My paper wings, a piece of string
And pretty things that keep me sane
Unopened doors and something more
I've said before that calls my name


Standing
 
 
 
 
Follow Emily on
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dudley on our sitting room table
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Playing the Royal Albert Hall
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Live session for BBC Radio Sheffield
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My bass player Christian Dunham
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meeting Tariq Ali
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A snake with bad indigestion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Serenading a snake at Shaktu
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My yurt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
'Shaktu': shack no.2 on the farm
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Playing Pianos in NYC
 
 
 
 
 
 

On the plane to London


 
     
EMILY'S BLOG    
____________________________________
Reviews and other news
[29.01.17]
 
Counting down the days now to the release of my fifth album 'A Bit Of Blue' on 24th February. I've been so delighted reading the reviews - the latest one in from Maverick Magazine.

Last week I posted my second 'Songs From My Attic' video, this time of me singing 'Falling On My Feet', a song from my first album 'Stranger Place' that I wrote when I was in a mental health hospital in London.

Thanks to BBC Radio Scotland who have been playing my single 'For Free'. The song has also been getting airplay on BBC Radio Wales, Ulster and Merseyside. You can watch the 'For Free' video here. This is the radio mix... the album version has two extra verses.

Finally one of the highlights of my career so far... watching my 7-year-old nephew Vincent Taylor sing my song 'Anything You Do' today with which he has got through to the second round of the St Stephen's Got Talent contest. I am so proud of him. Next round on Wednesday...

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Songs From My Attic
[12.01.17]
 
We've just released the first in a series of videos called 'Songs From My Attic', basically me performing acoustic, unplugged versions of my songs at home in my lovely attic studio. I've been wanting to do this for ages.

Here's the first one which is 'Start Over Again', a song very close to my heart (it's on my third album 'Believer'). I'll also be doing readings from my books as well as singing songs. If you follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my Youtube channel you'll get a notification when I put a new one up.

xx

____________________________________
Flu blues
[09.01.17]
 

I love Christmas. I love the lights and the carols and the cold and most of all giving presents.  So I was gutted to find myself on Christmas Eve stuck in bed sweating like I was in a sauna with the most horrible pain in my legs and back.  Ah the joys of flu.  I slept for 5 days, missing all the fun we were supposed to be having.  Never mind, there’s always next year…

Just been finishing the artwork for my new album ‘A Bit Of Blue’ which goes to press this week.  I’m looking forward very much to the album launch in London next month.   If you’re free on Friday 24th February it would be fab to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
Mental health hospital feedback
[23.12.16]
 
Just got this amazing feedback from one of the Manchester mental health hospitals I played in last week. Made my day. Thanks so much to Ann Jones for passing it on.

Service User, Poplar Ward:
“It was emotional. She was telling her story. Especially at this time of year when people reflect on their own life. It was done with compassion and empathy. I think it touched a nerve with everyone.”

Service User, Elm Ward:
“Emily Maguire was a standout performance and lifted my spirits, since I miss seeing bands, being a service user.”

Service User, Maple Ward:
“It was brilliant. It explains exactly how you feel coming in these places and how your head goes. It showed that someone else has been there and come back. I will play the CD at home. It was lovely. Everything she sang about describes the road you go down. I would go and watch her in concert. It was true to life. When you have depression you are so low but you’ve got to try and pick yourself up. It was marvellous.”

Service User, Laurel Ward:
“I found it inspiring and enjoyed the music. I particularly liked the words: “Keep Walking”.”
____________________________________
Merry Christmas
[23.12.16]
 

It’s been, for me, an amazing year.  This time last year I couldn’t play my instruments at all and had lost all my confidence in performing.   Now I’m doing gigs again and looking forward to the dates we’ve booked for next year.

Doing hospital gigs, working for The Big Issue, playing pubs and clubs, getting such a fantastic response to my fan-funding campaign for ‘A Bit Of Blue’, seeing fans again at gigs, has all rebuilt me from the ground up.

Big love and thanks to all of you for your support.  I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

xx

____________________________________
Last mental health gigs of 2016
[16.12.16]
 
Just back from a trip to Manchester on my own to do 3 mental health gigs.  First I played for a group of social workers.  They all looked completely knackered and I was sure they’d rather be on their way home but after the gig quite a few came up to say they’d enjoyed it.

The next morning I drove to a mental health hospital in north Manchester.  There was squash and biscuits and a good gathering of patients and staff to hear me.  I met Rachel, a paralympian who has been in and out of hospital for years and was looking forward to being discharged that day.  I met Noah, who speaks 5 languages and gave me a book about God.  20 years ago they had an art therapist, a music therapist and a drama therapist in this hospital.  All gone now.

Then I drove to south Manchester to another mental health hospital where I set up my speaker in a day-room.  I always hand out free CDs to patients but this time I was told to give the CDs to a nurse in case they used them to self-harm.  I tried not to look too hard at a girl sitting listening with a slashed throat. 

All the staff I met were lovely but the suffering of their patients is quite overwhelming.  On the way out of Manchester I cried in the car.  It took 5 hours to get back home but I’m glad I did it – if even one person came away with a song in their ear that really meant something to them, that was worth it.  I’ll be doing more hospital gigs next year.
____________________________________
Restore
[11.12.16]
 
Last week I was at the AGM of Restore, a fantastic mental health charity based in Oxfordshire. I am now one of their patrons. They help people like me recover from mental illness and lead fulfilled, meaningful lives. They have 8 sites including allotments, craft workshops, and two cafes and they offer recovery groups, training and employment coaching sessions. The atmosphere there is so lovely - warm and positive - and people benefit hugely from it. You can find out more at www.restore.org.uk. The photo is of me singing some songs in the cafe after the AGM.
 
____________________________________
'For Free' music video
[27.11.16]
 
Just finished this video for my song 'For Free'. This is the radio single version - there are 2 extra verses on the album version of the song which will be included on 'A Bit Of Blue'. You can see lyrics of the radio version below. In all the craziness of this time, this is my song to the world...
 
 

For Free (radio single version)

The ancient rivers run dry
There’s not enough space in the sky
But no-one owns the birds in the trees
They fly for free

And it’s a world of traders and thieves                        
Everything I want is what I need
And the wily salesman agrees
He smiles for free

But I know there’s something sacred
In all the living things I see, yeah yeah
And I know that it’s a wonderful world
And yes it’s all for free

But when a man of fortune is paid
For every bomb and bullet that’s made
Who would turn a war into peace
When true love is for free

But I know there’s something sacred
In all the living things I see, yeah yeah
And I know that it’s a wonderful world
And yes it’s all for free

____________________________________
Book launch
[21.11.16]
 
Thanks to everyone who came to my book launch in Bath on Saturday night. It was great to see you there.
 
____________________________________
My new book 'Notes From The North Pole'
[17.11.16]
 
"I've always wanted to know the right answer, to see the world in black and white. But life is not monochrome, there's a million shades of grey, and such mystery is all we need to feel there is something more..."

My new book ‘Notes From The North Pole’ is out today, available to order from all good bookshops, online from Amazon or direct from Shaktu Records.

The book is a collection of poetry, prose and song lyrics. The poems are 'stream-of-consciousness' - exactly as they fell out of my head and onto the page. The prose is taken from my journals from where my first book 'Start Over Again' left off. The lyrics are of both published and unpublished songs.

'Notes From The North Pole' came out of a dark time in my life - hence the north pole - but as always there was light at the end of the tunnel and something good came out of something bad. I hope it can be of some benefit.

xx
____________________________________
Thank you
[16.11.16]
 
A huge heartfelt thank-you to everyone who responded to my appeal for sponsors of my new album 'A Bit Of Blue'. The fan-funding campaign has now ended and we've raised enough funds to cover the cost of releasing the album. I am so grateful for your support and belief in me, even after I'd disappeared for such a long time.

The last few weeks we've been doing gigs which has been fantastic. I can't tell you how happy I am to be performing with Christian again and seeing so many friendly faces wherever we play. Tickets are now on sale for my album launch in London and other venues around the UK in 2017. Check out my gigs page for details.

I've just left my job at The Big Issue to work full-time again on our record label and the album release. I'd started working for The Big Issue as a volunteer last year when I was still recovering from being ill. At the start of this year they offered me a permanent part-time role as a service broker for The Big issue Foundation.

My job was basically to help the vendors sort their lives out and I absolutely loved it. It has been a very hard decision to leave but music was always my priority and once I could play again, it had to come first. I'd like to say a big thank-you to Chris Taylor, Simon Chilcott, The Big Issue Foundation and all the Big Issue vendors in Bath for helping me get back on my feet again.

xx
____________________________________
World Mental Health Day
[10.10.16]
 

Today is World Mental Health Day. Hopefully things are a lot better than 6 years ago when I published my first book 'Start Over Again' after hiding my condition for years. People told me then that I was brave to be talking about my mental illness. But I didn't feel brave, I felt completely liberated. I still do.

We shouldn't have to hide. We shouldn't lower our voices when someone says the word 'depression'. So much work has been done over the past few years to challenge the stigma of mental illness and I think it's wonderful how many organisations and individuals are out there now helping people like me lead creative, fulfilling lives.

Here's a live video of me singing 'I'd Rather Be', a song I wrote after my first psychosis when I was coming to terms with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was realising there was a silver lining to the bipolar cloud - that all this energy in my head could be something precious, something I could transform into creativity if I chose to...

xx



____________________________________
Sponsoring my new album 'A Bit Of Blue'
[07.10.16]
 

It's 3 years since we released my 4th album 'Bird Inside A Cage', which was entirely made possible by the support of my fans. Now, after 2 years out of action due to ill health, I'm back in the land of the living with a new album: 'A Bit Of Blue'. This record is a new departure for me, and I can't wait for you to hear it. But I need your help to release it.

The album started life 3 years ago when we went back to Australia to the studio where we made my first 2 albums.  It was so great to be back there with engineer Pix Vane-Mason, out in the Australian bush.  I spent 2 days on a roll recording all the vocals and when we got back to the UK we gave the hard drive to my producer Nigel Butler to start work.

Nigel produced my last album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ which was a huge multi-layered production with all the pop elements he’s known for as one of the main producers for X Factor.

But this album was different.  We knew we wanted to call it ‘A Bit Of Blue’ and we knew we wanted it stripped bare, haunting and as beautiful as it could possibly be.  We wanted to go back to the raw sparseness of my first album ‘Stranger Place’, but this time with the sound of ethereal piano and soft ambient music.

But then I had another breakdown and so this record has been on the shelf ever since waiting for me to recover.

Now I’m back on my feet again, the album is finished and we are planning to release it in February next year. But to do that I need your help.  So I’m asking you to sponsor this album release and help us get these new songs out into the world.  In return, you’ll get some gifts from us as a heartfelt thank you.

If you would like to be involved, please check out the pledges here.

Thanks so much for your support.

xx

____________________________________
Stranger on a bridge
[30.09.16]
 
Today I met Jonny Benjamin. You might have heard about his search for the man who saved his life by stopping him jumping from a bridge. I was at a training session for the local mental health NHS trust - they'd asked me to sing some songs.

