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Sidetracks And Detours present PASS IT ON 35 Weekend Walkabout 14 January 2024

Sidetracks And Detours



Weekend Walkabout 14 January 2024

Hello and welcome to another edition of PASS IT ON… (wow, I sound like the late David Frost when I hear myself reading that aloud ) ! So continuing in the vein I can tell you that in a packed programme today we present to you a bit of bad news and a pamphlet full of good news.We look at times past and times future and particularly we look at the time of 5.15 a.m. We have live jazz and we have jazz on air and we have Manchester Folk with Sound Roots. We find A Place For Poetry and we bring you Island Insights. So, enjoy your read.


all across the arts 


Steve Cooke shares the finding with Norman Warwick


from Manchester Folk


reviewed by by Sound Roots

Live Jazz


previewed by Jazz in Reading

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS previewed by Steve Bewick


by The Poet In The Rain

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward

AT THE SAME TIME by Peter Pearson

Island Insights



By Norman Warwick

On Reading Of 


Steve Cooke shares the finding

with Norman Warwick

‘Looming disaster’: theatre leaders call for urgent action to stem local funding cuts.

Cuts to arts funding by local councils across England are a “looming disaster” for cultural organisations and venues, with industry leaders warning of “long-term damage” to the theatre landscape.

The warnings come as it was announced that Suffolk County Council is proposing to completely cut its £500,000 arts funding – with venues and arts companies in the region warning of the dire impact the budget reduction will have, particularly around outreach and community engagement work.

Norman Warwick (right) reported in a recent issue of PASS IT ON about the Lanzarote Cabildo´s (government´s) announcement that almost a million euros are to be spent this year on the renovation of the Casa De La Cultura in the town of Playa Blanca. The venue, which at the moment only has a platform block stage, is much smaller in size than the Civic Hall in Heywood where I used to live before ´retiring´ here to the island. Heywood has a slightly higher population  but it was very rare for events promoted by the hard working Rochdale Music Society to do anything more than break-even for a performance by excellent classical players from around the country. Not only do the government here support by funding the arts, but they also fund artists in community roles in much the same way that saw brilliant and important work undertaken by artists in schools and the revenue funded organisations in towns like Rochdale, UK, before funding dried up in the late 90´s.

This latest development is set against a backdrop of declining funding to the arts from local councils across England, with theatres and cultural organisations in areas such as Hampshire, Woking, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham also facing cuts. Hampshire County Council recently announced plans to shave £600,000 off its arts funding in the region, while in Nottingham, the city council is also planning to cut its entire cultural budget after announcing bankruptcy.

Jack Gamble, director of Campaign for the Arts, said that, in real terms, English councils had almost halved their cultural investment since 2010.

“The funding crisis in local government is a looming disaster for UK arts and culture. Taken together, local authorities are the biggest public funders of the arts – but proposals to cut local arts funding are sweeping the nation,” he said.

He added: “More and more organisations are learning that their council’s investment is collapsing or entirely disappearing, as local authorities of all political stripes buckle under cost and demand pressures. It’s deeply alarming to see the number and scale of the cuts being proposed. Every new threat to local public investment is a threat to all of this.”

Douglas Rintoul, (left) chief executive of the New Wolsey, said the Ipswich theatre was currently in receipt of £122,000 each year from the county council and that the decision to cease its four-decade-long commitment to investing in cultural institutions raised “profound concerns”.

“The abrupt withdrawal of support of core investment, amounting to a mere 0.057% of the council’s current revenue budget, reflects a disheartening lack of informed consideration. It disregards the mounting evidence showcasing the arts as a strategic ally in saving costs within the health service and social care,” he said.

Rintoul also warned that the move sets “a precarious precedent for other councils, potentially reversing decades of progress and advocacy that was fostering positive, interconnected thinking to address the significant challenges faced by our communities”.

“The decision reeks of contemporary short-termism, neglecting the long-term damage it could inflict on the cultural fabric of our shared society,” he said in a statement to The Stage, urging councils to “acknowledge the vital role cultural institutions play in helping political leaders deliver for their communities, even amid fiscal challenges”.

UK Theatre joint president Stephanie Sirr, who is also chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse, said the role of local authorities in supporting their “stakeholders to have a cultural life has been woefully eroded over the past decade”.

“It makes no sense to risk something that delivers on virtually every outcome that any local authority would wish for its community: quality of life, social cohesion, literacy, oracy, inclusion, good mental health, access and absolutely vast economic impact.

“Acknowledgement of what is really at stake, followed by a robust plan for redressing the imbalance, is needed, urgently. The sums involved are already very modest compared with the investment of the past but they are desperately needed,” she said, adding that UK Theatre was “working to thoroughly assess the scale of this issue and providing support to our members during these uncertain times”.

Chris Stafford, chief executive of Curve in Leicester, said the pressure local councils were under should not be underestimated, but warned that “cuts to spend on the arts, at a time when many organisations are grappling with an increase in costs across the board, will have far-reaching consequences and will significantly impact on the breadth and depth of the cultural provision across the country”.

