Aerobic banjo?

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,

Well it's been the usual hectic time since I got back from the US. The American flavour continued when I first got back as the wonderful Hip Hatchet came to my spiritual home of the Market Vaults and delivered a sterling gig. I'd heard so much about this guy and he lived up to expectation it's fair to say. Do check out his stuff.

And so began October and the Urban Folk Quartet autumn tour. The really crazy bit is in November but there's still a fair bit going on this month. It began down in Somerset at Bridgwater Arts Centre which was a cracking night and has led onto a festival appearance - always the nicest moment of a gig when you come away with another one! The next UFQ action featured a couple of hometown gigs for first Tom at St Andrew's Church in Bedford and then for me at the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford on Friday just gone. As ever, my hometown was simply the best and we had a wonderful time and then I headed to the good old Vaults for some celebratory drinks and enjoyed a riotous gig by my good friends Pelo. Not often you see the Vaults like this:

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But it's not just been UFQ. A couple of solo gigs in Shropshire have also happened beginning with an appearance at a charity show at the Hive with several other brilliant performers. By that I mean the other performers were brilliant, I wasn't saying I was brilliant. That would make me a bit of a prick. A few days later, I had a simply lovely gig at Housmans in Church Stretton, a bit of an old favourite of mine now! Then Live Music Now has taken up a fair bit of my schedule too with a trip to Glamorgan to herald the start of a songwriting project in a school which should be fun! I also found myself in London to play a lovely concert at a school which also involved the BBC...better not tell you more yet in case I'm not supposed to! Finally, I found myself in Bury at Folk Expo which was one of those events where the audience was full of very useful people to impress which doesn't always make for the easiest gig but it seemed to go rather well!

Now it is fairly known that most professional musicians are worried about money most of the time. Four times a year there's the lovely moment you forgot was going to happen - PRS royalty distribution. Money just appears it's lovely. But what does seem somewhat surprising is that my music was used at an aerobics class apparently! Apparently, fast paced Indian-scale banjo reels make for the perfect workout - what are you waiting for?!

Plastic bag 'problems'...

Author // Dan Walsh

I can honestly say in the pantheon of things about England that has riled me in recent years, there aren't all that many that come close to the reaction of some to this introduction of the 5p charge for carrier bags. I was genuinely flabbergasted last night when I listened to the radio in my car and there was a man who phoned in complaining bitterly about the expense and inconvenience that would be coming his way and how it would make a difference to family budgets. There was then the presenter Stephen Nolan actually refusing to believe a text from a listener saying that she always carried a couple of bags around in her handbag. Yes because that is so unthinkable isn't it?

It is absolutely clear, and has been for some time, that plastic bags are an environmental menace ending up on landfill sites or worse strewn over canals and countryside. Anything that will genuinely help reduce their usage is surely only a good thing and what's more the rest of the UK (and Ireland) have already proved that charging a small fee for carrier bags works. The statistics do not lie!

Just what makes English people think that they are entitled to get free carrier bags with every shop anyway. Somebody has to make them and you pay for everything else don't you?! What next, mushrooms should be exempt from charges because your third son doesn't like them? The Daily Mirror today ran an article about the monstrosity

Heading home

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,

Well that's it. I'm in Los Angeles airport ready to fly home. It was of course a rather shorter trip than originally planned and the preparation for the tour was undoubtedly the most stressful thing I've ever gone through in my career but the tour ultimately was pretty damn good! I saw a fair bit of a beautiful state and I tell you what it is a beautiful state. The drive in northern California was right up there with New Zealand and the Scottish highlands in the pantheon of my great drives. I enjoyed the 1967 vibe of San Francisco and surrounding areas and the beach-tastic sun of San Diego. But most of all I enjoyed the gigs and the wonderful people I met. Thanks must go to Jon Berger, the crew at Red Rock, Gregg Moore, Joe Rathburn and special thanks to Karen Carchidi, Sally Greenberg and Mark and Cindy Lemaire who went well beyond the call of duty in keeping me sane and helping me in the midst of the visa crisis (see previous blog for details, if you are of a strong heart...).

The remaining gigs to catch up on then - after Berkeley it was off to beautiful Arcata, a delightful hippy haven which was the destination of a quite stunning drive with some of the most amazing forest and woodland I have ever set eyes on. The gig was pretty good too - a cozy gathering at Gregg Moore's. Of course my nice tour plan had been completely thrown out by the visa crisis as I tried to reschedule the shows that had had to wait! This meant another long drive next, to Grass Valley but again it was

Worth it?

Author // Dan Walsh

Dear all,

I write to you from a ridiculously warm California - their September is quite different from the one in the UK. It's been great to be finally be here anyway and this seemed a good moment to give you a bit of a tour diary thus far.


So this was quite an experience. I'm not quite sure I can go into the pain of the US visa crisis again so I will simply say see previous blogs for details on that one. Anyway the upshot of it all was my flight itinerary involved arriving into Los Angeles at 2pm and flying from there to San Francisco at 3.35pm. You will see how difficult that is to achieve shortly (I might add not my choice, it was the only option I had left...). Before that though there was the small matter of Heathrow airport and all that and thankfully no big speech about the personal and monetary value of my banjo was needed as I was allowed to carry the banjo on board with no problems. One over priced

New American schedule begins on Thursday!

Author // Dan Walsh

Hey y'all! Trying to get into the whole American thing...so I've had a nice couple of days with lovely people to recover from my god awful week of American logistical nightmares and am pleased to give you my new tour schedule in California starting on Thursday. Sorry to folks in Soquel and Willits but sadly these two gigs were unable to be rescheduled. Massive thanks though to Karen and Gregg for rescheduling the shows in Grass Valley and Arcata. So here it is...

17/09 - Jon Berger's, Sebastopol
RSVP to Jon Berger at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

18/09 - Great Valley Songwriter Series, Modesto
RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

19/09 - Red Rock Coffee House, Mountain View

20/09 - Sally Greenberg's, Berkeley
RSVP to Sally Greenberg at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

22/09 - House Concert, Arcata
RSVP to Gregg Moore at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (707)499-8516

23/09 - Open Book, Grass Valley
Contact is Karen Carchidi at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

24/09 - Folky Monkey, San Diego

26/09 - San Diego Folk Heritage