I am currently building bits of spaceships at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. It is my life's ambition to go into space and to travel the world with my guitar.
Back - 31/1/2012
Well, the new year is here, and I'm feeling much better. In fact, I've been very busy, getting two publications out, actually getting to do some proper space exploration, looking at data from the European Space Agency's Venus Express. I've also been volunteering with my Ceilidh Band "Frog Hammer" (click the link and you can see a video of us playing the Sunday Night contra at Glenn Echo Park in Maryland).
I'm going to be playing the FSGW MiniFest this weekend with my Accordian wielding mate Andrew. We've been enjoying playing together so much, that we've decided to throw a bit of a musical bash. It's a benefit show in support of the Washington Revels, and will be hosted at their offices. It's going to be awesome. Trust me.
March 9th, 2012
Washington Revels 531 Dale Drive, Silver Spring, MD Telephone: (301) 587-3835 8:00pm - 9:30pm $15 Admission - ALL PROCEEDS TO THE REVELS! Andrew Marcus and Glyn Collinson
Oh, and finally, here's a tune that I've got in my head right now. It has nothing to do with any of the rest of this, it's a tune performed by Waterfront, and by our own Pip Jopling:
I've had some crappy medical news and thus have had to cancel my two upcoming shows (Takoma Street Festival and Capitol City Cheesecake). Sorry to anyone who was hoping to come. We'll try and make it up to you in the future!
Takoma Park Folk Festival: Glyn in ASL - 13/9/2011
I had a very fun time at the Takoma Park Folk Festival, despite the stifling heat. As well as a short set, I played in the open contra band. The theme of the festival was "peace and reconciliation", it being 9/11. I sort of failed to get that memo, and tried to play as cheery a set as I could. My show was somewhat worthy of note, because it was the first that I've ever done with an American Sign Language interpreter! They requested lyrics, which I unfortunately didn't have. However, they powered forth, and the result was really pretty. Check it out for yourself!
Shrewsbury. Made of Win. Dipped in "Awesome". - 9/9/2011
Well, I'm back in the States now, and just can't get my head out of "musician mode". Getting to play my favourite folk festival was a bit like what I suspect it's like to be an Astronaut who has returned from space. There's a very long build up with anticipation wherein you practice and mentally go through absolutely everything that might go wrong. When the big event arrives, you're just so busy getting through stuff, making sure you do a good job, and thinking of the next task, that you don't really have any time to stop and reflect on where you are and what you're doing. It's only once it's all over that you're like "woah! That was crazy!"
Here's the story of the week. It's a bit of an essay, but it has movies, pictures, and songs!
1.) Rehearsals and House Concert
We spent three days rehearsing, one day devoted almost entirely to workshops, and the other two with Ben and Pip. I actually suceeded in loosing my voice on the Wednesday and had to "speak" by typing into my laptop and getting it to synthasize my voice!
Here's a recording of a new song "The Stars in the Sky", which actually comes from our rehearsals back in March.
We then went on to play our first show of the tour, a house concert in Guildford. It went really, really well, with a packed house, lots of stamping, and a full-on encore. I was not hampered by my sore thoat, and continued to use the computer. This actually developed into something of an in-joke, with intros and performances by my new alterego - "Jeff The Robot".
Our first gig in hand, we packed up and headed off up to Shropshire, where a family had offered up their entire house for us. I mean, literally. They like camped in the garden and we took their beds! THAT's hospitality! r
2.) Shrewsbury Day 1- Friday August 26th
We rocked up in the morning and registered. I got my "Artist's" Wristband, which I totally wore for like a week after the whole thing was done. Little had I arrived and donned my artist's hat when a man strode towards me. "Shropshire Star", he said, "you look like an artist. Can I get your photo? Well, I gathered as much of the band as possible (especially Ben in his Waterfront T-Shirt) and we posed. He was done in seconds. Later I discovered that my flies had been undone. Rats.
Four hours later... behold...
