Mark Newman archive page

updated 2 November 2010

Montcuq, 17 February 2009

I first met Lyn Geddes when I was teaching in Leicester in the mid-60's when she was singing with her sister, Candy. We lost touch not long after that as we both moved away from Leicester (in different directions) but after I'd retired and started to play properly again, we met up  at a club in Ripon. It was lovely to see her after a lot of years. I've always admired her playing and singing and her guitar style is very individual, a cross between frailing and picking. Its always a pleasure to work with her and so when our Danish friend, Boye Beenfeldt suggested the we do a joint concert in Denmark, I jumped at the chance. However, it got better than that as Boye wanted to include another good friend, Duncan McFarlane, on the same bill. What a great player/songwriter Duncan is and so it was with a great sense of anticipation that Mo and I left for Copenhagen last November for the concert at Ballerup with them both.

We had a very pleasant journey north, the car being packed with instruments and pictures. Pictures? Mo and I were also mounting an exhibition of my photos and her textiles work at the Training College in Ballerup near Copenhagen and we were looking forward to that. During the journey north, we stayed in Mulhouse where happily we discovered that the French Nation Railway Museum was situated. We had to visit, of course and if you have any interest in railways and are ever near Mulhouse, do make time for a visit.

We arrived in Ballerup and having put up the expo, began to get ready for the concert. The venue was a 300 seat theatre in a Cultural Complex with a great sound and light system. No setting up PA here, then! Lyn and Duncan flew in and after settling in to their hotel, made their way to the venue. We had rapid rehearsals of some stuff that we decided that we could play altogether towards the end of the concert and then waited for the arrival of the audience.

It all went very well - I opened, with Lyn following me and then Duncan after the interval. We all sold CDs which was nice and after the concert we adjourned back to Boye's for post-concert refreshment (and this was after a very well-stocked Green Room!). The following day, Lyn and Duncan caught their flights back to the UK and Mo and I headed for Esbjerg and the ferry.

Our stay in the UK was great fun. The first gig was a second chance to play with Lyn and Duncan at a benefit concert for the Wensleydale Railway in Leeming. It was another great evening and we raised over £500 which should buy a few feet of track!  The Topic in Bradford was next and it was lovely to see old friends including a teacher colleague whom I hadn't seen in 30 years. Jon Harvison was also there and obviously enjoyed playing the guitar that he'd just bought from Chris. The last gig in the series was at the Plantation Lakes Acoustic club and I can really recommend visiting if ever you're in the Clevedon area. Great people and a great set-up for playing.

The Cahors Folk Club

We didn't have a meeting in December and so we were all looking forward to the first event of 2009. We had decided that we would move the date of each meeting from the forth Wednesday of each month to the last Friday and were a little concerned that people might forget. We needn't have worried and on January 30, we had over 100 in our audience. Our guest was Frédéric Daubié a well-known local singer and his two sets were well-received. February will see RAG MAMA RAG guesting. RMG play a great mix of old-timey, blues and country material and a good night is guaranteed.

Anyway, do please remember that if you are anywhere near Cahors on the last Friday in every month, you would be more than welcome to come and sing, play or just listen. Find out more here...

Montcuq, 29 September 2008

About a year ago, I met a player here called Mike Griffin. He was playing at the Leclerc Cultural Centre and Mo and I went to support him. While we were there, he mentioned that he was playing the following week at La Toulzanie in the Lot Valley, at an evening of guitar. He suggested that we might like to go and so we did. It wasn't just guitar though and there was an astonishing young mandolin player there. Only 11 years old and all over it! Anyway, after the interval, Mike and I decided to do a bit together and he said that he knew Deep River Blues and so we started with that and you can see this very first effort on YouTube if you wish. Log in and search for me and it'll come up along with a couple of other things. We did the evening again this year - great fun as we played with a French player called Patrick. This is also on You Tube.

