I had every intention of posting a song from my attic every month but then I got completely distracted over the summer by the most fabulous high with songs coming out of my ears and only now I’ve come back down to earth I realise I haven’t posted anything for months! Oh the joys of being bipolar . So here is one of the first video recordings I made earlier this year, and it’s a new song called ‘Symmetry’. I hope you like it. Click here to see it.
I’m so delighted my gigs with Duke Special in Ireland next month have just been confirmed. I haven’t played there since we toured with Eric Bibb and Don McLean. I’m really looking forward to a proper Guinness and rediscovering my Irish roots. If you can make it to any of the gigs, it would be great to see you there.
I’m having such a great time touring with the wonderful Me For Queen (aka Mary Erskine with her band Andy, Nick and Will). Last night we played Crail Town Hall in Scotland, the night before we were at the Castle Hotel in Manchester.
I love being on the road, eating far too many crisps and cake and enjoying not having to map-read, the sat nav so far taking us to all the right places despite Christian’s deep suspicion that we’re going to end up marooned somewhere in the Highlands.
We’ve just arrived at An Tobar on the Isle of Mull, a lovely venue with particularly good cake. The countryside here is stunning and I even managed the ferry without feeling too queasy. Can’t tell you how happy I am to be touring again, singing my songs night after night. Lovely having some fans along for the ride too – Mike and Gail Watts and our trusty merch man Tim Pardoe who has been busy making himself completely indispensable.
It was great also to perform at Elder Stubbs Festival in Oxford last Saturday for the mental health charity Restore. It was at their allotments which are full of sunflowers and tree sculptures, and so lovely to see so many people there. Restore is the most fantastic charity, helping people like me recover from mental illness and get back into life again. I’m looking forward to doing some more performances for them in the autumn.
Time to soundcheck… hope all’s well in your world.
Like standing in the rain when you’ve been stuck in a desert, after 5 years of writer’s block I now seem to have songs coming out of my ears. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world and I know it won’t last which makes me all the more grateful for it.
As well as songwriting, I’ve been on the road with Christian driving up and down the country, singing my songs and meeting lovely people in Helmsley, Penzance, Barnoldswick, Carlisle and Milton Keynes. Thanks to everyone who has come to hear us play. I’m looking forward to my charity gig in Leeds and The Cluny in Newcastle this weekend.
I’m also looking forward to my mini tour of Scotland in August co-headlining with the wonderful Me For Queen (aka Mary Erskine) with warm-up gigs in Bristol and Manchester. I’m a 1/4 Scot who has never been north of Glasgow so I”m really excited to finally see the country. Dates and booking links for this tour are on my gigs page.
In the meantime, I’m also doing some more gigs in mental health hospitals. Music for mental health is a cause very close to my heart and I’ve had some fantastic feedback from staff and service users on the wards where I’ve played in the past.
Finally, after 4 years away, we’re going back to our shack in Australia (pic above) at Christmas. It will be boiling hot but I can’t wait to see the goats and the Obi Obi valley again.
Hope all’s well in your world.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. To celebrate, we’ve made a new video for my song ‘I’d Rather Be’.
I wrote ‘I’d Rather Be’ about a year after my first psychosis when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’d gone through all the stages of being at first completely terrified and then chronically depressed, and I was starting to feel a bit stronger.
I was starting to realise that all this energy in my head could be something precious, it could be something I could transform into creativity if I chose to. And I was thinking when I was writing this song, we all have choices in life, and these are some of mine…
I really enjoyed my live session on Radio 2 today with the super-lovely Clare Balding. Christian played double-bass, I had my guitar and sang ‘For Free’ from my new album ‘A Bit of Blue’ and at the end, ‘Start Over Again’ from my album ‘Believer’. We talked about music, mental health and Buddhism. You can listen again here (scroll to 01:29).
Today is World Bipolar Day. I was 23 when I was diagnosed. Here is the most direct song I’ve ever written about my experiences of being bipolar. It’s from my album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ and it’s called ‘Over The Waterfall’. You can download it from iTunes.
When I was 16 I was in a car crash which triggered a strange nervous system disorder called Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome. For the next 10 years I was in constant pain from muscle spasms all over my body. Some of the time I was on walking sticks, some of the time I was so fatigued I could barely move.
I tried everything for the pain, every treatment under the sun. Nothing helped, except diazepam (which I wasn’t allowed because of its psychotropic side-effects) and certain types of cannabis. The pain varied – sometimes it felt like a burning, sometimes spasms or cramps, sometimes a deep ache – but always moving around my body. When it stayed in one place for a few hours I thought I would go mad.
This is nothing compared to what actress Cherylee Houston deals with every day. She interviewed me for a programme on Radio 4 called ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ which was broadcast today. She wanted to explore the connection between pain and creativity.
When I got a guitar for my 21st birthday and started writing songs my illness became a complete blessing in disguise – stuck at home, unable to go to university or work, I had all this time on my hands to write. For me, the urge to write songs has always been inspired by the need to overcome and transcend pain, either physical or mental.
Millions of people live in pain. It’s good to talk about it and think about how we can possibly transcend it through creativity. You can listen again to the programme here.
I was a bit star-struck meeting Dr Phil Hammond when I did a live session on his BBC Radio Bristol show yesterday morning. I saw his stand-up show at Komedia in Bath a couple of years ago and thought he was absolutely brilliant. In person he was lovely and I sang ‘For Free’ and ‘Start Over Again’ with Christian on double-bass. I’m doing a live Radio 2 session with Clare Balding on Sunday 30 April.
Thanks to everyone who came to my gig at the Cambridge Junction on Saturday night. It’s such a fantastic venue and I really enjoyed it. And thanks to Jon Hill for a very cool pic. Next up is Artrix Arts Centre in Bromsgrove on 1st April.