We rehearsed a bit out in the grounds, and later found that we'd been filmed for BBC Midlands and had been on the news for like 10 seconds. I never saw it (alas, alas), but I just hope we were playing in tune. It was a *rehearsal* after all! The big gig of the day was a spot in the Bird in Hand pub. Initially we wondered if we'd be playing to anyone at all, but soon the place packed out and the show went really well.
3.) Shrewsbury Day 2 - Saturday August 27th
First order of the day was a Songwriting and Arranging workshop. We got everyone to arrange a traditional song (recorded by my Great, Great, Great Grandfather Joseph Taylor in 1908) called "The Gypsy Girl". We had maybe 50 people there, and got them into small groups to arrange it. At the beginning I foolishly said "well, OBVIOUSLY it's a bit ambitious for you to get your INSTRUMENTS out and arrange it!"... which is exactly what they did. And really well. Here's one of them...
Next up, a gig on the outside Village Stage where we battled rain, wind, failing power generators, flaky sound boards, and the booming bass coming from Jim Moray the next field over. Unsuprisingly with the heavens opening and the sound cracking, we were somewhat sparsely attended at the beginning of the show...
(It filled up later!) After this, we did what was possibly our favourite gig of the whole tour. We played the "Picnic Table" stage. Roots records had asked us to play outside their tent to try and drum up sales, so after 5pm when the main tent emptied we stood on the table and rocked out. We had a huge crowd (maybe 70 at its peak), and we sold many CD's. So many, in fact, that we bloody well ran out!
And then when all was done, a final show in the Bird in Hand pub again. We were, as Pip said, "well up for it", and rocked hard. Lots of fun!
4.) Shrewsbury Day 3 - Sunday August 28th
The day kicked off with a DADGAD Guitar Workshop. We must have had a good 70 people there. We got lots of good comments afterwards, which is good, since with such a large group the toughest thing was to make sure everyone got something out of it. The hardest part was politely telling people to "can the twang" when we were trying to talk. Still, it seemed to go well.
We had to go straight from there to our BIG marquee gig. The toughest part for me was not having had any lunch. We also had to balance our monitors on the fly, which was pretty tricky. Still, this was sort of what I came for. 450 people. One big tent. One epic sound system. When the moment came, I was so focused on getting it done, that I really didn't get a chance to reflect on where I was and what I was about to do. The time went so quickly!
After this we were pretty much free to do as we wanted for the day. We hung out a lot in the Artist's tent. It was a place with big comfy cushions, tea, curry after 6pm, and newspapers that we could chill out in. We were so "GO GO GO!" that this was a real godsend.
5.) Shrewsbury Day 4 - Monday August 29th
Last day! It was all hands on deck for the "Folk Song Workshop", or as we called it "EMBRACE THE CHAOS!" A room full of musicians of all levels and types. Our goal - play "Your Father's Son" as a ~50 piece band! We split them up into percussion, guitarists, singers, and... well.. "other". We had 45 mins to work on our parts separately, and then we put it all together. Everyone totally rose to the challenge, and below is a video of the result....
Then we had just one final show on the Village stage to play. I think this was when we were the most relaxed, and had a great show. So. Yeah. Wow. I played Shrewsbury. I played it in rain, I played it in sun. I played on a picnic table. I played in a 500 seat Marquee. We probably played to close to a thousand people, all told.
Here's just a few of the lovely things people wrote about us on their feedback forms.
"Hadn't encountered you before, but will definitely look out for you from now on !"
"Very approachable and talented"
"Excellent tutors - very patient and good natured and enthusiastic"
"The best DADGAD workshop I've attended "
"Excellent, fun, informative and maybe even life-changing!"
"Worth missing your lunch for"
"About 1000 times better than other DADGAD workshops!!"
"Very friendly, clearly explained, made me feel welcome, brilliant musicians
"Go and see Waterfront !"
"Very enthusiastic, positive, talented, friendly and knowledgeable musicians. Very supportive and engaging personalities."
