|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
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, (http://www.baltoppen.dk) 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.
July 2004 , France:
I mentioned last time, one of the really good things about returning to playing in clubs
is the f
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
Are there any standout ones? The Settle concert with Jeff,
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
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.
|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.|
|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.
|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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