I’m an earthquake

So I said already that I did some backing vocals on my friend Harry’s demo for his northern soul band, which I actually liked so much that I let Harry talk me into joining the band as a backing singer. The band is called “Alison and the Earthquakes” which makes me, and Harry, and Jools, and anyone else who isn’t Alison (duh!) an earthquake. I like that a lot.

Here is the demo, click to listen:



Blowin’ Up My Mind


So, if you know anyone who wants a to dance all night to Ike and Tina covers in tight spangly dresses, send them our way. http://www.myspace.com/alisonandtheearthquakes

Bee King

I’m currently recording this song all properlike with Danny for my upcoming EP, but I get too excited about new things to wait. So here’s a rough recording I made of the new song (lyrics are about three posts down). Clickety-click lickedy-split pop-pickers —>

Bee King

Lie still, lie quiet, see, the sun has appeared

Go out, and take your hat, all the bees are hungry

The quiet places

All the bees salute their king, kik-kiri-keee!
All the bees salute their king
Their smiles are wide and gold

The quiet places

And February has made the first steps on your ground
She lights a candle

Your name is known, and passed about, among the branches.

It’s a grey day here, and we’re all trying to meet various deadlines, and M has gone to “expend his nervous energy” which means serious, manly stomping. Stompy stomp. And it’s time for lunch.

LOVE x x x

Laish & Tristram Joint Headline Tour this February!

We’re off again!! This time it’s with Tristram, who The Guardian, Pitchfork and I love. Somehow we’ve got a van with a telly (!!), and I am bringing my autoharp.

The dates…

Oporto – Leeds – Feb 22nd

Canteen – Bristol – Feb 23rd

Undertone – Cardiff [with support from Evening Chorus] – Feb 24th

SLAK – Cheltenham – Feb 25th

Utrophia – London [with support from Kristin McClement] – Feb 26th

Communion – Oxford (supporting The Agitators) – Feb 27th


It’s going to be brilliant. I’ve bought a sensible backpack and some huge feather earrings in anticipation.

Holly Jarvis gives good poster, eh?


The wanderings of Laish and Curly Hair

Well now. About a week ago I got home from tour. For the benefit of foreign readers, I have laboriously marked our journey on this rather lovely Victorian map.

See, I did little arrows!

We had an absolutely fantastic time. Danny wrote a comprehensive blog, but I thought I’d add my own tour highlights:

  • New friendships. I only knew three of the eight-strong tour crew before we left, but now I feel like they’re my family. We ate, slept, fought, played, laughed and grumped together. In pissing-down rain, with hangovers, and colds, on beautiful sunny mornings setting off to a new place, drunk and dancing in our pyjamas. What a beautiful, generous, talented group of people.
At the radio station in Cardiff, eating birthday pasta
  • Incredible hospitality everywhere we went. People were so generous in throwing open their doors and letting in eight smelly, hungry, messy, noisy musicians. They fed us and let us sleep on their floors, partied with us and in one particular case performed reiki on us. Thank you all so much…
Little music house in Devon
  • Musical experiments. Some of the best playing was done in people’s living rooms. We invented a game called Just a Song, based on Radio 4’s Just a Minute. We co-wrote a folk-funk-fusion number called “Sexy Love Death”. Jools made up an epic rap about sealife which went on for at least ten minutes. We coerced our hosts into joining in, on cellos, ukuleles, drums, violins, zithers…
Palnackie, Middle of Nowhere, Scotland
  • The food. It seemed that for every anodyne takeaway sandwich, someone cooked up a feast. It’s so true what they say about food made with love. We had delicious home-made chilli from Holly and Micaela in Cornwall, pork roast and honey from the farm in Devon, Rory’s pasta triumph in Cardiff, Jool’s grandparents’ 30 year old soup and freshly pressed apple juice, Jools’ roast vegetable pasta and Ben’s fantastic pumpkin soup in Scotland.
At Miss Peapod's in Cornwall, first night of tour
  • My birthday. I can’t think of a better way to spend it. I woke up after an incredible night of music with Martha in a little gabled room at the farm in Devon. Twin cots, floral wallpaper and lots of 1950s children’s books. Outside the sun was shining, inside we sat up in bed and laughed and I played with the lovely black cat that spent the night with me. Downstairs in the kitchen the guys were already frying up the sausages in the massive kitchen. We had toast and honey from the Calderbank’s beehives. We went off to Cardiff and recorded a live session for The Waiting Room, and the Curlies went off and made us a surprise lunch with cake while Laish were recording. I remember thinking how lucky I was to spend my birthday with my friends, although we’d only known each other three days. That evening we played the Folkhouse in Bristol. Candlelit and magical. Mum and Michael drove up to see us, Martha and I wore our new dresses. Jools got the sugarshakes from too much birthday cake. Michael had done a beautiful painting of Melville for me. We stayed at a house with a friendly cockatoo called Maude.
Rory on the trampoline at Songs from the Shed
  • Richard Dawson. The man has been touched by the Gods. He is so blindingly insanely talented that I literally couldn’t shut my mouth while he played. Do yourself a favour and buy everything he ever does, ever.
Richard, Danny and Rory in Newcastle
  • Playing “In the End” with Martha in a huge ramshackle happy superband. Song of the tour, I think.
Not sure whose photo this is... taken at the Laish album launch at Notting Hill Arts Club in London a week after tour ended. It's the biggest line-up for "In the End" yet, with Jess and Ben as well.
  • New instruments! Martha’s parlour guitar and my autoharp.
Beautiful Martha

