfriend Paul) to break off from their holiday in Amsterdam so that she could join me on stage. As the reviews correctly noted, she stole the show again! With Iain Matthews as an added surprise guest and Uli Kringler playing guitar, it was a night to remember and the beautiful church was sold out again with nearly 350 guests attending.
The rest of my gigs were very varied from a small crowd up north, to 8,000 mad BAP fans in front of the Dom in Cologne, when I made another guest appearance with Wolfgang Niedecken, this time singing English lyrics to two of his hits (and playing a bit of harmonica).
My favourite show was in Barmstedt near Hamburg, where, for various reasons Uli and I played the whole show to an audience of 140 totally acoustically. An unexpected appearance from Fontaine Burnett, our bass-player of last year’s band tour, with his lap steel guitar was the ‘cherry on the cake’! A truly memorable night…
I drove home after a re-visit to my old friends in Heiligenhaus after an exhausting but successful tour.
After ten really good years working with Juergen Stahl on all my German bookings, I am taking a leap and starting with a new agent. His name is Michael Behr and he will be co-ordinating all my concert appearances in Germany from now on. I’m looking forward to getting going again, with new photos, new posters, new press material – and new energy, in 2010. Any one wishing to contact me can reach Michael on (49) 4261 960 552 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
I may be following in Bob Dylan’s footsteps next year with a series of themed radio shows – more on that later.
I still don’t have a concrete release date for the live band CD/DVD but will post it as soon as I hear from Blue Rose. The work is almost completed on the mixing and sleeve design and it’s looking and sounding good.
I’m gradually catching up on all my overdue correspondence and internet stuff, (you can now find me on facebook and myspace under juliandawsonsongs). Keep sending us your messages to the guestbook and thanks to all the people who shared their e-mail addresses with us at the shows. I’ve got a bit of time at home before my next shows at the end of November and in early December with Barrere & Tackett.
Meanwhile best wishes from here,
Julian Dawson, Somerset
I’m sitting back at my desk at home in Somerset and it feels like the last three weeks has been a dream. Outside it’s windy and pouring with rain (much as it has been all summer in England).
I was lucky enough to escape the bad weather by leaving July 26th for the south of France for, (I think), a much-deserved holiday. I was working on editing the Nicky Hopkins manuscript up until the last afternoon at home and then had to pack the car and add on a fiendish bicycle rack to the back, designed by a team of Heath-Robinson (legendary British cartoonist who drew incredibly complicated machines to achieve simple tasks) and the Marqis De Sade. I was assembling this hideous device at 10.30 at night by torchlight, knowing that I had to get up again (when I’d finished) at 1.30 to drive to Dover for the ferry to Calais.
The 18 hour drive to Carcassonne went smoothly enough, but the beginning of the holiday was somewhat spoiled by the fact that unknown thieves chose the very first night to break a window on the car. Despite extreme tiredness we had emptied it of valuables on arrival, so their total haul was one Euro and a packet of biscuits, but I had to spend all day Monday and â‚¬60.00 on my French mobile phone, talking to insurance and glass repair companies. This and the presence of a growing hornet’s nest right outside our kitchen window made for a less than relaxing start, but after that we were able to enjoy a stretch of unbroken hot weather, swimming, long-distance cycling and good food and wine.
I met up with Dave Kelly and his family and some other good friends during our stay and packed up with a heavy heart for the return drive to Calais, where I picked up a rental car and drove to Witten for Stefan Stoppok’s well-organised tribute concert to my old and now sadly deceased friend and champion, Hildegard Doebner. I met some fine musicians I’d never come across before and, more importantly, a lot of old friends and faces I hadn’t seen for years.
I played three songs accompanied by Stefan’s band, two on my own and guested on harmonica with several acts during the weekend. Appropriately, I was interviewed at the festival for a retrospective article in Germany’ s leading folk magazine Folker, due later this year to celebrate my 20 albums and survival in ‘the business’.
I returned home to the expected glut of post and e-mails which I am working through systematically before leaving at the weekend to start work on the Beverley Martyn studio recording in Brighton. Bev sounded in good spirits and I am really looking forward to working with her on a long-overdue album.
I’ve had to postpone my planned writing date with Blue Rose colleague Hank Shizzoe until next year, but have been working on the upcoming live double CD and DVD of my own band shows from last year. Blue Rose in-house engineer Andy Horn has done a great job on the sound and my old friend Matthias Langer is working hard, as we speak, on the cover design. It was a pleasure to listen to the band again on tape, as I had forgotten how much we had improvised and stretched out some of the songs. There are great versions of ‘How Can I Sleep Without You’, ‘Walking On The Dead’, ‘We’ve Been Through Fire’ and other seldom-visited ‘oldies’, with Fontaine Burnett outstanding on the bass!
I leave home again this September for a run of gigs in Germany, starting with my traditional two-yearly appearance in Kempen on September 5th. Since that show has so far always been a sell-out, there is a convenient follow-up in nearby Oberhausen on September 17th and we’ll be finishing up on 25th in my old stamping grounds of Heiligenhaus. All the shows are with Uli Kringler who will be bringing his multiple guitars, (see Tour Dates page for details).
That’s it for now, folks, though I will add updates as I remember all the things I’ve forgotten to mention. This morning’s e-mails brought an invitation to Lucinda Williams’ wedding in Minneapolis and it’s right in the middle of the September dates. Life’s not fair!
Love to all – and come out to the show nearest to where you live – we’re going to have fun!