I was looking at the agenda when I got there and thinking oh no I've got to wait an hour before I perform but then this guy stood up and started talking about his life and how he'd been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and been sectioned again and again until finally he decided to end it all and that's when a stranger on a bridge saved his life. He talked about his campaign to find this man, and by the time he showed the video of them meeting at last, I was in tears.

I've stood on clff-tops, not bridges, I know that feeling of utter despair. And that moment when something, someone, saves you. We're both survivors, along with the millions of other people who have been through this too. Jonny is a mental helath campaigner now. Check out this.

xx
____________________________________
End of 2016 mental health music tour
[18.09.16]
 
Last week, I finished my mental health music tour. Over the past 5 months I've played for mental health hospitals and Mind groups in Bristol, Swindon, Cambridge, Peterborough, Weston-Super-Mare, Latteridge, Bath, Devizes, Exeter, Salisbury, Chippenham, Malmesbury, Melksham, Oxford, Gloucester and Hereford.

When I started back in May I was still recovering from my own breakdown and had lost all my confidence about performing. This may sound strange but for some reason I feel quite safe in mental health hospitals and so I thought it would be the best environment for getting back on the horse again.

The first gig was in Southmead Hospital in Bristol. I was terrified. My sister came with me to hold my hand but in the end I needn't have worried - I was actually just playing in a big reception area with people wandering around and hardly anyone listening.

It got better. I played on hospital wards, I played for Mind groups all over Wiltshire and slowly but surely I got my confidence back. We'd made a sampler CD for the service users - in the end I gave out nearly 200. I was delighted at my first proper gig in Box a few weeks ago to see some people I'd met at a Mind group and a guy who was an inpatient at Weston-Super-Mare. "Did they let you out or did you escape?" I asked him with a smile. He laughed.

Last night was Colchester. Next weekend it's a free pub gig in Bruton, Somerset. Next summer I'll do another mental health music tour. But for now, I'm just so happy to be playing again. It's amazing how much there is to appreciate when you don't take so much for granted.

xx



____________________________________
First gig in 2 years
[27.08.16]
 
Last night I did my first proper gig in 2 years at The Queen's Head in Box. Thanks to everyone who came to support us - old friends and new - and to Rob Bozas of Schtumm for having us. Here's a video of the gig - first on is the amazing multi-instrumentalist Joni Fuller. Scroll to 1:15 to hear us.
 
 
____________________________________
Playing for Restore
[21.08.16]
 
I had a great time yesterday playing with Christian at the Elder Stubbs Festival in Oxford. Elder Stubbs is one of the fantastic allotments run by Restore, a community rehabilitation service that helps people recover from mental illness through gardening, woodwork, cooking, arts, crafts and other creative activities. They also offer training and help with getting back into employment. If you want to read about something good instead of the usual news, check out their website.

It was so lovely to see our old friends Mike and Gail Watts at the gig - thanks to Mike for the photo. I was very happy to be back with my guitar as you can see :). Looking forward to playing again in Box this Friday.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
More mental health gigs
[01.08.16]
 
My tour of mental health hospitals and groups continues... today I was in Chippenham playing for the Mind group there. Last week I played for another Mind group in Salisbury where I tried to persuade 2 people to learn the guitar, and then did a gig for a group of teenagers in a mental health hospital in Bristol where I met some very talented musicians. The week before that I played for another Mind group in Devizes and for Devon NHS Trust in Exeter.

I've got more mental health gigs to do in the next few weeks before my autumn run of warm-up gigs begins with Schtumm in Box near Bath on 26th August. We've started rehearsing our new show and I am really excited about how it's sounding... and after 2 years off the road and doing all these mental health gigs on my own, I can't tell you how fantastic it is to be playing with Christian again. Dates are on my gigs page. If you can make it to any of these dates, it would be great to see you there.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Songs in a flower garden
[05.07.16]
 
On Sunday I sang some of my songs for an open day at Organic Blooms in Latteridge, south Gloucestershire. It's the most fantastic place, a social enterprise that trains and employs people with mental health needs and learning disabilities to work in a big flower garden.

The people I met were so lovely and passionate about working there and the difference it had made to their lives (and they gave me the most amazing parsnip cake). So it you need beautiful bouquets for your wedding or any other occasion, or just like looking at flowers, go and visit or check out www.organicblooms.co.uk.
____________________________________
A trip down memory lane
[24.06.16]
 
So I drove to Fulbourn Hospital in Cambridge yesterday morning feeling a bit weird and as I went up the drive there was grass and trees and I remembered that when I'd been there 18 years ago I'd hugged a tree, not sure why, and then I saw a sign to Tesco's and I remembered how some of the inpatients were allowed to go to Tesco's but I wasn't and I was terrified of going anywhere anyway...

Thankfully at this point the lovely arts therapist Kimberley who'd organised the gig turned up and showed me their amazing music room and I got busy setting up. Weirdly enough one of the patients who came said she remembered me - she said that I'd been on the ward playing guitar. Anyway, in the end the gig was great and I really enjoyed meeting everyone there. Thanks to Michael Brown for coming and being my roadie.

Then it was on to Peterborough to the Cavell Centre where I played in the canteen for staff and patients. Thanks to Andy Burrows for the photo. Then this morning I went to a women's refuge in Cambridge run by my oldest friend Caro Mackechnie-Jarvis and sang some songs for the residents there. Next week I'm doing 3 more mental health gigs - in Weston-Super-Mare, Trowbridge and South Gloucestershire.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Rain sticks, hugs and feeling trepidatious
[15.06.16]
 
Last week I had a great time at Callington Road mental health hospital in Bristol singing songs for the patients and staff there. I read a bit from my book ‘Start Over Again’ and at the end I sang ‘Lighthouse Man’ with people playing drums and rain sticks and singing along. I got a big hug from a lovely patient I met the last time I played there. Thanks to Paco and Nicola from the OT team for inviting me and helping me lug all my stuff in.

The week before I was in Swindon singing songs for the over-65s ward at the Victoria Centre. It was another lovely afternoon meeting patients and staff. Thanks to Julie and their wonderful Irish matron Frances for inviting me and again helping me with my stuff.

Next week I’m performing for the patients at Fulbourn Hospital in Cambridge. I’m a bit trepidatious about this one because this is the hospital where I was first sectioned many years ago and I don’t have pleasant memories of it. But maybe singing some songs there will be kind of therapeutic. I’ll let you know what happens…

xx
____________________________________
Performing again
[19.05.16]
 
Today I sang my songs at a hospital in Bristol. This is only the second gig I've done since August 2014. Since then I've had chronic tendonitis in both my arms and terrible depression as a result of not being able to play my instruments, perform or do pretty much anything.

But now, as so often happens, things have got better. Being a very impatient Buddhist, time never heals at the pace I want it to, but it does heal eventually. My arms are now 80% recovered, my head is no longer locked in the black dog's jaws, I've got a new album and a new book to show for being absent for so long.

I'm looking forward to doing more gigs for mental health hospitals and groups in the next few months, and later in the autumn I'll be doing some low-key gigs building up to the release of my fifth album. If you're on my mailing list I'll keep you posted on all developments.

The wonderful thing about the dark is the dawn - that huge sense of relief when you finally open your eyes and see light again. Today I sang 'Keep Walking', 'Falling On My Feet', 'Someday', 'Over The Waterfall', 'I'd Rather Be' and 'Start Over Again'. I hope I'll be singing to you again before too long.

xx
____________________________________
New album... work in progress
[26.01.16]
 
Just got back from a session with my producer Nigel Butler, working on the songs for my fifth album. One more track to record then it's done. I am so excited about this record - it sounds completely different to any of my other albums. I can't wait for you to hear it. I don't have a release date yet but I'll keep you posted.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Happy Christmas... and a song
[20.12.15]
 
Big love and thanks to all the fans on my mailing list who sent me such lovely messages last week. Your support means the world to me. It's been a tough year but things are getting better and as it's Christmas I want to share with all of you one of the songs that's going to be on my next album. It's called 'For Free'.

I had to cancel all my gigs this year due to tendonitis but I'm determined to be performing again next year so I look forward to seeing you at a gig somewhere in 2016. In the meantime I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a very happy new year.

xx
 
____________________________________
''The Borderline' on the radio
[14.09.15]
 

They played my song 'The Borderline' on the radio in Germany tonight. It was part of a programme about my music broadcast by Berlin-based Radio RBB.

'The Borderline' has never been played on radio before, partly because it's nearly 6 minutes long. It's a song very close to my heart. I'd had writer's block for 6 months and was feeling really frustrated and low. I went to see my Buddhist teacher Lama Jampa Thaye and he told me to get up at dawn, do my meditation practice and then start writing. The next morning I started writing 'The Borderline'. It took me 2 days to finish it. Here it is... you can read the lyrics here.

xx

 
____________________________________
'Over The Waterfall' on MTV
[15.02.15]
 
My latest album 'Bird Inside A Cage' is being released in Germany and across Europe on 27th March. The first single is 'Over The Waterfall', a song about my experiences of living with bipolar disorder.

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from this condition and although there can be a silver lining to the cloud, at times there is a cold hard rain pouring down on your head. It can be a very lonely place to be.

My hope is that 'Over The Waterfall' will reach out to all those people and let them know that they are not alone. And I hope that the song can help raise awareness and understanding in those who don't have to live under that cloud.

The response so far to the music video for 'Over The Waterfall' has been overwhelming and it has been shared around the world. And that, for me, makes it all worthwhile. It is now being shown on MTV and on video channels across the territory.

Hope all is well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
Merry Christmas
[22.12.14]
 
Thanks so much to everyone who sent me such lovely messages of support over the past few months - I really appreciate it. It's been a very up and down year for me but I'm looking forward to 2015 with a new album coming out and new tour dates that we'll be announcing very soon.

In the meantime I'm wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

xx
____________________________________
Start over again
[23.11.14]
 
Clare Balding played my song 'Start Over Again' this morning on Radio 2. It feels very apt for where I'm at right now.

I must have been feeling very brave when I wrote 'Start Over Again' - to say so boldly 'Pour on the muddy waters, I won't drown'. Recently I haven't felt so sure. I've been in a dark tunnel of depression these past few months, unable to play music or work to distract myself because of my arms. I'd forgotten how bad it can get.

But one good thing about feeling this bad is that it teaches you empathy. Right now there are millions of people in the world who feel just like I do. Another good thing is it teaches you patience. Things will always change, you just have to keep breathing and wait.

And then yesterday I woke up for the first time feeling like the clouds had lifted. After so much darkness, there is nothing like that sense of relief. And tonight I watched the sunset from my attic window as the red clouds blazed across the sky and felt glad to be alive.

I've been listening to the songs that will be on my new album. My producer Nigel Butler has been working on them and is nearly finished. They are all songs from my heart. I hope that they will be of some comfort to all those others who get caught in the muddy waters from time to time. That would make it all worthwhile.