And my two personal favourites
"Mad as badgers"
"Doubtful taste in headwear"
Shrewsbury Folk Festival + Handouts! - 19/8/2011
There's been a slight change to our program, which you can see on our gigs page. I've also put links in to all of our handouts. So, if you're reading this having met us at Shrewsbury, Hello again! Please follow us on facebook :)
We are about to head back to Blighty for our August "mini tour". We're going to be playing at Shrewsbury Folk Festival (something of an everest for us), and also playing a little warm-up house concert in Guildford.
August 24th, 2011
Guildford House Concert
77 Raymond Crescent, Guildford
£5 suggested donation Waterfront: Glyn Collinson, Ben Clayton, Rowena Gee, & Pip Jopling
10.30-12.00 - Workshop - GKN Pavillion - Alternative Guitar Tunings
12.55-13.40 - Performance - Sabrina Marquee
10.14-11.30 - Workshop - GKN Pavillion - Folk Song Workshop
14.15-14.55 - Performance - Village Stage
Washington Folk Festival 2011! - 13/6/2011
It's been an utterly crazy couple of weeks, and I'm currently mid-tour. I thought I should write something now because I am going on travel soon after! The biggest thing so far was our exciting gig at the Washington Folk Festival! We totally rocked it out! The marquee was packed, the crowd were clapping and singing along, and our energy levels were about as high as they ever get! We were really happy to perform as a 3-piece, myself, Rowena Gee, and my friend Andrew Marcus who ably joined us on Piano Accordian. We hung out for the rest of the festival, and I got to play with my Ceilidh Band "Frog Hammer".
Firstly, I want to thank all of you who came to my gig at 333 last friday. It was a great little warmup for when Ro and I return to play a full night. I know it's very bad form to admit this stuff, but I actually totally forgot that I was going to play the gig until about an hour and a half before hand. Fortunately, that was just long enough to grab my instruments and hoof it up to Annapolis!
At anyrate, I've basically been travelling for most of the month, and as such haven't had any time to do much music stuff. However, I'm finally able to tell you all about our new fiddle player Pip Jopling who we've picked up last year at Shrewsbury Folk Festival. He's coming with us this year to play Shrewsbury. It's all very exciting!
As a little taster, here's a cut from our practice session - it's the tunes with Pip.
The gigs keep on coming! The "Upcoming Gig" section of the gigs page has exploded. The big news is that I've been asked to play the Washington Folk Festival. This is obviously a huge deal and I'd better get practicing!
I've been crazy busy doing travel all over the place, and have done two weekend rehearsals with Waterfront, as well as a gig at the Twickenham Folk Club. I hope to get some recordings up here at some point.
New Year & Gigs - 3/2/2011
Yeah, so I haven't updated for a while! But I'm back, and have some news, mostly concerning upcoming gigs! Firstly, Takoma Park Folk Festival is starting a series of mini-concerts at a local cheesecake shop, and I've been invited to play. I'm definitely hoping to expand my cheesecake loving clientelle.
February 10th, 2011
Takoma Park Folk Festival Mini-gig
Capitol City Cheesecake, 7071 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD
Finally, the big news, we're playing Shrewsbury! After 5 years, this is kinda awesome...
I played at the Folk Society of Greater Washington's "Fall Getaway", and there I met a Singer Songwriter from Texas called Jed Marum. The two of us rather hit it off, and after one brief lunchtime jam, he invited me to be "the band" in his slot at the festival, and at a house concert. Here's a recording of one of his songs, "The White Cockade", which I was particularly jazzed up about!
Here are the recordings that we made on my portable recorder at Ben's Wedding. The audio is pretty distorted in places because we had the levels set to pick up quiet voices such as, you know, vows and stuff. Still, it's currently the only recording extant of Ro and I playing our current big favourite "Queen of Waters" by Nancy Kerr & James Fagan.
"Wedstock" - 20/09/10
I just returned from the UK (again) where Ro and I played at a very exclusive autumn festival, entitled "Wedstock". And by "exclusive festival", I mean wedding. It was infact the wedding of our very own Ben Clayton to his girlfriend Kimberly. There are bound to be plenty of photos, etc appearing on facebook soon!