PS It’s a bad month for R.I.P.s with John Dawson (New Riders of the Purple Sage), Jim Dickinson AND Les Paul leaving us. I met Dickinson on a legendary night I was lucky to attend and play at the opening of the Memphis Hard Rock Cafe. I snapped a great picture of Jim and Dan Penn. I’ll put it up soon…
I was saddened to glance through one of the music magazines this afternoon and read of the death of Barry Beckett, one of the key members of the all-conquering Muscle Shoals band that played on some of my favourite records with Aretha, Percy Sledge, Paul Simon, Boz Scaggs and Traffic, to name just a few…
It was also my privilege to have him play on four tracks of my 1991 release ‘Fragile As China’ at the historic Quadrafonic Studios in Nashville.
Watching Barry at the Hammond organ, with a cigarette permanently on the go, drawbars to adjust and a keyboard part to play was like watching a ballet dancer at work. He shared the typical southerner’s laconic way of talking, never using two words when one would do, but quietly charming at the same time and he was a monster player! When I am reunited with all my photographs I’ll post a favourite picture of Barry from our studio date all those years ago and for now I’ll give a rare listen to my own ‘Crazy Weather’ to remind myself of one of my favourite moments.
Here the weather is hot and sticky and I am still hard at work, though I broke out twice this week to appear on local radio. The Monday interview on BBC Devon with Judi Spiers led to an invitation to make an extra appearance on Saturday at a cancer benefit, with Raf Ravenscroft, before I head off to my own gig at the Bridge Inn in Topsham in the evening. Promoter Julian Piper has promised top join me for a song or two and I am really looking forward to playing after a solid week at my computer.
Yesterday’s interview with Keith Warmington in Bristol goes out one evening next week…now back to work!
I’m finally getting round to upping my internet presence, with the help of a wonderful partner in the USA, who has already been able to place my duet with Lucinda Williams, ‘How Can I Sleep Without You’ on the front page of leading Americana web magazine ‘No Depression’ and there will be much more activity taking place in the next days and weeks.
I’ve also just had exciting news of an upcoming UK tour with two of my favourite artists, Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett from Little Feat. I played a few US shows with the duo some years back – and with the full band as well – and was invited to join them for a number of songs towards the end of the show, on harmonica and backing vocals…Bliss!
They call me ‘Big Julie’ and it will be great to be onstage with them again.
There are reviews of ‘Deep Rain’ either already out or about to appear in American roots paper ‘Dirty Linen’, plus Hi Fi News and Maverick in the UK. Maverick are including a feature in the near future as well.
I’m glad that there are positive things going on out in the world, even though I’m stuck at my desk all day at the moment!
Love to all, Julian
Two guesses as to where I am right now…
At my desk again, where else? I’m taking a break from editing the Nicky Hopkins text (from 550 pages to a slimline 350 for Random House) to look back on the few weeks since I last wrote.
The rest of my U.S. trip went very smoothly. Twenty-three years after writing my song ‘As Real As Disneyland’ (chorus: And in my imagination I’m already on my way…In the back seat of a Greyhound bus across the USA…) I actually took my first ride in a Greyhound, from Cincinnati to Nashville – an eye-opening experience of another side of America, but not one I need to repeat any time soon.
Once in Nashville I saw lots of friends, and had a few days to relax before heading off to Baltimore to attend the festival there. I met some great people, heard a lot of good music and made some new friends and contacts for the future. I had to fly back to Nashville to pick up my plane back to Heathrow and arrived home pretty exhausted with just time to unpack, sleep once, pack and leave for Cologne.
The show in the Kulturkirche was an absolute joy – well organised, well attended and with the added bonus of the guest appearance of old friends Helmut Zerlett and Rosko Gee for half a dozen songs from our Can Studio days. It reminded me of how exciting those days were and it was particularly good to know that producer Rene Tinner and Can guitarist Michael Karoli’s widow and daughter were in the audience. I stayed an extra day to meet up with Random House and meet the translator of the Nicky book and then went back home to collapse!
I was well recovered in time to meet up with Swiss slide maestro Hank Shizzoe, who was in London to see Nick Lowe at the Albert Hall. Being both part of the ‘Blue Rose family’, we have plans for a joint project later this year – more on that later…
I then settled down to start editing, but took another break to make a guest appearance with Dave Kelly (that other fine slide player) and Maggie Bell, who were gigging nearby in Bridport.
I carried on working every day into early June, but then slipped away to pay a long-planned visit to John York, once of the Byrds and a good friend of Gene Parsons and Nicky Hopkins, who was playing in a church in Eastbourne with Barry McGuire in a show called ‘Trippin’ The Sixties’. Barry was a real revelation and gave a terrific show, performing his own and other legendary songs of the era with tremendous energy and joy and linked by fascinating stories – a real inspiration! It was great to finally meet John and his lovely wife Sumi and we were able to discuss a few future plans before I headed home.
A local charity show for Vision Aid (to raise funds for reading glasses and eye tests for Africa and other poorer parts of the world) and a short but delightful show at the Wimborne Folk Festival were both made more fun by the arrival in England of Uli Kringler. He went back to Germany with a completely false impression of the English weather, as there was a heatwave during his visit, and he has yet to recover from seeing his first Morris Dancers at the festival! Both shows felt really good and I look forward to playing with him again in September.
Now it’s back to the manuscript or I won’t meet my deadline for a spring publication in Germany…
Best wishes to everyone out there and welcome to all the people who recently added their names to the e-mail data base.
Thanks for your support,
Here I am again after what I see is a six-week gap since my last posting. My excuse is the difficulty of finding time and internet access at the same time while doing a series of one-nighters.