Hope all is well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
World Mental Health Day
[10.10.14]
 

Today is World Mental Health Day. Last year I did an interview with Libby Purves on Radio 4 talking about my songs and my book 'Start Over Again', a very personal account of my experiences of dealing with bipolar disorder. You can still listen again to the interview on the BBC website (scroll to 22:00 to hear my bit).

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my last blog with such lovely messages - I really appreciate your support.

Hope all is well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
Woes of an impatient Buddhist
[24.09.14]
 
A few days after I wrote my last blog in July both my arms started hurting. Since coming back from my Germany tour I'd been busy rehearsing piano and cello pieces and writing string scores on the computer, getting ready to record my instrumental album.

Somehow doing all that I strained my arms badly and since then I've managed to re-injure them not once but four times. My own stupidity. I didn't realise how bad it was. We had to cancel the recording in August and now we've had to cancel the rest of my gigs for this year. The doctors say I need at least 2 months of complete rest.

Inevitably, being a very impatient Buddhist, I've been struggling to keep my spirits up. Depression is a well-worn groove in my mind. But I saw my teacher Lama Jampa Thaye yesterday who helped me see that this might turn out to be not a setback, but a blessing.

I just wanted to say thanks so much to everyone who sent me good wishes and suggestions - as always your support means a great deal to me. And my apologies to everyone who bought tickets for the gigs I've had to cancel - hopefully the dates will all be rearranged for the new year. I'll keep you posted...

xx
____________________________________
Sunday afternoon
[20.07.14]
 
It's Sunday afternoon and hot in my attic studio. I've been working all day finishing another instrumental piece. I've got exactly 4 weeks to finish all the scores for this instrumental album we're recording next month - 19 pieces in all now.

Some are just cello and piano, some are cello duets, some are big piano and string ensemble pieces. It's been such a revelation writing them - enjoying composing music for music's sake, and not needing words to express feelings.

I'm also working on tracks for my fifth album of songs with Nigel Butler, who produced 'Bird Inside A Cage'. This new record is sounding very different and I'm really excited about it.

Last weekend we went down to Cornwall and played The Acorn in Penzance and then back up to Bridgwater Arts Centre in Somerset. Thanks to everyone who came to support us - I really enjoyed the gigs. There are some photos up on my website now. You can also see some videos from my Germany gigs which are up on Youtube.

Next month (15th August) I'm doing my annual pub gig at the infamous Square & Compass Inn on the south coast of Dorset - if you've not been there before, it's well worth the trip just for the stunning scenery (and to see the dinosaur in the back room). Entry is free but get there early if you want a seat.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
The true story of my Germany tour
[25.06.14]
 
I could say it was all fantastic but I'm a Buddhist so to be honest there were moments in the first few days when I wished as hard as I could that I was anywhere else but northern Germany sleepless in a tiny flat with 5 other people singing my songs in bars where everyone was smoking and no-one was listening...

Then it got better, much better. I stopped panicking, started sleeping, got to know the other band Whetherman, the sat nav behaved itself and people started listening at our gigs. A group of fans came out from England to follow us for the last week, so we had familiar friendly faces in the audience each night. New German fans started following us too. My voice survived the 25 shows we did.

Highlight of the tour was definitely Stechinelli with a packed crowd and the most beautiful grand piano I've ever been privileged enough to play. And the pleasure of listening to Whetherman on the gigs we did together. So apart from putting on about half a stone in bread and beer (and I don't want to see any salami for at least another year), it was a great experience and I'm so glad I did it.

I'd like to say a huge thank-you first of all to Astrid Durstewitz and Heiko Grein of Songs & Whispers for organising the tour, to Nick Williams, Rachel Murray, JP Salvat and Alex Glustrom of Whetherman for being such fantastic tour mates, to all my new German fans who were so enthusiastic about my music, and above all to my partner Christian Dunham for talking me down at 5am on the first night, for doing all the driving, and for being the best bass player I could ever wish for.

Check out www.whetherman.net - Nick and the crew will be coming over for a UK tour next spring. I'll be going back to Germany for more gigs, hopefully before the end of this year - if you want to know where and when, please join my mailing list and I'll keep you posted.

xx

____________________________________
On the road to Germany
[28.05.14]
 
Tomorrow we leave home on our way to Germany. To be completely honest, I've been a bit terrified about this tour, mainly worrying about whether our whimsical sat nav will work in Europe and whether my voice will survive 30 gigs in 3 weeks.

I'm also having to drag myself away from my beautiful cello and this creative roll of composing I've been on (in the last 6 weeks, I've written 12 instrumentals - songs without words - which I'm really looking forward to recording when we get back).

Still, I'm also excited about singing my songs in a new country and I've been told a lot of Germans speak good English which is a relief because my German ist schlecht :). Details of all my German tour dates are on my gigs page - please spread the word if you've got friends there.

We're taking with us a MIFI device (thanks to the generosity of my wonderful fan Mike Watts) which my bass player Christian promises me will work, so we should have the internet and I should be able to keep you posted with news from the road. If you hear nothing now for the next 3 weeks, you'll know that we didn't read the instructions properly ;).

Hope all's well in your world... wish me luck!

xx

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New video for 'Over The Waterfall'
[11.05.14]
 
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, we have just launched a music video on Youtube for 'Over The Waterfall', my song about bipolar disorder.

I wrote 'Over The Waterfall' following a manic-depressive episode in 2010 when I was referred to mental health services again (after which I published my book 'Start Over Again'). It's probably the most direct song I've ever written about my mental illness. I hope it will be of some help in the campaign to promote mental health awareness and understanding.

The lyrics for 'Over The Waterfall' are here on my website (go to the music page and you'll find the link next to the album 'Bird Inside A Cage').

If you like the video, please share it. Thanks for your support - I really appreciate it.

xx
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My Germany tour
[01.05.14]
 
The dates for my tour of northern Germany next month have now been confirmed - all the details are on my gigs page. 30 gigs in 3 weeks! This will be my first tour of Germany and I'm really looking forward to it. Most of the gigs are free entry and I'll be performing as an acoustic duo with my wonderful bass player Christian. All support would be very welcome so if you have friends over there, please spread the word.
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Endings and new beginnings
[30.04.14]
 
Today I did the final gig of my NHS hospital tour, singing my songs for staff, patients and carers at the Steps Eating Disorders Unit at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Over the past 3 months I've played in nearly every mental health facility in Avon and Wiltshire - hospital wards, intensive care units and daycare centres - 17 gigs in all.

I would like to say a huge thank-you to Melanie Vincent from Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) for organising all these gigs. It's been an extremely rewarding, and sometimes very emotional, experience for me and I've met a lot of lovely people, both staff and service users.

People seemed to really enjoy the songs but of the 17 gigs I've done, only 2 places have music as part of their regular programme of activities due to cuts in mental health services. I'm a great believer in the power of music to make people feel better so I hope to do more of these gigs in mental health facilities around the country.

Having finished my hospital tour, I also finished my spring tour at the weekend with a fantastic night at Helmsley Arts Centre (playing their wonderful Steinway grand piano). Big love and thanks to all the fans who have supported my gigs over the past few months. It's been great to see so many old friends and new faces turning up in all corners of the country.

Endings are always new beginnings, so I'm now looking forward to a few weeks' rest (and time to write some more instrumental music in my attic studio) before heading to Germany for an intensive 3-week tour in June. Dates and details of these gigs will be posted on my website in the next few days.

xx

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'Back Home' on Radio 4
[21.04.14]
 
You can hear my song 'Back Home' (from my album 'Keep Walking') and hear me talking about the Buddhist concept of impermanence in a programme broadcast on Radio 4 yesterday (listen again here).

The programme includes part of the wonderful interview Dennis Potter gave just before he died. I wish his words could be emblazoned on my brain.

But today I have been really appreciating the preciousness of the present moment, composing music for music's sake, writing songs without words. After all this time, this creative desert I've been in, it's like diving into an ocean.

I really enjoyed my gig at Norden Farm Centre For The Arts last Thursday night - thanks to everyone who came to see us play. I'm looking forward to playing Sheffield, Newcastle and York this week. Back on the road again...

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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New video for my song 'Old Valentine'
[11.04.14]
 
We've just put up on my Youtube channel a new video for my song ‘Old Valentine’ (from my album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’). It was shot in Paris a few weeks ago. If you like it, please share it :).

Last night I played in a mental health hospital in Bristol where they have a fantastic choir of staff and patients who sang some songs as my support act. I give all the patients a free signed single and so at the end there was a queue of people waiting to get CDs. Someone came up and left a £20 donation with a lovely note for me on the table. They didn't come and say hello so I didn't see who it was. I just wanted to say thank you...

I've got gigs coming up in Oxford, Maidenhead, Sheffield, Newcastle and Helmsley (check out my gigs page for dates and booking info).
If you can make it to any of these, it would be great to see you there. If you have friends in these areas, please do spread the word.

Thanks for your support - I really appreciate it.

xx

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Music, tourism and daffodils
[30.03.14]
 
We got back home late last night from Surrey where we’d had a great time playing at Farnham Maltings. The night before we were in Bury at The Met and on Wednesday night in Birmingham at the Kitchen Garden Café where I met the lovely Beth Prior. The week before we were in Bedford at the Ent Shed (with another fab support act, Fred’s House) and before that I played with my band to a great crowd at the Chapel Arts Centre in Bath. I really enjoyed all these gigs – thanks so much to everyone who came.

Aside from playing music, I’ve spent the last few weeks doing tourism with my dear friend Aki who is over here from Australia making herself completely indispensable in my life (I’m thinking of hiding her plane ticket back). We’ve been all over the place looking at OLD things (as there isn’t any building over 200 years old in Oz), including Corfe Castle in Dorset, the Tower of London and the horribly commercial experience that is Stonehenge (last night we drove past it in the dark on the A303 – it felt a lot more sacred then).

I’ve also been doing more gigs at mental health facilities in the south-west which have been great. I played in Weston-Super-Mare and at the wonderful Create Centre in Bristol for a group with autism where we sang ‘Summertime’ and Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. I’m doing more of these NHS gigs in the coming weeks as well as playing at arts centres and venues in Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield, Newcastle and Helmsley.

And in the meantime, the clocks have gone forward and there are daffodils everywhere. We may not have the best beaches in the world (according to the Australians), but we have the most wonderful weather - where the seasons change everything, and the rain makes the grass so green and us all so grateful for the spring sunshine.

Hope the sun is shining where you are.

xx

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More hospital gigs
[03.03.14]
 
I've been continuing my tour of NHS mental health hospitals. Today I played in a medium-secure unit in Bristol. All the patients there have been through the criminal justice system, so it's basically a prison for people with serious mental health problems.

I sang my songs first on the men's ward, then in reception for the staff and then on the women's ward. It was great, and the patients seemed to really enjoy it, but I came away feeling sad. Some of them will be there for years, some indefinitely. I really hope my songs made them feel like there is some hope.

Last Friday I was in Swindon, playing at a wonderful place called the Forget-Me-Not Centre which is for people with early-onset dementia, then I went to Great Western Hospital where I played for older adult in-patients, then finally to an acute ward. I met some lovely people and really enjoyed it. All these gigs I'm doing on my own - just me and a guitar.