And so, now, back to normal life. The Laish album is out and you can buy it through the website. I am struggling with some weird tiredness thing, and trying to find a place for Michael and I to live. Martha’s now running a weekly music night, and there’s another gig on Saturday, and I have all these lovely new friends in Brighton, so I’m not too sad. I just have to find a job once this course ends. (A job that will allow me to go off on tour again… if the opportunity arises…)

Laish Tour Dates

I am going on tour!

And I am excited. I had a great practice tonight with Danny, where everything started to click and sound freaking awesome, and so I think it’s really happening. Anyway, here are the tour dates:

OCTOBER (with support from Curly Hair and * with Martha Rose)

22nd Oct: Miss Peapods, Falmouth*

23rd: Calderbanks Farm, Devon*

24th: The Folk House (OXJAM TAKEOVER), Bristol

25th: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham*

26th: Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

27th: Bloc Bar, Glasgow

29th: Village Hall, Kirkpatrick Durham, Scotland

30th: Big Blue Coffee Company, Derby

31st: Lewes Arms, Lewes

NOVEMBER: two album launch parties…

6th Nov: Notting Hill Arts Club, London @ 4pm *

13th Nov: Westhill Hall, Brighton*

Beautiful lovely friends, it would mean so much to me if you’d come along! Journalist friends, perhaps you could come to the Lewes gig? Celia and Graham and Sunbeam, Devon? Londoners, come to Notting Hill Arts Club?

Incidentally, October 24th is also my twenty-sixth birthday. I have had some excellent birthdays, like the one I had when I was living in a Greek bookshop. But, I think this one might be my favourite. I am madly in love, I am doing what I want with my life, and I get to run around the UK, drink beer, eat chips and play the flipping banjo! Heaven.


P.S. How wonderful is the Chilean Miners story? I am up way past my bedtime watching it right now… Pedro Cortez, the 31st miner, is out. Watching them emerge from the depths of the mountain has been really moving, because really it’s not just a story about 33 miners. 😉

Oh the terrible delay

Hello beloveds,

Well, life is hard work at the moment. M in the New Forest, me here in Brighton, people having heart attacks and people getting depression and me mail-ordering orchids to them all.

The course at the Brighton Journalist Works is going well, despite me, as usual, overegging my own pudding, so to speak. I have taken on a bit too much, but luckily my course leader has let me wriggle a bit and I’ve got a week off because as well as the journalism I have been rehearsing with Mr Danny Green in order to go on the Laish tour in two weeks! As you see, Laish are good’uns, and they’re just crying out for a bit of banjo:

Choochoo! J x

(P.S. Melville our dog arrived, finally, from Spain, eight months after M did!)

Herman Melville, the white whale, and the Pequod

Shorthand = short tempers


I STILL haven’t finished my flipping project. I can say that’s it’s a song I’m writing for new baby Jennifer June Anderson, on banjo, because now her Mum and Dad know about it so I’m not revealing the surprise. Here’s the problem… it is IMPOSSIBLE to write a song for a new baby without making yourself weep every time you try to play it.

Plus, I am spending all my time trying to learn shorthand ahead of my journalism course. It’s not easy. LOOK AT IT!

(all mistakes mine)

I started a new blog, which I haven’t had time to write much for yet, but it’s on my to-do list, ok?! So for now I have little to offer except two more videos from last summer’s Camper Van Jamboree. Guess which song is older. Guess which one embarrasses me.

Swallows and Amazons



Gold Diggah (FOLKED!)