I had a lovely run of solo shows and made not one but two surprise appearances with Wolfgang Niedecken and his group BAP. I joined them on one of my off-days in Bielefeld and premiered my English translation of Wolfgang’s German hit ‘Verdamp’ Lang Her’. Though the audience looked a bit puzzled at first, they applauded enthusiastically at the end of the song and I stayed on stage to play harmonica and sing on Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’. It was great to see him and the guys in the band again.’
A few day’s later I was in the BAP office in Cologne for a visit and ‘band mother’ Vera Mommertz told me it was Wolfgang’s birthday that day, so I asked for the phone to wish him ‘many happy returns’. It turned out that the band was nearby in Aachen, so I went and reprised my ‘surprise appearance’ and stayed for an after-show party.
My German visit ended up with four frantic days at the Frankfurt Music Trade Fair, where I played for Martin and Lakewood guitars and Shubb capos. I met with the usual array of seldom seen friends and acquaintances – The Hooters, Steve Baker, Jerry Donahue, Sonia (of disappear fear) and my old buddy Ron Randolf. The show is quite stressful but always produces new and unexpected contacts and this year was no exception.
I must admit I was very tired at the end of it, but luckily I had ten days in France directly afterwards to recover and, despite the sheeting rain over Easter, to have a bit of a holiday, meeting up with the Blues Band’s Dave Kelly and family while in the Corbieres.
I drove home from the south of France to Somerset in one go and had two manic days at home, before setting off to Heathrow for my flight to Chicago.
I’ve been here for just over a week and have had a great time with some good music, good food and good friends. I leave tomorrow for Cincinnati and then go on to Nashville for a few days. This trip finishes up with a visit to the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival near Baltimore to meet up with Sonia and her manager again, then back home to England in time to leave for my show at the Kulturkirche in Cologne Nippes on 14th May, which promises to be a lot of fun, with Uli Kringler bringing his guitars and ‘special guest appearances from my compadres from the Can Studio days (25 years ago!) who have since gone on to fame and fortune on the ‘Harald Schmidt Show’, Germany’s equivalent to David Letterman.
I hope that anyone who is close enough to come and help us out will make the effort as a) it promises to be a unique show and b) it’s my last German show until after the summer.
I’m off to post some letters now the rain has stopped in Chicago,
Best wishes to all,
Today is my last day at home before travelling to a run of shows in my ‘second home’, Germany. I had a chance this week to dust off the performing cobwebs (and get used to some travelling again), with two back-to-back shows: Tuesday in Horst (Holland) and Wednesday back in Somerset. The close proximity required a mad dash from Stansted airport to arrive just in time to join Richard Kennedy on stage at the Olive Tree in Frome. The Dutch show was my first gig in two months, so I was actually nervous! The audience was lovely (as always at Cambrinus) and I really enjoyed myself. They seemed to as well and I had the added bonus of a pre-gig meeting with Dutch resident Iain Matthews, though he couldn’t stay for the show this time.
I’m curious to see how the gloomy financial news we are getting every day will affect the audiences for the upcoming concerts. I feel that my job is to provide a real alternative to the overdose of bad news served up by the newspapers and television, so I hope that lots of you will still make the effort to join me at one or another of the venues. I’ve been rehearsing some almost forgotten songs from my past as well as some that seem particularly appropriate to the times.
I don’t usually talk too much about my family life but I have to mention that my son Robyn got married on the weekend to his long-term partner Jo and we celebrated with friends and family on a boat on the River Cam. I sang with all three of my kids in various combinations and felt like the Von Trapp Family. I was trying to think of the perfect present for a ‘new’ family of four and decided on a full-size table football game…no home should be without one!
I’ll go back to packing now and hope to meet up with some of you at one of the dates in the next two weeks,
Best wishes to all of you visitors,
Julian, Somerset 2009
February 27th 2009
Hi to everyone out there…I just got home from a day with my webmaster, Dave Andrews, spent updating and ironing out a few parts of this website. We’ve added more pictures to the gallery and replaced a few on the the biography page. The new pictures include a ‘making of’ snapshot from Karl Maria Hofer’s garden, taken during the photo shoot for my ‘Deep Rain’ cover. No one can say that we artistes don’t suffer for our art – I spent an hour and a half under a freezing cold garden hose to get the pictures we needed.
The discography and tour dates are up to scratch again, we’ve added one or two links and made sure that they all work properly and generally checked through all the pages. I will shortly be adding a gallery of band shots taken during the September tour and a page dedicated to the upcoming Nicky Hopkins book as well.
My unusually long stretch at home comes to an end on March 10th when I play in one of my favourite venues, Cambrinus in Horst, near Venlo. Since it is so close to the German border it is only a short drive for residents of Kempen and not far from Cologne or Oberhausen. It is a lovely, intimate room to play and hosts Jan and Henny will make you welcome. Horst is home to my friend Iain Matthews so there may even be an onstage get-together for some Plainsong material.
After that I have a run of shows, some public, some private, followed at the beginning of April by a four-day stint at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, the huge annual instrument trade fair. I will be playing for my friends at Lakewood and Martin guitars and for Shubb capos, though there is always the possibilty that other impromptu events will happen elsewhere. The public days are Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th, and though they are slightly manic, the fair is always well worth a visit if you have an interest in music-making of any kind. I’ll look forward to meeting some of you there.