He added: “We also know investment in the arts makes good business sense, and a reduction in the local cultural offer – which makes up a very small percentage of total local government spend – will have a wider economic knock-on for the many businesses that depend on the footfall from artistic programming.”

The Local Government Association (LGA), which works with councils to promote local government, said councils were “facing ongoing cost and demand pressures” that meant they were dealing with a funding gap of almost £4 billion over the next two years.

Research from the LGA at the end of last year warned of more councils effectively declaring themselves bankrupt in the near future, with almost one in five council leaders indicating this would be the case.

Following the financial settlement for local government in December, the LGA described it as “unthinkable” that the government had not offered further “desperately needed new funding for local services”.

A spokesperson for the LGA told The Stage: “Due to these pressures, councils increasingly have to allocate a higher percentage of their budget towards services such as homelessness, children’s services and social care, which has increased as a percentage of median council budgets by 6.5% from 2016/17.”

“This means that councils find themselves unable to fund discretionary services as they would like to,” the spokesperson said, but added: “While many councils are working proactively with each other to share, transform and deliver high-quality services, they need adequate long-term funding to support all valued community services.”

Meanwhile, an Arts Council England spokesperson described local investment in culture as “vital”.

“We will work with local authorities to support continued investment in the cultural sector. Arts Council England is not in a position to fill funding gaps, but we will work closely with funded organisations who are facing financial challenges and be as flexible as we can be in the way they deliver their Arts Council funding agreements,” the spokesperson added.

In thanking Steve for his forensic contribution we know he  will continue to seek out good news items for his like-minded arts loving readers. So we shall certainly do the same by sharing….



As many of you will remember, The Manchester FOLK Festival team will be working to deliver the major international event of WOMEX Manchester in October 2024. This means a permanent move to March for the Manchester Folk Festival, so the next edition of the folk festival will take place from 20th to 22nd March 2025 !

However, there is no need for folk enthusiasts to worry, because we can assure you there will be plenty of amazing folk gigs throughout 2024.

For instance, Noam “Nani” Vazana (left) is one of the few artists in the world who writes and composes new songs in the endangered Ladino language (Judero-Español). In her new album ‘Ke Haber’ (What’s New) she captures the spirit of the ancient, matriarchal language and culture and propels it into the 21st century with socially pertinent lyrics, celebrating migration, gender and female empowerment.

The soundscape bridges over tradition and modern life, capturing the sounds and smells of the marketplace and fuses them with raw, flamenco like vocals and surprising instrumentations. Soft choral-like trombones embellish mariachi guitars and percussion with glimpses of piano and cello tracks, make this record a magical realistic mosaic. Nani unveils a piece of history we don’t easily find in other mythology and anthropology.

Nani ranked #11 on the RMR chart and #13 on the WMCE chart, represented the Netherlands at the EU Music Festival in Vietnam and performed at the Kennedy Center USA, BBC Radio 3, London Jazz Festival UK and Jodhpur RIFF festival India. Nani has showcased at Folk Alliance, NAMM, APAP, Jazzahead, and Injazz.

Nani is a professor at the London Performing Academy of Music and the Jerusalem Music Academy.

“A musical phenomenon” – Freiburg Kultuurbuerse

“An extraordinary concert, Noam’s wonderful ballads go underneath your skin” – Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitungº

On 25th January at Hallé St Michael’s
Grammy winner Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius, (left) performing since 2015, offer intimate acoustic duets with guitar, mandolin, and vocals, blending original and traditional roots music.

editor´s note We know that our All Points Forward correspondent, Peter Pearson, has been looking forward to this gig for a long time now. We look forward to bringing you the review here at PASS IT ON:

It’s two years since CONNECTIVITY (2021) smashed into the top 40 and debuted at #1 in the UK download chart, propelling the fiercely independent GRACE PETRIE from critics’ choice to the main stages of major festivals and venues across Europe, Australia and Canada, mesmerising audiences with the ferocity of her socially urgent lyricism and the barnstorming power of her live show.  Now the songwriter is back – stronger, older and a whole lot angrier than ever before – on tour and with a new album, SOMETHING BETTER, produced by Frank Turner.

Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle play at The Stoller Hall On Saturday 16th March at 8.00 pm.

“It takes a lifetime of playing to sound as effortless as these guys”- The Herald has said.

Folk music’s legendary triumvirate of musical magpies Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle and John McCusker are on tour again, bringing you their own blend of top -class folk songs, tunes and charming bonhomie.

All three musicians have won global acclaim: John Doyle (Dublin – vocals, guitar, bouzouki, mandola) is an Irish music linchpin and a founder member of acclaimed group Solas, who has worked with Joan Baez, Linda Thompson and Mary Chapin Carpenter. BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Winner John McCusker (Glasgow – fiddle, whistles, harmonium) has played with The Battlefield Band, Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan, recorded with Paul Weller, and recently produced albums for Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot and Kris Drever. Mike McGoldrick (Manchester – flute, whistles, Uileann pipes, bodhran, clarinet, congas) is a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner, founding member of Lúnasa, and current member of Capercaillie, who has worked with Mark Knopfler, Eddi Reader, John Cale.

