I thought that I would start at the end of the year and fulfil my New Year’s Resolution, made three hundred and sixty one days ago, to write up a review of the year. With just five days to go it is cutting the deadline a bit fine but here we go. But in my defence I did think it better to write this up at the end of the year rather than right at the start when there would not be all that much to write about. So here we go.

Over the past few years Danni and I have seen the New Year in with friends gathered together in France, but this year we decided to stay here in Farnham and watch the time tick over to midnight, also Jess and Johnny had asked us to babysit. Going off at a bit of a tangent here but stay with me as all will be revealed…

I have only ever written one song in its entirety and that was The Ballad of Harris and Willis and this was written many years ago for our two daughters Lucy and Jess. Harris and Willis were two cats that we had while living at Marelands Cottage between Rusper and Newdigate. Harris named after Geoff and Pennie Harris who presented us with these two, we could have called them Geoff and Pennie but as they had both been male cats once it seemed cruel to call Willis Pennie. Willis was named after the cobbler in Charlwood called Mr Willis whom I had known for many years.

So back off the tangent and into songwriting.

Susquehanna was originally a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson about the river in America and I have always thought what a great name it was, so much so that I was thinking of changing my name from Martyn to Susquehanna but it is difficult to spell so I decided to drop that, but going back to RLS’s poem I changed a few words around and put some other words that I knew in and then wrote a tune for this, strangely enough called Susquehanna as by now I had learnt how to spell it.

Are you still with me? I am coming to my point…

Just before the end of 2009 I had this line in my head:“For no good reason other than” and a song that I would really have liked to have written would be one about The Swagmen of Australia as they were generally such great characters and embodied such a great part of the Australian Outback which I so love. The great song writer Stan Graham (www.stangraham.co.uk) who lives up in sunny York always told me once I had a line, to then expand on it and this is what I did and the whole song The Dusty Dry Outback emerged literally as the old year fell away and the New Year rose up.

As I said Dan and I were babysitting and I just started to write between 2009 and 2010, I might just try it again this New Years Eve if I can get a line going. One other thing happened that night. I went outside to welcome the New Year in a few minutes after midnight and I looked up to the clear starry sky and I saw the most amazing sight. I know that those of you who are reading this, or if you yourself are reading this, you will laugh at me as indeed I did after this experience. Over in the distance heading up from the south there were a whole host of lights in the sky coming in our direction. There was not a sound to be heard, just silence. Living where we do we do have the occasional influence of aircraft noise but there was no aircraft noise coming from these lights. My immediate thoughts were that there was some sort of invasion happening, I know that this is ridiculous but in the cold quiet light of night it all seemed very real. The lights were, by my judgement, several hundreds of feet high and were getting closer and closer and still no sound at all really very eerie. Of course they turned out to be these Chinese lanterns that someone had sent off but they did start the New Year off in a strange light.  This was just the start to the year.

So off we went into January and all the things that the New Year brings, the hopes, the joys, the worries, the achievements and all the happiness that life brings us. Dan and I had made the decision to sell our place in France, La Jeusseliniere, and the buyers we had were due to complete on March 22nd  2010   Dan and I had been there for close on to fifteen wonderful years and over the last seven or so of these we had been running the La Jeusseliniere Experience Music courses. These had just been fantastic and we met so many many great people who have become firm friends of ours and indeed formed friendships amongst themselves which is just so wonderful to witness. We have had some great La Jeuss, as La Jeusseliniere has now become known, reunions which I will talk about later.

So back to where I was

Dan and I headed off to France on January 2nd and had a belated New Year celebration with our many friends there, another great evening spent in great company. Of course over the years we have amassed a fair amount of clutter and bits and pieces these all had to be cleared in readiness for the new owners to take over in March. This involved many trips to the tip and I found that the only way to dispose of the many items was to go to the tip with my eyes closed and to keep them that way till the car was empty. There were also many trips to the Emmaus which is a truly worthwhile charitable organisation in France and they accept almost anything, with the exception of crocodiles and used toothpicks.