In April I am off to the USA for almost three weeks, (you can e-mail me at the website for details of my activities while in the States), returning just in time for a one-off show at the Kulturkirche in Cologne, which promises to be some sort of mini-reunion for the 25th anniversary of ‘Cold, Cold World’, the first release from the Can studio recordings with Helmut Zerlett, Jaki Liebezeit and Rosko Gee collectively known as ‘the Flood’. When I think that Steuart Smith is currently on tour and record with the Eagles and that half of the then Flood team went on to national fame in Germany as the band for the Harald Schmidt TV show, I credit myself with having had good taste in musicians over the years.
I may become involved in a TV project myself in the near future, but news on that and other plans will have to wait for a later date.
I was thinking again about John Martyn and thought some of you might be interested to hear about my brief involvement with John early on in my music career. I grew up in the county of Kent, south of London and for some reason, in the 197os a number of Scottish musicians settled in that area – in fact Gerry Rafferty bought the other half of the house I grew up in. In my early twenties I made my first proper band demos in a little studio in London, using a number of those Scottish players; this led to a production deal to make what would be my first album. The keyboard player, who was playing with Gallagher & Lyle at the time, was named Ian Rae (nicknamed X-Rae) and he helped me put together a band, (which included Simon Climie on slide guitar, later a hugely successful song writer and producer.) John Martyn was another ‘incomer’, living locally with his wife Bev and I was already a big fan of his music. Someone mentioned at just the right time that John wanted to try his hand as a producer and introduced us. A meeting was set up to which John arrived fashionably late, having obviously been up all the night before. I was not very well informed at that point about the various chemical aids to staying awake and just thought that John was very, very hyped up.
Our meeting led to an invitation to a party at his house but not, unfortunately to a collaboration on record. I was very new in the industry and was quite taken aback and starstruck by the famous faces I met at John’s house. I have vague memories of people disappearing into the back room and coming out in a slightly altered state and, as the day wore on, was extremely puzzled at the sight of grown men and women playing ‘statues’ in the garden .
I crossed paths with John a few more times over the years, even playing with him once in Dublin. The last time we met was at one of the Fleadh festivals in London’s Finsbury Park, when he turned up backstage with a Les Paul with only five strings on it. He was next up after I’d played, so I was able to add the missing string to his guitar and stayed to watch him play a blinding set to a spellbound audience.He will always be an artist whose records I will always love and which I’ll listen to all my life. There’s another upcoming project that if it comes off, would make a circle complete. As I said, more later…
Keep well and hope to see some of you at a show,
Love from Somerset, Julian
Just a quick note today, after a few days of Somerset experiencing a rare battle with snow! Schools have been closed, the postman’s stopped delivering and I’ve had to cancel a trip to London twice! Upcoming gigs have been coming – and going – at an alarming rate…German friends should note that my March show in Gera has been postponed to a future, so far unnamed date.
Thanks to Paul Branson who spotted a copy of ‘Move Over Darling’ online at HMV.com for the bargain price of 168.99 pounds!
Two things I wanted to add today. First of all, I am stunned and really saddened to hear that John Martyn, one of my all time favourite musicians just died this morning. Not that the news was exactly a surprise, since he lived a pretty fast life and like so many great players, he didn’t take care of himself. He leaves behind a fantastic body of work and I’m glad to say that I was talking about him and listening to his music with friends last night, with no idea what today would bring.
The other thing is to wish my friend (another gifted guitarist) Uli Kringler good luck with his ‘big show’ at the Fabrik in Hamburg to launch his new CD ‘Cafe Cinema’. I wish I could be there and I know it will have been a great evening of music.
Belated New Year greetings to all you readers – I hope that Christmastime was all you wanted it to be and that you entered 2009 with good feelings, despite the gloom that bombards us on the news.
The Blue Rose Christmas Party was another sell-out show and seemed to go very smoothly, with some fine music and a great vibe. Chris Cacavas and Hank Shizzoe remain favourites of mine, but both the featured bands sounded really good too. Each paying guest received a copy of my ‘Christmas Every Day’ CD single as a gift and I sold almost all the rest of my Tour 2008 T shirt, with part of the money going to Cancer Research. Thanks to all those who bought one…there’s nothing worse than last year’s T shirts still on the merchandising table!
Apart from having to get through the flu (twice), I had a relaxing visit to Denmark and came back ready and raring to go in the new year. Perhaps as a result of my intensive period of writing, January and February are unusually quiet on the gigging front. I’ve decided to make a virtue of necessity and am using the time to catch up on a million things I’ve neglected over the last year before I go back out in the world in March. I’ve been home almost the whole month so far, apart from a flying visit to Hamburg to attend the premiere of a ‘Sgt. Pepper live on stage with circus artistes’ dreamed up by some ambitious colleagues in the German music industry. It was a great chance to meet up with people I haven’t seen for ages and several offers of upcoming projects were discussed over drinks. There was a full house for the performance and I was thrilled to meet Michael Lang among the other guests, the man who promoted the Woodstock Festival and managed Joe Cocker in the period when Nicky Hopkins played with him.
Regarding the book, although I handed it in to its first publisher, there is still a lot to do, with press material for the end of the year and providing support for my agent in the USA who is looking for the right home. I recently read (in Time Magazine) that 2009 is expected to be the most difficult year in publishing history. I guess things are hard, whatever branch of business one is in. No doubt we will all come out the other end of this dark stretch somehow. Meanwhile I feel increasingly grateful for the fact that I can still go out and do what I love and (so far) still be paid.
‘Deep Rain’ seems to have done well on its German release and received good airplay (as did the outtake single ‘Christmas Every Day’), good press and good sales. It will be shortly appearing in the UK with promotion handled by Del Day (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m trying to up the number of live appearances at home to coincide with the release of the CD.