And that’s just for starters. 

With their vast repertoire, this will be an evening to remember. Described as the masters of flute, fiddle, song and guitar they have worked with the biggest and brightest and bring you a night of  beautifully crafted music.  Having shared stages and recording studios with everyone from Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler to Paul Weller, Joan Baez and Linda Thompson, Mike, John & John are a rare musical treat you’ll savour for a very long time



Launched in 2020, The Official Folk Albums Chart was initiated by English Folk Expo in association with the Official Chart Company to give artists and their teams an opportunity for tangible successes that could provide useful promotional tools to benefit artists’ careers. 

The 2023 Chart Of The Year reflects sales from across the whole year and is topped for 2023 by Irish folk four-piece Lankum’s ‘False Lankum’ (Rough Trade) whose extraordinary year has included a Mercury Music Prize nomination and topping numerous end of year album lists. Fellow Irish artists The Mary Wallopers have two albums in the top 10 with ‘The Mary Wallopers’ at 8 and ‘Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll’ at 4 (BC Recordings) while Ireland’s Lisa O’Neill takes the 2023 number 7 spot with ‘All Of This Is Chance’ (Rough Trade).

Other top ten albums of 2023 include Skerryvore’s ‘Tempus’ (Cooking Vinyl) at 2, This Is The Kit’s ‘Careful Of Your Keepers’ (Rough Trade) at 3, ‘The Moon Also Rises’ (Transgressive) by Johnny Flynn and Rob Macfarlane at 5, Billie Marten’s ‘Drop Cherries’ (Fiction) at 6, ‘The Endless Coloured Ways’ (Chrysalis), the collection of new covers of Nick Drake material by various artists, at 9 and Kate Rusby’s festive album ‘Light Years’ (Pure) at 10. 

The Folk On Foot Official Folk Chart Show, the December 2023 UK & Ireland chart is now out. With six new entries, all from established names in the UK and Ireland folk scene, including two Christmas-themed entries, it brings a year of great music to a close.

Kate Rusby grabs the top spot, in at number 1 with the first of those festival albums (left) with ‘Light Years’ (Pure), her seventh festive offering over her remarkable thirty-two years of recording. Buzz says of the album, it, ‘offers lightness and charm to the windiest and rainiest of days,’ while At The Barrier says, ‘Light Years is the early delivery selection box of treats and perfect seasonal soundtrack fare.’

Also new in the top 10 and the second seasonal offering, comes from two more major names of the UK folk scene, Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden, with ‘Glad Christmas Comes’ (Hudson), new in at number 6, released to coincide with their sell out Wassail tour. RootsWorld says of the album, ‘The world is a forever mess, and charity and grace appear in short supply. Boden and Carthy have done their bit to even the scales with this remarkable holiday gift, best shared with others.

One of the big names on the 2023 Official Folk Chart, Ireland’s Lankum, deliver an end-of-year release with the album ‘Live In Dublin’ (Rough Trade), new in at 15.  Recorded over three sold out shows at Dublin’s Vicar Street venue, it features material from across their repertoire and was released as a vinyl-only limited edition of 500 copies.

The major folk names keep coming with Jim Moray’s ‘Beflean – An Alternative History 2022-2023’ (Managed Decline), a reworked collection of tracks from across his twenty years of recording plus some previously unrecorded gems, landing in the chart at 23.  Folk Radio says, ‘It is always a risk to record reworked versions of so many beloved tracks, and the fear is that they will have transformed beyond all recognition, losing the essence of what made them successful. Beflean assuaged all of my reservations, immediately and entirely.

At 24 is ‘We Know By The Moon’ (Hudson) by the Furrow Collective.  A lunar delight, it features moonlight-touched material including ‘The Moon Shines bright’ and ‘O Watch The Stars’. An album infused with winter, it is an alternative festive release. Spiral Earth says that the album, ‘showcases the groups´ characteristic array of musical talents and ability to source and transform the quirkiest of folk songs, honed over a full decade of playing and singing together.

The last new entry in the December 2023 chart is the live album ‘Gifts Of Light’ (Hudson) by the Spell Songs collective, impressively the third new entry this month by Hudson Records, new in at 36.  It combines live recordings from the Spell Songs 2022 Winter tour at Birmingham Symphony Hall and within the Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum in 2021.

***Charting artists, to receive chart graphics to celebrate your success please contact info@englishfolkexpo.com.

The Official Folk Albums Chart is compiled by The Official Chart Company and produced by English Folk Expo. The Official Folk Albums Chart Show is presented by Folk On Foot with the support of English Folk Expo.

The End Of The Year Folk Albums Chart was also featured on the recent Folk On Foot Official Folk Albums Chart Show, along with the December 2023 chart.