We came back to England at the end of January as I had places to be and to join up with Iris Bishop and Gary Holder to play at some folk clubs and what a joy it is to have them alongside me with their particular expertise with music.

Back to France then for more clearing packing and sorting out. Luckily our very good friends Harold and Marion Gould have a place with a large barn that they had said we could use to store pieces that were destined for Farnham. So, most of that time was taken up with these jobs.

Back to England for the early part of March and the race to clear everything was hotting up. I did the bookings in the beginning of March then back for the final push on March 11th.

Somehow or other we completed the clearing in time for completing the sale of La Jeuss. There is no doubt about it both of us were somewhat subdued on this day but were reinvigorated by the many, many memories and friends that we have and their communications on that difficult day. It is just that chapter which has closed and there will be many other chapters opening up in all sorts of directions.

We went back to England on the next day, turned round once then off to America for a tour that had been organised by our good friends Isobel and Elly Ableson. This was a short tour up and down the North East coast. First port of call was a concert in Camden Maine and this was with no other than the great Gordon Bok. I have been an admirer of Gordon Bok ever since someone played me him singing his song The Hills of Isle Au Haut which utterly mesmerised me, his singing, playing and construction of the songs is just magical.

Dan and I had a few days off up and around Camden and Gordon and his lovely wife Carol very generously accommodated us. To be able to spend time with them both in their happy home environment, to meet and hear his shanty group ‘The January Men And Some’ and Carol’s wonderful harp playing and her contagious positive outlook on things goes into the memory bank.

From there we drove off down, staying with Isobel and Elly with their fantastic hospitality, I am eternally grateful to Elly for introducing me to the radio stars Bob and Ray, if you ever get the chance to hear these maestros of the spoken word in the 60’s grab it. The beauty of these tours is that you get a chance to hear so many different people singing playing music or story telling and to this extent we met up with Jackie and Kendall Morse.

Jonathon Parsons put on a great concert in South Stonnington, in the home of Lise and Tom not to forget to mention her varied collection of rabbits. We had the great pleasure of meeting up with Jeff and Lisa Davis and Jeff joined me in a few songs which was most enjoyable because Jeff is well able to put up with my musical eccentricities.

Other ports of call were Boston, New York, Princeton, Washington, Portland, Damerascotta and places in between. We were with Kathy Westra in sunny Washington and met up with a good load of old friends while we were there.

One thing I would like to mention is about New York. Many years ago when I was living in Australia I had an LP of Scottish songs sung by Lori Holland and I always remember this as there were some good versions of songs on this LP. Whenever I have been in New York I have always asked people if they knew of Lori Holland and sadly I always drew a blank, but not this time. When asking our hosts they said, “Yes, we will ring her up,” which they did straight away and within a minute of asking the question, there

I was holding the telephone receiver and talking to none other than Lori Holland! Amazing. We had a great conversation but sadly we would not be able to meet up with her in the evening where I was singing as she and her husband were already committed to another engagement. But just to have spoken with her was enough to make a happy man old. Imagine my sheer delight when Lori Holland and her husband turned up at the venue having made a detour to visit us on their way to New Jersey. So I can say with great pride that I held Lori Holland in my arms for a brief second or two, I so appreciated the trouble that they had both gone to and I treasure the CD that she gave me, something else for the already overcrowded memory bank, but I will always make room for memories.

There were so many people that we were able to spend precious time with; Caroline Paton being one up in sunny Sharon CT and I know that there are many others that I have omitted to mention both old and new but rest assured that each and everyone is as important to Dan and me as each and everyone mentioned is. We eventually made our way back for a couple of days with Isobel and Elly in New Hampshire before driving down to Boston for the flight back to England.

This was on  Tuesday April 27th and this coincided with the Icelandic volcano which decided to blow it’s top at this time. So we were grounded at Logan Airport. Luckily we had a very sympathetic receptionist at the hotel named Shirley who was indeed very good to us.

