With the days lengthening and 2022 coming to a close, it's the done thing to reflect on the year that's gone by and to speculate about the year ahead. I'm not terribly comfortable tooting my own trumpet but, more than any other year so far, I feel as if it might be worth sharing some highlights from the last twelve months.
This time last year, I had already finished all of the arrangements for Cormorant and sent them off to Deb Chalmers, Sam Partridge and Tom Evans. We rehearsed everything on the last weekend of March and recorded the album on the first weekend of April. Please excuse me for polishing my nails on my lapels, but I feel like it's a huge achievement to get into a recording studio having only had three days of rehearsal with enough quality material to make up an entire album. Hearing my tunes being played was fabulous and to have a record out of the end of it on top of that feels incredibly special. I'm so grateful that Deb, Sam and Tom believed in my music enough that they felt it was worth devoting the time, energy, passion and skill that they did. I am genuinely incredibly proud of how the album came out and so thankful to the supremely generous few who have already pre-ordered Cormorant.
In late April, I had a photoshoot for the album cover with Elly Lucas who was a complete delight. She made me feel comfortable (which was no mean feat), did my makeup and took many, many fantastic photos. Looking through them all for the first time was amazingly euphoric!
I'm still on Instagram, which I got a few years ago ostensibly to salivate over James Wong's collection of terraria. This year I rejoined Facebook having abstained for a decade and whilst I'm not the hugest fan of social media, I will admit that it has been nice to connect with some people that I wouldn't otherwise have much opportunity to chat to. I also joined Twitter to promote Cormorant just as people started abandoning ship as Elon's peculiar agenda began to really tick people off, so I haven't really done much on there. I'm considering joining Tik Tok next year (fashionably late!) If you feel so inclined (please help me feed those hungry algorithms!), you can follow me on Instagram, like my page on Facebook, tweet at me on twitter if you haven’t skedaddled (I might see it…) or best of all follow me on Bandcamp.
I created Pop Pad this year, a rebranding and redoubling of my efforts towards arranging pop songs for string quartet. Check out my arrangements on Sheet Music Plus or Pop Pad on Facebook. I’m looking forward to having a little more time for string arrangements in 2023.
Last January saw the second Queer Online Folk Festival (QOFF), including the return of the QOFF YouTube Showcase which I curate. Whilst it's not clear exactly how and when we'll continue in 2023, partially due to lingering zoom fatigue as the world still seems hungover from an 18 month long video chat bender, but rest assured that we shall be back in some form in the coming year.
2022 has been a very different year gig-wise, now that the effects of COVID are less evident. In addition to a fairly busy summer playing at weddings with loads of great musicians, I've also played for the first two Queer Ceilidh Dance Parties thanks to a partnership between Queer Folk and EFDSS (See video below!) These two parties were very well received and absolutely great fun and it was both joyous and soothing to embrace my queerness openly, something that I'm still becoming accustomed to. As 2023 approaches, I'm excited and eagerly anticipating progress with my transition.
We've strayed further from the Big Smoke since we first went through London in 2018. This year, we have cruised further north up the Grand Union, leaving the commuter belt of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire behind for my partner’s new job in Northampton.Whilst I rather liked Milton Keynes with its green corridors and convenient cyclepath network and I enjoyed Hemel Hempstead's strange charm not to mention being able to moor near Pitstone, an invigorating walk away from Ivinghoe Beacon, it's been great to get to know a new place again and I'm looking forward to scratching a bit further beneath the surface.
(If you're reading this after January the 13th then Cormorant is out! You can read a Review of Cormorant)
In 2023 I will release an album, I've never done that before and that alone feels like something worth celebrating (not that I've never done it before, but that it will be something that I've done!). I'll also be touring that album with Deb, Sam and Tom in March. We don't have loads of dates, so don't take it personally if we're not coming anywhere near you! Organising myself and three other gigging musicians was hard enough, let alone trying to persuade bookers to take a punt on an artist who is new to the concert scene, in a 'post'-Covid world with the UK hurtling deeper into a devastating recession. To add to that challenge, I decided fairly early on to only book accessible venues with step free access. Having helped care for my dad in the last year of his life and experienced just how unaccommodating buildings can be to wheelchair users, I think it's inexcusable that live folk music excludes so many folks due to venues that are inaccessible. As a consequence, I have had to put on most of the gigs myself. That means that every bum on a seat really matters! So far I’ve announced three tour dates in London, Brighton and Sevenoaks, with a few more to announce soon once they are all 100% confirmed. If you don't live anywhere near where we're touring but you know someone who does, let them know that their bum would be very much appreciated! Or better yet visit them and go out to a concert together. After all, music is at its very best when it connects us!
Thanks so much for your support this last year, I hope to see you in March.
Best wishes for 2023,