The Shoulder and FAWM

We had a great time playing as the full band at The Shoulder in Wantage, with Jim Stewart on drums . We were certainly under rehearsed so kept to a simple set , but it went down well and on occasions we clicked with some of the energy and power we used to get.

Here in glorious posterized punk effect ( Thanks Andy Boyd for the video) is It’s all over now from that gig :

Next up for me is to start to refresh my repertoire with some of the new songs from this years FAWM. I am really happy as I managed 10 songs , plus my spoken epic combining dialogue with song “Whisper of the Stars”. So far 3 songs have been played live , but 4 more are in progress. “ Hole in the Room”, “Ghosts and Gods” and “ Four corners of the Street” are all good to go. I managed a diverse mix of folk to Rock to Psychedelic, on a mix of subjects both topical , personal and social commentary and am really pleased with the quality .

I have a new stripped back recording project planned in April and some of the new songs will make that along with some from last year’s Fawm, more to follow on that !

Back in Action Live 2024

It’s currently February and I am in the middle of FAWM again ( February Album Writing Month ) . Last year I managed ten songs and 1 instrumental of which 6 songs are now staples in my live set . So far this year I have managed 8 songs , but am only 10 days in so with a target of 10 songs again I hope to easily reach that . It’s going well and I’m pleased with what I’ve got though and have ideas already for another 3 songs so who knows how many I’ll get eventually !

Starting book in a few live gigs , which is difficult with our moving situation, but so far I have:

Seven Stars – St Patrick’s Day – with Pete

Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage – 4 piece Electric Ulterior Motives

How the Light Gets In Festival in Hay- Solo

Hellens Garden Festival – Much Marcle – Solo

Hopefully I can get some more things organised , although Summer is looking very busy already . Please see the live Dates page for details of these .

Here is just a taster of a new song from FAWM this year . This one is called “Hole in the Room”. It’s a one take recording , so a bit loose but should give an idea of what it’s about .

I’m Back !!

I appear to have taken quite a break from posting on here so decided to post a couple of catch up pages .

I got back into playing again in September , after my surgery, with a couple of Gigs including the first Dorstonebury Festival in the village I used to live in . It was a horrible wet day and this dampened the atmosphere for our set a bit , but here are a couple of songs from that show captured by Andy . It was a good opportunity to play again after a long break and get back with Pete. First song is Labour Day from The Lake album

Our Medley of songs by Bob Marley and Neil Young

A couple of days after we played at The Seven Stars and premiered our version of Me and the Ghost of St.Andrews by Allister Bradley , a Canadian Songwriter I met on our cruise in Greenland.

The next big bit of news in October was the first gig in more than 10 years for our 4 piece electric Band Ulterior Motives with a new drummer Will . We played two gigs , a warm up in The Shoulder of Mutton in Wantage and Gus’s Son Jack’s wedding in Cornwall . We were a bit rusty, but it was good fun, and more gigs are being planned for this lineup in 2024 .

Here is just a taster of those gigs :

Complete with wardrobe malfunction for Gus !!!
A favourite Crowded House song we’ve occasionally featured in our set.

Final playing of the year was an open mic in the Shoulder in Wantage playing with Pete . We played a lively set of old and new songs joined by the Landlord Guy on drums at some point . It was fun , but more enthusiastic than necessarily proficient !

So that was it for 2023 . Hopefully mid 2024 we will be in Oxfordshire and I’ll be able to get a more rehearsed band and pick up playing with Pete and Gus on a more regular basis .

It’s Been a While !!! ( Part 2)

So I’ve not been playing since the end of June as I finally decided to have my little finger on my left hand straightened by surgery . I have put it off for number of years , but it has been getting noticeably worse and interfering with my playing .

After 6 weeks , including our holiday in the Arctic, I have finally picked up the guitar again and started to play . It is a slow process due to the absence of callous’s on my fingers ( lost about week 4 1) and a continuing stiffness , but I am making progress and generally now the finger ends up in the right place ! I have a couple of weeks before rehearsals for my gigs in September, so fingers crossed( not literally ) the Physio and practice will get me there .

Here is an interesting comparison of before and after :


Almost there !

It’s Been a While (Part 1) How The Light Gets In !!!

It’s been an exceptionally busy few months for me so have been a bit slow to post things so apologies .

My last real gigs of the Summer were both outdoors at the How The Light Gets In Festival in Hay on Wye at the end of May, and a week later at Hellen’s Garden Festival a week later. Thankfully the weather was fine and dry for both (Until I’d finished playing ) and I was lucky enough that Andy Boyd filmed my whole set on The Blue Moon Stage at Hay .

Three clips from the set are available to watch on my YouTube Channel:

In amongst these gigs we moved house to a temporary home in Longtown , Hereford before our eventual move back to Oxfordshire next year .


Encouraged by some musical friends in Hereford I decided to take part in FAWM ( February Album Writing Month ) this year . This is a web based enterprise that originated a number of years ago in the US with the objective of writing and recording 14 songs during the month of February and recording and uploading them to the FAWM website . It seemed to work for me as an encouraging process and instead of my usual 2 or 3 songs a year rate , I managed to write 10 complete songs and an instrumental during the month which was a real success for me .