I received a promo copy of German artist Heinz Rudolf Kunze’s new CD single in January, including an English version of his song ‘Astronaut in Baghdad’, for which I translated the lyrics. I haven’t heard how it is doing…On the song front, my friend Gene Pistilli e-mailed to say that someone out there is covering our song ‘It’s Not Really Raining’, (my version was on Hillbilly Zen); no more details yet as to who it is …
That’s it for now…do please keep your messages coming in the guestbook. I love hearing from you!
I’ve been wanting to post a new update for a few days now and am sitting at my desk with my bags and instruments packed, ready to go to the airport for the Blue Rose Christmas Party in Hannover on Saturday.The big news is I FINISHED THE BOOK! After a few twenty-hour days (the other four hours spent asleep, trying to get rid of the pain in my very red eyes) I sent off the manuscript a week ago and breathed a huge sigh of relief. My last interview came in on Wednesday night at 10.30 with Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), which was a delightful way to end up – a very nice man! I worked out that from the first to the last interview was a period of more than a decade…I must be crazy!Anyway, now it’s back to some music and I’ll write some more when I get back next week.Best wishes, Julian
This is going to be a quick addition to my news page because I am now three days away from a deadline at the publishers of the upcoming ‘Nicky’ book and I’m still not quite finished…which explains the silence from my corner of the world. It’s been going really well, but I’ve been getting up early – and I do mean early – and writing all day until my eyes go red!
I still enjoy the work very much and this last phase is particularly exciting because I can see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. I have had some commitments from some of the greatest rock photographers of all time for wonderful, often unseen pictures of my subject and, even at this late stage, some surprising interviews have come in. This week I talked to Andy McCoy, (once of Hanoi Rocks), Heartbreaker Benmont Tench and Nicky’s Japanese publisher from the early 90s.
I must confess that I did take one day off and drove up to Cardiff where my friend Mark Griffiths was playing bass in Cliff Richard’s 50th Anniversary tour band. I hadn’t seen Mark for a while and I’d never seen Cliff. I had an ulterior motive too, because two or three fans picked the same song from the new album as being a perfect candidate for Sir Cliff, who is always on the lookout for a hit or a Christmas No. 1. I also asked Griff to get an album signed.
Well, the gig was quite an experience…sharing the Cardiff Arena with 4,600 fanatical fans, 80% women and mostly my mother’s age was surreal – a very glossy, hi-tech show, sentimental and funny sometimes at the same time! I went backstage to visit the band (it turned out I knew two or three of them from London), saw my CD of songs passed on to a personal manager, picked up my signed LP and lo and behold, in walked Sir Cliff himself with a bottle of champagne for the musicians. He seemed very quiet and very charming and I discovered I was privileged, as this had not happened in twelve years or more. All good fun, and a welcome change from my computer.
I had an enquiry about the availability of the ‘Deep Rain’ songs on i-tunes and will be checking it out – and in fact making sure that much more of my music is made available for downloading, as soon as this task is over.
Greetings to all,
I made it home from my recent brief run of shows at the end of October which culminated in the Schwedt Beatles Festival (between Berlin and the Polish border). I met nice people everywhere and though the shows varied enormously, they were all fun. A sold-out show in Hattingen and a candle-lit church performance in Gross Schoenebeck stand out as highlights.
Unfortunately I have to announce that for family reasons I won’t be able to attend the two-day Chris Jones memorial event in Wolfenbuettel this weekend. I apologise to the promoters, who have worked hard, the musicians whose performances I’ll miss and anyone who goes there expecting me to be playing.
I’ve promised to appear next year instead and will now be home until the Blue Rose Christmas party in Hannover on December 13th. There are already e-mails arriving from some of the musicians attending with cool suggestions for songs we might play together during the Blue Rose Rockestra segment of the evening. I know it will be a lot of fun again this year.
Edgar Heckmann at Blue Rose tells me they’ve sold out of the double digipack version of my ‘Deep Rain’ CD – he didn’t even have one for his own archives! Luckily I have a handful at home.
I’m back home and the tour already feels like a dream – but a very, very good one. I knew from past experience that ten days would go by in a flash, but this time the idea that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ definitely held true. Guitarist Uli Kringler did me a big favour introducing me to David Mette, a future star drummer and bass-player/multi-instrumentalist Fontaine Burnett – Uli did a fine job himself, rocking his way into Steuart Smith’s shoes – we even had three-part harmonies in place.
I am very grateful to all the loyal fans that turned out to support us. Sales of the digi-pack version of ‘Deep Rain’ were brisk, even though I appear to have proved that T-shirt buying days are past for much of my audience. Anyone who would like a limited-edition black T-shirt designed by the artist himself (sizes XL and M) can get one for just 10 Euros by writing to me via the guestbook.
Edgar Heckmann and his Blue Rose Team came as planned to Frankfurt and recorded the whole show (for audio) and much of it on camera too. A first taste can be viewed on Youtube where ‘That’s Why God Made Saturday Night’ went up two days after we played it. More will no doubt follow as well as a live DVD.
The new CD seems to have been well-received at German radio. It was almost like the ‘good old days’ of the ’90s, with a number of hour-long ‘portrait’ interviews (NDR, HR, WDR, SWR and Radio 1) and album of the week status on other stations. It is much harder for an independent like Blue Rose to gain the same exposure as the major labels, but Starkult did a good job of promotion and all the press has been positive so far.
