There are things that happen in life that can’t be explained, and that’s how I feel about most of the events that have happened along this music journey. On Saturday 10th March we were joined in the studio by another University friend. Pete(r) Robinson kindly agreed to help us out with percussion, so Ali and I drove over to his place in Hull a couple of weeks ago to assess how that could work. Pete may be a little ring-rusty after so long not sitting behind a kit of any kind, but he contributed some excellent ideas and #TheBreedingGroundOfVile will be the better for them.
I saw Pete about five years ago in Norwich where he was with me, Kieran, and Jad at the University of East Anglia. Before then he and I had remained in contact through Christmas letters (him) and rants (me). He was back in contact recently at the same time as Jad’s business interests started to ramp back up, which means he is less available for a while. Fate seemed to bring Pete back into more regular contact just as I planned to locate additional percussionists.
Pete followed me from Norwich to Bristol and saw me at my lowest ebb. He was massively supportive as I tried in my very skinny, emotionally unstable, and near poverty stricken way to forge a new life in a city I only knew because my sister lived there. Friends Gary and Nigel Brown probably rescued me from a hermit’s life and I lived first with them in Redland, then in seven places around the city, one of which was a shared house with Pete in Bedminster, where bizarrely a friend of his daughter now lives.
At one point I lived in the attic room of a big house on Fishponds Road, and Pete stayed in that freezing place for a while when he first moved to the city, during which time we probably wrote a number of unrepeatable songs together. Eventually finding his own place to live, Pete came to visit one day when as well as being out of cash and temporarily jobless I was in the middle of a prolonged and stinking cold. He took me to the pub and plied me with Jamieson’s Irish whisky for the evening, and the next day I was without a cold but with a substantial headache.
It is astonishing that The Folded Arms is now made up of four blokes who have largely spent the last thirty or more years apart, and then Emma, Kate and Matt adding youth to our number. In Matt’s case, that meant that he was the one who pushed the trolley holding his bass combo uphill at Chorley Live when it had developed a flat, but then again he is a world champion stick fighter. Seriously! Anyway, it feels like there is an element of destiny to what we are doing, but it is also great fun and fabulous to have old and new friends supporting the music I write with such enthusiasm.
It will take a while for us to ease Pete back into live performance but the essence of our band is that it is as much about the friendships as the music. In a couple of months’ time we will be joined again by The Lewinskies, over from Canada for a second time, by my huge and hugely talented son Duncan, and by Sam Jefferson who helped us out when Duncan was unable to play at Chorley Live last year. Sam is an excellent blues artist and a really engaging performer so we are glad to have him as part of our collaboration.
Look out for details of our live gigs. Check the ‘Gigs’ tab above for ticketing and timing details, and “Come Along and Join Us!”