Norman Warwick reads


addressed to Sidetracks And Detours

Sidetracks And Detours have mentioned him in despatches before now and we make no apology for doing so again, because Peter Pearson is a man we think of here as our Routemaster General. He is a reader who frequently follows our happy trails before directing us to some of his own, You would be surprised at how many articles of the almost 900 we have now published owe something to Peter pointing to where we should look over yonder.

His latest missive to us is a good example of how he ´guides´ us .

Hello, Sidetracks and Detours,

I  read your piece published on Friday 17th March  about John Illsley  and his book, A Man In Dire Straits, (left) which I know will now be available in your archives for anyone to catch up on.

photo 2 basil bunting My knowledge of poets is somewhat limited whereas yours is vast.

I am however a huge fan of another Dire Straitist, Mark Knopfler particularly of his post-Dire Straits work.

I am especially fond of his song, Basil, from the Tracker album, in which he gives a song portrait of the poet Basil Bunting, whom Knopfler came to know when working as a copy boy on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle whilst Basil was a journalist there.

It was through this song that I came to explore more about the life of Basil Bunting. Similarly, his song Sailing to Philadelphia caused me to read the voluminous Thomas Pynchon novel-Mason Dixon (left) -on which the song was based.

I think that Mark’s links with Dire Straits detract from his lyrical song-writing skills in some people’s mind. A friend of mine-a great That Dire Straits fan -said to me about Mark’s song Beryl. Beryl Beryl -whats all that about. Of course it was all about Beryl Bainbridge-not some girl.

Anyway, I was just wondering if you had thought about profiling Knopfler as a follow up to the Illsley piece perhaps with a focus on his post Dire Straits work and his background as a teacher and short career in newspapers.

Perhaps you could also expand it with the Basil Bunting link.

All the best,

Peter Pearson

Can you imagine how much we love receiving this kind of interesting and interested correspondence?

Sidetracks And Detours, published five days a week, primarily carrying stories of British, American, Spanish or Canarian artists as well as from elsewhere in the world. It is very hard work for all our staff (me and my wife photographer Dutton The Button and our two volunteer research detectives DCI Detours and Superintendent Sidetracks) to collect sufficient news, previews, interviews and reviews, notwithstanding our synergies with all across the arts, Jazz In Reading, Music That´s Going Places, Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues Festival, Chetham´s School Of Music, The Stoller Hall, I Love Manchester, English Folk Expo, Royal Opera House, Portsmouth. We draw inspiration, too, from print and on line publications like Paste, American Songwriter and Songfacts.

Nevertheless, readers, Peter send us on enthusiastic explorations for topics we have overlooked or have not yet fully covered.

Look again at Peter´s signposts in his mail.

He points us to Mark Knopfler whom John Illsley once stood alongside in Dire Straits. Peter not only points in Knopfler´s direction but he also labels him as a poet, leading to me thinking straight away of a compare and contrast between poets and lyricists and songwriters.

That comparison would be drawn between Basil Bunting (as also mentioned by Peter) and Mark Knopfler and people like Townes Van Zandt and Simon Armitage and John Stewart and Whitman.

Peter points us also to an album called Tracker, a Knopfler album I have pretty much discarded, despite my own admiration of Mark Knopfler, So what did I miss? Well Peter explains that for me too.

One of the songs, Beryl, Beryl, Beryl was not just a throwaway song about some girl, as one of Peter´s mates seemed to think, but was actually about Beryl Bainbridge (?) a famous sports cyclist of her time (long before cycling became the major Olympic event it is these days.

I must have become aware of the song´s connotations when I first heard it because Peter´s reminder of them didn´t surprise me, and so Beryl must have been cycling down the backroads of my memory and staying ever gentle on my mind ! So, I can see an article on Beryl Bainbridge swerving around a cycling playlist including big bottomed girls to accelerate through a look at the development of cycling in the UK, the Tour De France that came through Rochdale and massive cycle road-races held throughout the summer here on Lanzarote, as individual events or as part of the Iron Man and triathlete events.

The allusions Peter also makes to James Taylor and the Sailing To Philadelphia album need exploring too as does his reference to the Mason Dixon Line and the author of that title, Thomas Pynchon.

Peter has certainly made me realise that are many sidetracks & detours we could take to gather Knopfler´s lyrics via Dire Straits and his solo career, which of course also included film scores and instrumentals.

Not content with all that, Peter suggest, almost as an after-thought that we might like to also look at Mark Knopfler´s relatively brief careers as a teacher and as a journalist, which at the very least must have contributed to the beautiful and sharp prose of his autobiography.

Here at Sidetracks And Detours responding to Peter´s request will be a labour of love, as he has actually generated a ´to do´ list that the we know the staff here will find very interesting.

We´re pretty sure that so will our other reader (s?)