Then at the weekend I was rehearsing with my band for my gig at Chapel Arts Centre in Bath this Friday, which I'm really looking forward to. If you've got tickets, I'll see you there. If you haven't got tickets but would like to come, please book soon as it’s nearly sold out. Here’s the link for booking online or you can phone the Box Office on 01225 461700.

xx

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Five gigs in one day!
[26.02.14]
 
Yesterday I did five gigs in one day at a mental health hospital in Salisbury. I played on wards for people over 65, people with dementia, a men’s ward, a women’s ward and the intensive care unit. It was an exhausting day but I loved every minute of it - the patients and staff were great. The men’s and women’s wards were big and light with amazing acoustics so it sounded like I was singing in a church. I was very happy when a couple of people said I sounded like Eva Cassidy :).

My NHS hospital tour in the south-west has been organised by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, who have been brilliant at sorting out all these gigs for their patients and staff. I’m looking forward to singing my songs at mental health hospitals in Bristol, Swindon, Bath and Weston-super-Mare over the coming weeks.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx

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Creativity and mental health
[13.02.14]
 
I did my first two mental health hospital gigs this week - one in a rehab unit in Bristol, the other in a hospital in Devizes. I really enjoyed it - singing my songs and meeting staff and service users (as we're called). I met some really talented, interesting people - musicians, artists, poets. It's so good that creativity is encouraged in these places (even if there's been cuts in the NHS budgets so art therapy and music therapy are not so available which I think is a huge shame). Songwriting for me is the way I can express the thoughts and feelings inside that otherwise could cause me a lot of trouble if they were all bottled up. When you're not well and having a really hard time in your head it's so helpful to be able to draw or write or sing or whatever it is that makes you feel better. Meds are good but they're not the whole answer. I'm looking forward to more hospital gigs over the coming weeks. I'll keep you posted...

xx
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My mental health hospital tour
[11.02.14]
 
After I ‘came out’ about having bipolar disorder when I published my book ‘Start Over Again’ back in 2010, I was asked to perform in two mental health hospitals in Bristol. I read extracts from my book and sang songs about surviving mental illness for the patients and staff there. The response was amazing and they were some of the most moving and rewarding gigs I’ve ever done.

I’ve been wanting to do more of these gigs ever since. Now, thanks to the wonderful Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, I’m about to begin a 6-week intensive tour of mental health hospitals and support groups across the south-west of England. I’m looking forward to meeting staff, carers and service users in Bristol, Bath, Salisbury, Swindon, Devizes and beyond.

The last time I was sectioned they let me keep my guitar on the locked ward at Park Royal Centre for Mental Health in north London. While I was there I wrote a song called ‘Falling On My Feet’ which ended up on my first album. Four years later, on tour with Don McLean, I stood on my own on stage at the Royal Albert Hall and sang that song to 4,000 people. Tomorrow I’ll sing it again in a mental health hospital.

xx

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Steinways and being comfortable with uncertainty
[29.01.14]
 
Playing a £200 Yamaha keyboard after an £80k Steinway grand piano was always going to be a bit of a comedown. But that didn’t spoil a great night last weekend at The Hearth in Horsley, Northumberland, which began auspiciously with the most amazing vegetarian pie.

The Steinway was at Huddersfield University the day before where I did a concert and songwriting masterclass for their music students. The word ‘masterclass’ did terrify me a bit, thinking all I really know about songwriting is that it helps to have a rhyming dictionary and the ability to hear the same idea over and over without it driving you or your partner completely mad.

Coming back from Northumberland in the car, we were listening to Pema Chodron’s wonderful Buddhist teaching ‘Comfortable with Uncertainty’. I looked out of the window and wondered if I didn’t have more trouble being uncomfortable with certainty.

But then, most of the time, you have no idea what’s going to happen. So you may as well believe that things will work out. Someone on Twitter said last night, ‘Stop looking for reasons to be unhappy. Focus on the things you do have and the reasons to be happy’. Sometimes I love social media.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx

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I turned on the news today
[05.01.14]
 
I could be telling you about the shack and the lovely green tree snake and the lightening storms and sunsets but this is what’s on my mind right now…

Years ago I wrote a song called ‘I Turned On The News Today’. It’s on my first album ‘Stranger Place’. It begins with the lines ‘I turned on the news today and they had nothing good and nothing new to say, the same old story again’.

I’ve just spent the last 3 weeks in the Australian bush. I’m a current affairs addict who has absolutely no idea what’s been going on in the world since leaving the UK on 9th December.

As they say, ignorance is bliss. The catalogue of destruction and corruption that is the news headlines generally leaves me feeling frustrated, angry and powerless. These are not good feelings to have on a daily basis.

So is it better to be ignorant, or informed? I don’t know. I guess my new year’s resolution should be to change the things that I can change, and not worry too much about the things I can’t. As the song says, ‘for peace of mind we will pray’.

And maybe instead of having The Guardian as my homepage, I should have this: www.positivenews.org.uk

xx
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Back to the bush
[06.12.13]
 
We’re off to Australia in a few days to stay on the farm where we used to live out in the bush. We haven’t been back for 5 years. Our shack is still there – amazing how wood, tin and potato sacks can withstand summer storms and armies of termites. I’m wondering how many creatures are living in my yurt. I’m going to clean it and sit by the desk with my guitar looking over the valley to the mountain like I did when I was writing ‘All That You Wanted’ and ‘Start Over Again’ all those years ago.

We’re doing a couple of gigs – one at the Upfront Club in Maleny which is where I first played with Christian back in 2003. We’re going back to the studio in the forest where we recorded ‘Stranger Place’ and ‘Keep Walking’ with the wonderful Pix Vane-Mason. And I’m going to walk down the Obi Obi valley among the sacred Bunya trees, listen to the dingoes howling at night in the hills around us, and try to avoid the snakes in the grass.

2013 has been an amazing year. I want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all the fans who have given me such incredible support. I feel like I’ve come back to life – and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

xx

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Christmas presents
[07.11.13]
 
If you're already thinking of Christmas presents, you can now order my book or any of my CDs from Shaktu Records and get each one signed personally by me for your family and friends. This offer is only open until Thursday 5 December because then I'm leaving for Australia.

xx
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Listen again
[25.10.13]
 
Thanks to everyone who sent me such lovely messages following my interview with Libby Purves on Radio 4. You can listen again for the next year (scroll to 22:00 to hear my bit).

Now I'm looking forward to my gigs in Devon this weekend - in the B-Bar at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth tonight and at the beautiful Hazelwood House on Saturday. If you can make it, it'd be great to see you there.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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Midweek on Radio 4
[21.10.13]
 
I’m looking forward to meeting Libby Purves on Wednesday morning for an interview on Radio 4’s Midweek. The programme is live from 9am.

New gig dates for 2014 have just been posted on my website. More dates are still being confirmed… if you join my mailing list I’ll keep you posted.

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World Mental Health Day
[10.10.13]
 
Today is World Mental Health Day. My book ‘Start Over Again’, the real story behind my songs, was launched 3 years ago today on Radio 2.

When the programme was broadcast I was inundated with messages from people who, like me, had suffered from depressive episodes. Some of them had not even told their own families because they were so afraid of the reaction. They said I was brave to be so open about having bipolar disorder.

I didn’t feel brave when I published my book, I just felt liberated. I didn’t have to hide anymore. I even did some gigs in psychiatric hospitals which were about the most moving experiences I’ve ever had of singing my songs in public.

Since then, fantastic campaigns like Time To Change have done a lot to help combat the stigma of mental illness, encouraging us to be more understanding about the mental health problems of others and more open about our own.

It’s worth quoting again, the wise and wonderful Dr Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind”.

xx

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My song 'Woke Up'
[29.09.13]
 
A video for my song ‘Woke Up’ has just been posted on Youtube to mark the publication last week of the IPCC report into climate change.

I wrote ‘Woke Up’ when I was living on a farm out in the Australian bush. We had no TV in our shack but we used to watch films and one of the films we watched was ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. It had a huge effect on me especially as there was a bad drought in Queensland at the time and we were running out of water on the farm.

I was delighted when Greenpeace asked if they could use ‘Woke Up’ as part of their Copenhagen climate change
campaign in 2009. It became one of their ‘Love Letters To The Future’. The song ended up on my album 'Believer'.

You can watch the video here. Please share it.

xx
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Good thoughts and bad days
[17.09.13]
 
I had a really bad day the other day. I can’t even remember now what had happened but I found myself sunk, back in that familiar black hole.

But the thing is it’s not so familiar anymore. Thanks to an amazing technique called Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, I’ve been feeling pretty good for a while. Managing bipolar disorder can sometimes feel like trying to balance on one leg on a swinging seesaw. So to feel pretty good – not high, not low - is pretty amazing.

And even in the midst of this bad day, I had the incredibly positive thought which is that if I didn’t go through this shit, I wouldn’t be able to write about it. And if I didn’t write about it, I wouldn’t get all the lovely messages from people who hear my songs and know where I’m coming from.

It really cheered me up during a very dark time last year when the Defeat Depression campaign in Canada chose my song ‘Keep Walking’ as their campaign anthem. It reminded me that it’s not enough just to talk the talk…

Thanks to everyone who came to my gigs in Cambridge, Great Bardfield, Bungay, Newcastle, Durham and Hull in the last 2 weeks. It was so lovely to see so many old friends and new faces.

This Sunday I’m playing Wellington Arts Centre in Somerset, then Artrix Arts Centre in Bromsgrove the following Saturday. We’re performing at Emmanuel Church in Billericay on Saturday 12th October and then I’m going back to the wonderful Hazelwood House in Devon for a very intimate concert on Saturday 26th October. If you can make it, it’d be great to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
 
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House concerts and other lovely gigs
[07.08.13]
 
I did a house concert last Friday night for one of our album sponsors on a beautiful farm in Bedfordshire. I love doing house concerts. We played outside in the courtyard to about 50 of their family and friends with swallows darting around and a rainbow overhead. It was one of those magical nights.

The next night we were in Essex at Little Rabbit Barn with our violinist Sue Lord for a fantastic night with support from Ellie Jamison and Fern Teather. I played at Little Rabbit Barn back in 2011 when it had just started and it’s got bigger and bigger. Thanks to Jonathan and Lyn Rabett for having us back and thanks to everyone who came – I really enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to playing Joules Yard in Market Harborough this Saturday. I’ve been told it’s wonderfully eccentric - sounds right up my street. Entry is free. If you can make it, I’ll see you there.

xx
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Taking time out and writing songs again
[01.08.13]
 
After a hectic album release week, I packed my swimming costume, some books and booze in the car and headed down to the south coast for a much-needed holiday. Spent the next week lying on my back in the sea at Winspit (my favourite beach in the world) watching the seagulls flying over the Jurassic coastline, eating oysters looking out over Swanage bay, drinking cider at the Square and Compass, and seeing my family who live in that magical part of the world, the Isle of Purbeck.

