Sunday, 14 July 2019

Rise and Shine,life and gigs, mud and blood.

Just back from seeing my ex Father in Law, the now legendary Frank Bowling. We were chatting in the late afternoon sun about this and that, my now long gone husband was Frank's son, and finally I said, "Life...." as you do. To which Frank replied "Mud and blood. Its what we are and its where we end up." I love conversations that end with something as good as Mud and Blood. He had another wonderful one for me today, I said "people!" when we were talking about a reprobate from the past. "Yes" said Frank, "they get wet in the rain and they dry out in the sun." Frank's exhibition is on, as it were, the pyramid stage of Tate Britain, and its something else. Go if you can. Its there till September and you will find a feast of brilliance, colour, emotion and beauty that may well stop you in your tracks. It stopped me in mine and I've known Frank 40 years. So it was a lovely visit with Frank, Rachel and Frederik, Frank's grandson.

That followed another excellent long meeting with Nate, who is taking over alot of my shambolic communications and focussing me on what I have to do so I don't have to do other things not very well. This can only be a good thing. As life rumbles on it seems to me that I'm only actually fit to write songs, sing them here and there, and write musical theatre. I used to think I could perhaps work with trees. But realistically I don't like dirty hands and I think tree work pretty much is going to make demands of your hands that sitting in theatres doesn't.

I could be a driver. Though the problem with driving is, as Andy Goldberg once told me, since travel days are calorie free I'd soon have to have 2 seats. Whenever you go on a long drive, as I did recently with the family to and from Cornwall, which is beautiful partly because its far away, you have to have crisps. Thats potato chips if you are reading this in the US of A. And sweeties. And fruit. And then you have to stop and have lunches where you rarely say to yourself, go on, I'll have a salad. More like, oh chips! Oh well, go on. So the driver thing could become perilous.

With my mum in Cornwall

Cornwall was absolutely beautiful and I discovered an elemental truth which is if, every morning, you force yourself up and down a cliff, then you can go for as many delightful white wines overlooking the sea as you want. On the other hand on my return I am wondering if shortly I'll need new hips....

Up a cliff, blood pressure on full alert 

So this week I go to Berlin with Jenny Carr to play at Bar Jeder Vernunft, 2 shows, with a collection drawn from all over the repertoire to celebrate women, the falling of walls and freedom (pertinent the current climate) and love.

I'm looking forward to having a free day to walk around the gardens and explore the city more. Its a city I'm learning to love more and more. Level, elegant tree lined streets, cafes and bars that come alive at midnight. Glorious architecture and history in every stone.

And Rise and Shine, the first track from the new album, Bob, Brel and Me, is available now on all these platforms for streaming and downloading and I'd be ever so pleased if you would buy it. I wrote it with Mike Lindup of Level 42 and recorded it with Jamie Safir on piano, Rod Youngs on drums, Davide Mantovani on double bass, Mark Lockheart on sax and Pete Horsfall on trumpet. If you like it please feel free to tell the entire world. We love it. And I'll be singing it in Connecticut in August and Edinburgh. Here you go with the links -

And I'm reunited with the gorgeous John McDaniel in New York at the end of this month, singing Sting at Birdland, here -

Edinburgh tickets are on sale already - 24th August - here

So,  grab a copy of or a listen to, Rise and Shine. Book tickets for Berlin, Birdland New York and Edinburgh. And have a Quite Great summer!

Friday, 5 April 2019

Hi and Happy Spring- at long last - spring. I am fed up with the grey now and seeing all these fabulous flowers brave the icy cold April winds gives us all courage, mon amour!

Battersea Park this week, gloriously in bloom despite the wintery weather.

We've been working on a series of videos explaining what it is I'm doing with Bob, Brel and Me, this fabulous project including a new recording (to be released September 6th) and shows. 4 now in May and many more in the autumn.

Here's the second part of this video....

Meanwhile I've been in the rehearsal room with some fine and fabulous musicians. Jenny Carr and Jamie Safir are a dream team with the arrangements and on drums I'm reunited with Rod Youngs who played on Stockport to Memphis and Davide Mantovani on bass, who toured with me on Shelter From the Storm. And we did a Shelter show in Birmingham last week

thank you Sorcha for this

where we met in person the wonderful Sorcha Ra, who of course did this great interview recently.

Steve Ullathorne took this and made it so.......

So I hope you can come and see us - tickets are going fast - book here for London and find all the other May dates and links to book, here on our new snazzy home page

Speak soon!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

New Year New Project - Brel, Bob Dylan and originals launch in May!

The New Year is upon us, 2019, The Year of the Pig in Chinese astrology. So its become time for one of my my long time collaborators, the superb musician Jenny Carr and the extraordinary young jazz pianist Jamie Safir and and I to beetle away on a new collection which launches at the newly refurbed South Bank Centre's Purcell Room on May 9th. Co-incidentally my birthday. Yes, 21 again. Ha! Here's the poster for the South Bank's brutally good music gigs campaign.

And you can book that, now, here

There are two more performances of the piece in May, one at my beloved Komedia in Brighton as part pf Brighton festival, booking now

and at the wonderful Saddleworth Live at Millgate in Delph nestling inside the heart of the fabulous north western Pennines.

There's treats in store when we record Bob, Brel and Me in April for release in early September with a posse of truly great musicians contributing to the songs. More about that nearer the time. And the songs. Well, the marvellous Robb Johnson has translated four Jacques Brel lyrics for me; Tender Hearts, To See A Friend Break Down and Cry and Cathedral. We will also do a new translation of If We Only Have Love with a surprise element on record and at Purcell Room. You'll have to come to see what it is!

Photo and design by Steve Ullathorne
Then there are some new Bob Dylan's I've not recorded before including If You See Her Say Hello, Buckets of Rain, Mr Tambourine Man and Simple Twist of Fate. I know. A lot of love songs. In the words of the long gone and badly missed Marvin Gaye. Whats going on?

And from my own repertoire two new songs written with Level 42's co-songwriter, keyboard player and vocalist Mike Lindup, new songs written with Jamie Safir, one of my favourite songs from Jonathan Cooper and my Mabel Stark Tiger Tamer and one of my songs written in Corby with George Reilly and Mark Brennan. 

Currently The Singing Mermaid, which we worked on for The Little Angel Theatre and Northampton Royal and Derngate for Christmas 2017, is touring with a wonderful cast. Getting great reviews, again. All the creative team remain so very proud of our adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk's wonderful book. Here are reviews from Edinburgh today, hot off the press.


Later this coming year there will be a new collaboration with Little Angel Theatre artistic director Samantha Lane.  The Pixie and The Pudding is an original piece which we are co-writing and Sam will direct, I'll write the songs and music and it will be the Little Angel Christmas show. 

So, its a new year! I hope we'll see you at Bob, Brel and Me. There's more info on the newly designed website, here

Do join up to the newsletter mailing list there for a monthly gig and news alert, or you can do that, here - 

I'll leave you with something beautiful, to cheer us through the policies and weirdness of the modern world, I'm sticking with joy.