recorded on 20 April 2018 at St Mary De Lode, Archdeacon Street
recording engineer: Josh Petkovic-Short
film-maker: Chris Watkins, Chris Watkins Media
left to right: Chris Tweney, Vicki Field, Dave Hall, Tim Beck, Francis Barton, Nikola Jurčáková, Claire Weaving, Andrew Marshall, Finn Mills, Emma Mills, Christine Davies, Stephanie Harrison, Eloise Hopkins, Edward Markham, Sarah Snell-Pym, Alice Orchard, Hollie Smith-Charles, George Moorey Charlotte Sprason, Jean Pym, Pat Roberts, Josh Petkovic-Short, Emi McDade, Jon Hoyle, Sebastian Field, Dan Vickers, Nic Moorey, Helen Maynard-Watts,
Ceri Joanne Chaos-Holder, Lee Chaos, Sue Trickey, Kathryn Wheeler, Paul Trickey, Chris Watkins
After the St Nicholas session I became determined to write a song of welcome to counter any negative energy. The blessing was strong and genuinely meant but didn’t quite dispel the darkness of "Strangers".
Shane had provided lyrics and melody for me to refine and we were both excited to see how this song would turn out. The session was lovely. Those that turned up to sing were in fine voice and the atmosphere of togetherness and mutual respect and even love had returned. Although this song was the final session of the project in terms of when it was made I have chosen to open the audio album with this song. I think a welcome song sets out my stall nicely and gives the listener solid understanding of my values and beliefs about how we are all deserving of love, respect and a place to belong and that we should reach out to each other with positive energy and a gentle spirit.
I enlisted some folk players; Erica on violin, James on low whistle and Kathryn on Accordion and put a call out for another final scratch choir. I played acoustic guitar as did Tim who also led the singing. He and I shared some knowing looks and giggles as we recognised how the session had parallels with evangelical worship, both of us having been worship leaders in the past.
The session was held in St Mary De Lode which is the oldest parish church in the city and is believed by some to be on the site of the first Christian church in Britain. An auspicious belief that rather nicely complements the theme of welcoming, the positive atmosphere during the session and the recorded outcome.
Come take a place by the fireside
Rest from the wearying road
Sup from the cup of your neighbour
And lay down your load
One of us is the wanting
One of us will supply
Sitting room only
Be still as the world rushes by
Knock your troubles over
Feed them into the flame
Problems shared are halved they say
We will play our favourite game
And the measure of the man is how far apart his hands are held
To welcome the embattled and the lowly
This session took place on the same day in two parts. The first half of the session involved 5 musicians learning the song together then recording and filming that performance. We set ourselves up in the older part of the church and the sunlight was streaming through the stained glass and everything looked and sounded wonderful. It took us about 5 takes improvising our parts individually before I knew I had enough material to make it work. I'm particularly happy about the way the track ends. Everyone was flowing at that point and some lovely spontaneous magic happens in the closing bars as the whistle, violin, accordion and guitars gently and freely conclude the music.
The second half saw the scratch choir assemble to learn the song in the main part of the church before moving to the older part for filming and recording on top of the band's recording. Vicki taught and coached two parts and you can hear the subtle differences come together if you listen carefully to the recording. Everyone was in fine voice and it was easy to get good takes.
Acoustic guitar and lead singer
Tim brings his sweet voice to the fore as the lead singer in this track. He's so easy to work with and lovely to be around. I've got to know him as a friend over the past few years. We kind of knew each other through a mutual friend going back a decade or so ago, but it was only when I encountered him in our local Tesco Express that we discovered we lived in the same neighbourhood. We arranged to meet up for a pint and whiled away the time in easy company talking about music, creativity, church and family. Tim confessed to being a bit self-conscious about his own music making, but was brave enough to show me some stuff he'd done and I was suitably impressed. There's me in my well equipped cellar studio with all the kit struggling to cobble together decent productions and Tim with his iPad and guitar matching my efforts. Tim has been a blessing on this project. He's collected all my recording equipment (there's loads of boxes and cases) in his van at each session he's been involved in. He is generous with his skills, his time and energy and I count myself fortunate to have him as a friend. He also features on 3 other tracks and his willingness to take up necessary supporting musical roles is really appreciated.
Erica is a great folk player. I first met her at a pre-school playgroup. Our children are in the same generation and our older ones go to the same primary school and we often bump into each other with our younger ones. Of course we quickly found out that we were musicians and it's easy to talk music with other musicians. We're now all friends (Simon, her husband plays djembe on Aethelflaed) and so I invited Erica to be involved in the project and she plays on Coals and this track.
James is a friend and band mate of Erica's. I attended the 40th birthday party of Erica's husband Simon and really enjoyed the performance Erica and James gave along with their band mates of some great folk music. I was moved by what I heard at the party and wanted to include some of Erica's friends and capture the same sort of energy for one of my SPACES tracks. I sketched out this piece with this in mind so you might say that the seed of this song was sown at Simon's birthday party! James is a brilliant musician. He can play many different instruments and spends his time teaching and performing music as a professional. It was a pleasure to have him play and also just have him about while we made music. I'm finding that the best musicians are the ones that make everyone around them feel at ease irrespective of their technical or artistic abilities. James is certainly one that brings good energy to a session, it's a bonus that he is very accomplished.
Kathryn is an old band mate from Big Blue Sun. Another brilliantly gifted musician who can play a number of different instruments, read dots and use listening skills to improvise. You can hear some beautiful sequences of notes and inversions Kathryn played on her accordion on this song. It was great to have Kathryn be part of this little one off folk band playing gentle music together.
Acoustic guitar & pre-recorded drums and bass
More DADGAD from me. The pulsing drums and synth bass were pre-recorded in my cellar studio.