Now I’m back in my attic studio playing my guitar again and looking forward to the gigs we’ve got coming up this month – Little Rabbit Barn in Essex, Joules Yard in Leicestershire and then back down to Dorset for Purbeck Folk Festival at the end of August.

I’ve started writing again, after a long gap. It’s a bit like turning on a rusty tap, you have to be patient and persistent but gradually the words start to fall onto the page. For once I actually haven’t fretted about having writer’s block – just accepted that I nearly killed my muse trying to write a hit song last year and she needed time and space to recover. Now ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ is out, I’m ready to start writing again.

To me it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world, working on a new idea for a song – like being a gardener planting seeds and watching them grow. They don’t always grow mind you, but you have to have a go. As the author Ken Follett once said, the art of writing is the application of the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Or as my teacher Lama Jampa Thaye once said to me, you’ve got to be at the bus stop to catch the bus.

So I do my morning meditation and then start writing. What comes out, who knows, but if it works out I’m sure you’ll hear it someday…

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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We made it...
[15.07.13]
 
Doing gigs in a heatwave is a fantastic way to diet. I think I must have lost about 8 pounds on stage in the last week or so. It's at least 35 degrees in my attic studio right now. I'm thinking about lying in the sea off the Isle of Purbeck. That's where I'll be in a few days' time... can't wait.

But I digress... today is a big day for me - the release of my album 'Bird Inside A Cage' after 2 years of writing, arranging, writing, waiting, writing, recording, writing, more writing, tearing my hair out and frankly more than enough blood, sweat and tears for the next 10 albums at least. This has been my troublesome child (yes all my albums are my children so please don't ask me which is my favourite), but in the end the reaction from the people who have heard it so far has made it all worthwhile.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a few heartfelt thank-you's. Firstly to my family and friends who have been there for me through some tough times especially this past year when I became a bit overwhelmed again and needed more medication; to Nigel Butler who produced 'Bird Inside A Cage' and is one the most talented and lovely people I've ever had the good fortune to meet; to my fans for being so unbelievably supportive of me and my music; and most of all to my partner Christian Dunham, without whom there would have been no album 1, 2 or 3, let alone album 4.

Thanks also to everyone who came to Hoxton Hall in London on Friday night for my album launch gig. It was a fantastic night. I've got more gigs to do over the summer which I'm really looking forward to. But in the meantime, for a week at least, a beach in Dorset beckons.

xx
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Album launch tomorrow night
[11.07.13]
 
Really looking forward to my London album launch tomorrow night - seeing so many familiar and friendly faces at Hoxton Hall. It was fab playing the preview gig in Bath with my fantastic band. Really enjoyed the gigs in Orpington and at Twickfolk too - thanks to everyone who came to see us play.

I'm also looking forward very much to meeting Clare Balding on Sunday morning and singing live on her Radio 2 show 'Good Morning Sunday'. And Monday is album release day, at last! It's been a long time coming but we're nearly there and it's all thanks to my wonderful sponsors - thank you all so much again for helping us get 'Bird Inside A Cage' out into the world.

And it's blue skies again :).

xx
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Summer at last!
[01.07.13]
 
What a beautiful day! I’ve just heard that July is going to be sunny and hot which is wonderful because I was beginning to think that we’d have to move back to our shack in Australia despite the ants and the dust and the snakes and spiders.

There have been some special moments these last few weeks, most particularly at a gig in Blandford Forum organised by Nickie and Gill of Playsongs. They run singing groups for mums and toddlers and they also teach a military wives choir so the crowd were mostly women. They’ve been singing some of my songs in class and when they all joined in on the last song ‘Start Over Again’ it nearly had me in tears.

The following weekend we went to lovely Whitstable to open for Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams in a big beautiful room overlooking the sea. I had the best cod and chips ever - after getting in trouble with Boo for eating the best cupcake. Yes sod the music, it’s all about food :).

I’m really looking forward to playing with my fabulous band at Chapel Arts Centre in Bath and at my album launch at Hoxton Hall in London. Both gigs are now sold out. If you’ve got tickets, I’ll see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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New video
[14.06.13]
 
We’ve just released a video for the first single ‘Beautiful’ from my forthcoming album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’. You can hear the song and watch the video here. I wrote 'Beautiful' for a friend of mine who'd been through a really hard time and I just wished that she could see herself through my eyes. It's a song for women everywhere. Thanks to Alex Lester on Radio 2 for giving 'Beautiful' its first airplay the other night.

I have stopped procrastinating (my favourite word) and have now nearly finished all the string arrangements for the quartet who will be performing with me next month at my Chapel Arts gig in Bath and also the London album launch at Hoxton Hall. There are still some tickets left for the album launch so if you'd like to be there, please book now. If you can make it, it would be great to see you there.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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My album launch
[06.06.13]
 
The launch of my new album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ is taking place at Hoxton Hall in London on Friday 12th July. Hoxton Hall is a beautiful old music hall right in the heart of Hoxton just a short walk from Old Street tube. I’ll be performing with a 7-piece band including a string quartet. Can’t wait. Tickets are very limited so you want to come, please book your place now (see my gigs page for details).

The week before I’m doing a preview show in Bath at Chapel Arts Centre (Friday 5th July) with the same line-up so if you can’t get tickets for London you’ll still be able to see the show.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Square & Compass last Saturday to hear me and Christian and our lovely violinist Sue Lord. It was packed and we had a fantastic night. You can see some photos here. I’ll be back there again for my annual gig next year.

xx
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Playing live again
[22.05.13]
 
One of the many things I love about playing music live is the variety of places we get to play in. On Thursday we were in Devon performing at the small but perfectly formed Otterton Mill, then on Saturday we did a house concert at a huge house in Essex.

This weekend on Sunday 26th May we’re off to Marnhull in Dorset for a special warm-up gig in the village hall which I’m really looking forward to because we’re taking a drummer, keyboard player and violinist with us. Tickets are £6 and you can book online at http://www.wegottickets.com/event/213465. The following weekend (Saturday 1st June) I’m doing my annual gig at the infamous Square & Compass Inn in Purbeck – the only pub I know which has a dinosaur in the back room. Entry is free but get there early if you want a seat.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be out there again singing my songs and meeting lovely people wherever we go. Last year I did only 2 gigs and spent most of the year feeling like shit if I’m being totally honest. Clearly a much better idea to be out there on the road again, especially with my brand new album which is shortly to be pressed ready for the launch in July. And with a band! Happy days.

See you at a gig someday soon.

xx
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A huge, heartfelt thank you
[01.05.13]
 
My fan-funding campaign has now finished. I am so happy to say that we raised the money we need to finally finish, press and release my new album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’. A huge, heartfelt thank you to all the people who contributed towards making this happen. Your generosity and support has been overwhelming and I can’t thank you enough. The album will be released on Monday 15th July and details of the launch gig will be announced very soon I promise.

I hope all’s well in your world – thanks again for making all the difference to mine.

xx
 
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Sunshine in my studio
[27.04.13]
 
The sun is streaming through my attic window making me forget all about the cold, cloudy days we’ve had over the past few months. I love my attic studio - from where I sit, I can watch the birds circling round high above the rooftops. I’ve been busy writing string arrangements and getting excited at the thought of playing all these new songs at my album launch with a full band – including a string trio, keyboards and drums. The launch gig will take place in London – details very soon I promise.

But I still love performing as a duo with my bass player Christian which we’ll be doing at the wonderful Drawing Room in Chesham next Friday night. I’ve never played there before but I’m looking forward to lovely home-cooked food and a very intimate atmosphere – apparently the promoter likes to know who’s coming so it feels more like a house concert than a gig. If you’d like to be there, just call Richard on 07973 664 551 or email richard@the-drawingroom.co.uk.

Hope the sun is shining where you are.

xx
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News update
[25.04.13]
 
My fan-funding appeal for my new album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’ finishes at midnight on 30th April. A huge thank you to everyone who has responded so generously – we couldn’t do it without you. If you haven’t responded yet and would still like a signed copy of my new album or your name in the CD booklet, please get in touch with us.

We’ve had lots of requests for house concerts which I really enjoy so I’m looking forward to doing some of those over the summer. Gig dates in the next few weeks include:

Saturday 4 May
The Drawing Room
Chesham, Bucks
A very intimate gig in the beautiful surroundings of Francis Yard. Tickets include home-cooked food. To book or reserve your place, call Richard on 07973 664 551 or email richard@the-drawingroom.co.uk.

Thursday 16 May
Otterton Mill
Nr Budleigh Salterton, Devon
Another intimate gig in the lovely old Otterton Mill. To book, please call 01395 568521. *SOLD OUT*

Sunday 26 May
Marnhull Acoustic Sessions
Marnhull, Dorset
Performing with my keyboard player and violinist together with Christian on bass.
Book tickets online: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/213465

Saturday 1 June
Square & Compass
Worth Matravers, Dorset
One of my favourite venues, very intimate and free to get in. Get there early if you want a seat.

There are lots of other gig dates in the diary for the rest of the year. Check out my gig guide to see if I'm playing at a venue near you.

Thanks for your support – I really appreciate it.

xx
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Thank you
[16.03.13]
 
Thanks so much to all of you who have supported my fan-funding appeal so far - your generosity is amazing and I've been overwhelmed by all your lovely messages of support. We've already raised about half of what we need, and that will go a long way.

If you haven’t responded yet and would like a signed copy of my new album or your name in the CD booklet, please check out my sponsorship page and see how you could get involved. And please pass it on to any friends you think might be interested.

Thanks again for your support – it’s much appreciated.

xx
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I need your help
[07.03.13]
 
I’ve spent the last year writing and recording my new album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’. It has been produced by Nigel Butler, an amazing guy who has transformed these new songs I’ve written into something truly wonderful.

I’m often asked at gigs which of my albums is my favourite and I always say that’s like asking me which is my favourite child. But right now I am completely in love with this record and I can’t wait for you to hear it. But we’ve put everything we have into the production so far, which is why I’m now asking for your help so we can finish it and release it.

Everything we’ve achieved over the past 10 years has been made possible by the involvement of people who love my songs and believe in me. I couldn’t do it without you. If you would like to be a part of making this record, your support – however large or small - will make all the difference. And in return, you’ll get some gifts from us to say a heartfelt thank-you.

Please watch this short video and see how you could get involved in helping us get these new songs out into the world.

Thanks so much for your support.

xx
 
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Cover song on Youtube
[12.02.13]
 
Someone has just posted an amazing video on Youtube for a cover version of the wonderful 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes' which I recorded recently, produced by 'bed'. If you like it, please share it. http://youtu.be/V3lIqPWn2Hs
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Merry Christmas
[22.12.12]
 
It’s Saturday morning and I’m listening to a new song I finished writing yesterday. Outside it’s dark and raining again but I don’t mind. I love this time of year.

Actually I’m just feeling incredibly grateful and relieved that my muse has decided to come back again. I’ve had writer’s block enough times to know that it always does come back but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry that it won’t. And after all the work on the songs on my new album, it feels good to go back to the beginning again, sitting here with my guitar, playing new chords, writing new words.

