When you haven't written a Blog for a while, it becomes difficult to write a Blog. The reason is not a rusting over of the creative impulse, more it's the fact that so much has happened since the last one was posted that it becomes difficult to fit it all in. Without taking up reams of space. Here's a series of headlines:-
French Property Sold:- After thirty years of owning and renovating properties in Brittany, my wife and I have sold up. An emotional wrench for both of us as we have developed many friendships there as well as having had a deep love of our final property; a 17th Century (maybe even 16th) longere which we had been renovating, when time and money allowed, for about 15 years.
Art For Art's Sake:- I've been spending time on painting faces of famous Bluesmen and Blueswomen. To fit in with the fact that they had Blues in their veins, I've worked with a palette of blue acrylics tempered, as necessary with white and black. Initially, I was taking lots of advice (for which I was very grateful) from my son-in-law, a professional artist. You can see samples of his work at www.guymanning.co.uk
Here are a couple of examples of my own daubings, both acrylic on canvas:-
Proud Parents: Our daughter, Eloise (Guy's wife) has had her third children's novel 'Seaglass' published to great reviews. The book has already gone for reprint, just a month after publication, which is seemingly unprecedented. If you're looking to get your family youngsters reading, check out her website:
www.eloisewilliams.com There could well be something there which will fit the bill as a stocking-filler which might just light a spark for life.
Bob The Baker:- I've been baking my own bread since we've lived in Pembrokeshire and my wife and I rarely purchase 'shop-bought' bread. My particular favourite is Sourdough - it takes a lot longer to knead and prove than most other breads but the result can be superb. It's far tastier than your average loaf and utilises yeast garnered from the atmosphere rather than from a tin or packet. I would claim that my wholemeal bread is better than most factory-made products but it really doesn't compare with my Sourdough. If you're interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll happily share. I'm also now experimenting with cakes and pastries like fruit scones and Belgian buns.
The Garden:- I can't ever remember a year which has been as good as 2018 for produce. I was still harvesting runner beans in mid-October and we had more tomatoes from the greenhouse than ever before. Every day in the Summer we've eaten salad using freshly harvested ingredients. We have two apple trees, one a 'cooker' the other an 'eater' and they have been filled to bursting (which also describes me when my wife has turned her culinary talents to apple crumbles). I've already planted my onions, garlic and broad beans for next season as we hunker down for the Winter.
Summer Relaxation: One of the great benefits of living so close to the sea is that we can walk the dog on the beach every day but the weather's been so good this Summer that we've often also taken an evening swim too - sometimes even opting to snorkel as well. This must be close to Paradise.
Foraging:- This year, we've eaten wild garlic and nettles, both growing within a stone's throw of our home as well as gathering a huge quantity of blackberries which arrived later than usual but were stunning in quantity and quality when they were ready. On an aside here, it was marvellous to see whole families out with their dishes and bags collecting the berries, just as it was in my own distant childhood. Not only was it getting the kids away from the toxicity of their electronic devices, it was showing them that blackberries (and their products) are freely available from nature not just from Sainsbury's. We held back on picking mushrooms although we found many of all types and colours. In France, it's safe to pick all of them because you can then go to any pharmacy where they will tell you which of the fungis are edible and which are fatal. There's an old joke which says that all mushrooms are edible... but some are only edible once. We'll do a bit of reading up on the subject before next Autumn.
The Blues Exclusive:- The show continues to get support from all over the world with frequent positive comment. Broadcast times (see Home page) are varied by the hosting stations from time-to-time but you can always catch up with any show you've missed on Mixcloud less than two weeks after initial airing. To the end of October, I had received some 500 albums this year for airplay consideration and I try to offer airplay to everyone but insist on keeping an element of Bluesic from the Masters and Mistresses within each show. To my mind, a show airing only the new material gives no sense of the history which has led to this point in its evolution. (And, there is such a wealth of fabulous Bluesic available from the last century). Also, I like to offer a variety of musical styles from within the genre whereas probably over 95% of new Bluesic I now receive is electric guitar driven Blues-Rock.
Interview Archive: Over the years, I've met and interviewed many Blues musicians from all over the World. As a Winter project, I've decided to revisit lots of the interviews and re-edit before placing them on Mixcloud with, perhaps, a little of the performer's music. Watch this space.
Blues Festivals:- I hosted the annual Abertillery Rock & Blues Weekend back in May for the third time. Headliners were Wille & The Bandits, one of the best Live acts on the circuit in my view. It's reassuring to see how the audiences are growing year on year and I'm already anticipating the next event. First though, all roads lead to Tenby for the thirteenth annual Blues Festival from November 16 - 18th. From the line-up, it doesn't seem as if thirteen will be anything but fortunate for those attending. For the third time, I'll be hosting the Blues Trail taking place throughout the town and I'm really looking forward to this as well as seeing some old friends performing in the ticketed events. It's been about a decade since I last introduced Texan Lightnin' Willie and his band The Poorboys at a festival and we're definitely overdue for a chat. A name I've heard a lot of in the past couple of years is Reverend Shawn Amos from Memphis and he's bringing his act to the festival as well as travelling with his publicist, Betsie Brown of Blind Raccoon. Betsie and I have been in contact for almost fifteen years now through the music of her artists and we frequently exchange email messages about Bluesic and its performers. I'm looking forward to meeting her face-to-face at last and hope to snag an interview for the Blues Exclusive.
I'm also particularly looking forward to chatting with my old mate, Glaswegian Dave Arcari, who has been wowing them in the States just recently but will be flying back in time for Tenby. A host of great artists will be appearing over the weekend. For full details of the programme and to purchase tickets, visit www.tenbyblues.co.uk
I hope to meet you there too.