Early in the Spring of this year, we were talking together and Mo mentioned that we'd been thinking about starting an acoustic club here in Montcuq and from that came the idea of starting a Folk Club in Cahors. Mike mentioned that he knew an art gallery in Cahors that would make a good venue and so we went down there and talked to David, the proprietor. He was very enthusiastic and so we decided that we'd run a club from April through to September just to see what would happen. We settled on 3 euros entrance fee and David said that he would provided a glass of wine and pizza slices! Mo designed posters which were sent out across the area and we waited for April. I thought that we might get 35/40 people in the audience but in the event, 75 came. It got better in May when we had a local band called STAYLOOSE guesting and we had to turn 20 away, having let 90 in. And so it has gone on. Last month we had 78 and we're hoping for a similar turn out in September when we have a local singer called Jem Stone playing. He specialises in Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen songs and it should be good. The next decision of course is whether to continue through the Autumn. I think that we probably will as our audience is about 70% French with the rest being made up of English, Dutch, Danish and so on, the vast majority of whom live locally. Floor singers have been very varied from very authentic blues to a capella and we never know who'll turn up. The great thing about the club is that its a listening audience. So many playing venues out here are in bars and the music is really a variety of wallpaper so it makes a real difference. Watch this space!

We now know that there is another folk club not that far away and for our August session, we had a visit by the people who run the club in Salvagnac, a small town in the Tarn about mid-way between Montauban and Gaillac. Their club is held in the cellar of the local bar and when we visited there to do a couple of sets, it was just like going back in time to the 60's. They meet on the first Tuesday of every month and if you would like further details, just get in touch.
I played at the annual Fete de Musique in Montcuq once again and the sets went down well. In addition, it was fine and warm - very different to last year's event, and in July I went back to Leicester for Dave Kirk's 60th birthday party. It was a great evening and I did enjoy the train ride.
So what's coming up? Mo and I will be travelling to the UK in November but this time we will be travelling via Copenhagen as I have a gig there. The concert in Baltoppen, Ballerup, ( will be a great opportunity to get together again with two very good friends, Lyn Geddes and Duncan McFarlane. The concert has been arranged by Boye Beenfeldt who comes to Montcuq every year on holiday and who decided to promote the three of us together. Should be a good night I think and good "practice" for the following Saturday, November 8, when we will be playing together again in Bedale. This concert is a benefit night for The Wensleydale Railway Association and we are hoping for a good turn out there. Check out their website
The following Tuesday I will be teaching with Chris at Newcastle University. I did a session there last March with some very good young players - keeps you on your toes!! Then comes The Topic in Bradford and Swanfolk in Loughborough with the final gig in Clevedon on the 20th November.
All dates and contacts are on the diary page so if you can make any of these, it would be good to see you.
Montcuq, 31 August 2007

What an odd summer its been here in Montcuq. Not as wet as in the UK it would seem but the usual very hot weather that we usually get in June, July and August just didn't materialise. However, the rain did.
However, the playing has been great fun and more of it this summer than ever before. It all kicked off in June with the Fête de Musique which, as before took place at the foot of the Tour on a stage that looked out across the valley. There was a good sound system so it was just a question of plugging in. I played some of the instrumental things and when I started to play bluesey material, I was aware of brilliant electric piano playing along. I hadn't realised but Serge da Silva, who is the music teacher at the College in the village and who was accompanying other singers, had decided that he'd like to join in. Happily, my guitar was in true concert pitch and the overall effect was great and the rest of the set went down very well.
Have you ever played for walnuts? I know about peanuts of course but early in July I was asked to play at the annual gathering of the local SEL. The SEL is a cooperative organisation whose members effectively barter their trades and services. For example, member A does some wiring for member B and "earns" a walnut for each ten minutes of labour. Member B then might do some gardening for member C who in turn might do something for member A. No money changes hands which rules out problems with tax etc. Anyway, I played at their annual get together and it was a good evening although I still have no idea of how many walnuts I earned. However, a real gig came out of it when I was asked to be the entertainment at a birthday party for one of the SEL members. This was, again, a lovely summer's evening and the music went down well. At one point, a real "first". Jigs and reels proved very popular and everyone was dancing.
After that came two nights at a restaurant in Cahors. I did this with another local singer, Jeremy Stone who does mostly Bob Dylan songs and sounds more like Mr D than Mr D. Also playing was Kelvin James who has a country band in the UK and his guitar player, Paul Sheldrake. Paul was extremely good and was all over his Strat.
If you've been to France, you will certainly know the supermarket chain, E Leclerc. In Cahors and in various other towns I think, they've split off the books, computers, software, CDs and so on away from the main stores and set up what are called, Centre Culturel. As part of a drive to attract customers to the store, Saturday afternoons see an hour's music from various players. I did the gig three weeks ago and sold some CDs, the remainder of which are now officially stock in the shop. From this gig came an invitation to play at what turned out to be the nearest evening to a folk club that Mo and I have had while we've been in France. There was an audience of 45 or so and it was effectively a folk club arrangement. Before the interval, everyone played a set of three. I had to follow a young lady of 11 years who was all over her neapolitan mandolin. 11!! Watch out folks, there's a lot of talent out there. After the interval, I teamed up with another local singer, Mike Griffin, as we'd found that we had lots of material in common. This went down very well and it's quite likely that we'll do some more things together later in the Autumn. Mo and I also hope to start a folk/acoustic club here in the village as we've found a really good venue. Watch this space for further details.
And now, we're looking forward to our two weeks in the UK. My birthday concert on September 14 in aid of DIABETES UK, in Leicester (now sold out) should be good fun and some really good players have agreed to be there. They include Dave Kirk, Terry Lees, Steve Hicks, Lyn Geddes and my brother Chris. A genuine night for guitar players and I suspect that I will be struggling to keep up!! After this we go to Yorkshire as I'm playing the Skipton Club on the 18th and then the Otley Festival the following weekend. If you can get to Skipton or Otley, it would be great to see you there.
Oh, I forgot to mention the exhibitions of photographs and textiles that Mo and I have done during the summer, but that's another story.