The album will get a second run when it comes out in the UK after Christmas and there are still plans afoot with Blue Rose for a Christmas surprise. Watch this space…
So thanks to all of you who came to see the gigs. Your smiling faces and enthusiasm made up for any difficulties we experienced on the road. I truly enjoyed playing with such a world-class band and now that we have rehearsed together, we can do it all again – and we will.
Now it’s back to the book…(I’m interviewing Ronnie Wood tomorrow)
Today’s message comes from the backstage area in Dortmund, Germany, the third gig on our ten-day band tour. We had just under four days to rehearse the new line-up, finishing up with a ‘private’ warm-up gig for a few friends the night before our first proper show in Hamburg – no problem though, because these guys are fast.
This is a great line-up! I’ve played with some really brilliant musicians over the years and these guys can hold their heads up with any of them. All three are wonderful people, quick learners, non-smokers and have impeccable taste. All the new ‘Deep Rain’ songs sound as good as the record and some of the older ones have gained a totally new lease on life with funky new arrangements. We are having ‘big fun’ playing to decent crowds and leaving very happy audiences behind us.
Back to tuning the guitars…
Julian, Dortmund, Germany
I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Dan Burke from Chicago, a good friend whom I met on flight UA 929 when we landed in Newfoundland back in 2001 – one of a number of close friendships that stemmed from that time and those events. Dan’s given me the perfect reminder today, because, although I haven’t been able to stay in touch with all the people who shared the nights I spent in Gambo (or with those that took care of us) and though I haven’t wanted to dwell unnecessarily on that experience, I’ll never forget them and am grateful to Dan for giving me the chance to send out a greeting to any of my fellow passengers or ‘on-the-ground’ carers who happen to read this. Please send me a message to the guestbook if you do.
Most of the news at the moment concerns Germany as I am about to leave home to go and rehearse for the upcoming band tour. Every minute is packed with things to remember and things to do. Some more German radio dates have come in: I’ll be live in the studio with WDR2 in Cologne on Sunday 14th. at 20.30 and with SWR in Mainz on Monday 22nd at 15.00 (before the Frankfurt gig). HR listeners in the Frankfurt area can also listen out for tracks from the new album prior to that show.
I’m still receiving occasional messages with suggestions for songs we should play on the tour and will do my best to please everyone. I’ve also had quite a few e-mails recently asking for autographs . I’m always happy to send out signed photos, but please send a stamped envelope with your request. If you’re in Germany you can write to me c/o Stahl Entertainment, Melatenguertel 22, 59033 Koeln.
Last newsflash for now: Although the Julian Dawson myspace page is still in the development stages, thanks to Simone Dorau-Schweika, there is a new German website (www.julian-dawson.de). The previous site, that ran for a long while, came to a gradual end and the original web address ended up being taken over and passd around by questionable business people. The new site is already up and initially duplicates the English website. As soon as there is time, it will take on its own character. My thanks to Simone and her team for all the hard work!
I hope to see as many friends as possible at the shows this month and greetings to everyone else out there in the world…
After three weeks of rest and recreation in France, I’ve been (mostly) back at my desk since mid-August and the holiday already seems like ancient history. I spent one or two days typing interviews for ‘the book’ and played one gig with Dave Kelly (the Blues Band) to raise money for a piano for the local village hall but managed to find time to lie on the beach reading a book as well.
It’s always good to take a break from my full-time music and writing occupations, but I returned to pages of e-mails, piles of post and a full-on schedule. Things have moved on the Nicky Hopkins front as I have a literary agent helping me and a publication date in 2009. After the (almost) ten years I’ve spent on this project, I suddenly have a deadline to get the last chapters finished, which is actually more of a help than a problem, but comes at exactly the same time as the release this week of my ‘Deep Rain’ CD.
I’m having to keep my wits about me.
My last solo show was in Adrara S. Rocco near Bergamo in Italy, just before the summer break in July, but now the band shows in September are coming up fast, with all the preparations that involves. We will be rehearsing right up to the first show and already the first German reviews and radio plays are beginning to come in. The CD will be presented on WDR 2 Radio on Thursday Sept. 4th, (this week) at 20.00 and I will be spending an hour with Peter Urban on NDR radio in Hamburg starting at midnight on September 17th. The CD is record of the week on MDR Figaro and I’ve had confirmations of two visits to Radio 1 in Berlin, one of my favourite stations in Germany.
I’m hoping that anyone who has ever enjoyed a song or concert with me over the years, will make it to one of the band shows this month. It’s been a long while since I went out with a full band and a drummer and it is, of course, an expensive way to go, just when everyone is feeling the pinch economically…but I don’t care! I think the album has turned out really well and I want to give it my best shot. So I’ve picked great musicians, there will be T shirts for sale for the first time in years, plus the new CD as a single or deluxe digipack version – and of course older albums at friendly prices.
We’ll be playing the new songs and a selection of older favourites too. I realised when I sent the list out to the players, that there are lots of songs that have never been performed live with a full band. I am really looking forward to the chance to play them and hope that you’ll be there too…we need you more than ever in these tough times!
I’ll be promoting the German release of ‘Deep Rain’ right through the winter but I am already in discussions for a UK version in the New Year and some live work to back it up. I don’t know yet about North America, but watch this space. Meanwhile the CDs will be available through Blue Rose Records or via this website.
As I said last month, if you would like to make sure that a particular song is on the set list for the tour, you can contact me via the guestbook. It works now and it’s easy. I’ll add other information as it comes in until the shows start on September 19th. You’ll notice new items on the Trivia page and Photo Gallery have gone up…
Now back to the book.
