June 2015 Update

June marks the end of a particularly busy period, with a number of obligations needing delivered at more of less the same time. I’ll keep it brief:


  • The Wheels Of The World: 300 Years Of Irish Uilleann Pipers is the final title of my book with John McSherry. It’s around 240,000 words long and I’m very pleased with it. The contents are listed below. Indexing will be completed in mid-June and it will be printed immediately thereafter. It should be available for sale within two or three months, published by special arrangement with Jawbone Press and internationally distributed. The print run is strictly limited, given the niceties of our external funding arrangement with National Lottery, to 2000 copies and RRP will probably be £17.95. John and I are hoping to put on a few concert/reading events around Ireland later in the year to promote it. If there seems to be enough demand for the book, we’ll try and fund a second print run ourselves.


  1. John McSherry
  2. Introducing Finbar Furey, Paddy Keenan and Liam O’Flynn
  3. Finbar & Eddie Furey: A Dream In Their Hands
  4. Liam O’Flynn: The Quiet Man
  5. Paddy Keenan: Rakish Paddy Blues
  6. Introducing Leo Rowsome, Séamus Ennis and Willie Clancy
  7. Leo Rowsome: Keeper Of The Flame
  8. Leo Rowsome At The BBC
  9. Séamus Ennis: The Master Outside
  10. Séamus Ennis At The BBC
  11. Willie Clancy: The Minstrel From Clare
  12. Johnny Doran: Along The Road Forever
  13. The Only Patsy Touhey
  14. Uilleann Piping Before 1900
  15. Piping In Ulster
  16. Brian Vallely & Armagh Pipers’ Club
  17. Appendix: Melody Maker Interviews, 1976 & 1978
  18. Acknowledgements
  19. Endnotes
  20. Index


  • Eyes Wide Open: True Tales Of A Wishbone Ash Warrior is the Andy Powell autobiography which I’ve been assisting with. That one is also being published through Jawbone, by a normal publishing arrangement. Nigel and Tom at Jawbone are terrific people to work with. That one will – we all hope – be delivered on June 19, to be published in time for Wishbone Ash’s October 2015 UK tour. Andy has been tied up with a particularly gruelling US tour during April/May, followed by a few European dates, which has delayed the finalising of the text. We’ll get there. The book will be around 120,000 words long, a standard size for a memoir. Andy has given a great deal of attention and thought to the book and it will, I believe, appeal to general readers of music histories and memoirs as well as the WA faithful. I went to Paris in late May to see two of three dates at Le Triton, a small theatre, which were being filmed for a DVD. Lots of previously unfilmed goodies, old and new, were performed.


  •  The Turtle Records Story (RPM) is the title of a forthcoming box set encompassing the three rare but classic progressive British jazz albums released between 1970-71 on Peter Eden’s Turtle label: Howard Riley’s Flight; Mike Osborne’s Outback; and John Taylor’s Pause, And Think Again. I’ve enjoyed writing an extensive booklet for the set, around 17,000 words worth, including fresh interviews with Howard Riley, Barry Guy, John Taylor, John Surman, Norma Winstone, Mike Westbrook, Mike Cooper, Mike Gibbs and Peter Eden and a detailed trawl through the Melody Maker for the whole year of 1970. It was an exciting time for British jazz, with major labels (CBS, Decca, EMI, RCA, Pye) and their progressive rock imprints (Harvest, Vertigo, Dawn, Neon) all taking a punt on the new wave of British jazz, jazz-rock and ‘free improvisation’. Peter Eden produced 20 albums in this ‘golden age’ period of 1968-72, two of them for his own label – the third, John Taylor’s album, being produced by his loyal lieutenant John Surman. The three Turtle albums – which would set you back over £800 for decent second hand copies – offer a terrific snapshot of the various styles and directions being explored by Brit jazzers at the time and they are remastered here officially, from the master tapes, for the first time. Researching the booklet has been a lot of fun. It may even have given me an idea for another book.


  • Songs Without Words (Hux) is guitar legend Chris Spedding’s 1970 jazz-rock album, originally recorded for Harvest – at a time when he was regularly playing variations on a jazz-rock theme with Nucleus, the Mike Westbrook Concert Band, the Mike Gibbs band and others – but shelved at Chris’ request when he decided he’d rather pursue a more down-home rock sound. Somehow, the unedited but completed album slipped out in Japan before the end of the year. Chris has edited the original masters to create, amusingly, a reissue with less on it than the orinal (albeit with a bonus track to mitigate the missing minutes). The final edit, though, is seamless and the music fantastic. I’d recommended Richard Williams for the sleeve-noting but seemingly it was a busy time. Chris asked me to have a go and a 6000 word note, including contributions from Chris, producer Peter Eden, Barry Guy and Mike Gibbs, resulted. Hopefully the CD will be out in a couple of months.


  • A forthcoming Record Collector piece on British Jazz: The Peter Eden Productions 1968-72. I was delighted to be given the chance to distill the above work around Peter Eden’s jazz productions, but with much additional material, into a 3000 word RC feature. Chris Spedding, Howard Riley and Norma Winstone are the key interviewees, along with Peter, in the piece, with several of his rarest productions highlighted. One single, by the Mike Westbrook Concert Band, is valued at £400, which prompted Mike to point out that it ‘seems like a lot of money to pay for a riff!’ Norma’s splendid LP Edge Of Time (Argo, 1972) has recently been reissued by the similarly splendid Peter Muir at Market Square/Dusk Fire. And yes, it was produced by Peter Eden. Hopefully the piece will run in the next couple of months.


In other news… I was delighted to receive a copy of the extraordinarily lovingly assembled 3CD set Jackson Frank: The Complete Recordings, released by Ba Da Bing Records. The Bingmeisters asked to use my Sanctuary Records Jackson Frank CD note from the mid-90s, which I tweaked and updated for the purpose. I was also able to supply good quality off-air copies of three of Jackson’s five 1968 BBC session tracks for John Peel’s Top Gear (Ba Da Bing had the other two already, in slightly lesser sound). The compilation spans 1958-97 and the mastering, even on tracks that have been issued before (and many here have not), is stunning and the price remarkably low. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in 1960s folk music or tortured-soul singer-songwriters. It’s also available in a 6LP set, again at a remarkably competitive price. Check it out here:  http://www.badabingrecords.com/jackson-c-frank


And finally… my long-gestating instrumental album, provisionally titled Sunset Cavaliers, will hopefully be completed this month. There’s only some mixing and the mastering to be done, the last parts having been recorded by guitar-maestro Brooks Williams when he visited Belfast (for a sensational Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival show with the Mighty Mojos backing him) early in May. The album features my regular collaborators Cormac O’Kane (multifarious keyboards, drum programming, general sound wizardy) and Ali MacKenzie plus Louise Potter (Cardiff Lou) from Wookalily on drums on a couple of numbers. I play guitar and a bit of mono-synth throughout. Guest players, aside from Brooks, include Premik Russell Tubbs (soprano sax), Shane Pacey (guitar), Steve Kindler (electric 9-string violin), Chris Spedding (guitar), Linley Hamilton (flugelhorn), Andy Powell (guitar). Most tracks are new (from the past three years), but I’ve included a couple from the vault, featuring Duffy Power and Bert Jansch, because it felt right.

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