Montcuq, France 17 April 2007

Our Spring trip to the UK turned out to be a mini-tour one way and another. Faldingworth Live, which used to be the Market Rasen Folk Club was the first gig and somewhat unusually takes place in the Village Hall. Village Halls are invariably great places to play and this was no exception. It was lovely to see some old friends, among them Mike and Sue Dewsbury who run the excellent Gainsborough club and festival. One nice thing to mention is that a group of young people came in just before the evening started. I'm not sure if you can tell what a "folkie" looks like, but these four wouldn't fit most descriptions. I met one of the lads in the loo just before my first set. "Been here before?", he asked. "No", I replied but I have played at Gainsborough and some other local clubs". "Oh, well we heard that there was a folk club on and we thought we'd support the Village Hall so I got two mates to come as well". "That's great", said I, "I hope you enjoy the evening".

It was only later that I discovered that they were expecting an evening of Beatles and Oasis! Needless to say, they didn't get it, but, I'm very glad to say, they stayed until the end of the night. Many thanks to Les Worrell for booking me.

In February this year, one of the long-time stalwarts of the Leicester folk scene, Rex Brisland, sadly died after a short illness. Rex was one half of The Couriers folk duo, the other half being Jack Harris. Mo and I had flown back for his funeral and while we were talking after the funeral, it was suggested that a memorial concert should be held and it was decided that this should be on March 25th. Anyway, from Faldingworth, we went to Leicester to stay with Louise and Dave Kirk so that we could go to Rex's concert the following afternoon. Even though it was an occasion that everybody would have preferred not to have been necessary, it turned out to be a great afternoon of music with lots of old friends singing and playing. Among these were Russ Merryfield, Pete Tomlyn, Mike Keogh, Bob Dayfield (what a fine slide player he is), John Montague, Steve Hicks and lots of others. Rex would have been pleased.

From Leicester we went across to one of our favourite clubs, The Swan in Loughborough run by Annie and Chris Flint. Bob Fox was the guest and I was able to do a floor spot.

Over the past few years, many people have been extremely helpful to me in my efforts to get playing live again. Notable among these is Genevieve Tudor who as many of you will know, runs the Folk music programme from Radio Shropshire, a programme that is broadcast in many areas on Sunday nights. Anyway, on the Monday after Rex's concert, we travelled across to Shrewsbury so that I could do an interview, live! Genevieve was there, but the programme was actually presented by Clare Ashford. I played a couple of things during the interview and Genevieve then indicated that she would play them again during her folk programme. Many thanks to them both.

I was really looking forward to the next gig in Bradford at The Topic Folk Club. I hate to say this, but I first went to The Topic in 1959 just after we moved to Leeds, so to have a gig there is always rather special. I was particularly looking forward to the evening as Chris was "at home" after various international trips and we'd decided to finish off the evening. There was a very good crowd in and it seemed to go very well, I'm delighted to say. Many thanks to Simon Alexander and John Waller for fixing this for me.

Where did we go next? Oh yes, Robin Hood's Bay for a visit to the Friday Folk club. There was no guest booked but singarounds are always interesting for the wide range of music that you get. Great fun.

Sunday saw us in Hardraw for another memorial concert, this time for Anne Garbutt who, together with her husband Norman, used to run the Ripon Club. Sadly Anne died last year and the whole weekend was for her and Norman. There were lots of singers and players there and it was great to see that fine guitarist and singer, Lyn Geddes.