Live Jazz

Jazz at Progress

Friday 9 February 2024

Jean Toussaint Quartet

Friday 9 February  Progress Theatre, Reading (details below) 7:30pm
£19.00 (£17.00 concessions, £10 under 16) plus maximum 5% booking fee
Jean Toussaint saxes
Peter Billington on a real piano
Paul Jefferies double bass
Simon Price drums

preview  by Jazz in Reading

Jean Toussaint (right) , born in the West Indies, raised on Saint Thomas Island (of the famous jazz tune) and in New York, a brilliant world-famous tenor and soprano saxophonist who came to fame as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers 1982-1986. Toussaint moved to London in 1987 when he was invited to be artist-in-residence at the Guildhall School of Music.  In 2015/16 Toussaint devised a project dedicated to his mentor Blakey. The project was entitled “Roots & Herbs: The Blakey Project” and featured an all-star line-up of British jazz musicians with Julian Joseph, Byron Wallen, Dennis Rollins, Jason Rebello and Shane Forbes. The group toured the UK extensively throughout 2015/2016. In the International Stars Line Up for Jazz FM Awards he was ‘Instrumentalist Of The Year 2019’.

See the video of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers on tour in Germany in 1984, with a great intro of band members by Art Blakey followed by his drum intro of the first of two short tunes. Jean Toussaint solos in the two tunes are at 4.28 and 13.40.

Pete Billington, who will be playing a real piano, is a jazz pianist (and multi-instrumentalist) of immense repute. Fluid, articulate and perennially inventive, he is first-call pianist for many top level jazz stars and he also records and tours with some of the world’s great pop and rock players. He also teaches jazz piano and improvisation classes at Brunel University London.

Paul Jefferies is an accomplished bassist, promoter and teacher from Oxfordshire. He has made a name for himself as an active and successful promoter of music and musicians. He and his wife run the Little Live Music Company which creates live jazz music events and pop-up jazz clubs in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties.

Simon Price on drums with his Blakey-ish backbeat and propulsive drumming cannot fail to impress. He is the drummer of choice for many bands in the Thames Valley and Reading area and resident drummer and co-organiser with Stuart Henderson of the monthly jazz at the Retreat Pub in Reading.

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS previewed by Steve Bewick

I enjoyed interviewing British jazz artist Jenny Bray on my programme last week, and playing three tracks off her newly released album One Hare One Owl. We also played three tracks and she talked us through the recording process and her itinarary of gigs, and Atlantic-hopping to record the album It seemed to me she had enjoyed a very busy 2023. The album came out on December 1st on lin but it seems 2024 will be even busier for Jenny as she will be having two lengthy spells in the States again, promoting the album, playing some gigs and doing a bit mor erecording work. The programme is still availabe on my cloud archives and I know Norman is gong to review One Hare One Owl and put my radio interview into print over the next week or so.

Meanwhile, This week Hot Biscuits revisits Munchmanship, a saxophonist with many years’ professional experience playing with jazz musicians, big name backing bands, musical theatre and his own Quartet and Octet. He is based in Manchester, works nationally and recorded this time in south Manchester.

Also in the broadcast is Jasper Høiby Trio, Get The Blessing share music from there recent, CD Pallett. We also have Imogen Ryall featuring the Mingus/ Mitchell songbook. There is, too, Stacey Kent with, If You Go Away`. We will close with Benet Mclean with `Blue Fingers.` If this sounds interesting follow the link to join me at www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick/ 24/07.

Have a listen and then, please, PASS IT ON


Steve Pottinger

Tony Brady

by The Poet In The Rain

I met Steve Pottinger a couple of times when we were performing at the same festival or school or at a pub-reading. I have´nt seem him for around ten years now, though, since I left the UK. I do remember him being an impressive and dynamic performer. More to the point, though, he was one of the good guys, well liked by the arts fraternity. So when the poster below appeared on Facebook I decided to look him up on line and within a couple of clicks I was into his equally impressive and dynamic web-site, to be welcomed by a smiling photograph and the following words.

So, here it is. The website. Re-fettled and raring to go.

We’ve updated the things which needed updating, cleared out the clutter, and had a bit of a tidy up. Street lighting’s off at night so we can see the stars, and we’ve added wildflower verges, bird boxes, beehives, and a wildlife pond out front of the old pub where you can sit in the sunshine and watch the dragonflies. They’re amazing.

This site is about my work as a writer. It’s fairly self-explanatory, and by simply surfing the menu at the top of the site you’ll get a taste of what I’m up to. My blog is under ‘craic’, my poems under… er… ‘poems’, you can buy my books at ‘works’… and so on. It’s all pretty obvious – this is poetry, not rocket science, after all.

Poetry is about more – so much more – than competitions, but it’s probably worth mentioning that my work has been awarded prizes in the CultureMatters poetry and spoken word competition, as well as in Prole, Guernsey International, and (most recently) Poets & Players. It’s also been commended or shortlisted in Verve, Plough, and Arran, among others. You can follow me on Twitter at @BigStevePoet if you’re so inclined. Alternatively – or indeed, as well – Just check out my web site.