Undaunted by the volcano, we headed off to foreign climes again in mid May. Harriet our eldest grandaughter had expressed a wish to fly so to cut a long story short, she, Jess, Dan and I headed off for a few days in sunny Menorca which was great and another slot for the memory bank.

Back from that and off to France for a couple of days after our return to pick up some bits and pieces from Harold and Marion. End of May saw us up at the Ryedale Festival and a quick visit to our very good and long standing friends Wendy and Gordon Simm.

May and June are my favourite months of the year and once again many places to visit.

One of the bookings in the early part of the month was at Postlip Hall near to sunny Cheltenham and the home of John and Hilary Shorter. John is the organiser of the excellent Cheltenham Folk Festival and he was putting on a concert on this fifth day of June in the special concert hall within Postlip Hall. Danny Spooner, or as I call him, Captain Spoon, is an old friend from my days back in Australia in the 1960’s and whenever the chance arises we will sing together and this chance arose at Postlip Hall.

Iris Bishop had driven up especially from Sussex to be there and had brought Dan along with her as I was on a tour at that time. They both drove off into the darkness and towards Sussex leaving me to head off north the next day. It was great to be and sing with Captain Spoon and once again some friends turned up in the shape and form of Gerald and Belinda Ricketts. In the middle of June, Iris and I had been invited to be part of the celebratory concert for Bill Whaley and Dave Fletcher having been singing and playing together for forty years, it must have been a very long song or tune. It was a terrific concert and a great honour for Iris and I to be on stage with the Threlfalls along with Bill and Dave and such a great atmosphere from the fantastic audience. The night before this Iris, Dan and I had been at the Norwich Folk Club and were enthralled by the singing of a young lady by the name of Marrianne Neary. A pure and crystal clear voice which I am sure will take her to many places. At this point I must also mention Anna Shannon who hails from up and around the Scarborough region. She has been writing some truly wonderful songs and sings them sublimely –  well worth catching up with her. We heard of Anna through Stan Graham and indeed Anna came along to one of our La Jeuss reunions up in Dunnon Scotland. Anna and husband Roy had not visited La Jeuss when it was up and running but had heard about it and came along to Dunoon and were immediately welcomed by all the La Jeussers.

The end of June was taken up by recording the next CD. This was to be at Jim Ward’s studio The Country Branch in sunny Crawley, Sussex. Jim is well experienced with producing CDs and was even ready for the challenge to record myself and No Man’s Band which comprises Iris Bishop, concertina and accordion, Gary Holder double bass he has upgraded to a double bass from his single bass, and Jon Wigg on violin, banjo, mandolin and anything else that doesn’t move. Jim has an ever growing back catalogue of CDs all well worth a listen and even buying, Gordon Hall, Elsie’s Band, Will Duke and Dan Quinn just to mention a few, he also recorded The Maypoles to Mistletoe Christmas production we put on each Christmas time, but more of that later. The recording sessions went well and it is always such a joy to work with these outstanding musicians. One of the tracks on this CD, which incidentally is called Back to You and is available at all good fish and chip shops or failing that through my website www.martynwyndhamread.com is Thousands or More from the superb Copper Family and there is a bit of a story attached to this.

A couple of years ago a very good and close friend of Dan and mine, Ian Mason Hill, sadly died which was a great loss to us all and very sad. Towards the end of 2009 Delysia, Ian’s wife decided to put on a memorial concert for Ian and the money raised would go to the Leukaemia research fund, an extremely worthy cause. Ian was one of the founding members and a dancer himself of the local Morris side The Broadwood Men and his other passions were Folk Song and Brass band music. Iris and I were invited to be part of this concert as were the Broadwood Morris Men and the St Giles Brass. The MC and continuity lady was to be the actress Sue Holderness, she of Marlene Boyce in Only Fools and Horses and her part in The Green Green Grass, who just brilliant. Dan, Iris and I got together to see how we could combine Ian’s musical tastes, and as neither Iris nor I are any good at playing a brass instrument while Morris dancing to a song, we hit on the idea of singing Thousands or More and for the Brass Band ensemble to play the tune through as the song finished. Iris being the true magical musician that she is, wrote out the different parts for the fifteen piece brass band and they did such a good job, I have goose pimples in my ears as I think about it while writing this now. We have reproduced this to a lesser extent on the CD with just a four piece quartet playing through the tune at the end. For me it still has the same effect. So the plan was to get the CD out in time for The Whitby Folk Week which is towards the end of August. All stops were pulled out and Iris did a terrific job in the art work and designing the cover for Back to You. There is an assortment of songs on it both old and new, as I always say the old songs keep the new songs alive and the new songs keep the old songs alive. There are two of Eric Bogle’s songs Always Back to You and Shelter, I admire Eric so very much he is in my opinion one of the greatest song writers and has done so much to put Australia on the cultural map of the world. Wherever you go to in an English speaking part of the world you will hear an Eric Bogle song.