So, according to my calculations Peter, you have prescribed eleven articles:

1       Mark Knopfler; Poet

2       Poets Or Lyricists

3       Basil Bunting

4       the james taylor connection of Sailing To Philadelphia

5       Thomas Pynchon author

6       The Mason Dixon Line a book review

7       Beryl Bainbriodge and Songs For The Ride

8       Riding A Byke Back Then And Cycling Toaday

9       Knopfler: Band Member

10     Knopfler; solo and with Emmylou

11     Teaching, journalism and song-writing

So, there´s a lot for which we thank you Peter. In fact there´s more because I was sure as I read your e mail that we had published a major article on Mark Knopfler, but on checking I found that although we edited and filed the piece some months ago Mark Knopfler: vocalist, guitarist, songwriter isn´t scheduled to go live until Monday 17th April 2023.

Sidetracks And Detours hope you will enjoy reading that piece as much as we will enjoy researching for the other articles that have arisen from your e mails.

Of course, some people prefer to cloak their anonymity and advise us only in a quasi-undercover guise.

That´s why our two researchers adopt the guises of  DCI Detours and Superintendent Sidetracks. As most of our readers will know, DCI and Super spend long periods here on Lanzarote and also at home in the UK

From them we have recently received

Just had my new Chichester information through so I need to spend a day looking through my diary dates theatres etc and church concerts,

to see what I can investigate to report back to lanzarote. Superintendent Sidetracks has informed me that many arts events around here in the Portsmouth area are almost fully booked way ahead of performance dates. This includes a forthcoming recital by The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the Guildhall .

The DCI also told us that ´The Vortex opens Festival 2023´

The countdown to Festival 2023 has officially begun and we can’t wait for longer days, warmer weather, and lots of lovely productions to begin!    FestivALL | 24 and 25 March Our two-day festival celebrating the creativity and talent of learning disabled and neurodivergent people is back! Performances from Theatre Inc. and our very own Friday Company take place in the Minerva Theatre from 7pm and there are bookable workshops on Saturday from 12noon. Tickets for the performances are £8 and workshops from £5. 
Opening our season is a tantalisingly decadent production of The Vortex byNoël Coward – his first big commercial hit that he also starred in himself.     The central relationship is that of a mother and son, and for our production we’re delighted that Florence and Nicky Lancaster are played by mother and son Lia Williams (Doubt, The Crown) and Joshua James (Young Chekhov trilogy).  “It’s got all of the flamboyance, excitement and dexterity of wit that Noël Coward is such a genius at, but it’s also got real depth and pain, and it opens out in a really, really surprising way, even now.” Lia WilliamsonThe Vortex
Directed by Daniel Raggett with a set designed by Joanna Scotcher (who also designed the creatively immersive Sing Yer Heart Out in the Minerva last year), this brilliantly witty and stinging play is as vivid today as when it premiered. The Vortex runs in the Festival Theatre from 28 April until 20 May with tickets from £10. 
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Noël Coward‘s death in 1973. To celebrate his life and work, we’ll be presenting a free exhibition in the Festival Theatre Foyer from 21 April until the end of the run of The Vortex. Presented in collaboration with the NoëlCoward Archive Trust

Each Monday we run Get Into It! Drop-In sessions for adults in the Festival Theatre Foyer. Join us for still life drawing, songwriting or stitching, whatever takes your fancy. Come every week or as and when you can make it – no commitment required. We have three time slots throughout the day, each session is 90 minutes long and costs £8 so why not take a look and come and do something different at CFT this spring

So readers can perhaps anticipate some of the forthcoming articles inspired by the DCI and Super.

It sounds like we might also soon have news to announce of our reader and occasional correspondent, the writer Tony Brady, who recently sent us an article we called Tony Brady. Reading The Forest and published on 16th March which is now in our easy to navigate archives of almost 900 articles.

So, we should be announcing more news about Tony (right) later in the year as he has recently sent us a brief teaser, saying

Hi Sidetracks And Detours,

You have a rare, unique talent for tossing my raw literary material into a metaphorical crucible and transmuting it into pure gold. Thank you for creating such an interesting and absorbing article. I value your professional input and friendship. My latest work-in-progress is a book/let – Celebrating Blaisdon – Poems Fit For A King. It contains  25 poems,  Blaisdon Village themed, with photographic views of its locations/landmarks. It will sell at £5.00. per copy  and benefit  Blaisdon Village community amenities. I will keep you and readers informed of the progress to publication date.

And whilst reading those articles fans of Sidetracks And Detours might like to listen to the new album by Passenger !

We can´t really claim he is a regular reader of Sidetracks And Detours but he does drop us a line occasionally about what he´s up to, so here´s an update.

Well this is pretty exciting!

For years people have been asking if I’d ever think about recording a live album.

Its always been something that I’ve wanted to do as some of my favourite albums are live recordings. 

I’m also aware that my live show is very different to my albums and I’ve always been keen to capture it.

