Another year is coming to an end and, looking back, 2019 has been a really good and enjoyable year for me.
I haven’t done many solo concerts this year as I wanted to focus on ‘The Road To Peterloo’ project with Brian Peters & Laura Smyth, which involved a lot of research for the broadsides & ballads of the time, arranging and learning quite difficult material. Our aim was to feature the words of the people who were there, not new songs written two hundred years too late!
We recorded our CD with Brian Bedford (Artisan) at his Park Head Studio in Birds Edge, Laura produced some excellent artwork & the CD was released on June 7th just in time for our first concerts at Glossop Labour Club & Mellor Brook Community Centre.
Laura claimed maternity leave so Brian and I worked with Dr Alison Morgan (her book contains several songs in our repertoire) at libraries in Bolton and Salford, and we did a reduced Peterloo concert and solo spots at the ‘Music On The Marr’ Festival.
We also did a very successful ballad weekend at Halsway Manor with Emily Portman. Laura returned for our concert at Ashton Library, which included far too many of her relatives plus a bonus Keith Stafford, a descendant of John Stafford who was at Peterloo and the author of one of our featured songs! We had a feature spot on Front Row (Radio 4) and were filmed by BBC North West at the new Peterloo Memorial.
We sold out our concerts at Manchester Central Library, folk festivals at Sidmouth, Broadstairs, Whitby, and Hartlepool with full houses at Bromley Cross, Sheffield, Cecil Sharp House, Abbotts Langley, Huddersfield University, and finally the Square Chapel in Halifax, the last one of the year. Thanks to all those organisers and audiences who shared an interest and a commitment to social and political history and how it’s reflected in the folk ballads and broadsides of the time.
In the meantime sales of our CD have been excellent, a relief as I paid for it! In addition to good sales at our concerts we’ve had many orders via our website from the USA, a good few from Italy & Germany, and surprisingly, 14 from Japan.
So, ‘The Road To Peterloo’ concerts are done for this bicentenary year but we’ve had offers from venues in Scotland & the south of England for next year, so if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s still a chance in 2020.
I’ve finished touring and performing until next Spring. I’ll be enjoying time at home in Ripponden and participating in the local events which are always part of the Festive Season and New Year Celebrations for me. Have a look at the Ryburn 3 Step website for information about what’s on.
On a personal note, the time has come to get treatment for my hands. I’ve been struggling with Dupuytren’s Contracture for a while and treatment is not available on the NHS as the injections are too expensive. So, reluctantly, I’m having to go private.
It’s one hand at a time so I’ll be out of action for the near future, I didn’t want to travel in January and February anyway. Hopefully, I’ve given myself enough time to recover & get the fingers squeezing and strumming again over the next few months.
Thanks to all all my friends, supporters, audience members, club and festival organisers, and collaborators – especially Laura and Brian. Best wishes to you all, and I’ll hope to see you in 2020.