I’ve really missed gigging this year and am looking forward to getting back on the road again in 2013. If you’re on my mailing list I’ll let you know when dates are confirmed. I’ll also let you know as soon as I have a release date for my new album.

But in the meantime this is just to say that I hope all is well in your world and to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

xx
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Back to life again
[22.11.12]
 
No I haven’t died. Or disappeared. Though sometimes over the last few months I’ve felt like it’s the end of the world and I’m never going to get better but now here I am, feeling okay, and sitting here listening to the desk mixes of my new album.

With all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into writing it, I can’t quite believe that it sounds as beautiful as it does. Much of the credit has to go to my producer Nigel Butler. With a CV that includes K.D. Lang, Will Young, Robbie Williams and Dizzee Rascal (UK#1), there was always every chance that making this record was going to be an amazing journey.

I can’t wait for you to hear these new songs. I don’t have a release date yet but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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Warmheartedness and the need for chocolate
[25.06.12]
 
Last week I took a break from songwriting and went to London to see the Dalai Lama at the Albert Hall. I saw him there back in 2008 and it was just as wonderful this time. Packed with people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. I have a terrible memory so I couldn’t tell you much of what he said but he made everyone laugh a lot and I do remember that his last words were ‘warmheartedness is the key to happiness’. As simple as that. The next day I went to see my own teacher Lama Jampa Thaye and we talked about music (he is a big Bob Dylan fan).

Now I’m back in the Isle of Purbeck working on songs in an old stone house with no electricity on its own in a valley overlooking the sea. It is possibly the most magical place I know. It belongs to my great-uncle but he doesn’t really live there anymore so nature has started to take over. The bushes down the track are all overgrown, the swallows have made a nest inside the front door and the books are all covered in dust and cobwebs. I play the old piano which is battered but just about in tune and sit at the table with my guitar and notebook looking out across the fields to the sea. In the afternoon I walk down to the beach and watch the waves for a while before heading back for tea and some ancient Green & Black’s dark chocolate I discover behind a cobweb in the cupboard (essential ingredients for songwriting). All I can hear outside are the birds and the sound of the wind in the trees. Seeds of songs start to appear.

Back in the real world, a film called ‘Storage 24’ is being released in UK cinemas this week which features my song ‘One Good Thing’ (from the album ‘Keep Walking’). It’s a horror film but the director promises me it’s more funny than scary - otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go and see it. So if you want to hear my music in glorious Dolby Digital surround-sound, check it out at a cinema near you.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
 
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Staying alive and singing songs
[01.06.12]
 
An erratic mind can be fairly agonising but it's certainly never dull. I spent the day before yesterday mostly considering various ways I could assassinate myself without seriously bad karmic consequences, deciding in the end to keep breathing and have a Guinness instead. This all stems from a combination of writer's block and some serious frustration with the music business, which in my bipolar mind amplifies until it's truly the end of the world and I want to trip and fall over a cliff. But I've spent weeks writing all the string arrangements for this gig at Bournemouth Folk Club tomorrow night, our drummer has just cancelled and now is really not the time for a mental meltdown.

And that's when I get an email reminding me of a gig we did a couple of years ago in Blandford Forum for a big group of mums, and it says they've all been singing my songs and their children have been singing my songs, and a little ray of light appears at the end of my tunnel. So I get in the car and we drive down to the south coast. My string quartet arrives covered in sand from a dip in the sea, I have a large slug of wine and brandy, put my dress and make-up on and get on stage.

And that's when the magic happens. We play old songs with new string arrangements, and brand new songs that will be on my next album that we've never played live before with a band. You can hear a pin drop in the room. By the end of the night, I am transformed into a slightly sweaty Cinderella who is definitely up for seeing what happens tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. So I'd just like to say a huge thank you to Christian and my wonderful string players Sue, Ian, Emma and Beth for making my songs come alive, and to all the family, friends and fans who were there to hear us play.


xx
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Upcoming special gigs
[10.05.12]
 
You can now book tickets online for my special one-off gig at Bournemouth Folk Club on Thursday 31st May where I’ll be performing with a string quartet, including the wonderful cellist Beth Porter who did several gigs with me last year. The line-up also includes the fantastic drummer Daisy Palmer who is taking time out from Goldfrapp and Tinie Tempah to come and play with us.

As well as performing old favourites from my first 3 albums, we’ll be giving you a sneak preview of some of the new songs that will be on my next album (which is currently a work-in-progress). It should be a very special night and I’m really looking forward to it. Tickets are £10 and you can book in advance here.

For those of you who live far away from the south coast, I’m also doing a gig at the lovely Kagyu Ling Buddhist Centre in Manchester (Chorlton-cum-Hardy) on Saturday 26th May. Tickets are £10. Please call the centre on 0161 850 4450 if you would like to come. I’ll be performing in this very intimate setting with my bass player Christian Dunham and, as with my Bournemouth gig, the set will include some brand-new songs.

There are no more gigs planned for this year at the moment as I need to concentrate on making my new album so if you can make it to either of these dates, it’d be great to see you there.

Thanks for your support – I really appreciate it.

xx
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Album no. 4 progress
[09.02.12]
 
I've spent the last 3 months in my attic studio writing all the arrangements for the songs on my next album. I've done 16 in all, though not all will end up on the record. It's been a fantastic time - no red light syndrome, no pressure, no deadline, just starting with a vocal and piano or guitar, and ending up with strings, drums, bass etc. - making all these new songs come alive. Making demos is my favourite part of making an album. Now we've got to go in the recording studio and do it all again! Ah well, at least I've got a string section to look forward to...

Talking of which, we've just confirmed a one-off gig at Bournemouth Folk Club for Thursday 31st May - the last gig I played there I had to cancel halfway through cos I lost my voice, so I've decided to redeem myself by going back with a string quartet to really make a night of it. Hopefully by then we'll have finished recording all these new songs and you'll get to hear them before too long. I'll keep you posted...

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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Happy new year
[31.12.11]
 
I've been busy working on string arrangments for the songs on my next album and I'm really looking forward to getting the musicians together in the studio to start recording it. I'll keep you posted on progress but in the meantime this is just to wish you all a very happy new year.
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Learning when to cancel a gig
[08.11.11]
 
On Sunday night I learned the hard way that if you’re ill, it’s generally best to stay at home and cancel the gig, not get on stage and croak your way through half a set before spectacularly crashing out in the middle of a song. To all the people who came to see me that night, thank you so much for being so kind and understanding. I still haven’t recovered my voice, but another week’s rest and I’m sure it will reappear. And I’ve promised Paul the promoter that I will come back to Bournemouth and do the gig another time.
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Last gig of 2011
[01.11.11]
 
I’m doing a one-off gig on Sunday 6th November at Bournemouth Folk Club in Dorset – a longstanding date in the diary and what will be my last gig of 2011. This club holds a very special place in my heart as it’s where I got my first break into Radio 2. Tickets are £8 available in advance from Ticket South or on the door. For more info, click here. If you can make it, it'd be great to see you there.

We’re now fully into pre-production for album 4 (as it’s fondly known). I’ve stopped writing new songs, we’ve made a shortlist (that’s not very short), and I’m starting to write string arrangements and work out how the individual songs might take shape. This is my favourite part of making an album. I’m writing this now listening to Christian record a bassline for a demo of ‘Bird Inside A Cage’, a new song which we played at a couple of gigs in the summer. Exciting times… I'll keep you posted.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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Work in progress
[11.10.11]
 
I’ve finally finished my UK tour with Dennis Locorriere after 7 months on the road. Big love and thanks to Dennis, tour manager Adrian Basketfield, sound engineer Simon Tucker, and above all my bass player Christian Dunham for making it such a fantastic time.

After the last gig in Devon I headed to Purbeck on the Dorset coast for a few days on my own to write songs and sit on my favourite beach enjoying the amazing October sunshine. Now that touring is over for the year, I’m totally focused on getting the songs together for my 4th album. I’m back in my attic studio now and writing more, and although the queue of unrecorded songs is getting slightly overwhelming, you can’t stop when you’re on a roll. Too much choice is far better than too little, especially with the amount of time, money, effort, and energy that goes into making a record. And I want this one to be the best yet…

So this is just to say that if you're on my mailing list I promise to keep you informed of progress, and in the meantime thank you wholeheartedly for your continued support and the lovely emails, messages and comments at gigs which are so greatly appreciated and make all the difference.

xx
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World Mental Health Day
[10.10.11]
 
Today is World Mental Health Day. A year ago my book ‘Start Over Again’ was launched on Radio 2. Since then, in between gigs in theatres and concert halls, I’ve been able to perform my songs in daycare centres and psychiatric hospitals. I’ve met lots of lovely staff, carers and people like me who need their help from time to time. I've had fantastic emails and messages of support from people I've never met but who all have their own experiences and stories to tell. Last month after a gig at The Playhouse Theatre in Harlow, I went up to Manchester to perform at the AGM of the NHS Trust responsible for mental health services there. After all my angst over whether to publish ‘Start Over Again’ and be open about my own mental illness, I now just feel completely liberated. I don't have to hide anymore. To quote Dr Seuss again: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind”.
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The joys of sat-nav
[21.09.11]
 
Last 2 weeks of my tour with Dennis Locorriere. In the hope of pacifying my Aussie bass player/driver who had threatened to throw the last one out the window, I have managed to acquire a brand new sat-nav with an Australian voice. I’m hoping this familiar sound will soothe his fury when she inevitably gets lost going round Milton Keynes’s 82 roundabouts this week. Always worth it though to play at The Stables – I performed there with both Eric Bibb and Roddy Frame and it’s a fantastic venue.

We had a great gig at the weekend on the Isle of Wight despite having to go on the ferry (both Piscean and both hopeless on boats). I’ve spent my whole life looking at the Isle of Wight from the Purbeck coast but never been there before. Big thanks to Rebecca and Chris at Shanklin Theatre for looking after us. And a big thank you also to Mary and Michael for giving us the lime and ginger drizzle cake at our Felixstowe gig - much appreciated on the long drive to the south coast. Off to Bromsgrove today for the first of 4 gigs in a row. Looking forward to it.

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Should homeopathic treatments be available on the NHS?
[30.08.11]
 
That’s the question asked on The Guardian website today. Apparently most of the evidence in favour of homeopathy is purely anecdotal. This apparently means it can be summarily dismissed.

The reason I’m writing this is because I am an anecdote. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia pain syndrome in my teens, and told it was a permanent and incurable condition I would have to accept and learn how to manage. For the next 10 years I was in constant pain from muscle spasms all over my body. By the time I got my first guitar aged 21, I was on walking sticks and registered as disabled. I couldn’t work and needed care so I lived on incapacity benefit and disability living allowance. I was an inpatient 3 times at the Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath and tried every alternative therapy under the sun. Finally I went to see Dr Peter Fisher, a consultant rheumatologist at what was then called the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. Within one month of taking the homeopathic remedy he prescribed me, the pain was gone.