July saw us doing a concert in the nearby village hall of Hale with our very good friends over from sunny San Francisco on tour Larry and Deborah Hanks both such great singers of equally great songs from America. This was on Sunday July 4th and on in the afternoon. We had great help, being novices in the “putting on of folk concerts” from Lawrence Heath a stalwart of the folk music song and dance in this area. It was a great success and we are not daunted by repeating another in a similar vein on a Sunday afternoon, watch this space.  A few days after this Jim, Iris and I all went up to sunny Maidenhead to record the Brass quartet for the Thousands or More track on Back To You.

Most of the Spring and Summer have been spent in erecting what has become known in the family as The Pavilion. Our builder neighbour friend Robbie has been instrumental in this as my DIY skills are virtually nil, as I was told in Australia once ‘You couldn’t knock a nail in crookedly.’ This has been built to accommodate pieces returning from France. Dan will have one end of this thirty three foot long building for her painting and easels, while we have a so called reception area in the middle and I have my part at t’other end. I must say that it works well but a mite chilly at the moment what with all of the snow.

We were off up to Whitby, and with eternal gratitude to Graham of Cyclone Music in Rochester Kent for getting the Back to You CDs ready for the Folk Week. We stayed in total luxury with Stan and Julie on our way in York. Along with the joy of being in sunny Whitby and staying with the ever young and enthusiastic Mollie Grove we had two events apart from the concerts that are such a part of the Folk Week. The first was a themed concert called “On the Wallaby” and this was to be done with Ken Prato a retired shearer friend of ours who lives over in Australia but comes to England when Whitby is on. I first met Ken when I was last over on tour in Australia at The National Folk Festival 2009 held in Canberra over Easter time. Ken had written a book on his sheep shearing days spanning several years with stories and anecdotes of his time “on the wallaby and on the boards.” His book is entitled, and please excuse my French, there is really no other way of saying “Sheep shit on the Brain”. He very kindly gave me a copy of this, and is available through him and I would be happy to put you in touch with him it is well worth a read.

At the 2009 Whitby Folk Week Sue Houston had asked me to come up with a themed concert and I decided to devise one on shearing and call it I Don’t Go Shearing Now, which is the title of a song that we do and is about an old retired Australian shearer talking to a young lad who is about to set off for a life “on the wallaby and on the boards”. Ken had never been out of Australia and had spent his time travelling in and around the outback of Australia. So imagine this scene, it is as clear to me now as to when it happened.

It was August 11th, Dan and I were in France getting ready to come back for the Whitby Folk Week in August 2009. I was sitting reading through Ken’s book to fill up some of the parts for the I Don’t Go shearing Now concert and slightly wishing that I could have gleaned some more information from Ken about the shearing when the mobile phone rang. I answered it and this Australian voice said, “Good’ay”. “Who ‘s that?” I said and the voice came back to me saying that it was none other than Ken Prato.” Where are you?” I asked and his reply was London. “What are you doing there?” I retaliated.  “On holiday,” he said. “Where are you going on holiday?” “ Yorkshire” was the only word he said. So it came to pass that Ken came to Whitby and we were able to jointly perform the shearing concert together along with Iris. Ken was able to supply all the translations for the shearing jargon used in the sheds and indeed even shore and imaginary sheep for the rapt audience. At that particular time of year accommodation in Whitby is hard to find, not many shearing sheds there with quarters for the men, but some very good friends of ours Ken and Marion Hall who live in sunny Sleights were pleased to look after this retired shearer Ken Prato.

