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This week I’ve been recording a brand new single for the Coronation, to be released in May. We also recorded a video on the same day. It was a fantastic feeling being back in this studio with producer and recording engineer, Chris Pepper. We last recorded here in 2020, two weeks before lockdown, where I made my vinyl for ‘Rings of Saturn’ and ‘Anam Cara.’ I can’t wait to share my new song with you, and the inspiration behind it.
Wherever I went last month, I seemed to be underneath a rotating disco ball. I‘ve been in the studio. working on a disco track, so perhaps in my magnetic field I had an aura of Saturday Night Fever or I was simply channelling my inner Kylie. It started with lunch at The Elms with my Mum and Aunty from Wales (Happy St David’s Day!), greeted by a large outdoor mirror ball.
The first time I visited Glasgow was in 2003 hosting journalists for a travel company I was working for. I ventured out to a small underground music venue called the ‘Cellar Bar’ and a singer I hadn’t heard of before was performing. It was Kate Rusby. I was already familiar with the music of Glaswegian singer Eddi Reader, so I asked at the box office if she was similar. The woman on the door said ‘Well you’re in luck. Eddi is here tonight and they’re singing a duet.’ It’s serendipitous moments like this that have continued to inspire me and fuel my own journey as a folk singer.
I was sent some photos on Christmas Day from my friend in Uganda, of the new school he’s built, and of the elderly in the village he was taking porridge to. As I sat around the Christmas table with my family, we looked at the photos of the big smiles on women’s faces upon receiving a food parcel. It made us even more grateful for the food we were eating.
What Can a Song do to You? is a poem written by Molly Drake, the mother of late folk musician Nick Drake, set to music by The Unthanks who sang at Shrewsbury Folk Festival this bank holiday weekend. Under a starlit sky, the audience was spellbound. “Can it make with each note such an ache in your throat?” asks Molly. Certainly this was my experience listening to Judy Collins on the main stage on the last day of the festival. As she opened her set with Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ a woman rushed over to me and asked me if I was ok! She must have seen the tears welling up in my eyes. I later heard that a woman wept for the whole hour of Judy’s performance.
Thank you to everyone who supported the opening night of RASCALS! at The Mascall Centre, in Ludlow last Friday – the first of a series of music and comedy nights I’m hosting each month with Athena Greek Taverna. We had a full house for ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ with the James Hunt Quartet. All exceptional musicians in their own right; James played sax, clarinet, and flute, Geoff Ockenfold played the double bass, Tony the drums and Pete Beresford keyboard and Hammond organ. I enjoyed singing “Don’t Explain” and “God Bless the Child,” written by Billie Holiday, along with “Weary Blues” by Hank Williams, and Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love” – inspired by his love of Greece, and time spent in Hydra, where he was influenced by the rhythm of the Hasapiko native folk dance.
I’ll be setting sail to the Isle of Wight for a concert on Saturday 3rd September and performing a solo show with guitar at the beautiful thatched 18th century church, St Agnes in West Wight. The church lies beneath Tennyson Down in the beautiful Freshwater Bay, a mile away from Farringford where Tennyson lived for 40 years and wrote his famous poem ‘Maud.’ Tennyson’s poems have inspired me more than once, with the setting of the ‘Lady of Shalott’ to music, and ‘Crossing the Bar’.
Ian Mann enjoys this “Transatlantic Folk” double bill featuring the contrasting but complementary talents of local vocalist and songwriter Deborah Rose and New York singer songwriter Kenny White.
I’m excited to announce that I will be opening a brand new music and comedy venue in my hometown Ludlow, in partnership with Athena Greek Taverna & Café on 22nd July 2022. I will be hosting monthly Friday nights in the beautiful, recently refurbished Victorian hall, at the Mascall Centre, formerly a school. The venue seats 70 people, and every month there will be a very special evening of entertainment, showcasing local, national and international artists in an intimate setting.