Sh*tshow

A not-so-subtle analysis of the current political moment.

The idea for the song popped into my head one morning, fully-formed, as my percolating coffee burbled gently under the eerily calm voice of the newsreader. 

As the day wore on, I imagined singing this new song at the top of my lungs at a Bastard English Session. This fantasy put a desperately needed smile on my face. Since I knew James Bell was interested in doing another video collaboration along the lines of Newcastle to Portsmouth, I plucked up the courage to do a one-take video and shared it with him.  He added some wicked harmonies and recruited Calum Novak-Mitchell, Mick Phillips, Laura Theis, Trev Williams, Hannah Gray and Josh Robson-Hemmings (of Threepenny Bit) to join in the mayhem.

The awesome instrument Mick is playing is a nyckelharpa. It’s from Sweden.

Here’s hoping the tides turn soon. May the mean-spirited sh*tshow give way to a pile of benevolent compost, from which a new era might spring.

It’s alive!

Grumpy by Sam Twigg and the Sometimes Band

We did it! We actually did it! Our lockdown video is finally live. Thank you Hannah Gray, Jane Griffiths, Colin Fletcher, Tracey Rimell, and Joshua Robson-Hemmings for contributing your talents on flute, fiddle, bass, vocals and guitar. This project kept me going and only occasionally drove me up the wall. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, why not share it with someone who has contributed to, and/or alleviated your lockdown grumpiness?

Mindful Grumpiness?

I was struggling to find the best way to celebrate the launch of our lockdown video. While I really enjoyed live streaming this summer for both FloFest and Folk Weekend Oxford, now that quarantine is easing and the weather is so beautiful I just can’t stomach making another date with a screen, however wonderful the humans at the other end of the fibre optic cables might be. I loved one Facebook friend’s suggestion of an outdoor live screening in a large public space. The logistics of making it happen, however, were more than I could face. So I asked myself: what do I have to hand that I like using, and which could be a conduit for some sort of positive emotion inspired by the by-no-means-world-historic but nonetheless important-to-me event of our video release? And my eye fell upon a humble pen.

Markers and paper have been very important in our household during this pandemic. Sometimes we doodle. Sometimes we make our own games. Sometimes we colour things in. Often while listening to a podcast, of an entertaining or educational nature. We especially like The Infinite Monkey Cage, You’re Dead to Me, This American Life, The Celtic Myths and Legends Podcast, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and The Unbelieveable Truth.

So in celebration of the release of the Grumpy Lockdown video (9 pm BST on Thursday 6 August 2020), I offer you the printable below. Print out as many as you want. Give them to your children. Fill one in yourself. Fill in ten, each with a different colour scheme. Share the link with your parents and ask them to do the same. Put them in your window. Or use them as bedding for your new hamster. Whatever. But please, acknowledge the grumpiness and transcend it, with help from music, wry laughter and markers. At the very least you might distract yourself for a while.

Please do take a photo and send it to me through the magic of the internet. That would make my day.

Live streaming for Folk Weekend: Oxford 2020

Hello fine friends.  As I type I am preparing for my first ever live streaming musical performance, as part of Folk Weekend: Oxford 2020.  Although I am struggling to make sense of life under quarantine, I know music is at the core of my own survival and the root of so many relationships that I treasure.  I hope you will join me at 7 pm  British Summer Time later today for our wee experiment.

UPDATE: Sucess! We had over 1000 viewers. It was amazing spending the evening with old friends and new listeners in Australia, South Korea and the US as well as the UK. And you can still watch the video, anytime you like. Thanks to the amazing team at Folk Weekend!

Ten reasons to write a song

You can’t find your keys and singing “Where the %&$*£! are my keys?!?” again and again calms you down a bit.

You watched a lot of Sesame Street as a child.

When you sing it, the ache lifts.

You can’t get the riff out of your head.

Those words stick together like cookie dough.

You have a sleepless child in your arms and the whole night ahead of you.

Whenever you said the word “radish” as a child your mother burst into the refrain “Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt.” That confused you and yet seemed the natural order of things.

You grew up in an age of catchy advertising jingles and sort of figured out the formula.

You never know when Julie Andrews might turn up and you like to be prepared.

The important things need protection and a gentle melody provides strength as well as comfort.