So, what is coming up? Various informal gigs over here in Montcuq and then back to the UK in September. And here is a date for your diary. On 14 September I will be 65. Help!! Anyway, can't do anything about it so the best thing is to have a bit of a "do". Therefore, on Friday the 14th, at The White House in Scraptoft, Leicester there will be an evening featuring some of my favourite guitar players. Confirmed guests so far include Lyn Geddes, Steve Hicks, Dave Kirk and Terry Lees. I am also hoping that Duncan McFarlane and Chris will also be able to be there. You can see from the line up that this will be an evening not to be missed. It's for a good cause too. Diabetes UK will be the beneficiary if the evening as they have been a great support to me over the past ten years or so. Don't miss what will be an extravaganza of guitar music and you can help me drown my sorrows!! Watch out for more details on the dates page.
17 February 2007
Mark writes from Montcuq:

Well, the move to France went well with only two trips by van and we're now settled in. Actually the work on the main house isn't quite finished (too much time spent playing I suspect) and Mo and I are working hard to get the apartment ready so that family and friends can come and stay. Already we have bookings for the summer and if you would like a brochure, please get in touch via email and we'll put one in the post. We hope to develop the idea of courses with guitar tuition, weaving, painting and so on.
The new CD is being well-received (there's a review from Tykes elsewhere on the site). Then there are the other two CDs, or rather parts of them! I discovered some time ago that two of my old tracks, the 1969 recordings of Mustapha and Patterns had been released without my knowledge on a label called Kissing Spell.
This is an outfit that specialises in out of print archive material. I was astounded to find that I was included in two of their albums called The History of Underground Folk Rock, volumes 1 & 2. I contacted them through a record dealer in London who said (and I kid you not!), "This is extraordinary, you're a legend!". All I need now are some royalty payments. Seriously, there are some other interesting people on these discs, among them Tir na Nog, Flibbertigibbet and lots you may never heard of. Go out and buy them - I need all the 15p's I can get!!
We did enjoy the summer. Chris came out for a week which was great fun and then, in July while the Cahors Blues Festival was on, Duncan and Pam McFarlane came to stay. We went into Cahors to listen to the various groups and then..................Christian at the café said that we could go down and play a bit. Unfortunately, his wife Christine had arranged other live music for his birthday so back to the house we went. All was not lost however, as a group of Danes followed us back followed by Angele and some others from the village. Our small garden became a performance area and a good time was had by all.

While he was with us, Duncan did a live spot on Antenne d'Oc, the local radio station as Chris had done. This was received very well. Patrick Jullian is a very well-known local singer, specialising in French material and during last Spring, a fire gutted his house. A benefit concert was organised for him and his wife and this took place at the base of our Tour, the last remnant of the 12th century castle. I played an hour-long set. It was a lovely evening and my stuff went down very well and I enjoyed it.
A trip to Corsica in September was a new musical experience and opened our ears to the local music. If you haven't come across a group called I Muvrini, search them out - you won't be disappointed. Their bass player is astonishing. If ever you visit Bonifacio, search out the Guitar Club there - we will next time!
November saw us back in the UK for gigs, the first of which was at the Swan in Loughborough. Chris and Annie run a great club and it's always a pleasure to play there. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and there was a good and enthusiastic crowd. This was followed by a concert with Diane Ponzio, one of Martin Guitar's clinicians. I've worked with her before and Diane is a great performer. Her mickey-take on the blues is wicked! As always it was a pleasure to play with old friends Dave Kirk and John Montague.

We then went to stay with Chris and went to Skipton FC and Otley, both lovely places to play. I was delighted when Sheila Kelsall at Skipton booked me (again) for next September (18) and Steve booked me for the Otley Festival. I shall look forward to both gigs.
After returning home, I did several restaurant gigs. Bar gigs, I must confess are not really my thing but these were OK as the people in were very attentive. Most of them are to be repeated later on this year. Chris came out again in January for a few days and we had a very pleasant evening with some local players. Chris enjoyed playing my Christmas present from Mo, a Variax bought from Duncan. Again, great fun and I may well use it in clubs although the acoustic sounds don't really challenge the real ones. Great 12-string sound though!
Did I mention the Hurdy-Gurdy? Well, at a big antiques fair in Cahors we spotted an old Vielle a Roue (hurdy gurdy) so I bought it 'cos its one of those instruments that I've always fancied. We got in touch with a local luthier, Monsieur Lasson, who had a good look at it and sadly pronounced it uneconomic to sort out. However, he's a was a good person to meet and as he makes new Vielles a roue, I might just have to get one. Watch this space!!
What's coming up? Further gigs here and then back to the UK in March for work at Market Rasen and the Topic in Bradford among others. Perhaps I'll see you there?