Last but by no means least, I love getting out and about and sharing my work. If you’ve a spoken-word or poetry night you’d like me to perform at, are looking for a commissioned poem for a project, want an experienced poet to run a workshop for your group, or just want to say ‘hi’, get in touch. Drop me a line at steve.pottinger@gmail.com.

Come in, sit down, grab a pint, and make yourself at home. You’ll love it here, I promise.

The pull-down headers at the very top of his web-site page promise a Home, About Me, and News. In this third tab you can find details of events and projects and gigs that Steve is currently working on.

Poems and Stories. There´s also a header for Craic which, as the name suggest is basically having a good old natter,  and there are plenty of interesting items to read.

And if you press the videos tab you get plenty of You Tube readings by Steve. The Next Tab, Coffee, not only reveals an interesting letter Steve sent to a well known ´coffee group´ but also reveal the stir that that letter caused. (Steve´s pun, not mine, but whenever I stumble upon a good pun I use it !).

The final tab is the business end of the site, listing any of anthologies that might still be avavailable. Its also well worth checking out and I found it all simply by typing Steve Pottinger poet into my search engine.

I was once asked to participate on the panel for a public debate on the topic of “Does Music Enhance Poetry”? The poet, Mike Garry, who was also on the panel, and I both seemed to agree that music can enhance poetry if used properly. I was a lyricist turned poet and had recorded some albums as a folk duo called Lendanear, (but no one ever did)

Steve Pottinger (right) plays electric guitar plugged into a speaker and often brings something of rock and roll attitude to his performances. Even though I didn´t know of him at the time of that debate I realised at first hearing why I had been right in my opinion. Steve cleverly adds guitar to his delivery of his words, and in doing so we learn how energetic poetry can be and how vigilant and how poetry can hold its own in peace and war and in love and heartache.

Anthony J.M. Brady is an author, poet and occasional contributor to Sidetracks And Detours. I first met him  a few years ago when he e-mailed me to say he was in Lanzarote promoting a series of books he had written in the UK about his schooldays and years as a young man in an English village called Blaisdon. He returned to Lanzarote a couple of years later and he introduced me to Rita Schmidt, a Lanzarote based poet and we were delighted to publish a positive review of her introspective but always interesting poetry.

Whilst he was was here on that occasion Tony also wrote a review for Sidetracks And Detours about the Secret Places Of Lanzarote, a collection of nude photography by Adriyana Hodge, exhibited in Costa Teguise. We were pleased to accommodate that in an article about the history of photography.

You will be able to find all of the above pieces by simply typing the artists or writers names in to our search box.

Tony was back on Lanzarote for four days earlier this month and when we met up, with Rita Schmidt, too, we enjoyed a lazy lunch of a main course, pudding and poetry at La Rustica Restaurant in Arrecife. Tony handed a free copy to Rita and I of his new collection of poetry, called Celebrating Blaisdon: Poetry Fit For A King.(left).

We will publish our review of the collection on Friday 19th February in Sidetracks And Detours.

We highly recommend the book and as all profits are going to a very worthwhile cause the book will certainly reward your investment.


A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward

AT THE SAME TIME by Peter Pearson

5.15 a.m. is the title of a track by Mark Knopfler included on his Shangri-La album, his fourth solo release, in 2004.

It is also the time of day on a snowy 4th January 1967 at which a Geordie collier on the way home from his nightshift stumbles upon a lone Jaguar car, its windows smashed through, containing the bullet ridden body of a local gangster. The resultant true murder case would become a cause celebre spanning over 50 years and way beyond the date Mark wrote the song.

In its storytelling, the song resembles Mark’s epic 14 minute masterpiece Telegraph Road, telling the tale of the opening up of the American west and its social consequences, which was written when Mark was in the band Dire Straits. Whilst Telegraph Road tells it´s story to a dramatic and extensive instrumental backdrop, 5.15 am has a much sparser feel to it, more typical of the songs Mark was writing in his solo career. One of his best and most evocative songs, it tells of the dual exploitation of a mining community by the coal companies and the new nightclub gambling operators. Mark was 17 and living in Newcastle at the time.

The song starts with gentle strummed guitar followed by the lyric-

5.15am snow laying all around

A collier cycles home

From his night shift underground

In the next 6 minutes Mark tells the true story of the 1967 One Armed Bandit Murder on the outskirts of Newcastle and couples this with a vivid portrait of the coal mining community at the heart of the town.

One armed bandits is the term given to the slot machines which were then starting to populate the nightclubs springing up in the town, taking advantages of recent changes in licensing laws.

The murder inspired  elements of the classic thriller and book on which it is based; Get Carter starring Michael Caine and the interest of investigative journalists.


