Whew 

Life in the fast lane continues. Blowzabella have had a fantastic time so far this year and we are winding down a little now. Paul James has done an amazing job sorting gigs for the band and doing behind the scenes admin that amounts to mountain loads. We have just done a six date Welsh and English tour and this weekend, 5th Oct we are off to Falkiri Festival in Le Mans France. After that we have Hamburg next weekend. Loads of travelling is not always good for general fitness or the waist line so now that things are claiming down slightly I am determined to get my exercise regime back on track. I don't beat myself up about it but view every day as a new day and have a go. Mostly for me that's swimming but fitting that in can prove difficult.

So the focus shifts - whilst still working through the Autumn with Blowzabella, Old Swan Band, Moiria and Narthan some focus has to be on next year in terms of getting concerts for artists on www.haremusic.agency which is basically me but also developing material for a new show and new CD with Moirai. We're not ready to announce that yet as we are all involved in background reading before the creative part happens. I love getting my teeth into that kind of thing.

I'm doing pretty well keeping up on my weekly blog www.jofreya.blog you can sign up to be notified of future posts. What's nice about it is often the gigs etc create a memory and that forms the blog. Latest one is about my number one fan who gave me money years ago...have a look.

Blowzabella at Halsway 

I had a fabulous time at our festival. Brain child of Paul James who also master minded the smooth running of the event. From a musical point of view I enjoyed every minute of it. In the concert it was lovely to be in amongst our music and be able to listen too. It may or may not surprise you to know that you don't always hear everything especially when you're in the thick of a dance for instance. The Friday night I remember thinking several times ...oh that's really nice. There were some lovely intimate subtle moments as well as that well known Blowzabella 'Wall of Sound'. The Saturday we had an amazing dance workshop. Dave Shepherd is such an aficianado and really wants to share some of the lesser known but beautiful English dances with anyone that might be interested. I am so lucky to get access to that knowledge first hand and regularly. In this setting I am pretty much his humble assistant. It was great fun and I particularly enjoyed working out the Triple Minor...don't ask..you needed to have been there. We had another dance workshop later which was a crash course for beginners in the basics for joining in a Europeon style 'bal'. I take the lead on that as it's like falling off a log I have been doing it so long. All that dancing despite a knee injury that has left me with an inflamed ligament around the knee joint. I survived by not joining in any of the other dancing over the weekend. A lot of that was hard especially as we had wonderful guest Toon and Pascale of Naragonia. They make a beautiful sound as a duo and I would have loved to have danced. I was told by my physic today that I was right not too.

 

Gigs updated 

I have just updated the gig list right through to November 2019. There are some others in my diary that I am not posting yet as I am waiting for confirmation of details. If any of them don't have ticket buying details or a web link where you can find those details it may be because I don't have them yet but do contact me via this site as I will make sure you can access the information you need.

Hopeless at times 

Whilst I am incredible good organisationally sometimes updating everything that needs updating seems to be the last thing you have time for and yet I know full well that if you don't do it it doesn't work.

This year has been full on and we're only in April. Blowzabella have a new Cd and book out to celebrate 40 years. We have loads of gigs here and abroad spread out over the year and we are really enjoying the response to the new material. In the middle of all that I was administrating my 'Young Composers Project' this is through an organisation I run called Komposit. We had four young composers, all completely different in terms of musical style, and they worked with a fixed ensemble of professional musician also from different genres of music. The aim was to create a surprise for all, aid communication, see things move in unexpected directions and more. I will tell you more about this as we have to finish mixing and mastering their pieces. Once done we want to share the project with the world and begin the work towards a new workshop series. I don't get to play at all in this but I love seeing the impact such unusual ways of working have on people...that's both the young composers and the musicians in the ensemble. They were facilitated by myself and the wonderful Annie Whitehead.

Narthen - (Barry Coope, Lester Simpson, Fi Fraser and yours truly - just in case you're not used to the name yet) are no longer just for Christmas now Coope Boyes ands Simpson have ceased trading we, Narthen, are working on a new Cd. Official release September with some advance copies available from August.Wonderful mixed bag of material including songs from Lester Simpson and myself, Rory McLeod, Ray Hearn, John Tams and more.

Moirai are building up to Upton festival with several performances there....then a mini tour in June. We are already looking ahead to album three...never too early to start planning. Less festivals this year but that is not surprising as we did so many last year and I am very busy with other bands.

New year approaching. 

With the new year fast approaching I hope your positives have been as lovely as mine. Since being ill 3 years ago it has taken until this Autumn for my work to build to the level it was before. I had an incredibly busy time with two community projects plus my Moirai recordings, gigs and then the lovely Christmas shows. 
The new year kicks off with a new tradition. We can call it that as it is now the third year running. Blowzabella meet in Somerset to rehearse new material and do a lovely gig in the village hall. There are still tickets available so come if you can Saturday 7th Jan. Most of us don't have enough dancing in our lives so start the new year with a bang. 

I'm having a lovely little break in Venice and next week will be finished by a Blowzabella rehearsal weekend and gig. So all in all good times. The gig is in Baltonsborough Somerset. Come if you can. http://www.wegottickets.com/event/375712 
Lovely to see you there.

