Feb
08

Ah New Zealand

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,


Greetings from the beautiful Te Pahu about two hours south of Auckland. Here was the scene of a quite brilliant gig last night at the Sound Lounge which is an absolutely incredible house boasting ingenious accommodation for the guest artists! A little photo of the venue. THIS IS IN SOMEONE'S HOUSE.

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So that was lovely and after the gig I stayed up late to skype Cardiff (not the entire city you understand) to say hello to the school pupils whom I worked with for three months on songwriting. They were having a premiere of their work which sadly for obvious reasons I had to miss but it was lovely to feel involved.


Going backwards then, my first gig in New Zealand this time was at the legendary Bunker in Devenport and was great craic as ever and thanks to Hilary and Roger for being such kind hosts. Next up it was up a bit to Orewa to be the first ever guest artist at Hibiscus Coast Folk Club and this was an absolutely lovely gig and Paul was such a wonderful host as well as giving a damn fine opening set on blues uke too! I ran a banjo workshop the next day which was good fun and hopefully inspired a bit of clawhammering before I headed up to beautiful Tutukaka to play Schnappa Rock on Thursday. This was a good fun pub gig as well as eating exquisite food beforehand and once again being welcomed so warmly by my host. This country is wonderful!


Then came Auckland Folk Festival. I played here two years ago and it was a momentous gig that set the tone for an extraordinary tour of packed houses and more coverage than I ever expected. Well I'm pleased to say that this time around the festival was basically a league apart. More stages and sessions and terrific performers once again including a young band called Tweed who I was seriously impressed with and the Aussie bluegrass band Mustered Courage who gave a rip roaring set. Such a great variety of music including Martin and Eliza Carthy so a taste of the UK there as well!


New Zealand continues to delight in a way that no place I've ever been quite manages - more to come starting tonight in Hamilton.
Feb
01

Here I am!

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,


Greetings from New Zealand where I intend to blog rather more than recent form. I'm doing a hell of a lot of driving around while I'm here but as any musician will tell you, these drives are frequently broken up by cafe stops which can involve wifi...So this is by way of being a 'day one in New Zealand' blog. The journey was as hideous as everyone who has made it will tell you it is. First it was off to London to stay the night to avoid the high blood pressure of relying on trains on the day of flying. Then the 7 hour flight to Dubai which curiously I actually rather enjoyed as I read the papers for the last couple of days, had a (mostly) successful shot at the crossword and watched a couple of episodes of the Big Bang Theory! Then in Dubai as I had a long lay off Emirates kindly give a hotel room to their passengers. This part was nice. Getting there was rather tedious as the passport checking people at the airport took a phenomenally long time to check everyone's passports, not for
Jan
25

A magical place

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,


January is always a strange month for me. For such an invariably miserable sod I actually rather like Christmas - I love that fact that everybody basically switches off for once. If I were to send an email nobody would read it so I don't - it's no bad thing. I love the holiday I have at my parents and at new year with extended family. It reminds me of a less responsible time! The only downside of course is reality kicks in and come January there always seems to be a myriad of things to do yet I'm not performing much. So the reason I do my job doesn't exist but there is an incredible amount of things to do especially when you have a big trip coming up...


More on that in a moment but first I'll bring you up to speed. I have had two gigs in January, the first a last minute addition to the diary at the Royal Exchange in Hartpury which was a good laugh and then a truly stupendous gig last night at Folk At The Froize in Suffolk. There's much written online these days about the demise of folk gigs but this gig shows that if
Dec
23

The end of another year

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,

Time really does fly doesn't it? I can't believe we are on the eve of 2016 already and the festive season is upon us. Since my last blog the touring season has largely been over but still had plenty to do. The first weekend of December saw a very enjoyable jam and potential new project to arise from it...I shall keep you posted! The next weekend saw a private function that I can't tell you about owing to whom it was for...but that saw a great jam too! Finally, Urban Folk Quartet finished our gigging year last Friday in Bristol at Colston Hall which was absolutely fantastic with a very lively crowd indeed and then it was back home to my favourite solo gig of all - the good old Market Vaults in Stafford for the annual pre-Christmas silly-length gig. Loved it!


I was also reacquainted with the wonders of trains this month! I had a very entertaining day heading to London for a very brief appointment in relation to my upcoming trip to New Zealand. As they are so cheap I bought a 'London Midland only' ticket which means you travel on the rather long but cheap service as opposed to the short but expensive one. I turned up for the 0956...which was cancelled. The next one was at 1056 and thankfully I was not on a tight schedule for the appointment so I made the short trip home and came back for the 1056...which was cancelled. Because Virgin are gits, they wouldn't let London Midland customers on (perish the thought that the train system was there for customers eh?) and London Midland are crap enough to have two trains cancelled I had to go to Birmingham and then Birmingham to London thus running really rather late.


Then came the hilarious incident. It's always a little startling to look out of the stationary train window to see the driver crawling underneath the train. An announcement came over the speaker - 'apologies for the delay to this service but we have just run over a tent'. Marvellous. Fortunately the delay was brief and I executed a masterclass of not dithering in London and was there less than an hour.


So anyway, to finish I should probably do that whole 'how was 2015' thing. Well it was busy! Two new albums, hundreds of gigs, a ridiculous amount of miles and precious little sleep! Trips to Canada, Norway, France, Belgium, Denmark, USA and Germany were all highly enjoyable and both my solo album and the UFQ album were very well received. Next year sees more crazy touring including my return to New Zealand and Canada. It's a mad life and sometimes, I'm not going to lie, I long for one that involves less travel, more time in one place and a tad more predictability. But then I do a gig in some far flung place, people smile (one hopes anyway...), I play music and feel tickety boo and think I have the best job in the world. I am therefore a musician. Could be worse.


Merry Christmas everyone,
Danjo
Nov
30

UFQ-tastic November

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,


Well we have reached the end of November so that...er...calls for a blog. What a month it has been! The Urban Folk Quartet tour was manic, tiring but utterly wonderful and I shall more on that as we go. To bring you up to speed...


First after my last blog was a jolly trip up to Hexham to record some banjo on an album of Scottish ragtime music. No really. Thanks to Vic Gammon for asking me! We had a good time chewing the fat about the English folk scene, all things good and bad. Then it was off to my folks for a weekend which is an all too rare pleasure owing to my silly schedule so that was really really lovely. Good old family!


Then UFQ happenings gathered pace as we headed to Ormskirk, Doncaster and Nottingham in quick succession and all three were good fun but special mention goes to the last one – Poppy Folk Club was absolutely wonderful and a sell out to boot. It was also in my view a shining example of how to run a folk club. A fuller blog definitely awaits on