I play solo live. Just a guitar and my voice. Whereas making records has always been an opportunity to come up with fuller arrangements, experiment with different instrumentation & collaborate with other musicians. 

Also when we make a studio album we can chip away at it over time until we’re happy with how it sounds. With a live album we don’t have that kind of control and that’s always felt like a scary idea if i’m honest but also a liberating one and I’m very aware that its often the imperfections in music / art that are the most human / relatable.

When we were touring the states last year – my brilliant (and sneaky) audio team ended up recording a couple of gigs without me knowing.

One of the shows was at the iconic Fillmore in San Francisco.

I’ve been lucky enough to play there a couple of times and its one of those places that just feels really special. Pretty much every artist and band that I’ve ever listened to and loved have played there over the years and there is a real feeling of magic and history around the place. 

The show was the best of the tour. The crowd were great and it all felt very relaxed and natural.

So when my team told me that they’d recorded it I was intrigued to hear it. 

Almost a year later I am delighted… And slightly nervous  … to release “passenger – live from San Francisco” Its now on all streaming platforms and a limited number of cds are available from my website – get in quick if you fancy grabbing one ! 

Similarly. Sidetracks And Detours established contact with the incredible North Sea Quartet after seeing them in concert with Javier Infante at Jameos Del Agua last year. If you are not yet aware of them and how superb they are look up our review entitled Music Until Eternity Passes Away and dated 28th October 2022, which remains available in our easy to negotiate archives of around 900 articles.

They wrote  last week that  

We hope you have had a wonderful beginning of the year packed with good energy, health and music. We would like to share with you our future plans and as always, tell you what we have been up to recently.   We continue to be absorbed in our creative process towards the recording of our first album. A process that started early 2022 with our first artistic residency since George joined the quartet, and which bore fruit at our concert on the island of La Palma. We plan to do the recording at the end of this year and are very happy to do so with 7 Mountain Records, a label with a wonderfully selected unique catalog. The album will be presented in a Dutch tour in May-June 2024.   To finance the album, we will launch a crowd-funding campaign in september. We will tell you more about this as soon as more details become available.  
North Seas Quartet have already delivered a preview concert at Klooster Klassiek (Woerden) on 19th March and will do the same at Plus Etage (Baarle-Nassau) on 2 April, giving some fans a taste of what the album will sound like.
North Sea Jazz & Brosella Festivals We are delighted to be performing alongside Trio Da Kali at the North Sea Jazz Festival on 7 July and at the Brosella Festival in Brussels the day after. It’s always a great joy to share the stage with these great musicians and people!   Collaboration with Dimitar Bodurov Following the collaborative spirit of our quartet we are happy to announce a new collaboration with Bulgarian pianist-composer Dimitar Bodurov, whose musical identity combines a solid background in jazz improvisation and classical composition with his love for folklore and electronics. You can listen to his music here.   Stichting North Sea Strings has been up and running for a few months now. This foundation, built around the quartet, was created as a fundamental pillar to facilitate projects related to the promotion of creative strings from the Netherlands, both in concert halls and in the educational field. A new chapter!

Following our concert at InJazz, we were invited to perform at the FiraB! showcases in Mallorca and afterwards at the Dutch So What’s Next showcase in Eindhoven. During those days we were able to network with professionals in the music industry and show the creative side of the strings.

The correspondence from North Sea Quartet also referred back to the tour on which Sidetracks & Detours first heard them in concert and spoke with them very briefly afterwards.

Electric Amazigh tour

Last October we had the pleasure of performing with our friend Javier Infante in the auditorium of Los Jameos del Agua, one of the wildest stages on earth (left in a volcanic cave!), as part of the Lanzarote Visual Music Festival. Here we played music of our latest album, Electric Amazigh. We continued our journey to the island of Tenerife where we gave a fun masterclass at the Conservatory of Tenerife and two concerts on the island of La Palma.

Sidetracks And Detours are privileged to be able to deliver reviews from Jameos Del Agua (left) , the caves The North Sea Quartet refer to here. As mentioned above, we attended this concert on a night when music, musicians¡ and instrumentation of different genres came together with lighting and acoustics that united several different generations in the audience as North Sea Quartet played with time and space.

Winter concerts in the Netherlands We’ve started to feel normal concert life again after these two years of little live music. At Mezrab Amsterdam, Heerenhuys Rotterdam and the Internationaal Kamermuziek Festival Utrecht, among others, we have been able to share a preview of the music we are going to record this year.   We hope to see you again at one of our upcoming concerts!
The North Sea String Quartet,
Yanna, George, Pablo & Thomas
  So, readers like Peter Pearson, Graham Marshall,  and Steve Bewick and Iain and Margaret (beneath their cloaks of anonymity) and artists like Claudie, Mercedes Manguela, Colin Lever, Tony Brady, and major stars like  Passenger, Joni Mitchell and North Sea Quartet. and Graham Marshall, thanks for your mailings. We salute you all and appreciate it so much.
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