Past the silent pub

Primary school, workingmens club

On the road from the pithead

The churchyard packed

With mining dead

Then beneath the bridge

He comes to a giant car

A shroud of snow upon the roof

A mark ten jaguar

He thought the man was fast asleep

Silent, still and deep

Both dead and cold

Shot through

With bullet holes

The one armed bandit man

Came north to fill his boots

Came up from cockneyland

E-type jags and flashy suits

Put your money in

Pull the levers

Watch them spin

Cash cows in all the pubs

But he preferred the new nightclubs

Nineteen sixty-seven

Bandit men in birdcage heaven

La dolce vita, sixty-nine

All new to people of the tyne

Who knows who did what

Somebody made a call

They said his hands

Were in the pot

That he’d been skimming hauls

He picks up the swag

They gaily gave away

Drives his giant jag

Off to his big pay day

The bandit man

Came north to fill his boots

Came up from cockneyland

E-type jags and flashy suits

The bandit man

Came up the great north road

Up to Geordie land

To mine The mother lode

Seams blew up or cracked

Black diamonds came hard won

Generations toiled and hacked

For a pittance and black lung


Crushed by tub or stone


And alone

How the young and old

Paid the price of coal

Eighteen sixty-seven

My angel’s gone to heaven

He’ll be happy there

Sunlight and sweet clean air

They gather round the glass

Tough hewers and crutters

Child trappers and putters

The little foals and half-marrows

Who pushed

And pulled the barrows

The hod boys

And the rolleywaymen

5.15 A.M.

The 5.15 a.m. collier had stumbled on the body of Angus Sibbett, a playboy money collector from the fruit machines installed in the pubs and night clubs which had recently started to open in the town.

In 1967 two men were found guilty of the killing and jailed for life, both protesting their innocence. The pair fought to clear their names without success in excess of the next 50 years.

Michael Luvaglio, Denis Stafford and Sibbert all moved from London to Newcastle in the mid sixties to work for Luvaglio’s  brother who was making a fortune supplying fruit machines to pubs and clubs. Their company supplied the whole north-east.,

It was said that Sibbert had been skimming the takings. Thousands of pounds were involved. His hands were in the pot.

It was argued that was how he was able to acquire an expensive new Jaguar car and fund a lavish life-style.

By using the lyric who knows who did what, Mark manages to skirt around the question of guilt and focuses on the contrast between the organised crime that had infiltrated the community and the everyday harshness of the lives of the colliers living in the community.

It was one of the first gangland killings and brought with it echoes of the gangland wars between the Krays and Richardson gangs in the south of the country. Indeed, there were claims that the killing was a failed attempt by the Krays to infiltrate the north east. Evidence in the trial was sparse and hinged on lack of alibi, timing and motive.

Whilst the pair were sentenced to life imprisonment, they were released on licence after 12 years in 1979 after two failed appeals whilst in prison.

The pair continued to protest their innocence with further appeals through to 2017. In 2020 a documentary film, Footsteps In The Snow, was released containing new evidence and aired on television. By this time it was considered by many that there had been a miscarriage of justice and that by modern standards of evidence a conviction would not have been obtained.

Luvaglio died in 2020 aged 83 whilst Stafford at aged 88 changed his name to Scott. Both had failed to overturn their convictions whilst maintaining their innocence.

Mark said ” The nightclubs were moving into Newcastle. The Americanisation of our culture comes later but it always comes.”

Peter has selected an intriguing song that captures the city of a Newcastle  on the cusp of losing the honest grime of the pits to the deeper grime of commercialism , excess and organised crime. It is a song deserving of being placed in the pantheon of folk songs about the mining industry in both the UK and the USA.

From the USA we can  include Coal Miner´s Daughter, of course, by Loretta Lyn (left) and Paradise by John Prine. In fact, From legends like John Prine and Loretta Lynn, to modern stars like Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson, to the super young and talented Logan Halstead (he’s from West Virginia, but still holds true), artists that come from the hard-nosed regions where coal once was, and still is, king have something special to their music.

There are plenty of coal mining songs in Americana music thanks to ´the coal-miner´s daughter´. So, too, English folk music has great songs The Black Leg Miner and Teddy Edwards´ Coal ´Ole Cavalry, subsequently recorded by The Houghton Weavers, about the sound of clogs on the cobbles running down to the morning shift.

Colin Lever wrote Fishes And Coal, and the first time I heard it I recognised it as a dialogue between a deep sea trawler man bemoaning his working conditions and a miner berating the conditions in the pits. Colin had written it as the true story of a conversation his dad (who was a miner in Scotland) had  with  man from the local fishing fleet who sold fresh fish outside the colliery gates.

Colin and I subsequently created Lendanear as a duo to play in the folk clubs of the nineteen eighties. One of the first songs we wrote together was drawn from a story and photograph on  the front page of that day´s Manchester Evening News about a collapse that had occurred earlier in the day  at Golborne, only twenty miles from us. We inserted the poem, (me reading it to Colin´s haunting backing of Working In a Coal Mine) and for several years Fishes And Coal was always followed in our live performances by 2,000 Feet.

At about 11.15 a.m. on the 18th. March, eleven men were working in the Plodder Seam development district at the colliery when the explosion occurred. Three men died instantly and seven died later in hospital.