I really am feeling very cheery. This may be the reason I decided to see if I could make a recording of Kanye West’s Gold Digger. This, I think, will be the only time you’ll EVER hear me rap. Click this liddle linky and go hear it!

Gold Diggah (FOLKED!)

Banjo/ukulele/voices/suitcase c/o Enid Steals.

Background translating/fixing of indeterminate feedback c/o Minreel Bayron.

Me in my studio, sippin Krystal!

I spent this afternoon at Sports Day with my form group. I expected it to be 3 hours of baking in the sun. Actually, it turned into 1 hour baking in the sun, and the rest of the time dealing with what we “Professional Teachers” call “An Incident”. Which means Girl X attacked Girl Y in the bathrooms and left scratchmarks all over her neck.

Flesh wounds aside, I have one more day left, and I am very happy. Besides, it also looks like M and I will be off to Indietracks festival this weekend to be Members Of The Press. Lovely Helen and Lynnabeth at For Folk’s Sake are letting me write a review for them. Here’s the line up:

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART/ THE POOH STICKS / THE PRIMITIVES/ TENDER TRAP / EVERYBODY WAS IN THE FRENCH RESISTANCE…NOW!/ Allo Darlin’, Antarctica Takes It!, Ballboy, Be Like Pablo, Betty and The Werewolves, Boy Genius, The Blanche Hudson Weekend, The Callas, The Cannanes, The Cavalcade, Cineplexx, Cowtown, Clint Play People, David Tattersall, The Felt Tips, Foxes!, Internet Forever, The Give It Ups, The Hillfields, Jam On Bread, The Just Joans, La La Love You, Lime Chalks, Linda Guilala, The Loves, Mexican Kids At Home, Micktravis, The Middle Ones, TheMillipedes, MJ Hibbett & the Validators, Paisley & Charlie, Pale Sunday, The Parallelograms, The Orchids, Onward Chariots, Red Shoe Diaries, Sarandon, Secret Shine, Shrag, Springfactory, Slow Club, The Smittens, Socialist Leisure Party (solo set), The Specific Heats, Standard Fare, Stars In Coma, Stars of Aviation, The Sunny Street, This Many Boyfriends, Urbantramper, Veronica Falls, White Town, Winston Echo, Yokoko. Indiepop discos by: Offbeat, ComeOut2Nite, Astrogirl, How Does It Feel To Be Loved? Soul & Sixties, Feeling Gloomy, Attagirl, Crimes Against Pop, Pic ‘n’ Mixx
My other achievement this evening was erecting my tent in a graveyard.

The light at the end of the…

Last summer, Eoin O’Mahony and I went off in a camper van and made a series of recordings in a campsite under Old Sarum, down in the South. This one is called Swannanoa Tunnel.

It’s a magical thread, actually, this song, that ties together a group of people in all sorts of ways. Cecil Sharp, one of my folk heroes, collected this song in 1916 in North Carolina. Although it’s no doubt a variant on one of a number of other tunnel songs (yes, they are apparently a sub-genre all of their own), it is linked to the actual Swannanoa Tunnel which went through the Blue Ridge Mountains: hand-dug and haunted, in this song, with such dreadful nostalgia. The first time I heard the Bascom Lamar Lunsford version I put it on repeat and listened for hours, lying on my back in the dark with goosebumps. These old folk songs, wonky and broken and always slightly out of tune, are like crooked little paths that open from my heart into the past. And there’s a lot of good ones, but some are just… some were written to fit where nothing else fits, and to comfort when nothing else comforts.

Here’s Bascom’s version if you want to hear the real/old thing. He was a lawyer and amateur folklorist/raconteur type figue who used to turn up to lectures in unimpeachable white tie only to haul out the banjo. Nothing is less dignified than a banjo.

I’m going back to that Swannanoa Tunnel,
That’s my home, baby, that’s my home.

Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel,
All caved in, baby, all caved in.

Last December, I remember,
The wind blowed cold, baby, the wind blowed cold.

If you hear my watchdog howling, /Somebody around…

If you hear that hoot owl calling, /Somebody dying…

Hammer falling from my shoulder /All day long…

Ain’t no hammer in this mountain /Outrings mine…

This old hammer, it killed John Henry, /It didn’t kill me…

Riley Gardner, he killed my partner, /He couldn’t kill me…

Riley Rambler, he killed Jack Ambler, /He didn’t kill me…

This old hammer rings like silver, /Shines like gold…

Take this hammer, throw it in the river, /It’ll ring right on, baby, it’ll shine right on.

Some of these days I’ll see my lover/Coming on home,

He promised to me, he’d soon be coming, /and that’s no lie baby…