It is difficult to convey exactly what ‘pain-free’ feels like, after 10 years of constant pain. I don’t know how or why the homeopathy worked. I just know that for me, it did. So should homeopathic treatments be available on the NHS? I had just 2 appointments with Dr Fisher. With a supposedly permanent, incurable illness, I believe I would have cost the state far more in hospital stays, outpatient appointments, pain-relieving medication, not to mention DSS benefits in all the years that followed, if he had not treated me so successfully and allowed me to get on with my life.

Anyway that’s my story. Please have your say: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2011/aug/30/homeopathy-nhs
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Summer gigs and new songs
[23.08.11]
 
Thanks to everyone who left me such lovely messages of support on Facebook after my last blog. I'm glad to say I'm feeling much better (ah the wonders of small white pills and self-hypnosis) and I've even managed to finish a new song today which always makes me feel happy again.

Before we go back on the road again with Dennis Locorriere next month, I’m doing some shows of my own. This Thursday (25th August) is my annual gig at the wonderful Square & Compass Inn at Worth Matravers in Dorset. It’s my favourite pub in the world, overlooking the beautiful Purbeck coast with its own fossil museum and stone carvings in the garden. The gig is free entry and we’ll start about 9pm but get there early if you want a seat.

The following Sunday (28th August) I’m doing another gig in Dorset at Purbeck Folk Festival, which is held at the lovely Wilkswood Farm in Langton Matravers (just down the road from Worth Matravers). For info and tickets, visit http://www.purbeckfolk.co.uk/. I’ll be on the main stage at 7pm.

Then on Saturday 3rd September I’m doing a concert at the beautiful Hazelwood House in Loddiswell, Devon. We played there last year and it’s a magical place. It has a limited capacity so book early if you can - ring Hazelwood House on 01548 821 232 or email info@hazelwoodhouse.com. They also provide accommodation and do wonderful food there too.

I’m going to play some of the new songs I've written this summer at these gigs so please do come if you can - and please spread the word if you’ve got friends in the area who might want to come along too. All support very welcome.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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Creativity and the laws of gravity
[03.08.11]
 
These past few weeks I’ve been on a creative roll - song ideas waking me up at dawn, lyrics tripping off my tongue, melodies in my ears as I walk around town.

I should have known I was in trouble. But my manager was happy, hearing new songs, and so was I. There’s nothing like that buzz of creative fulfilment. But as soon as I realise I’m on a high, I start to fall. The laws of gravity, temporarily suspended by the manic flapping of illusory wings, snap into effect.

I’ve had bipolar disorder long enough to know that what goes up must eventually come down, I just wish I knew how to come back to earth without making a crash landing. Now my ears are deafened, there’s no more poetry in my head. My keyboard sits silent under its cover. I try playing some chords on my guitar but it just makes me cry. It’s like staring at an empty field after reaping a bumper harvest.

But to continue the farming analogy (since I’m in a philosophical rather than suicidal frame of mind), I remember that great quote: ‘all the shit is just manure’. Seasons come and seasons go. As Buddha said, all things are impermanent. Now all I have to do is plant some seeds... and wait.
 
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Consolations for the English climate
[12.07.11]
 
After 50 gigs and 12,000 miles on the road, we headed to the Purbeck coast last week for some much-needed rest and relaxation. The sun came out tantalisingly on the day we arrived and didn’t appear again until the day we left. I did go for a walk in the ‘light rain’ forgetting that being in light rain for a long time equals standing in the shower with all your clothes on.

But bad weather does not necessarily mean a bad holiday… there’s a lot to be said for watching endless films, eating Dorset apple cake and drinking beer. Actually the main reason I was happy was because I had my keyboard and guitar with me and I managed to finish a new song.

Talking of new songs, we’ve been rehearsing some that I’ve written in the last year or so that haven’t been recorded yet and we’re going to play them at two very intimate concerts in Essex this weekend. The first is a gig in the garden of a rectory in Billericay (Sat 16 July), the second I’ll be performing in a venue called Little Rabbit Barn in Ardleigh (Sun 17 July). If you want to be there, click here for details of how to get tickets. Apart from a couple of gigs in Dorset next month and a festival in Worcester, that’s it for the rest of the summer. I’ll be back on the road again with Dennis Locorriere in September.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
 
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For the love of touring
[19.06.11]
 
It feels like we’ve been on the road for months. Probably because we have. But now here I am at home for a whole glorious 24 hours… washing clothes, making hot food, adding empty water bottles to the huge pile of recycling in the corner of the kitchen, trying to write the lyrics to a piano song that’s been on the backburner for far too long.

Yesterday we had a few hours on the Isle of Purbeck between gigs and I went for a much-needed walk down to the wild and windy beach and sat by the sea watching the clouds scudding across the sunlit sky. I have been sitting in a car for nearly 5 months now, apart from the odd excursion into M&S for the same cold pasta dish I eat every night and a few hours backstage in yet another lovely theatre in another town I’ve never been to before.

I’ve managed so far to prevent the sat nav from being thrown out the window by my usually mild-mannered bass player (is this a male thing I wonder?). We’ve driven across the Peak District from every direction. We had time to stop off in Haworth so I could look around the amazing Brontë parsonage before soundcheck in Halifax. I also had time to drop in at a day centre in Manchester and sing some songs for the lovely staff, carers and service users there who have mental health problems like me.

But it’s all becoming a bit of a blur – faces, places, endless motorways and service stations. By the time we finish the next 11 gigs over the next 3 weeks – which include a trip up to Glasgow - we will have done about 10,000 miles on this tour. Apart from feeling completely exhausted, I have to say that I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it and I’m looking forward, after a bit of a rest over the summer, to doing it all again in the autumn.

And the best bit by far has been meeting all the lovely people who’ve come to say hello after my set and made me realise that singing songs for people is the best job in the world and all we have to do is keep going… and going…
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Me and Bob Marley
[15.05.11]
 
Last Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of the death of Bob Marley. If it wasn’t for him, I might never have become a singer-songwriter.

I was brought up on classical music. As a kid I learnt to play piano, cello and flute. I loved Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven. Then in my teens I discovered Bob Marley and became obsessed with his songs. A few years later, I got a guitar for my 21st birthday and taught myself to play it from Bob Marley songbooks. It hadn't occurred to me to write a song myself - I just wanted to play his songs. The first one I learnt was ‘Time Will Tell’ because it only had two chords. Years later, locked up in a psychiatric hospital in north London, I sat in the smoking room with my guitar and sang ‘No Woman No Cry’ with five women, all patients, some with bandages on their wrists.

These days, when I’m feeling stressed, I’ll either listen to Bach or Bob Marley - both have the same effect on my mind. My favourite Bob Marley track? For years it was ‘Easy Skanking’ or ‘Misty Morning’. Now it’s probably ‘Three Little Birds’: “don’t worry about a thing cos every little thing is gonna be alright”.
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Gigs, gigs and more gigs
[03.05.11]
 
As some of you know, I used to live in a shack in the Australian bush. With a tin roof and walls made from potato sacks, it was freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. We shared it with a family of huge hairy spiders, a small colony of musical mice, a billion ants, and the odd passing snake (see the photos on this page).

To me it was paradise. The sun shone, oranges and avocados grew on the trees, kangaroos hopped across the fields, dingoes howled in the hills at night and there were no traffic lights for miles around. The only reason we left, and didn’t go back, was because we’d recorded 2 albums and wanted to play my songs live to as many people as possible. This just wasn’t feasible in Australia, a country 32 times the size of the UK with a population smaller than Greater London. Here in the UK, it only takes a couple of hours to get to the next city. And everywhere you go there are clubs, pubs, arts centres, theatres and concert halls – a fantastic music scene.

This tour I’m doing at the moment is yet another sign that we made the right decision to leave our home in the Obi Obi valley. Every time we turn up for soundcheck we find another lovely theatre waiting for us. A huge thank you to Dennis Locorriere for asking me to be his support act and an equally huge thank you to all the people I’ve been meeting up and down the country who’ve come to say hello after my set.

As well as 23 gigs with Dennis in the next 2 months, I’m doing 2 shows of my own… the first in the intimate surroundings of The Greystones in Sheffield next Sunday (8th May), the second at Camberley Theatre in Surrey on Tuesday 14th June. Check my gigs page for details of how to book tickets. If you can make it, it would be great to see you there.

xx
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Stigma and the wonderful Dr Seuss
[14.04.11]
 
When I heard the news this morning that Catherine Zeta Jones is being treated for bipolar disorder, my first thought was great sympathy for her. My second thought was that I hope she can be of some benefit to the millions of others in America who not only have to suffer the same condition but deal with a stigma that is far worse than here in the UK.

I've been thinking a lot about stigma. Since I published my book on World Mental Health Day last year, many people have said to me that I'm brave to be so open about having a mental illness. But the thing is, I don't feel stigmatized. I don't feel ashamed. To be perfectly honest, I just don't care. I am who I am. There’s a wonderful quote from Dr Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

Yesterday I played a gig at a psychiatric hospital in Bristol for staff, carers and patients. Lovely people in a lovely space with a really friendly atmosphere. I was doing a book launch, singing some of my songs and reading extracts from 'Start Over Again'. Today I’m going to another hospital to do the same. Of course, I do worry slightly that they might not let me out after my set, but most of the time I can act sane - just like the rest of you ;).

xx
 
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Poetry, songwriting and having the flu
[21.03.11]
 
Today is World Poetry Day and so I would just like to say some heartfelt words of gratitude to all the poets, alive and dead, in my two volumes of ‘Poem For The Day’ which I absolutely love not just for the poems themselves but for the bit of info at the bottom of each page which makes you feel like you know what they’re talking about even if you haven’t got a clue.

I did TS Eliot at school which I couldn’t make head nor tail of until I’d had my first breakdown, after which for some reason it made perfect sense to me. I read poetry when I am happy and I read poetry when I am sad. I feel like it widens my mind, much like looking out at the horizon of sea and sky. I love the freedom of the words, unconstrained by a melody. One of my all-time favourite poems is ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley. One of my other favourites is by Wendy Cope, which begins: 'Bloody men are like bloody buses/You wait for about a year/And as soon as one approaches your stop/Two or three others appear…'.

Today is also the day that I have finally managed to write some half-decent lyrics for the first time in months, having got myself in a bit of a panic about not being able to do it (life is all about confidence, isn’t it?) so I am now extremely relieved and grateful to the gods of songwriting, whoever they may be. I think I’ve definitely been inspired by watching about 18 episodes of the old BBC series ‘Civilisation’ while I’ve been laid up with flu this last week. Absolutely loved it – I’ve been learning about painting, sculpture, poetry, philosophy and architecture through the ages. Great consolation for feeling like absolute shit.

I was gutted to have to cancel my gig at The White Horse last night but I was just not well enough to do it and also I’ve managed to infect Christian and there was absolutely no way of dragging him out of his sickbed and 150 miles across the country to Sussex. My sincere apologies to everyone who was planning to come – I hope we can rearrange and do it another time. I promise we will both be well in time for gigs in Doncaster and York this weekend.