July 7th 2008
I just wanted to add a quick note to say thank you for all the birthday greetings and positive comments about the new version of the website. I know I get the benefit of having a date that’s easy to remember!
With the band tour coming up in September, it occurred to me to ask anyone who feels like writing to the guestbook to suggest which songs we should include in the live set (apart from those off the upcoming CD). I’d be glad of any input and promise to honour any requests that come in.
Today is the eve of my birthday (again! Is it just me or are they coming round more quickly?)
I had a two-day visit to Braunschweig last weekend, staying with Kimberley Rew in Cambridge on the way through. I played two shows, one in private for a hundred and fifty veterinarians and scientists and one in a really friendly (if smoky) blues venue. Peter, the owner, an enthusiastic and very nice man, spent many years in the USA running clubs in Chicago and New Orleans and was the partner responsible for ‘entertainment’ at the Warehouse when the Grateful Dead had the legendary bust that led to their anthem ‘Truckin’…
I’ve spent the last week e-mailing ideas back and forth with Matthias Langer for the new CD cover – now completed to everyone’s satisfaction. It seems ages since we made the album and I haven’t been listening to it recently, so now I am really looking forward to the release. We’ve been deciding on posters today for the tour and I am having some T Shirts made for the first time in a long while.
Last night I paid a surprise visit to Albert lee and Hogan’s Heroes, old friends who were playing locally. Albert broke his arm back in May but you would never know it to see him play. It was great to hear them again and I got up to play harmonica on a Little Feat number and on Rodney Crowell’s beautiful ballad ‘Until I Gain Control Again’.
Now it’s back to the (almost finished) book…got to be done before I go on holiday!
More soon, Julian
Hi to everyone,
As you can see, the long-promised website overhaul is finally up and running – many thanks to Dave Andrews and his brother Matt for all the hard work and good ideas. We’ve already added some new pictures to the gallery and there will be more going up very soon, I’ve updated everything, the guest-book has a new system and a new look and and there is a contact page as well, so I am looking forward to any comments on the new features and layout and hope there’ll be lots of messages to make up for the long period when I’ve been ‘off the radar’.
I’m really pleased with the way it all looks and the ease of movement between the different sections. I hope you will feel the same.
There’s not too much to report on the live front, though there are gigs upcoming in the UK, Italy and Germany before the summer holidays begin in August. I’ve had my harmonica suitcase out twice recently to play with British slide guitar whizz, Dave Kelly, (one at a double show with Stone The Crows vocalist Maggie Bell) as well as a UK Folk Festival appearance with singer and songwriter Boo Hewerdine, but my main task remains finishing the last chapters of the Nicky Hopkins’ story. I recently paid a visit to the Rolling Stones London office and am hoping for some more personal input from the rest of the band before the book is done.
There are always other distractions and other tasks that need attention. We are working hard on producing the cover art for the new album, for both versions – the straightforward CD release and the ‘De Luxe Digipack’ with a bonus CD of my older songs (and a couple of surprises), specially re-recorded with Uli Kringler in his Hamburg studio.
I received a call a week ago from a producer working with German artist Heinz-Rudolf Kunze asking for a translation into English of a song about a soldier in the Iraq war, ‘Astronaut In Baghdad’. The catch was that they needed it in two days, but I managed to meet the deadline and they were apparently pleased with the result. These are the surprises that keep life interesting if sometimes hectic.
Finally, with the assistance of my daughter Clancy, I’ve responded to the calls from friends and fans to put up a MySpace page as well as this website. We’ll be adding to it and smartening it up in the next few days.
I hope you are enjoying good summer weather. For once it is hot here during the days leading up to the Glastonbury festival. My son Robyn and his partner are there selling falafel and other goodies from their ‘Vegeteria’ stand, so if you go there, tell them I sent you and you may get a freebie!
I’m going back to my writing desk again,
I’ll begin with a look back over the last three months – starting with the new album recording in Nashville.
I arrived in Tennessee on March 1st and was lucky to be staying with Barry and Holly Tashian again – their house really is a ‘home from home’ and they are wonderful hosts.
I had a day or two to acclimatise before Dan Penn came back to town from a show in Florida. The budget arrived at the bank in good time (a great relief) and we had a day or two to prepare the songs and the studio before work started with the band on March 6th.
I had lost half of my original team by moving the recording dates from January to March – John Deaderick was out playing keyboards for Michael McDonald and guitarist David Steele was also tied up with a road gig. As so often is the case, the team that turned up on the first day proved to be exactly right for what we were doing and it was plain sailing from the word ‘Go’.
Drummer Steve Ebe hails from Memphis and brought his groove with him. Daniel Tashian, who played drums on my ‘Under The Sun’ album was equally brilliant on bass this time around. Steve Allen, who I’d met with Bill Lloyd and Garry Tallent’s band the Long Players, held down the guitar chair with wonderfully laid-back licks and fills and my old friend Billy Livsey handled piano, Hammond organ and a variety of vintage electronic keyboards. (Billy appeared on ‘Headlines’ back in the early ’90s). Dan’s wife Linda took wonderful care of everyone.
I had spent some time with him finding out which microphone most suited my voice and settled in my vocal booth with my acoustic guitar and a Japanese mic that seemed to suit me. We cut all the tracks on sixteen-track 2 inch tape and this is the very first album when I have been able to keep ALL the vocals that went down with the band – not always the most perfect version, but quite different than any later attempt to sing to a finished track. Astonishingly the musicians said that it was the first chance they’d had for years to all record together, (in recent years Nashville has joined the trend to record instruments one at a time), so everyone was tuned in to each other, to the songs and to Dan in the producer’s chair. He lived up to the reputation he has had as a benevolent dictator, ever since working with the Boxtops on their Number 1 sixties hit ‘The Letter’ . All the musicians enjoyed his company and respected his judgements just as much as I do and the resultant tracks are soulful with just the kind of laid-back grooves I had hoped for.