In "Waterfront world domination" news, a video of us has appeared on the shrewsbury festival website! Here's hoping that this will help our application for a gig somewhat!
We clearly made something of a mark at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival last weekend. We've been exchanging a lot of correspondance with our new friends in OK Brandy. Ro took rather a shine to their guitarists DADGAD skills, and has apparently been working hard on practicing everything she learned in their workshop. Ben was so smitten with the effects used by Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, that he emailed James to ask some technical questions. To his delight, James Fagan obliged! Yay for approachable folk musicians.
Ro also spotted the following vaguely familiar looking bunch of itinerant musicians on the Virtual Shropshire website.
There were a whole bunch of stringent warnings on their website about not using their images without permission, so I emailed them. They were terribly nice...
"Hello Glyn & everyone!
Ha, thinking of renaming the festival film 'Waterfront' as you seem to appear on all of our cameras!!
Yes of course very happy for you to use the photo:-)
Paul & Sabine"
Shrewsbury Folk Festival - 02/09/10
We've all just returned from what was an epic weekend at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Sure, it involved a pair of 7 hour flights, but it was glorious to be back in Britain again! It was Myself, Ro, Ben, and our friend Toria.
As I was boarding the aircraft, a guy behind me asked "is that a bouzouki?". I stopped in my tracks, since everyone always assumes that it's a banjo. We strike up a conversation, and it turns out that not only is he going to Shrewsbury, but he's one of the headline acts. Richard Shindell was his name. So, it was a most pleasant flight, getting to find out about life as a professional singer songwriter.
We stayed in a B&B in Shrewsbury, which turned out to be a good move considering how cold things got at night. Some of the highlights included Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, whose song "Queen of Waters" basically became the anthem for the festival. Another hit was Drever McCusker, & Woomble, and a rare solo appearance by Jon Boden. We entered the Open Mic competition, but didn't get anywhere. Ho Hum. Some of the best action of the festival was a session in the bar where we became the house band for both Kimber's Men and the Young Uns. Oh, and we made friends with a fabulous band called OK Brandy who led a jolly good guitar workshop.
We did a whole bunch of recording at the weekend, and I'm putting together a promotional demo CD, thing soon. I think we'd really like to try and apply to get a chance to play ourselves!!!!
Here are some photos that were taken by various members of Waterfront...
"Shifting Sands" Video - 10/08/10
I went to a somewhat different open mic event out in Virginia. It was held in a pub (of the Fox News variety) with a sort of open rock & blues band. It was sort of half Karaoke, whereby the house band had their repertoire on photocopied sheets, and you got to pick one of them, or have them accompany you if you'd like. I chose both, with most curious results. A lot of fun was had, although I'm not quite convinced that "Shifting Sands" really needs electrification.
Speaking of which, Rowena's uploaded the following video of us playing said song.
I've uploaded "I Once Loved a Lass". This is a cheery (but I think very pretty) traditional folk British folk song which I learned from the Oysterband. It's known throughout England and Scotland, and dates back to the 17th Century. This is a live version recorded in my friend Jim's Living room with Ro and Myself back on Waterfront's tour in June.
We're all kind of excited about Shrewsbury Folk Festival. I've been wanting to drag all of my folky friends to a Festival for a while. Now that I've moved to the USA, this will involve airplane rides for some of us. But it's now only a few weeks until we all get to play together again. Awesomesauce.
Session-tastic "The Easy Club" & "Myra's Jig" - 26/07/10
I've had an exciting few weeks or so getting settled back into the whole "Scientist" thing, but I still had time to play music with one of my new Washington DC friends, Catherine Chapman, a fiddle player and all-round folkie. The two tunes above are from our session, one called "The Easy Club", and the other "Myra's Jig".
From the sound of it, there's been lots of excitement and folk-tasticness back home. Rowena's uploaded this video of Jennifer and I playing The Prickly Bush... Be sure to watch in HD!