18 April 2006
Mark writes from Leicester:

The news last Christmas from south-east Asia affected us all. Its hard to imagine being caught up in something as horrific as a tidal wave and the world reaction was what one might have hoped for. We were in Montcuq at the time and one of the things that happened immediately was a flurry of e-mail's from club organisers asking if I could play at their benefit evenings. This was not possible given where we were but obviously we had to do something and that ‘something’ wasn't too hard to work out. 

We decided that there should be a Tsunami Concert in the village and set about organising it. Late last year we became friends with David and Pat Angus who live quite close to us. David is a player and between us, we began to get things going. The first big problem was the venue. Every French village has a Salle des Fêtes and so we went to see Monsieur le Maire to ask him how much it would cost to hire the huge room for an evening. We were a little worried about this as we knew that hiring/heating costs were usually quite high. However, as soon as M. Maury knew what we wanted to do, he gave is the room free of charge. We knew we had to have a bar and went to see Christian, the patron of the le Café du Centre. We explained what we wanted to do and he immediately said that as long as we obtained the permit, he would be happy to do it. This was a straightforward task at the Mairie and so we were basically up and running. We thought that an aperitif would be nice for everyone and Pat found a local grower who immediately offered to provide a glass of wine as a welcome. 

We than began to think about who would be playing! Me, of course, with David doing some backing but who else? We knew that Horst Krahl, who works in the Office de Tourisme in Montcuq was a player and that he was a particular fan of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. He immediately agreed and then were three. David had become friends with Peter Coyle. Do you remember a band called The Lotus Eaters? They had an enormous hit in the 70's with a song called The Last Picture of You, which was written by Peter. He wanted to play and so the rest of us formed his backing band for a set of five of his songs. Not my usual sort of stuff at all so I had to work!

Mo had already started to make tickets and posters and to get them put up around all the local villages and one set of publicity was sent to Antenne d'Oc, the local radio station in Cahors.

Antenne d'Oc is a community-based radio station and twice a week they have a two-hour program in English hosted by Mick Gardiner. I had done a live session for him last year and he immediately agreed to promote the event as much as possible by using tracks from my CD, interviewing the four of us and so on.

Mo and I also did an interview for Antenne d'Oc, live and in French which is a very good way to learn the language. We also discovered that Mick was a harmonica player with a particular liking for the blues, so he was co-opted too. Mick also knew of a really good locally-based singer/guitarist called Daniel Peret and arranged for him to play too.

So, together with Pierre Planisis, a really good local guitarist and his bass-playing friend Mitch, we had our line up. Except that we weren't finished yet as the local school indicated that they would be very happy to join in. 

Meanwhile, having decided on a raffle as an additional way of raising money, Pat went out and began to twist arms in the nicest possible way of course. She rapidly accumulated a whole range of donations from most of the local shopkeepers (meals in restaurants, flowers, wine and so on) but was bowled over when several people gave us money! Nothing was turned away and it was at this point that the local garden centre offered to decorate the Salle with a host of plants. In many ways, the cream on the cake came the week before our concert when Christian at the café came and said that he would donate the proceeds of the bar to the fund. Brilliant! 

The day before the concert, having sold lots of tickets and being assured of an audience, we descended on the Salle and very quickly created what we hoped would be a great venue. We had been provided with a good PA system and after sound checks the doors opened.

We had an audience of over 150 and a good time was had by all. Monsieur le Maire introduced the event and our compere, Charlie Ferreny and then we were off. There was a very wide range of music to be listened to and it all went down very well indeed, especially the informal and very improvised blues band as the finale. The raffle was a great success and Christian did steady business at the bar and we were looking forward to counting the proceeds. Had it all been worth it? It certainly had and at the end of the evening, well over a thousand euros was in the kitty. 

Good, but it didn't end there and while we were clearing up the following morning, Christian came down to the Salle had gave us a whole lot of money. I had misunderstood him and what he gave us was the takings from the bar, not just the profit. We were now rapidly approaching €1700.

During the concert a little girl called Zoe went to Mo and gave here a carrier bag full of small change. It was here copper collection and when we counted it, there was over €30, ten old centimes and 16p! 