On the afternoon shift of the 17th. March, a deputy, Mr. C. McGuire, inspected the whole of the Plodder Seam and paid attention particularly to the auxiliary fans. The manager had said that these fans were to be inspected at intervals not exceeding four hours. The first inspection commenced at 14.30 and nothing unusual was found in the roads but there was firedamp in the face. All the auxiliary fans were in good order and the amount of gas did not appear to be different from these shown on the statutory records. A second inspection was made at 19.45 and no change in the conditions was detected. At the end of the shift, Mr. McGuire reported to the deputy Mr. W. Scholes who was in charge of the mine, and completed his written report.

On the night shift of Saturday 17/18th March, a deputy Mr. A. Molyneaux, began the inspection of the Plodder Seam developments and found that the conditions in the drivage and the Dip Return were normal. Continuing his inspection he realised that the fan ventilating the Return Drivage had stopped. On investigation, he found that the fan was suspended by only one chain and that the end of the fan had separated from the steel ducting. He also saw signs that the cable had been damaged. He traced the cable back to the fan switch, turned it off and took out the plug. He realised that he could not restore the ventilation and fenced off the entrance to the Return Drivage. He went on and found that the Intake Drivage fans had also stopped. He tried to start them but without success. On investigation, he found that the circuit breaker on the transformer supplying the switches had tripped and would not re-close. He telephoned the information to the surface.

On reporting the tragedy The Manchester Evening News included a black and white photograph of a group of miners´ wives at the pit head waiting for news of their loved ones caught in a trap 2,000 feet below. I described those women as being caught in the grip of a ´camera´s eye´, and that is how we delivered it whenever we performed it live. However, when we recorded the song, Colin sang it as ´caught in the grip of a camera sigh` which somehow seemed even more poignant and so we adopted the change for the rest of our folk club days.

Over the years we added Percy Verance The Pit Pony (Warwick / McKee and a primary school class we were facilitating one day) and Black Kisses (Prince Warwick) to our stage performances and after Colin retired to Jersey I developed the four pieces into a short musical drama about a mining family, reminiscing in the final days of the coal industry.

Black Kisses was a song about a little girl who, after her father was killed in an underground explosion most missed her dad´s ´black kisses´ that he used to offer whenever he arriving home form his work at the mine.

Next Monday sees a piece called ´Number-Crunching´, also inspired by a Peter Pearson article, being published in Sidetracks And Detours.

Meanwhile, thanks Peter and by the way isn´t your next O´Brien gig soon? Just thought I´d mention it nudge, nudge, review, review.

Island Insights


It was an evening that began with drones designing an outline of the island of Lanzarote and imprinting it on the black, night sky.

More than 220 drones illuminated the sky of Arrecife recently in the largest visual spectacle with drones made in the history of the Canary Islands, with which the Cabildo, chaired by Oswaldo Betancort, through the Foreign Promotion Society, has congratulated the new year to the population of Lanzarote and La Graciosa.

Thousands of people (like those show left) gathered next to the Arrecife Theme Park to witness a personalized light show.

whose first composition in the sky was the Lanzarote logo, a graphic identity sign (above).

The sign (right) originally created by César Manrique, was followed by eleven different images with festive motifs related to Christmas and with the nature and culture of the island.

An inclusive and respectful choreographic drone show that redefines the concept of traditional fireworks and expands the possibilities of surprising the public on such special occasions as the farewell of the year.

On behalf of the insular Corporation, Oswaldo Betancort took the opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year and highlighted the quality and detail of the compositions generated in the sky during the event: “Christmas in Lanzarote and throughout the Archipelago is lived a different way, very much ours, and seeing the projection of all those motifs related to our idiosyncrasy has been really exciting,” he said.

“I appreciate the good reception of the people who came to see it in situ and have been able to see the level of respect and inclusion that a show of this level implies and I wish each and everyone the best for 2024,” he concluded.

The drone choreography, carried out by the company Umiles, has highly advanced positioning and communications systems, they are equipped with powerful RGB LED lights to recreate incredible shapes, effects and transformations full of light, dynamism and color, making everything come true that we are able to imagine to the rhythm of music.

The people who attended the call made by the Cabildo of Lanzarote at 8 p.m. on December 30, were able to witness an exhibition never before seen in the Canary Islands, fulfilling the set objective of creating magical moments and representing the most representative of the island, such as a traditional house or a Lanzarote peasant house, spaces such as La Geria or Las Salinas, as well as the image of the bay of Arrecife, a surfer on his board, the countdown, champagne and two glasses toasting and the New Year 2024, closing with the logo of the Cabildo and the flag of the Canary Islands.

Island Insights



The shows will take place between January 14 and February 3 and will be held in spaces in Arrecife, Haría, San Bartolomé, Tías and on the eighth island.

The ‘Canary Islands International Music Festival’ celebrates its 40th edition and does so in a big way, with prestigious directors, soloists and orchestras of the highest international level. Lanzarote will offer eight concerts and one in La Graciosa, between January 14 and February 3, 2024 .

