October 2017 I was walking round town with Bigman and noticed loads of live music filling Nottingham. I was starting to develop a real confidence in my work and figured I was as good as some of the acts we heard. I made a mental note to try and get involved next year then promptly forgot all about it until a year later when I was asked to play at Emmanuel House for We Shall Overcome. Just before the event I saw a Facebook post from Steve Oliver asking for a last-minute replacement due to an injury, so I popped my name down. I’d like to say Steve had heard of me and snapped me up, but it was more a case of it was urgent and I volunteered! I’m very glad I did, turned out Steve is an absolute legend and we’ve worked together several times since. Here’s where it all started:
1: 4 Chord Medley
2: Fragile Like A Bomb
4: Your Side of the Street
5: Red Tarmac
This was the first time I’d recorded without an audience outside of an academic setting, but Steve was wonderfully patient with me and we got there in the end. Doing a cover was a bit odd, it’s not something I do a lot of because I’ve got a big gob and a lot of my own words to say, but this song really resonates so was an obvious choice.
2: New Plates
3: I Don’t Want You To Know
4: Read All About It - Emeli Sande Cover
Ben Mark Smith (https://open.spotify.com/artist/6MAra1a9JygcCG0SxVOzJn) has created the Songwriter Sessions in Nottingham, providing an opportunity for audiences to not just listen to a series of performances but also to ask questions and hear the artist talk about their process. I love nattering so it seemed like the perfect gig for me. I had to pick one shouty song because the event was held in the Library in town. I really enjoyed getting to yell in a library and be applauded for it, not kicked out!
1: Blue Scars
2: Red Tarmac
3: Panic in the Water
After the Songwriter Sessions we did what folkies tend to do, we all fell into the pub and played some more music. I love The Barrel Drop, it’s tiny but always full of atmosphere and their mango cider is delicious. Featuring Borderland Folk, Ben Mark Smith and a little bit of me. This was the day after I purchased my 12-string and the first time I had her out in front of an audience. I smacked her into the ceiling getting her out of the case, taking a chunk of varnish off the head, so I now call her “Dink”
I was very pleased that a year after my first Random Session, I was now in a position where I could do a full set of my family history songs. Steve had now added an interview section to the videos, and this gave me the chance to give a bit of context to the stories. I was in a bit of a silly mood, but Steve managed to get a bit of sense out of me.
Research thanks to some places I mention in the video: The Framework Knitters Museum, Ruddington (https://www.frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk/) and The National Justice Museum, Nottingham (https://www.nationaljusticemuseum.org.uk/). I’d highly recommend both if, like me, you’re into local history.
1: Panic in the Water
2: That’ll Do
3: Poor Will
4: English Soil