Ken was over again this August and so we all did On The Wallaby together. Another one of our projects is Down The Lawson Track which we have performed with Shirley Collins and Pip Barnes along with No Man’s Band. Once again I suggested that we could perform this up in Whitby but sadly without Shirley Collins, Pip Barnes or Gary Holder as they were all unavailable. Down The Lawson Track uses the stories and poem / songs of the great Australian poet and story writer Henry Lawson 1863 – 1922. Shirley and Pip read the stories while we weave in and out with relevant poem / songs of Lawson’s. Over the years many of Lawson’s poems have been put to music and made into songs. His descriptions of the outback and characters who lived there are so vivid it makes for a great concert. As I said Shirley and Pip were unable to be there so Sue Houston nobly stepped into Shirley’ shoes while Ken Prato put Pip’s shoes on. Sadly we had to go without Gary’s wonderful and sympathetic bass playing. But it went well; Sue and Ken did a sterling job. Back from Whitby and into September with the year racing ever ahead.

When Dan and I ran the La Jeusseliniere Experience Weeks in France we would always hold a concert on the Friday night for the students to perform, along with the tutor. We would invite our French neighbours and friends from far and near for this evening, all of these evenings are stored in the memory bank, some very moving moments and some hilarious moments as well. Alison Benn and her young daughter Harriet would always attend and be of great help to Dan. When we sold up Alison asked us if she could take the courses on at which we were delighted. She has finished a year of successful weeks in 2010 and is now preparing for 2011. Have a look at her websitewww.lagrandegennerie.com for information as to which week you may be interested in. Last September Iris and I did a week for Alison at La Grande Gennerie, and a fabulous week it was each student had so much input into the week and a great day each day. Before the week started on the Sunday September 19th Iris and I had been booked to do a concert at the festival held in the small village of Bille south of Fougeres, Brittany.

This is run by our very good friend Fro Fro, at least that’s what we call him and he always seems to answer to this but with a wry smile on his face. We have done this a few times before and always enjoyed ourselves. It has been held over the last couple of years in a show ground that is devoted to keeping alive the old buildings and traditions of this area. Many of these traditions in the way of cooking harvesting and making cider are freely demonstrated and there is music flowing freely all day. There is a grand lunch where they feed everyone in shifts of 400 at a time and during this there are bands parading through the eating areas playing traditional tunes with wine and the cider in equal flow, just terrific.

We came back from Allison’s ready to take on October for more touring and bookings up and down the country. The end of October saw Dan and I up in sunny Lancashire to do an Interview with Mike Harding at the Smooth Operators studio in Delph for the BBC Folk on Two programme. We have both known Mike since the early 1970’s and although we keep bumping into him on occasions it was good to sit down and just catch up with things and spend some time talking. We have had the most amazing response from people who heard the interview, people we have not heard from for a long time and great to be back in touch. I did my annual October 31st phone call through to my brother-in-law, Ian Agnew and one to Ian Holder when I could just ring them up on that day and simply say Hallow Ian, try it yourself on that day next year but don’t blame me for the result. Rehearsals always start at the end of October for our Christmas show Maypoles to Mistletoe. Sadly Denise Savage who has been one of the singers over the last few years is not well and she had to pull out. We wish her all the very best and a speedy recovery. Ann Sartin was her able replacement.