To round things off, harmony vocals were provided by two husband/wife teams – Vince and Barbara Santoro and Holly and Barry Tashian – with a couple of brief appearances from Mr. Penn and from Daniel Tashian and his girlfriend Kelly.
I wrote four of the songs with Dan, two with Gene Pistilli, one with Iain Matthews and one with Rosie Flores – the remainder are all my own work.We cut thirteen tracks but decided at the mastering stage to keep one back for later. My favourites are the title song ‘Deep Rain’, ‘The Keys To The Kingdom Of Love’ and ‘Walking On The Dead’ but I’m happy with everything we did and look forward to seeing what everybody else makes of it.
We worked pretty intensely for the three weeks I was in town with only one or two nights off, once to see Donnie Fritts and friends at the Douglas Corner (David Hood incredible on the bass), once to visit with Spooner Oldham, who came through town as special guest of the Drive By Truckers and once for a vinyl night with Bill Lloyd and Garry Tallent, who had a rare night off from touring with the Boss and invited the usual interseting mix of musicians and industry insiders to drink beer and listen to old records – always fun!
I eventually had to fly home leaving Dan mixing the last two tracks on his own as my tour dates were looming and I only had a few days at home before getting in the car again. Dan mastered the tracks with Jim DeMain in Nashville and I was thrilled with the finished CD when it finally arrived.
It will receive its first release on Blue Rose on September 5th. followed by my first band dates in almost ten years.Uli Kringler who has been playing guitar with me this year has helped put together the musicians, bringing in Hamburg-based American Fontaine Burnett on bass and Dave Mette on drums. I have really missed playing with a full line-up and am looking forward to our ten gig run (see tour dates).
My other big news is that after all the years spent working on the Nicky Hopkins biography I have a publisher again and the book will appear in the Autumn of 2009, 40 years after Nicky’s appearance at Woodstock with the Jefferson Airplane. I can’t give details of the company involved yet, but it is the perfect home for this very special subject.
My Spring tour began with a weekend in Hamburg for another Beatles/Star Club event. Interview guests this time included Spencer Davis, Tony Sheridan and the original barmaids from the Star Club and Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn was among the many familiar faces attending. I went straight off to Oldenburg next day, met up with Uli Kringler and played more or less straight through to April 22nd. when I finished up with a solo gig in Luxemburg. Uli played wonderfully and went down well with my audience. I’m looking forward to the next chance to work with him. We spent tow days off in his Hamburg studio recording tracks for a ‘De Luxe’ version of the the new album. More on that later.
For now, apart from a handful of UK shows and two in Germany, I’m more or less off the road for the next two months and will spend the time writing and preparing for the new CD release.
Wishing everyone good weather and a lovely Summer,
Love from here,
Julian Dawson, Somerset
FEBRUARY NEWS UPDATE
The tail-end of last year ended up being quite busy. Charlie Louvin’s visit to London was a triumph and it was great to see him. He is now eighty years old and shows no signs of slowing up at all. I rehearsed with his band and the guest vocalists the BBC had decided to put with him (from younger bands Blanche and the Handsome Family) and played a good part of Charlie’s set at Dingwall’s, which was recorded both for radio and TV broadcast. A highlight for me was a backstage visit from Ray Davies, who gracefully agreed to have his picture taken with the various Kinks fans present (including yours truly), but even better, promised to give me my Nicky Hopkins interview at last – and then actually did!
I went off in early December for my handful of shows in Germany and Holland. The first Dutch show was one of Iain Matthews’ songwriter presentations and was a delight. Both my other shows in Holland went really well too and I have been asked back, which is always nice. I finished up for the month of December on stage in Hannover, with a cast of thousands for the annual Blue Rose Christmas party.
This time I got to meet and play with new friends Chris Cacavas and Rich Hopkins as well as a few familiar faces such as Swiss slide wizzard Hank Shizzoe and Todd Thibaud. It was a sold out show and the four hundred or so guests seemed to enjoy every act and every minute. I was the presenter and co-ordinator of the proceedings this time, which meant for some hard work on the night – but good fun too. In fact the only cloud over the event was the fact that poor David Knopfler broke his shoulder stepping off stage at the rehearsals and never made it to the show. I’ve heard he is well on the way to recovery in the meantime.
It was great to see Blue Rose chief Edgar Heckmann with such a big smile on his face.
After all that action, Christmas and New Year were quiet family affairs this year, without too much travelling!
The New Year was supposed to begin with my trip to Nashville to record with Dan Penn, but around Christmas time, Dan asked me to postpone the sessions to early March, so that he could grab a much-needed break. This presented quite a few problems, as I had gone to great lengths to put together a terrific band of young players for January, some of whom might now not be available for the new dates.
I’ve learned over the years to take unexpected changes in my stride and trust that what comes out at the end will be jjust as good or better than my expectations, and one thing that Nashville is not short of is musicians!
During my visit in October I wrote four new songs with my producer (one every day) and a couple on my own, so I am llooking forward to my first ‘band’ recording in a good while. As Dan said on the phone, ‘Just bring your guitar and your good self and let’s have some fun!’ My sentiments entirely…
Now, back to work so I can get the book done before I get going with the new songs…Love from Somerset,