Our final reckoning came to €1750 and we posted a notice to this effect in Christian's bar. Two nights later, having been in the bar for an aperitif (as you do!), Christian came to me and gave me a roll of euro notes. He said that he had been asked to give me this as a late donation and that the donor wished to remain anonymous. When we counted it, it brought our total to over €2000 and the Office de Tourisme who had agreed to handle all the money sent this off to the national appeal in Paris. 

All in all, a great experience and some very interesting musical connections have been made which I suspect will reappear at the Fête de la musique in June. We shall see. 

My autumn gigs all went well and I shall look back on them with pleasure. I particularly remember the Anchor in Byfleet, Bishops Stortford and St Albans, Broadstairs, Wisbech and all the others. Since then, I've also played a two night "residency" in Restaurant la Marine in Montcuq. One evening was all in French ( how do you translate The Clumsy Lover or The Gander in the Pratie Hole into French?

This spring I've worked at Spalding (thanks Elizabeth), Otley, where loads of friends from Yorkshire turned up, and Lee Eyres' club at Rivelin near Sheffield. I also very much enjoyed playing live on the d'Urbervilles Easter Party on Radio Leeds. If you haven't heard the d'Urbervilles, a great Leeds-based band who play a range of music, do yourself a favour and see them soon. They're superb.

You can get a flavour of some of these events in the photos.

Soon we'll be back off to France and I'm looking forward to playing there again. Watch this space to see how things go.


7 July 2004
Mark wrote from Montcuq
, France:

As I mentioned last time, one of the really good things about returning to playing in clubs is the fact that I've met so many old friends. As well as wanting to know about what I played and where, there have been lots of questions about the time that I played in bands, so I thought that it might be a good idea to put this in some sort of coherent order.

After I left college in 1965, I mostly worked in folk clubs but towards the end of the decade, began to get the itch to play electric blues rather than the acoustic variety. I don't really remember what triggered this, but it was probably two things. Firstly, I went to see Long John Baldry at the Il Rondo and the second was meeting John Lee Hooker, again in Leicester.

I'd met John Baldry many times in folk clubs and so looked forward to seeing him with his band. The music was great and his then guitar player, Jeff Bradford, was just about the coolest bloke that I'd ever seen. I remember that he wore a flat black leather cap and played a blonde Telecaster. The other thing that happened that evening was that John introduced a new singer who was going to be really big. From behind the stage came Rod Stewart on one of his first live outings. Brilliant, and the rest as they say is history.

I'd bought a couple of John Lee Hooker's LP's in Leeds several years before and so when it was known that he was playing in Leicester, you just had to go. He had extraordinary stage presence and from then on, little was more important than getting into a band. Shortly after this, I went to Moore and Stanworth's on Belgrave Road in Leicester and Phil Stanworth persuaded me not to buy a Fender, but a big old secondhand Gibson ES-175DN for £125 This didn't leave much money for an amp and I ended up with an old Bird, complete with reverb.

At about that time, I met Nancy Whiskey who was living in Melton Mowbray. I was a bit in awe of her but very importantly, got to meet her husband, Bob Kelly. Bob was an amazing boogie, blues and barrelhouse player and after a couple of evenings together, we decided to form a pick-up band - The NK Combination. At the time, the Leicester Folk Club was meeting in a pub at the top of London Road so we went to see if there was another night free. There was, and a few weeks later, with the addition of Mick on harp and vocals, Spike on drums with lots of other people sitting in, we were off. Looking back, it was a bit shambolic but enormous fun for all that. It lasted for only a few months and then fell apart.

I was then asked to join Mick Poulton's Pendulum. Mick's band was an early showband in that as soon as a song began to go up the charts, we learned it and churned it out in a variety of venues in Leicestershire. It was during one memorable performance of the Peter Gunn Theme, complete with me winding down the 6th string, that I blew that old Bird amp. Back I went to see Phil Stanworth and I left the shop with a Vox AC-30TB. What an amp that was.

