Friday, 20 April 2018

Off The Beaten Tracks 20 April 2018

First radio show I've recorded in a while complete with intro music from Kate Rusby's Elfin Knight. Here's the playlist - 

Ninebarrow - The Hour of the Blackbird
Sarah McQuaid - One Sparrow Down
Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar - Warwick Road
Michael Chapman - Waiting For A Train
Kris Drever - If Wishes Were Horses
Salt House - Old Shoes
Geoff Lakeman - Jim Jones
Show of Hands - If I Needed Someone
Cara Dillon - She's Like The Swallow
Chris While and Julie Matthews - So Long Old Friend
Ninebarrow - Gather It In
Peter Knight's Gigspanner - The Blackbird

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Gregson Open Mic recordings

About ten years ago I started volunteering at Diversity FM and at the same time I was going along to the open mic nights at the Gregson. As Diversity was a community radio station, they were keen to link up with the local music scene and when I told them that Wes was recording the performances at the Gregson someone came up with the idea of doing regular broadcasts of the open mic nights. It wouldn't have been possible to do live broadcasts so instead Wes gave the radio station copies of his recordings for us to edit. I don't think we ever got round to doing any hour-long broadcasts but instead I would edit the files and extract songs to include in my folk music show, Off The Beaten Tracks. In Dec 2010 Wes joined Diversity and he and I co-presented the show until the station went off air in March 2012. 

So that is how I came to be in possession of a dozen of Wes' recordings and I have just edited the one from the 2nd of November 2008. I have left in some of the between-song chat and this selection includes a lovely duet between Wes and Jo singing the song Tonight You Belong To Me from the Steve Martin film, The Jerk.

There are plans for a fundraiser\tribute night for Wes at the Yorkshire House at the end of June. In the meantime, have a listen to Joanne, Kish, Rob, Steve, Wes and Jo.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Some words on Wes Martin

I first met Wes Martin when he and Nigel were running the Open Mic night at the Gregson Centre. Wes would play his banjo and as I subsequently discovered, he was equally good on guitar and ukulele among other instruments. Back then he was a member of Nigel and Els’ band, The Low Countries, and contributed to their album, "The Failing of the Strains" which was influenced by the film The Wicker Man. Later on, when he and I co-presented Off The Beaten Tracks on Diversity FM, I played ‘Summerisle’ by The Bailey Sisters and Wes would join in singing the chorus with great gusto.

I can’t remember how it came about that Wes joined me on the radio station but I think it was because I wasn’t happy doing the show on my own and someone suggested that I find a co-presenter. At that time Wes was a full-time house-husband looking after two young sons and I got the impression that family life was, at times, quite stressful. Initially when Wes joined me we were doing live shows and he would often arrive with minutes to spare and then rush off at the end as there was some chore to do or a kid to be collected from school or wherever. But for those hours in the studio on a Friday lunchtime he could relax. To say he messed around would be unfair, as he was knowledgeable about the tracks he brought to the studio, but he certainly lightened the mood and I regained my love of broadcasting thanks to him.

We really were the classic straight man/funny man duo with me driving the desk (sliding faders up and down, playing jingles etc) while Wes brought his unique personality to the show. There was a book lying about in the studio titled something like This Day In History and it became a regular feature of the show with Wes reading bits from the book. He always had to mention who had died on this day in whichever year. He did seem to have something of a preoccupation with death though he never seemed to take it too seriously.

We recorded our final show in March 2012 when the funding ran out for Diversity FM and the YMCA pulled the plug on it. Wes had sometimes sat in with Reza Mills on his show and the three of us did one last live broadcast together on the day Diversity went off air. 

I didn’t see much of Wes after that, apart from one very drunken Xmas night out with Oli joining myself, Wes and Reza and the only other time I saw him was when we saw Mike Harding at the Lancaster Grand Theatre. We went for a drink after the show and Wes had got a real buzz from Mike’s brand of humour. He was a proud Northerner was Wes and I think he had a lot of admiration for Mike, both of them being from the North and having a shared love of folk and roots music.

But now Wes is gone. Inevitably, in these tragic circumstances, all his friends and family will find themselves asking why, and what we could have done to stop Wes from taking his own life. But ultimately it’s a pointless exercise. I, like many others, have been in the very dark places that depression can take you. It doesn’t matter how many people love you or how many friends you have offering you their support - when you are alone and the black cloud envelopes you, death can seem like the only way out and the only solution to your problems.

We will miss you Wes. We have your music, your paintings and I have a few recordings of our radio shows. The final song you selected on Off The Beaten Tracks was 'We’ll Meet Again' by Johnny Cash. I hope we do. So long Wes. It was a real pleasure knowing you.


Listen to our final Diversity FM show on Mixcloud


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Folk gigs in North Lancs and South Cumbria

For full listings, online bookings etc

Image Acoustic* -
Brewery Arts Centre -
Garstang Unplugged -
The Hothouse -
The Platform -

Luke Daniels
Date: Saturday 28 April
Venue: The Hothouse, Morecambe
Tickets: £8 adv / £10 on the door

Chris While & Julie Matthews*
Date: Thursday 3 May
Venue: Chaplaincy Centre, Lancaster University
Tickets: £15

Sam Amidon
Date: Saturday 5 May
Venue: The Hothouse, Morecambe
Tickets: £12 adv / £14 on the door

Date: Sunday 6 May
Venue: Arnside Educational Institute

Show of Hands with special guest Geoff Lakeman
Date: Friday 11 May
Venue: The Platform, Morecambe
Tickets: £22

Rory McLeod
Date: Saturday 12 May
Venue: Halton Mill, Halton, nr Lancaster

Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith
Date: Thursday 17 May
Venue: Garstang Unplugged
Tickets: £10

Sarah McQuaid
Date: Thursday 24 May
Venue: Victoria Hall, Settle
Tickets: £10

Lucy Ward*
Date: Saturday 30th June
Venue: Ellel Village Hall, Galgate
Tickets £12

For folk and Americana shows and mixes -