And she went to see everybody's favourite over-talented multi-instrumentalist singer-singwriter-fiddler - Seth Lakeman. Here's what she had to say about him at Guildfest...
"He was amazing, as always. Sign of a good musician - he held the stage even when it was just him doing a solo on fiddle ! He did a lot of new stuff, off his new album (due out today in fact), which was good but meant I didn't recognise a lot of what he played. I especially liked a song called the mariners (or something like that) from his new album [Hearts and Minds] tho. He also played a few off Poor Man's Heaven, but tended to go for the more upbeat stuff, and so did neither Solomon Browne or King and Country :( Oh, and Benji Kirkpatrick was there too - twiddling around on the zuke or harmonica - he's one busy man: playing with Seth, solo stuff, Faustus AND Bellowhead!
I've uploaded a recording of Jennifer Cutting and I playing our version of John Spiers and John Boden's arrangement of the traditional song "Prickly Bush" live at a house concert in Takoma Park. It's a number that we've played at the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival. To be honest with you, the main reaction that we've gotten from Americans can best be described as "bewilderment".
"Gee, huh? A what-kinda bush?"
At any rate, I really have to hand it to Jennifer, there's very few accordian players I know who could play such a complex part, which is great, because she really carries this song in both arms.
June was awesome - 08/07/10
There's been a noticable *cough* gap since I last updated, mostly because I've been so busy the last month. It started off with our East Coast Tour, which was notable because for the first time we didn't have to use "fingerquotes" when describing a tour as such. One evening during, we were compelled by our hosts to record a cover of the epic "Ladybug's Picnic" from "Sesame Street". In an even worse lapse in judgement, we decided to post the video of it on You Tube so that it can be "enjoyed" for all eternity (see below)
I also played a wonderful gig opening for Minnesota Singer Songwriter Peter Mayer. His excellent audience was roughly 200 strong, but also included my boss, my new girlfriend, and my Mummy, who had flown over to do a bit of travelling with me for the end of the month. If there was ever a need to play well, it was then.
If you look through the records of the British Admiralty, you'll find a reference to a Captain Richard Collinson, who in the year of our lord 1850 set sail to search for the Northwest Passage. Now, the expedition was successful, although it wasn't Captain Collinson who made the discovery. Now I don't know if I'm related to this chap or not (probably the latter) , but I sort of hope so for two reasons
1.) His ship was none other than the H.M.S. Enterprise
2.) We'd have the same job, separated by 150 years, that of exploration... sort of.
At any rate, here's a song all about this from our house concert, where the American audience is in fine voice...
We had an utterly epic time playing the Washington Folk Festival. It was a balmy day, as in boiling 90+ temperatures and high humidity. The thing that made Washington Folk Festival so epic was that it is an entirly Voluntier run organisation. Yet, everything was so proffesional, from the artists, to the sound engineers, to the stage management, to the catering. We played three songs, sharing a stage with some other stunning local musicans. Rowena flew over from Britain so she could join us, and we were joined by Donna Smith on fiddle. We played three rocking tunes, a new song called "Stars in the Sky" and our old favourite, Shifting Sands. It was definitely the highlight of our mini "tour". See the photos below for more.
Click for pictures from the day...
Sketches for "Just as the Tide"- 11/06/10
I just got back from the airport dropping Ro on an airplane back to Britain. Here's the final results from our tour:
Number of gigs: 7
Number of strings broken: 10
I'll be uploading a whole bunch of stuff in the future, but for now, here's a couple of amusing photos from the week. The first is of myself onstage with the Ocean Orchestra at the Washington Folk Festival, the second is of Waterfront rehearsing in Takoma Park.
Two quick pictures from the tour...
We also did a whole bunch of jam sessions whilst Ro was over. Something that I quite liked was her version of the traditional "Just as the Tide". Bear in mind, this is the first time we'd ever played this, so it's hardly a polished performance! This is really just an early sketch of what we hope someday to be a tighter perfromance. For a start, I'll not sing so terribly at the end!