The beginning of November saw Dan, Lucy, Jess and I off for a couple of days to Pisa in Italy to visit our very good friends Luciano and Giuseppina Piccioli. They actually live in Pescia about an hours drive north east of Pisa. We have know Luciano and Giuseppina since the early 1970’s and indeed Luciano is God Father to our daughters Lucy and Jess. Not a bad thing having an Italian God Father!! They are both very special people and we spent a great day together with true Italian hospitality coming out of our ears. November 6th saw me in Hereford for a special concert put on by Richard Wilson, not the actor but another long standing and good friend of ours and it was a particular birthday for him and I was indeed honoured and flattered to be asked to sing for him and his gathered friends. This was in the Bishops Great Hall in Hereford, the memory bank is getting pretty full now. Up and down and around the country for the rest of November, with a quick dash over to France in the middle of this mainly to see people as we may not be able to be over before Christmas apart from the Mistletoe run, more on that later.

We were in France on remembrance Sunday this year on November 14th and whenever Dan and I went over to France we would always try and visit my Father’s grave. He was killed in France on August 2nd 1944 and is buried in a military cemetery, along with 800  other young men at St Charles de Percy north of Vire in Normandy. When we visited on this Sunday at around noon time there was one other car in the car park and I noticed that it had Belgian number plates. As we walked in there were two couples walking around looking at the headstones. We waved a greeting to which they waved back. We went to the grave and placed our poppies there and spent a few minutes before heading back to the car. The two couples were by now at the gate so we chatted to them, they speaking perfect English, and formed an immediate friendship with them. The conversation went on and they asked us for our connection with St Charles de Percy and we told them and they told us their connection. Chatting away it came out that I had something to do with music to which the two men replied that they were musicians as well and played the bagpipes. They said that they had their pipes in the car and would we like them to play them over my father’s grave to which of course we said yes. We stood there listening and weeping freely, a most moving experience and into the memory bank. When I told my sister this on our return she pointed out that if we had been a few minutes late in getting to St Charles de Percy we would have missed those wonderful pipers. I have since been in touch with them and sent them a CD of mine Jackeroo which has a photo of me as a baby with my mother sister and father, the only photo I have of our whole family. The Belgian bagpipers website is www.redhackle.be

So we plunge into December. A couple of years ago, after many years of thinking about it we went ahead with producing a book on Maypoles to Mistletoe. We enlisted the help of our good friends Chris and Helen Brown. They are both clever people and can spell words with more than three letters and I must add that they were very willing to help in the production of this. Through Chris we approached Educational Printing Services Limited and they were happy to go ahead and publish the book of the show. The idea behind this is for anyone to put Maypoles to Mistletoe on using the book as a guide. All the directions and suggested songs are displayed with some wonderful illustrations drawn by Dan W-R, with Helen providing Morris Men and Morris Ladies. The front cover has the four seasons that Dan painted and that we use as screens during the performance. Maggie and Stan Bloor, from up round the Suffolk area, had bought the book and were to present Maypoles using their local talented singers, dancers and narrator. This was put on at The Regal Theatre in Stowmarket on Sunday December 5th. Chris, Helen, Dan and I booked our seats on hearing about this and drove up to be there. In all the years I have been doing Maypoles to Mistletoe I have never seen it as I have always been one of the performers and I must say how much we all enjoyed it. A full house with people being turned away and the rapturous applause at the end spoke volumes of the way in which they had presented Maypoles to Mistletoe and to the enthusiasm that shone through.

Most of the time in December is taken up with preparing for Maypoles to Mistletoe. This is our annual show, first performed at the Lakeside Restaurant, Tilgate Park, Crawley Sussex in 1972. The show tracks the year through Folk Song, Morris dancing and the spoken word detailing customs and traditions throughout the year. It is in two halves starting with Spring and Summer, interval, then Autumn and finishing with Winter and us all singing Good King Wenceslas while the Broadwood Morris men dance as do The Magog ladies a great ending.