How did it get to September 

I cannot believe we are here already. It was lovely to do less this time over the summer as five weeks solid last year was exhausting but in many ways the busy times just move elsewhere so now I have an extremely busy Autumn. You can see what's in the gig calendar but what you can't see is what happens in-between. Obviously there's rehearsing, practicing and creating but additionally there are projects too. I worked last year on a project called 'Illuminate' which is a build up to the Pilgrim Fathers massive anniversary in 2020. Last year I wrote a song through workshops in schools and then we rehearsed it up and performed it at an event in Boston Lincolnshire. This year the track is being recorded professionally which means myself, and Neil and Jude from Chumbawamba are creating a backing track which will then have the voices of some of the schools and adults involved added to it. 500 will be run off on CD to keep a permanent record of work and to distribute to other similar Pilgrim fathers projects throughout the country. In addition to moving that project forward and being involved in it's performance date in November I have been asked to create a new song through my participative workshops with a community in North Kesteven. What will happen is I will be sent the history of the area that we are trying to commemorate and celebrate in the song, I will highlight the main themes in the history for use in workshops in schools and with adults. From those initial writing workshops I will massage all the work into one piece and create a tune for it. This is for a celebration in December. So if you marry up juggling all the different workshops and performances, the concerts with my other projects and the fact that Moirai are making a new CD in November you'll realise that things are actually a lot busier than the gig calendar makes it appear. I try not to look to far ahead as it scares me sometimes. 
A couple of tunes that have been very well received have come out of work so far this year. Here's one of them 'Muna and Mimi'. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwXFdRcsDlI

Learning 

I have always enjoyed learning and here I am finding my way round my new web site that the wonderful Jude Abbott has re-done for me. Hope you like it. I do.
yesterday I learnt a couple of chords on the ukulele, not because I'm planning on taking one up as an additional instrument, but because I had some youngsters on a summer school who wanted to play, had had some lessons at school, but couldn't remember the chords. Summer schools like that also involve tuning guitars, cello's etc and it often surprises me that I know how to do that and can do it with relative confidence. I like to be challenged.
Last year over August and beyond I worked for five weeks non stop. This year I have readdressed the balance some what by taking a weeks holiday in July and two weeks holiday in August. Then it's back into work. Folk East with Blowzabella, Shrewsbury with Moltonambra and Halsway Folk Summer School. That then takes us into the beginning of Septemeber and there's a lot of prep to do for forthcoming Cd's. More about that later.

New Year 

Happy New year one and all. I always feel excited about a new year but then I'm excited about most things. 

Musically things start off with a Blowzabella rehearsal weekend and a small gig in the village of Baltonsborough. We are working towards our next Cd as it takes time to get these things together especially when you don't all live i the samw country. It's always a great thing to do and I am looking forward to it. We have several gigs throughout the year so do look at the Blowzabella web site. We are touring in March Belgium, Germanya nd Austria as well as various UK dates and festivals so we look forward to seeing you there. 

January also sees The Old Swan Band weekend at Halsway. Loads of cracking tunes, sessions and dancing and as of today practically sold out so that's always great. See some of you there I hope. 

This is followed hot on the heels with a Moirai reheasal We are also woeking towards out next album and also to devloping a dance repertoire as we have been asked to play for some euro ceilidhs whihc we are also really looking forward to. 

A very very special mention should be that Token Women - yes we still exist - are playing for stroud ceilidhs on 5th March. It's not in the Subscription rooms as they decided to take another booking but look up Stroud Ceilidhs and they should tell you where it is. Arare outing and we still have such a wonderful effect on audiences as there really isn't a sound quite like it...but I guess that goes for everything I play in. 

The Michael Morpurgo show "Where my Wellies Went' has performnaces in March and June and others dotted about the year...and yes dare I say, next years Christmas shows are booking now Sorry to say the C word. 

Keep an eye on the gig page for details (I know there hasn't been much on it for a while I am updating it a wee bit this morning and also don't forget to sent a message if you want to join my emailing list for a news letter. More soon. Happy NewYear. Jo.

Moirai and More 

Delighted to say that this month has a week tour with Moirai. Whilst we will feature material from our CD 'Sideways' We're starting to look at material for CD number two and to develop our repertoire for Euro Celidhs just to add another string to our bow. We made a lot of new friends over the last year so it will be great to meet you again and to make some new friends too. Check the gig page for dates and I hope there's one near you. March starts with a Token Women gig for Stroud Celidhs. This is a rare event in that the band don't get to play together much these days but when we do we have a remarkable effect on the audience. Even amongst the band you get those moments of wow, I enjoyed that and it seems to communicate to the dancers. So last time we played we got cheers after all most every number and that doesn't happen at Celidhs that often. So as you can probably tell I am really looking forward to that. Then further in to March it's Blowzabella time. Two days of workshops that bookend our European tour. The workshops will include some instrument ones, dance workshops and orchestra type workshops too. All great fun and culminating in a bal in the evening. The final one is in Berlin and I have to go straight to a hotel at the airport for a tiny bit of sleep before getting on a 6.30 am flight back to the uk (via Brussels). Yep I have a 2pm gig on that Sunday in The Lowry, Manchester. WHO'S IDEA WAS THAT? It just happened, these things do. It's our lates show with Michael Morpurgo called 'where my Wellies Went' with Coope Boyes and Simpson, myself, Fi Fraser and Georgina Boyes singing. We are colectively known as 'Voices at the Door'. So if you ever see that name anywhere that's what it means.