So, Ro here today with an update for you all (Glyn has let me loose on his website...mwahaha)...the past few days have been busy ones !! (One certainly can't complain of ever being bored when one is part of a transatlantic folk band !) I touched down into DC on Tuesday night and was met by a very excited Glyn at the airport. Wednesday was a day of settling into new surroundings and playing LOTS of music :) I joked that the day could be summed up by: "number of wild terrapins seen - 2, number of bouzouki strings broken - 2, number of hours playing music - too many to count" :)
Glyn and I bashed through some stuff during the day and we were then joined by Donna, our fiddle player, in the evening in order to join all these various parts of Waterfront together. It was awesome to finally get to all play together, and we're all very much looking forward to more music over the next few days. So, all in all, sore fingers aside, it was an amazingly fun and productive day ! Tonight we add a couple more musicians into the mix and then roll on the first gig on Friday (check out the gigs page for a full list of our activities over the next week).
WMUC Radio Interview & "Hanes Rhys a Meinir" - 25/05/10
Here's a snipped from my spot on my friend Leila's WMUC radio show "This, Which Makes me Sing". It's a new song based on a very, very old Welsh Folk Tale.
The shows are then archived for an additional month or two also, and
they can be downloaded or streamed directly from here
Leila also took a few photos whilst I was at it, so you can see exactly how squashed things were in there! Right, that's it from me for today, I'm off to San Francisco for my Birthday. Next week will be a busy one with the start of our tour!
"Dear Washington Folk Festival Participant" - 14/5/2010
I just got this in the post today. Thought I'd pass it along to all of you...
"We are delighted that you will be participating in the 30th Washington Folk Festival and are looking foward to your performance in this celebration of the Washington area's diverse musical cultures. The festival will be held on June 5-6, 2010 at Glen Echo Park in Bethesda, MD, from noon until 7pm each day.
YOUR PERFORMANCE: 5pm - Sunday June 6th 2010, Yurt Villiage Stage
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Take the Metro Red Line to the Friendship Heights Station, which is located one block from the Feico parking lot at 5260 Western Ave., Chevy Chase, MD. A free shuttle will run frequently between the Geico lot and the Park entrance.
We hope you will plan to come early, stay late, and enjoy the Festival. We are celebrating 30 years of bringing Washinton its own music! Thanks again for joining us. See you at the Festival!
The 30th Washington Folk Festival Program Committee"
Thoughts on the Indian Neck Folk Festival - 10/5/2010
I just returned from an epic weekend at the Indian Neck Folk Festival in Conneticut. The term "Festival" turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, since it is invitation only (due to very limited numbers), everyone pays, and everyone plays. In any other circle, it'd be called a Conference. The weekend is a big session from start to finish. I dropped my bags in my room, and headed straight out and into my first jam session. I was up playing until it was light on both Friday and Saturday nights with British Ex-Pat John Roberts with whom I also was bunking.
Saturday night was the evening of the big concert, with everyone getting to play exactly *one* song. I set myself a challenge that I would write a song in the 30 minutes that I had before my slot. As you can imagine, it was a bit of a push to get it finished, but god-willing I had it ready. In the end I chickened out and played Shifting Sands instead, mainly because I didn't have time to write out all the new words! The rest of the evening was spent with about ten to twenty others boisterously singing Sacred Harp shape-note songs.
If you were there and have any photos and/or recordings from the weekend, please do drop me a line!
Past Gigs - 03/5/2010
Thanks to everyone who came to the gorgeous town of Washington, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains to see our May Day show. The show was a somewhat eclectic mix of Jennifer Cutting's Ocean and the Washington Revels. I got to lead three songs, including the Whitstable May Day song which I sang every year as a youth. The theatre was glorious, as was the audience. I hadn't seen the Revels before, but their soaring choral harmonies really sealed the evening. As I drove home, all I could say over and over was "that was fun!".
I've stolen some rehersal photos from 'reveller' Helen Fields.