I’m happy with most of the songs and am now working through them to either add them to my live set or review and record them. Twilight, Breathe , and Two pairs of Eyes have now been played live 4 or 5 times and following feedback from a show I spoke with the wonderful Andy Boyd about recording a video for Two pairs of Eyes .

The song is about the war in Ukraine and we looked for a suitable place to shoot ,ending up in these derelict farm buildings in Oxfordshire . We had fantastic spring weather and completed the recording and editing all in a single day . I played everything live, using a reverb with shimmer effect on the guitar to create a sort of orchestration ,. Really pleased with the results so hope you enjoy it !!

Troll Music Show

Back in November I played a show at Troll Music in Venice Florida accompanied by Ted Fordney on Double Bass and vocals and Rico Bloomquist on percussion and harmonica.

Support on the night was by the fabulous ( now defunct) Martin Sisters , Wendy Kaneko, Barbara Goldman who joined us on vocals for the final song “Better Times ” by Janis Ian

The whole show was recorded directly from the desk and I mixed and mastered it back home here in the UK.

For anyone who’d like to listen to it , or if you came along , here is a chance to hear it again .

Thanks Alan

The full show Live at Troll Music 19.11.22

2023 is here !

So it’s another New Year and almost the end of a quiet January on the music front . Not too much booked yet in terms of live shows but am working on some things .

In the Interim , here are a couple of video clips from our Warm-up gig /rehearsal at The Shoulder of Mutton in December . Yes there were some people there, but sadly the world cup was on so not as busy as we’d have liked , but we played pretty well and the videos are great as ever :

Rewind – One of the best versions we’ve played of this for quite some time

Swan Lake – another original take on this old Russian Folk Song , we never tire of playing this.

Swan Lake – another original take on this old Russian Folk Song , we never tire of playing this.

Having released Mercury Heart as a download single last year , I plan to try to release one song a month during 2023 on my Bandcamp site . This month it is 23W Line 17 a song I dedicate to the memory of my cousin Gerry , one of >50,000 young americans to lose their lives through the Vietnam conflict, for what ?

Gerry featured in this edition of Time Life magazine from 1969

February looks like a busy month now, apart from the next recording project , I’m also working on FAWM ( February album writing month ) , where the objective is to write 14 songs in 28 days . Apparently it’s been running for a number of years and people do it !. I hopefully will get at least an ep , but who knows ? It will certainly be a challenge and keep me focussed !

Live Shows and Free Album

Firstly I would like to say a big Thankyou to everyone involved with my show at Troll Music in Venice, specifically Billy Day and the staff, Ted Fordney and Rico Bloomquist for musical support and Wendy Kaneko, Barbara Goldman and Kate Bloomquist ( The Martin Sisters) for a great opening set.

We had a good turnout on the night and the whole show was recorded so we’ll be mastering it for release and broadcast at some point in the future.

On Sunday afternoon we’ll be playing an abridged version of the show at a neighbourhood party in Bradenton near Ted’s house in aid of the American Red Cross , hurricane relief efforts, my last show of this particular trip .

I also wanted to flag up that the One Life lockdown album is available for free download at the moment via the menu tab on this site , so please download and share it while you can !
Back to the UK in December and we have gigs at The Shoulder of Mutton in Wantage and The Seven Stars in Bristol with the Maskelleros coming up so busy times ahead.

A New Guitar !

Back in May I returned to the workshops of Luthier Richard Osborne in Llanidloes , to build a new Acoustic guitar as my main instrument. 4 years ago I went there and built my guitar bouzouki , which has been a fantastic instrument , and the experience was fabulous as well as resulting in in a first class instrument

Over the last few years I have been having issues with the tendons and joints in my left hand which has started to inhibit my playing , so I had the idea of building a guitar with an easy action and shorter scale to hopefully extend my playing time.

In February I went over and met with Richard and after measuring a number of instruments, we came up with a specification for the neck , agreed on the body size, scale length and the woods for the soundboard , back and sides to give a guitar which would suit my playing style and capable of being both driven hard and gently fingerpicked.

So in May I spent a month producing this wonderful instrument :

The top of the guitar was Sika spruce , and the bindings were an amazing flamed maple. The guitar styling and logo were designed to match the guitar bouzouki I built previously.
The back was made from Ovangkol, and this picture shows the beauty of the grain and figuring.

The one month guitar course run by Richard operates 3 or 4 times a year and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Not only do you get to build a custom instrument worth significantly more than the cost of the course, but it’s always a great experience to work with someone so skilled in his art and a small group(3) of generally like minded people . Added to that Llanidloes is a fabulous place to spend a month. I camped on a farm site on the banks of the River Severn , which was tranquil and 5 minutes bike ride from the workshop ! Not only that but there are a number of local music sessions you can join in the evenings ! I would recommend this course to anyone.

So I played this guitar for the first time at my daughter Rowena’s wedding and it is now my main instrument. Here is a shot of it in action at The How the Light gets In Festival in Hay :

Now I have a pair of beautiful unique instruments :