New “How To Play ...” & “Story Behind The Song” videos, plus thoughts on speaking out

Ooof, these are turbulent times, aren’t they? But amidst all the grim news in my daily perusal of the morning papers online, I’m also seeing some glimmers of hope. More on that in a moment ... but first, I want to quickly tell you about the launch this week of the first two in my new series of “Story Behind The Song” and “How To Play ...” (DADGAD guitar tutorial) videos.

The song featured in these first two instalments is “The Sun Goes On Rising”, which I co-wrote with Gerry O’Beirne and which features on my 2012 album The Plum Tree and The Rose. I chose it to start with partly because it felt like an appropriate song for thematic reasons and has an interesting story behind it, but mainly because it’s a really easy song to play, even if you’re a beginning guitarist and have never played in DADGAD before!

You can get access to the new videos in which I tell the story behind “The Sun Goes On Rising” and show you how to play it by contributing as little as £1 a month to my Patreon page, and you can pay in any currency you like. Click here to watch a public “trailer” video that explains the idea — please share it with any friends you think might be interested! I’d love to have your feedback about this, so please feel free to post your comments on the video or on the Patreon post.

The other bit of news is that sadly, I’ve just been notified that my grant application for the St Buryan Sessions project wasn’t successful, so I’ve had to raise my FundRazr goal from £4,000 to £5,000, and have extended the deadline to 30 June. Please do contribute if you can ... or if you’ve already contributed, do keep spreading the word, and many, many thanks once again for your generosity!

Anyway, back to those glimmers of hope. I find it deeply encouraging that so many of us — myself included — who’ve been too silent for too many years are now speaking out publicly about matters having to do with politics, race and social justice. It’s important that we all keep speaking out and taking action where we can.

“What will happen when the news cycle is over, the social justice memes are no longer posted?” Layla F. Saad asked in an excellent article in this morning’s Guardian, entitled Do the work: an anti-racist reading list. I’m going to start tackling that reading list pronto, along with the excellent resource list (including films, articles and books, organisations to follow on social media, etc.) posted by Atlantic Records exec Jamila Thomas and Platoon’s Brianna Agyemany on the webpage for their #TheShowMustBePaused initiative, which took place two days ago and gave rise to the news cycle, hashtags and memes cited by Saad in her article. I know that this week’s events have caused pain, damage and anger, but I’d like to think that they also represent the start of something good.

I still don’t know when I’m going to be back on the road again. It’s become clear that my planned September-October US tour won’t be happening, so I’m in the process of trying to reschedule those gigs, and I have my doubts as to whether any of my UK gigs this summer and autumn will happen either. But I do look forward to the day when I can get back out there, and in the meantime, I’m very grateful to all of you, my friends and supporters, for staying in touch and helping me to keep busy and productive. I’ll do my level best to make it worth your while.

With love,


Thanks so much to Jörg Detering for the photo below, which he took in March at the Alte Molkerei in Bocholt – one of the last gigs I did before the rest of my spring tour was cancelled.