Oktoberfaust and more…

This missal comes to you from a service station on the M6, a tanning booth in St Neots, the picturesque and picturesquely-named village of Cockayne Hatley, a student-packed coffee house in the other university town, and a portacabin truck stop on the A1. All have proved oases of respite and even inspiration during fleeting breaks in the Oktoberfaust tour, Faustus’ annual autumn stint, flavoured by a celebration of all things beer and sausage. We’ve had some lovely gigs so far, including The Railway in Winchester  – a home crowd, and great to see some old faces from the Loft Singers. And behind the scenes, we’ve been plotting. Suffice to say that it’s time for new material, and next year is election year ….

Oktoberfaust has come straight on the back of the Made in the Great War tour (three days in between them), one of the most profound, moving and worthwhile projects I’ve been involved with. After a universally enthusiastic reception we’ve decided to reprise the show next year, starting with a couple of performances at Celtic Connections in January.

During a couple of breaks in MITGW Belshazzar’s Feast played at Sutton House, Hackney for a new programming collaboration between the English Folk Dance and SongSociety, and the National Trust; and Bellowhead performed in front of 40,000 or so people in Hyde Park for BBC Radio 2, as well as playing a little session for Jo Whiley and Tony Blackburn. This week Bellowhead will be live onMarkRadcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, with a selection from the new album and a live rendition of the Folk Show jingle, followed by a session in the local pub to herald the launch of the new Bellowhead beer from Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes. All this leads up to our customary mammoth November tour, which will be followed by Belshazzar’s Feast’s customary mammoth December tour.

Whilst not task-avoiding by writing blogs and visiting tanning booths, I’ll soon be starting on the next Last Post WW1 Songbook for music outreach charity Superact. Book 1, focusing on songs and tunes from before the War and 1914, has been a great success, and along with my star turn on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme has helped to recruit many and various organisations to the project, which seeks to commemorate the War through performances of the Last Post and to stimulate interest in the music and history of the period. Book 2 will include songs from 1915, and the Home Front.

For now, bacon sarnie over, and back onto the rain-and windswept A1 for a charming drive to Otley Courthouse (now, thankfully, a concert venue).