After Poulton's Pendulum, I got back together with Mick, the singer in the NK and together we formed The Boss (I wonder what Bruce Springsteen would have done if we'd made it big-time?!) and decided to go out on a different track. First of all we  had to have costumes and believe it or not, I ended up with a sailor suit and somewhere there's a photo of me in the suit in Town Hall Square in Leicester. It was a great band and we travelled all over the place until at last, it began to get a bit stale and so, one afternoon, there was a knock at the door of the flat and there were some blokes who, up until that point, I didn't really know. It turned out that it was Stu, the bass player and leader of The Broodly Hoo, who at that time were Leicester's leading band. They asked if I would like to join them as their guitar player was leaving. I didn't take long to think about it and asked about when we would start. Stu replied that he hoped I could join quickly as the band were playing The Marquee in London at the weekend!! I was quickly fitted out with an electric blue suit from Burton's as The Broods played soul and had to look really cool!! The music, from a playing point of view was very new to me and it meant a very steep learning curve. We got through the Marquee gig and I remember being absolutely terrified. I loved working with the Broodly Hoo because for the first time I was part of a band (bass, guitar, hammond, drums and horns) where no-one really took precedence but if anyone stopped, you could hear it.

Looking back, I think that the Broods were fairly close to winding down and eventually, the band split. Rob Townsend, the drummer went on to great things with Family and the Blues Band, where he still plays. One of these days, it would be nice to meet up with him. I wonder what happened to the other players?

A couple of final things. If you search the web for The Broodly Hoo, there are a couple of references but if you look for The NK Combination, all you get is "Nutrient Management for Agriculture in Shandong". That's fame for you.

What happened to the 175? I sold it and I wish that I hadn't with the same being true for the Vox. The Gibson case I kept for a while and used it for the 000-21 for some years until Keith Johns, a genius guitar fixer became ill and Ralph McTell and Allan Taylor organised a benefit for him. This seemed a good point to part company with that case and so it was auctioned for Keith.

mark_settle_all.jpg (32431 bytes) It has been a good spring for gigs and I must say a big thank you to all those club organisers who have booked me, from Pam at Dartford, to Barry Yates at The Chase, Karen at The Tump and everyone in between.

Are there any standout ones? The Settle concert with Jeff,
Ian, Lyn Geddes and Duncan McFarlane and Skipton Folk Club were particularly memorable for me. The Skipton gig in particular was great with a good crowd and as Chris came we finished off the evening together which, I am pleased to say, pleased the customers. Great fun and many thanks to Sheila and Alan for the return booking.

Now Mo and I are back in Montcuq for the summer. We went down to the Hérault a couple of weeks ago where we stayed with my Upper School headteacher, Francis Cammaerts, Nicki and Jay. While I was there, (it was Francis' 88th birthday) I was reminded that my very first public performance was at Alleyne's in Stevenage where I sang a version of the New School Song. There's a photo there somewhere too although I think that it can stay lost! Incidentally, should anyone (from Alleynes, Sctraptoft Training College as well as other places) wish to contact Francis (and he would love to hear from you) you can get in touch through his daughter Jay's email addres which is

As I said, we are here for the summer, the Fetes de Musique are upon us and  I am already looking forward to the Autumn gigs. The first one is in Byfleet on September 16th so perhaps I'll see you there.

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24 February 2004

Mark wrote from Montcuq, France:

Mo and I have been here in Montcuq since before Christmas and it seems like a good time to take a quick look back over the last year.
Last year began with quite a worry as I discovered two small cracks in my relatively new 000-45 Custom. I was very pleased with the guitar as it played beautifully with a sound that was beginning to develop. However, something had to be done and to cut a long story short, the 45 went back to Michigan where it was appraised. As a result of this, I was offered a choice. I could either have this one fixed or the shop would order me a new one. I decided to have the repair done as I both liked the 45 very much and didn't really want to wait another ten months for a new one. The guitar arrived back in April and the quality of the fix was stunning with no sign that anything had ever been touched. Many thanks, Elderly. 00045_body.jpg (36888 bytes)
As a side note to all of this, it's worth noting that if you are contemplating buying a new guitar (or many other things, come to that) that even with the import duty and dreaded VAT, it is much cheaper to bring a guitar in from the States than buying one in England. This is particularly true at the moment as the dollar is so low against sterling. Just a thought.

My first CD, Stories, has been very well-received and the reviews have been excellent, I am pleased to say. It is selling steadily and can be bought either mail order, at gigs, or here on the OBM site with secure on-line purchasing. CD number two is well on the way and hopefully will be released early in the summer. The CD will contain some of the music that I used to play, together with some of the new material that I've been working on. It is being recorded at the Old Bridge Music studio with Chris in charge once again. Full details will be posted on the site as soon they are available.

Stories has been used extensively as promo with many copies being sent to club organisers as a "taster" of what my live performances are like. This has frequently led to a booking, and I'd like to thank everybody who has offered me a gig. I suspect that some of them have clearly taken a bit of a chance on someone who, to them, is a relative "newcomer". Happily, there are a lot of people who do remember me and feedback has been good.

