My friends! Where’s the bloody year going, eh? Has time itself been spirited away to offshore accounts by David Cameron's auntie Agnes?! I have been so busy in 2016 I don’t even know where to begin; such adventures I’ve had and such wonderful, life-affirming, spirit-nourishing gigs. They all deserve an essay but I’ll try to be concise.
I MET CORBS AND DREAMS COME TRUE
I hope you’ve heard about the #JC4PM tour which I am thrilled to be a part of! It’s a series of gigs all over the country to try and rally the troops against this collection of terrible, terrible bastards in government. There are some brilliant people doing them, including Jeremy Hardy, Francesca Martinez, Clare Ferguson-Walker, and longtime comrades Josie Long, Robin Ince and loveliest of lovelies, Billy Bragg. And loads more. We kicked off in February in London, where – NOBIGDEAL – but I actually got to MEET THE MAN HIMSELF! And FYI the JC in the hashtag refers neither to Jeremy Clarkson (“this is very leftwing” – one confused audience member in Newcastle) nor to Jesus Christ (although I think he’d approve more of our politics than of Cameron’s). Of course it’s all about socialist dreamboat, Jeremy Corbyn. And guys, I've shared a stage with some pretty famous folks, but I have never, ever lost my composure in quite such a ridiculous fan-girl fashion as I did when I was confronted with his mild-mannered sandwich-eating form in the green room of the London show. After very audibly gasping “Ohmygod!” I then creeped him out by staring at him from across the room until I finally lumbered over to him and shrieked “I’mareallyreallybigfancanIhaveaphotoI’mreallysorry”. He was very polite about it and above is said photo, you can see the fear in his eyes alongside the unbridled Corbynmania in mine. Here is a lovely video from the Bristol show, which contains me singin’ a bit and also ramblin’ on about why he’s ma guy.
The tour is off all over the place: in April it comes to BOURNEMOUTH, and as it’s being hosted by the lovely CWU, its completely FREE to attend. You do however need to register for tickets though, and you can do that by clicking HERE. In May we’re off to Manchester, Sheffield and Cambridge – more info on these shows is at the Gigs page over here. Vive La Revolution!
I WROTE A SONG ABOUT THE GUARDIAN IGNORING ME AND EVERYONE IN THE WORLD EXCEPT THE GUARDIAN SHARED IT
I imagine the sort of folks frequenting this website are probably not strangers to albatross-around-the-Left’s-neck, the Guardian, and so will probably have been treated in recent years to one of their 300 opinion pieces about how Nobody Writes Political Music Anymore. Since I’ve been largely ignored by the Guardian for my entire career (the only notable exception being THIS PIECE by the wonderful Dorian Lynskey who dared to break the conspiracy of silence), I found this last article, actually for-real entitled “Not Talkin’ About A Revolution: Where Are All the Protest Songs?” was the straw that broke the proverbial protest-singing camel’s back. I got really cross about it and wrote a protest song, and to be honest, there are so many more important things I should be writing protest songs about, it’s like a real metaphor for the fractured nature of the left, y’know? Anyway. I put a video of it on Facebook and everyone from Billy Bragg to Karine Polwart to Susan Calman got in on the act, and at the last count it had been viewed over 80,000 times. The Guardian neither replied nor acknowledged it so maybe it didn’t achieve anything; or maybe next time they write an article lamenting how no one exists that’s doing what I and so many others clearly are doing – which will probably be in a week – we can all fire this video at them. And they can ignore it again. Anyway, it’s called I Wish the Guardian Believed That I Exist and you can see it HERE.
For international women’s day last year I was lucky enough to be invited on tour with the amazing Lady Maisery and O’Hooley & Tidow. We did 3 gigs that we all enjoyed so much that we couldn’t resist returning this year, but this time we did a full 10-date run. I honestly can’t remember finding any other shows so fulfilling in the whole time I’ve been doing this; to be on stage with such breathtaking musicians was such an inspiration to me, and getting to spend ten days with some of the warmest and most engaging people I’ve ever known was just a bonus. I came home full of passion and ideas and a desire to completely raise my game before the next time we all share a stage – and happily, it looks as if we definitely will do again before way too long. Here is a video of us all doing Lady Maisery’s amazing arrangement of Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work from my favourite venue in the world, Leicester’s very own Guildhall.
If you didn’t make it to a gig this time and have yet to encounter either of the other acts, I would URGE you to check out O’Hooley & Tidow, and find out all about their forthcoming album HERE and Lady Maisery, who are on tour in May, HERE.
We are approaching that time of year again, and I am so very pleased and proud that our own homegrown extravaganza Handmade Festival is back at the beginning of May to take over the Leicester O2 Academy with a line-up that is bigger and better than ever before. Lovely festival director John Helps gave me a sack of used fivers and told me to book some of my favourite acts, and bloody hell am I excited about who I’ve got to do it. I can now announce the full bill that I have curated for the Sunday evening, which features: Beans on Toast; Chris T-T; Colour Me Wednesday; Jasmine Kennedy; plus comedy from Grainne Maguire and Robin Ince. Me and the Benefits Culture will be doing a turn as well because it was too much fun not to and because I really am that narcissistic that if you ask me to book a festival I’ll book my own band so just deal with it okay? If some other festivals wanted to book me then maybe I wouldn’t have to go to these lengths.
SPEAKING OF FESTIVALS!
Look at that, I’ve only been announced to return to Towersey Festival this year. What great larks we had last year! This time as well as my usual set of miserable songs, I’ll also be doing a special show of heightened whimsy and increased japes joined by lovely old touring buddies Gavin Osborn and MJ Hibbett. It will be GREAT.
I have some more festival news! But I’m not allowed to tell you it yet. I will tell you SOON.
…are coming up in:
London - April 10th (special fully unplugged bookshop show)
Bristol – April 22nd
Cambridge – April 30th
Leicester (with band) – May 28th
Please do come along to them because I’m the show-ender, bill-finisher type thing so I cannot benefit from other people's audiences as I've spent my entire career til now doing!
I have rambled on enough but I hope you are all having the most wonderful of springtides and I hope to catch some of you at a gig soon! Thanks for sticking with me.