Those who will be on the Island, among others, the ‘Bremen Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra’, under the baton of the ‘prodigy’ Tarmo Peltokoski; a chamber ensemble from the British Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; the charismatic countertenor Jakub J. Orlinski, together with the baroque orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro, made up of some of the best specialists in early music; and an ensemble from the Gran Canaria Philharmonic.

The program is completed with the proposals of the En Parallel section of the FIMC: the concert by the prestigious ‘Dúo Cassadó’ (cello and piano), together with the dancer Iván Vargas, the multidisciplinary shows ‘Océano’ and ‘Ángaro’, and the concert by pianist Othoniel Rodríguez. All of this in areas of Arrecife, Haría, San Bartolomé and Tías. The Duo Cassadó will repeat their concert in La Graciosa as part of their tour of several islands.

The Minister of Culture of the Government of the Canary Islands, Migdalia Machín, highlighted during the course of the press conference to announce the FIMC programming in Lanzarote and La Graciosa, that “the Festival has become throughout its 40 years of history the most prestigious Canarian cultural event with the greatest international projection” and has highlighted “the commitment of the regional Executive to bring culture and classical music closer to the eight island territories, so that all the Canary Islands “, and of course, those who visit us during these days have the possibility of enjoying all the talent that the contest concentrates.”

For his part, the Minister of Culture of the Cabildo of Lanzarote, Jesús Machín, has encouraged “the Lanzarote and Gracios population to attend the scheduled concerts, as it is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the most renowned symphonic groups and the most internationally acclaimed conductors and soloists.”

The director of the festival, Jorge Perdigón, has highlighted that each of the concerts that will come to Lanzarote are “of formidable quality, with the presence of several of the best groups in the world.”

Between January 14 and February 3

Organized by the Government of the Canary Islands, in collaboration with the Island Council and under the artistic direction of Jorge Perdigón, the programming of the 40th FIMC in Lanzarote will begin on Sunday, January 14 at the Jameos del Agua Auditorium with the string ensemble of the ‘Filarmónica’. of Gran Canaria’, under the baton of maestro Karel Mark Chichon. Together they will perform the premiere of one of the festival’s commissioned works, a score signed by Lanzarote composer Samuel Aguilar. They will also perform works by Shostakovich and Grieg and will feature soloists such as Javier Laso (piano).

The ‘Dúo Cassadó’ (left) also arrives in Lanzarote accompanied by the dancer Iván Vargas to perform the program ‘Hechizo y duende’, with which they pay tribute to García Lorca on the 125th anniversary of his birth, with works from the Spanish 20th century performed by Marta Moll (piano) and Damián Martínez (cello). It will be on January 18 at the Municipal Theater of Tías, and the next day, Friday the 19th, at the Inocencia Páez Sociocultural Center, in La Graciosa.

The ‘Bremen Chamber Philharmonic’, a cultural emblem of this city and of Germany, will perform on January 24 at the Jameos del Agua under the baton of the young Finn Tarmo Peltokoski who, at only 23 years old, is the current principal conductor guest of the Bremen formation. They are accompanied by soprano Chen Reiss, soloist in Schumann’s ‘Frauenliebe und Leben’ (with an orchestral arrangement by Conrad Artmüller) and in Mahler’s Fourth, arranged by Yoel Gamzou.

Another of the great proposals of this edition is the London Academy of The Fields Chamber Ensemble, a chamber formation of the prestigious British orchestra, which will perform on February 1 at the Víctor Fernández Gopar ‘El Salinero’ Theater, in Arrecife. The British group will take a tour of the baroque, classicism and romanticism, with works by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn.

The programming in Lanzarote closes on the same stage on February 3, by Jakub Josef Orlinski, the renowned Polish countertenor, considered one of the most influential artists on the current international scene, who visits the islands for the first time. He is accompanied by the baroque orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro, under the direction of Francesco Corti, which stands out for an authentic and dynamic interpretation of operas and instrumental works from the baroque and classical period.

In parallel

The Parallel section of the 40 FIMC incorporates other outstanding proposals into this exquisite programming. On Saturday, January 20, in El Salinero , there will be the multidisciplinary show ‘Océano’, which brings together performers, composers and artists from the islands.

On Thursday the 25th, a new version of the acclaimed show ‘Ángaro’  by the Pieles company will be staged at the Jameos del Agua, with its fusion of tradition and avant-garde; while on January 27, at the San Bartolomé Theater there will be a concert by the Cuban pianist living in the Canary Islands, Othoniel Rodríguez.

For more information about the programming and to get tickets, which are now available, you can consult the festival website

We return with our daily Monday to Friday Sidetracks And Detours blog on Monday 15th January with a look at how the incredible dancers of Alvin Ailey Dance achieve such superb performances.and a couple of our writers do a bit of number crunching to determine the state of live music. We find Gorillaz In The Mist and remember some sensational scoring debuts (by musicians, not footballers !) and then settle down to read Tony Brady Celebrating Blaisdon and we´ll see you back here next Sunday, so we can all share our news and please


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