I can't list every club where I've played; there are one or two particular ones who I'd like to mention. One of the first people to book me was Bernard Blackwell at the Keyworth Club. He told me that he and his wife Jill remembered me from years back in Otley and it was lovely to meet with them again. It must have gone down well as I was rebooked very quickly. Folk at the Swan in Loughborough, organized by Chris and Anne Flint, was another evening that went well and I was living in hope for a return visit. I got it, but not quite in the way I expected. One Sunday last Autumn, our friends Dave and Louise Kirk (organisers of the White House Acoustic Club in Leicester) had come for lunch and in the middle of the third bottle of wine, the phone rang. It was Chris Flint who asked if I happened to be free that evening. I said that I was and he replied that as Roy Bailey had rung in to say that he wasn't well, could I work the club that evening? It's worth noting that as I am re-establishing myself, there are many times when I would be available as a stand-in for someone who can't make it through illness - please get in touch.

Anyway, back to the phone call. Like many performers, I never drink when I'm due to play and, as I said, we were well into red number three. Anyway, I agreed and many coffees and some hours later, Mo and I arrived at the Swan - along with a really good audience who were expecting to hear Roy. Some people had travelled from as far as Newark and Bedford to hear him and so I was delighted that everyone stayed. I enjoyed myself enormously and at the end of the evening, Anne Flint commented that she had never seen me so relaxed!! Sue Dewsbury at Gainsborough offered me an evening on the strength of the disc. I asked Sue if I would need PA and her comment was that if I took PA, it would mean that there would probably be little room for the audience. Gainsborough is one of the smaller venues, but there's great atmosphere there and I'm looking forward to working at the festival later this year. Jenny Scott at the Bacca Pipes in Keighley booked me for an evening in the Autumn and quite a few players turned up. One regular member (and a guitar player) wrote a great review. Thanks, Joel - I couldn't have written it better myself!

One thing that has become fairly apparent when I've been talking to club secretaries is that many clubs can't book guests as attendances have been falling. "Support your local folk club".

There are lots of opportunities to play in France. There is a very strong Celtic music scene in many parts of the country and none more so than in the southwest. In Cahors, for instance, there is a great session on the first Friday of every month. Usually about 25 players turn up, all French and with a range of instruments. It has to be one of the biggest ceilidh bands anywhere and the players could hold their own in any company. So, if you're on holiday near Cahors, do try to make it, it's well worth it. Watch out also for some of the many brilliant Celtic Festivals that take place all over France.

The Fetes de Musique that take place in just about every village each summer are really good fun, The one in our village took place at the foot of the old castle keep and the stage looked out across the valley. It was very hot that early evening but once the sun had gone down, it became a great venue. There were picnics galore and one family even brought their own barbecue which contributed to the atmosphere as you might imagine. There were all sorts of music on offer and it proved to be a very varied evening. One event that I particularly remember took place at Lalbenque, a village about 30 minutes away. Isabel, one of the players at the Cahors session, rang and asked if I would be free a few days later to play a set of Irish music with herself on violin, Pierre on whistle and spoons and Jean-Claude on button accordion. It seemed that their regular guitar player was couldn't make it, so I agreed and I thought that there might be some good publicity in the local press. The evening went well and, during the few days after the fete, I read the local paper, "La Dépêche", every morning. I had just about given up hope when one morning, about two weeks later, there was the report. What a disappointment - not a word about the four of us - all the other singers and groups but not a word about the four of us.
mark_tradtrash.jpg (35432 bytes)
Mo then read the article and said gleefully, "You're in!". I re-read it and discovered to my astonishment that we were called "Trad Trash"! Fame at last and, as you might imagine, it makes for a good story when I'm working a club!!
So to 2004. The work is coming in steadily and I'm looking forward to all the gigs. I start again in England on March 2nd, at the Dartford Folk Club. All future dates are listed here on the OBM site and gigs are updated regularly. I am also looking forward to working with other players, notably, Lyn Geddes and Duncan McFarlane at the Settle concert in April and then Lyn again at the White House in May.

Finally, can I say that one of the best things about working once again in clubs is the number of old friends who I've been able to meet. That's been really good except that there is a downside. It's very amusing when someone comes up and says "Are you the Mark Newman who used to play in Leicester a long time ago?". I answer, "Yes.", to which the response often is, "But you used to be thin, wear jeans and have long curly black hair!".

C'est la vie, I suppose.
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