I’m all a-quiver. This morning I featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. That’s Today, on which I was raised and nurtured – my mum will be so proud. Surely this means I am now officially respectable? And what a pleasure to be given a guided tour of the Today studios, although by the time I got to them John Humphries, James Naughtie et al were no doubt tucked up firmly in bed. I was there to talk about the Last Post Songbook, a collection of music popular during 1914, which I collated to accompany the community project of the same name (www.thelastpostproject.org.uk); and I sang and played whistle and oboe, the latter in a rendition of the Last Post to be repeated this Saturday at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
I’ve been nestling in Auntie’s bosom a fair amount over the last few weeks, as it happens. After Belshazzar’s visit to Radio 3’s In Tune I went back to perform excerpts from Made in the Great War; the ensemble comprising Sam Sweeney, Hugh Lupton, Rob Harbron and me also visited Mark Radcliffe’sRadio 2 Folk Show in Salford. Even further north, Bellowhead played outside BBC Scotland for the finalRadio3 World On 3 series of Commonwealth Games concerts. Yet to be aired is an interview in my front garden by BBC South Today focusing on Gosport Nancy from Bellowhead’s new album Revival (Island) which hit number 12 in the charts. I was delighted to be interviewed about the album by the lovely Genevieve Tudor on her BBC Radio Shropshire Sunday Folk. And finally, the Andover Museum Loft Singers were played on Stuart Maconie’s Radio 6 show Freak Zone, performing my arrangement of my great great great etc. Aunt Edith’s song The Bedmaking. I’m definitely getting value from my licence fee.
And in the interest of balance, I ought to let you know that Bellowhead have just appeared on the Paul O’Grady Show for Channel 4, and Weekend with Aled Jones on ITV.
Outside the media glare, the summer rolls on. It was ushered in by Faustus’ Midsummer Madness at Cecil Sharp House, with wonderful dance spots from Alex Merry and Bampton Morris, and a post-gig ceilidh with caller Nick Walden. June also saw the culmination of Back To The Quarry, a project in which John Spiers, Cat Kelly and I took the traditional dances and tunes of Headington to primary schools in the Oxfordshire village. In July The Andover Museum Loft Singers gave two performance in one day, at Romsey Beggar’s Fair and the Whitchurch SilkMill Summer Picnic (a short stagger home).
In a couple of days I’ll be heading off on my annual pilgrimage to Sidmouth FolkWeek, where, in between swimming, eating and sessioning with my boys I’ll be on stage with Belshazzar’s Feast, doing a spot with Faustus in a Morris/Beyoncé spectacular, and guesting with Reg Meuross in his Titanic show. Then it’s away on an 11-date Bellowhead tour, encompassing local festivals Carfest South and Wickham, after which rehearsal time for September’s Made in the Great War tour.
Scant time to top up my glorious post-holiday tan – but believe me, I’ll be working on it. Can anyone recommend a good sunbed?