Music makes things different…


It is true you know.

I was thinking about the impact of creative gentle songs, crafted and honed, sung simply and tenderly- just like those Yvonne and David Lyon treated us to last night. We are left physically, spiritually and emotionally changed.

So I am grateful.

Grateful to Yvonne, and also to all those other people whose music becomes the means that life can travel.

The turn of words and tune that wrap up memories in beautiful blankets.

Time capsules of grace.


Some days you just need to listen to some Gospel music…

… and when those days come, reach for something – anything – by Mahalia Jackson.

This extraordinary woman chose to sing Gospel all her life- she could have sung whatever she wanted, with her incredible powerful voice. She would stand there, dressed like someones grandmother complete with church-hat, and then let rip. It was a force of nature that could break hard men somewhere inside. When asked why she sang Gospel she said this;

I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free,” Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, “It gives me hope. With the blues when you finish, you still have the blues.

She sang before Martin Luther King gave THAT speech (and at his funeral) and her voice has power and authority even now that successive musicians have tried to borrow from- and mostly failed.

Today I need some Gospel music. Thanks Mahalia.


Bob Fraser releases THREE albums all at once!


My old friend Bob Fraser has been remarkably productive of late. It is great to see him recording and gigging again.

I was singing Bob’s songs long before I knew him. He was the creative force behind a Christian rock group back in the 70’s called Canaan (check out this article for a retrospective.) He also wrote a number of worship songs that we sang in church- including one that became a standard called ‘You are the Rock on which I stand’.

Bob now has a new website, where you can order one of his three (yes, three!) new CD’s- including a Christmas themed one. I reckon that this means that Bob has now recorded at least 20 albums of his own, plus involvement in lots more- quite a musical legacy.

If you like easy going thoughtful country rock then check Bobs new stuff out!

Sam Hill Jr, new album…

sam hill

I am just sitting listening to Sams new Album, Cowboys and Moonbeams which arrived in the post today. Thanks Sam!

It it is sublime.

The musicianship is lovely, with all the ingredients that I love- fine guitar with understated piano and touches of dobro and steel. Much more however, the songs are saturated with a kind of broken beautiful humanity- the kind that breaks you open a little.

Sam Hill is one of the most talented musicians and songwriters I have ever heard. His back catalogue however is mostly many years old. In the interim he has been living a life blown around by tough things- and this is what these tender honest songs are about.

But when the last track is sung, life is enhanced for the listening.

The album will be available soon via Sam’s new website (online in the next few days.) Get yourself a copy, You will not regret it.

We hope that Sam (who was born in Scotland, but lives in Cornwall now, although with a Lancashire accent) will be coming up to Dunoon to do a living room gig. Watch this space…

Here is the only example of Sams work I could find on the net;

Sam Hill is recording again…

If anyone asked you to tell them what was the best live performance you ever heard – the one that sticks in your mind most – what would it be?

All that variety of music I have heard – the first stadium rock gig (U2) the first chorale (Bach’s Mass in B minor) the first time I heard Bruce Cockburn play the guitar and make a masterpiece out of words and virtuosity.

Yet the one I would select would be the performance of a man called Sam Hill, along with a band, playing at Calvary Christian Fellowship some time in the early 90s. Everything was lovely- I was there with my friends and my wife, most of us made music together, and were familiar with the sound rig, the acoustics, but what Sam was able to use them to achieve was sublime. Beautiful songs, delivered in a butter smooth Lancashire accent, soaring fiddle playing, and skillful guitar.

I played a support gig for Sam a year or so later- I still have a recording taken as a direct output of the sound desk. We sound scratchy, amateur, even though we had fun. Sam (who had turned up late, with half a band, guitars with pick ups that did not work) sounds gorgeous.

I lost touch with his music. We both moved away from Lancashire, me to Scotland, he to Cornwall. The next time I stumbled across anything he did was a lovely album of poetry and music that he did with Steve Stockman.

Flash forward ten years or so, and I was sitting with my mate Andy in the performance tent at Greenbelt Festival. Incidentally the last time Andy had been at Greenbelt (back in the 90s) he had been playing guitar in support of Sam. Someone had dropped out and so they had brought in a special guest- some bloke called Sam Hill.

The years had not been easy on him. The songs were dark and the voice had gathered some gravel. But every now and then, the music would break out of the cage and come alive.

I mention all this as Sam has been recording again it seems. Another old friend (Bob Fraser- another talented songwriter) posted this on FB. Get the album when it comes out, I will!

(No idea why this video will not load on the page- you will need to click on this link;)