One of the integral ingredients for Maypoles to Mistletoe is a large ball of mistletoe suspended from the ceiling and lit throughout the show. At the end the mistletoe is lowered down and the audience are invited to take a sprig of mistletoe back with them for a small donation. This donation ends up by being, collectively from the three shows that we do at the Hawth in Crawley and the one show we do at The Electric Theatre in Guildford, a hugely generous donation which goes to St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley. In the past years when Dan and I had La Jeuss we could supply the mistletoe from our orchard. But of course this year, having sold up, we had no supply. Luckily Alison Benn has a great nearby French farmer who was willing to cut some four large balls of mistletoe for us which we so appreciated. Johnny, our son-in-law, and I set off at the crack of dawn on Friday December 10th to collect this mistletoe for our first performance on Monday December 13th. We went via the Channel Tunnel and completed almost exactly to the yard as we measured the distance, 850 miles from Farnham to Carelles and back to Farnham on the Saturday night weary but satisfied. Johnny drove every inch of the way and so well done to him. Rehearsals for the show on the next day Sunday and then the show on Monday. We had been lucky with all the snow that was about but it certainly did affect each show with the attendance. Saying that, the enthusiasm and support from those who made it was just phenomenal. Each night had such terrific audiences and as always we so enjoyed performing it to these wonderful audiences, and their generosity for the mistletoe was fantastic. Our Granddaughter Harriet first performed in Maypoles to Mistletoe when she was four years old and Jess had dressed her up as a small fairy she sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas and had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone but she was great. Now seven years on from her début performance she sang The Rose of Sharon and received ecstatic applause and many compliments after the show. She has a great voice and an obvious love of the music.

So we come to the end of this year and as we close the door on this year we will open the door for next year and all that it holds in store.

I am already looking forward to 2011. First booking is at Lewes in The Royal Oak and this is on January 6th. Traditionally, Vic and Tina Smith who run this wonderful folk club always had The Copper Family on for that night as this was Bob Copper’s birthday and we would always try to be there for that night as it was just the most fantastic atmosphere with all The Coppers there both young and old. Sadly Bob is no longer with us but the night still goes on and this year I have been greatly honoured to be booked there on that night along with Iris Bishop.

I am off to Australia in February, and more on that later. During The National Festival in Canberra over Easter they are putting on a special concert in honour of The Copper Family and I have been asked to be part of that concert. I was thinking that it would be great to have something written by The Coppers and by Shirley Collins herself such an important part of Sussex folk Music. But then I thought more about this and expanded on it somewhat. My young nephew, Joss Agnew, is a film director and works for the BBC and others, www.imdb.com/name/nm0013140. So I contacted him to see about availability and for him to come down to sunny Lewes and film The Coppers and then Shirley Collins and then the Folk Club on the night of January 6th. This could then be used as a power point display when we do the actual concert at The National and the Australian audience can then get a “shim” old Sussex dialect word for glimpse of The Great Copper Family and the wonderful Shirley Collins along with the terrific Lewes Folk Club.

Following that on January 16th we are going to go to the CD launch of Nigel Waites’s great debut CD ‘Once in a While’. Nigel has been to La Jeuss a few times and has been inspired to write a great selection of songs for this CD. It has been produced by Johnny Coppin, himself a tutor at Alison Benn’s courses at La Grand Gennerie in 2010 and is again this coming year April 11th – 15th. Iris Bishop has also lent her magical concertina and accordion skills to accompany some of the songs. Many people are going along to this as are Julie and Stan Graham so a good night in store. It is to be held in the Bournemouth Folk Club premises.  January 26th is of course Australia Day and to celebrate this we are doing Down The Lawson Track with the full complement of Shirley Collins, Pip Barnes and No Man’s Band. This will be in Cecil Sharp House and we are so looking forward to this. I shall head off to Australia on and around February 20th the first booking is at The Cobargo Festival in NSW. Sandy Merrigan of MerriGoround Music is acting as my agent for this tour and has lined up some great places to be along with a few concerts with my great friends Eric Bogle and John Munro, the dates and venues can be seen on my website. Iris Bishop will be joining me as will Dan about March 10th. We return from Australia  in the early part of May and will then be off across to France for a weeks course that Iris and I are doing at La Grand Gennerie May 23rd- May 27th.  Whitby again in August and hopefully Ken Prato will be over again and we will do another themed concert. Then before we know it it will be Christmas again and I shall write up another review of the year.

As we say at the end of Maypoles to Mistletoe;

Now good people we are done

We hope we’ve pleased you everyone