Hope you haven’t had flu too and all’s well in your world.

xx
 
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Japan and other thoughts
[15.03.11]
 
I could tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the last few days of gigs, travelling around the country in the spring sunshine. I could tell you I had a great birthday last week, spending time with my family. I could tell you that I’m still writing songs without words.

But that’s the point – I am now lost for words, and so I should be. Watching the news footage of Japan, and wondering how a heart can contain enough compassion for 10,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who are terrified, traumatised, wondering what will happen next. Here in the UK, we don’t live on a fault line. We don’t have tsunamis. We don’t have a despotic dictator dropping bombs on us. We have politicians trying to privatise our welfare state, but at least we have a welfare state. We have some bankers who have never heard of the word karma, but at least their bonuses mean the finance sector is now making a profit.

So I guess it all comes down to this question: what can I do? Confronted by all these things – the overwhelming force of mother nature and the overwhelming force of human nature – most of us feel completely powerless. I can’t build a dam against a 30 foot wave, nor can I change the hearts of those ruled by greed. But I can follow the example of countless others who don’t make the headlines, who aren’t on TV, but who live their lives on the principle that happiness comes from making others happy - that it is better to give rather than take, to be kind rather than cool.

xx
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Gigs, songs and e-books
[01.03.11]
 
Some musicians love hanging out in studios but personally I’m much happier on the road. Last week, I started my tour with Dennis Locorriere at the Capitol Theatre in Sussex followed by gigs in Berkshire, Kent and Essex - 2 theatres, 1 cellar bar and a house concert. I love that – one minute you’re performing in front of a big crowd and you can’t see anyone for the bright lights in your eyes, the next you’re singing to people sitting 3 feet from you and you can see the expression on the faces of all of them. Thanks so much to everyone who came to support us and the new fans who went home with a copy of ‘Believer’.

Back in my studio for a few days break before we head to Birmingham Town Hall (a gorgeous venue I played with Eric Bibb), I’m working on new songs. I’ve got a new kind of writer’s block at the moment – music coming out my ears but no words at all. I guess this is another great opportunity to practice patience. Lyrics come in their own time.

Talking of writing, I’ve got to tell you that my book ‘Start Over Again’ is now available as an e-book (Kindle, iPad, Nook and Sony Reader). Extracts are now up on my website so you can get an idea of what it’s like. I’m really glad that the book is now being promoted by NHS mental health trusts in the UK to their service users, and by bipolar organisations in Canada and the USA. I’ve got a special Facebook page now for the book – here’s the link. If you know anyone who’s been affected by mental health who might be interested, please pass it on.

Hope you’re enjoying the start of spring.

xx
 
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On the road with Dr Hook
[23.02.11]
 
Tonight is the start of my 5-month tour with the man from Dr Hook, Dennis Locorriere. I had a couple of great warm-up gigs with my bass player Christian last week up in Northumberland and Yorkshire and now we can’t wait to be back on the road.

We’re playing in Horsham, Chatham, Birmingham, Haywards Heath, Clacton-on-Sea, Doncaster, Liverpool, London, Dorking, Cromer, Cheltenham, Minehead, Yeovil, Weston-Super-Mare, Newport, Dartford, Epsom, Lichfield, Swansea, Pontypridd, Buxton, Solihull, Redhill, Darwen, Halifax, Skegness, Tunbridge Wells, Haverhill, Worthing, Wimborne Minster, Darlington, Shrewsbury, Truro, Basingstoke, Morecame, Abergavenny, Pocklington, Glasgow, Newcastle, Stafford and Ilfracombe.

So many places I’ve never been to… that’s one of the best things about touring, you get to see a lot of the country (apart from motorways and service stations!). I’m really looking forward to it. Dates and venue details are all on my website.

On Sunday 13th March, I’m doing my own show at Gala in Durham, and on Saturday 26th March we’re doing another gig at The Basement in York. There are some other dates too that I’m doing on my own – they’re all up on my website.

If you can make it to any of these gigs, please do come and say hello, and please spread the word if you have any friends in the area. All support will be very welcome! If you want to know what’s happening while we’re on tour, you can always follow me on Twitter or keep in touch with me on Facebook.

Hope all’s well in your world. Thanks for your support – I really appreciate it.

xx
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Big love & thanks to...
[04.02.11]
 
Last Sunday, you might have heard Aled Jones play my song ‘Lighthouse Man’ on Radio 2 in the last ‘Good Morning Sunday’ show for producer Hilary Robinson.

If it wasn’t for Hilary, I might still be stirring milk and cutting curd in our cheese-room in Australia. Hilary gave me my break back in 2007 when a fan called Andy Cole sent one of my CDs to her (with a box of chocolates - bribery obviously works wonders!) and she decided to profile me on Aled’s Sunday morning show on Radio 2. It just so happened that the manager of The Waterboys was listening and a few weeks later, instead of heading back to our cheese-room in Australia, I found myself touring concert halls with American legend Don McLean.

A lot has happened since then and Hilary has supported me all the way. In this tough business, she is one of those people whose enthusiasm and encouragement makes all the difference to independent artists like me. So big love and thanks to her and to Aled for their fantastic support of my music.

Aside from being a radio producer, Hilary also writes wonderful books for children - check out her website.

xx
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Floods, snakes and all that jazz
[07.01.11]
 
After a week of watching non-stop movies and consuming as much food and drink as humanly possible, I am now back in the real world. The real world looks a bit grey and drizzly from my attic window but at least here we’re not surrounded by floodwaters like our friends and family in Queensland, Australia. Apparently the saltwater crocodiles are moving south and snakes are swimming along pavements. Sometimes I don’t mind grey and drizzly England. I just hope our shack stays dry – I’m not sure what would happen to potato-sack walls in a flood.

I’m getting excited about the tour with Dennis Locorriere which starts next month – can’t wait to hear him sing ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ in person. In the meantime, I’m working on some new songs and trying to learn jazz piano. This is proving quite difficult partly because I’m completely brainwashed by years of classical training and partly because I’m hopeless with numbers (apparently music is intricately linked to maths - a thought which horrifies me). So I sit dejectedly at my keyboard playing D7, wishing I was Oscar Peterson. Ah well, someone did say something once about persevering…

Having confessed to the state of my own mental health in my book ‘Start Over Again’, I’ve now made a pledge at ‘Time To Change’, a big campaign to end mental health discrimination. If you agree that people with depression and other mental health issues should be supported not scorned, you can make your pledge here too: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Finally, you can see a recent clip of me being interviewed on Kyeo TV including a fantastic example of how not to answer an interview question ;). Click here to see it.

Hope all’s well in your world – wishing you a very happy new year.

xx
 
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Thanks & best wishes 2010
[14.12.10]
 
I did my last gig of the year at High Barn in Essex last week (see my gig photos) – an amazing venue with a gorgeous grand piano I could play which made my day. Worth spending 8 hours in the car to get there and back (oh the joys of the M25!).

All in all, it’s been a good year. It started a bit up and down with my song ‘I’d Rather Be’ on the Radio 2 playlist and me deciding that was the right moment in my career to have another ‘episode’, while at the same time being ‘Artist of the Month’ for Caffè Nero. Not quite sure how I managed to get through all that but then I wrote a book about it which made me feel better and then we went and did lots of gigs meeting lovely people up and down the country, which reminded me why we’re doing all this in the first place.

Big love and thanks to all of you who have given me such fantastic support this year. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this. Next year there’ll be a lot more travelling and a lot more people to meet. Can’t wait. Dates confirmed so far are all up on my gigs page.

I wish you a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year, and I look forward to seeing you somewhere along the road in 2011.

xx
____________________________________
Twitter
[30.11.10]
 
I just wrote my first Tweet. Yes I'm a late starter but I'm here now! You can follow me @emilymaguirehq.

xx
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Wine, snow and lovely people
[30.11.10]
 
Just got back from a run of gigs up north. We had a fantastic time, despite the snow and ice. First stop was a bit of a diversion to Hertfordshire where I’d been invited to attend the launch of a Peer Support Scheme in Welwyn Garden City. This is a project to train carers and people with mental health issues to mentor other people who are recovering from mental illness. It was an amazing event. People got up and shared stories of unbelievable courage and spirit - it was a privilege to be there. I sang ‘Keep Walking’ which I thought appropriate cos it’s a song about persevering, and ‘Start Over Again’ which is all about recovery and is the song my book is based on.

Then we were off up to Newcastle to play The Cluny, a great venue we played last year. Thanks so much to everyone who trudged through the snow to get there and to Helen Mitchell who always brings red wine and goats cheese to my Newcastle gigs. Much appreciated! The next day we drove to York for a fantastic gig at The Basement. I’ve never played there before but it was sold out and we came out after the gig to find about 4 inches of snow had fallen. York Minster looked absolutely beautiful. We stayed just outside the city with Steve Heward and his wife Helen. Steve is an amazing landscape painter – check out http://www.stephenheward.com.

The next day we headed to Sheffield to catch up with friends then back up the snow-ridden A1 to Ripon. It seemed like we were the only car heading north with a blizzard blowing but fortunately my bass player is an eternal optimist (he’s also Australian – what does he know about snow?!) so we kept going. I’m so glad we did because we arrived at Great Northern Wine in Ripon to find a fantastic venue and Emma and Mark Ryan, the lovely people who run it. We’ll definitely be playing there again. Thanks so much to everyone who braved the snowdrifts to be there.

Finally, my big news is that I’ve just been confirmed as the support for Dennis Locorriere’s UK tour next year. I am absolutely delighted. Dates are all up on my website*. If you can make it to any of the gigs, it’d be great to see you there. And no, you don’t have to bring red wine and goats cheese ;).

xx

* Because of this tour, my gig at Gala in Durham is now on Sunday 13th March. I’ll keep you posted on any other changes.
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November gigs & other news
[17.11.10]
 
I’ve been back in the studio working on pre-production for my next album. All the songs are written – this is the stage where we do rough demos and work out the arrangements. It’s my favourite part of making a record and I’m really excited about this one. Some of the songs you might have heard me sing at gigs but most of them you won’t have heard before. I will keep you posted on developments…

I’ve had the most amazing response to the launch of my book ‘Start Over Again’. Thank you so much to everyone who sent me such lovely messages or contacted Radio 2 after the broadcast launch on 10/10/10. I really appreciate your thoughts and your experiences – I know I am not alone.

Last week we had another great gig in Petersfield. Thanks to everyone who came to listen and made it such a special night. My support act was Emily Baker from Brighton who I think is brilliant – check her out on Myspace.

This Friday night (19th Nov), I’m playing the Finedon Sessions in Northamptonshire, then on Saturday night (20th Nov) I’m going to perform at the wonderful Hazelwood House in Devon. Apparently they’ve got a grand piano which I hope I can use for the concert. Then next week we’re off up north to play The Cluny in Newcastle (Thurs 25th) which is a fantastic venue I’ve played before, then I’m in York the next night (Fri 26th) followed by Ripon (Sun 28th). Click here for details. If you’ve got friends near any of these gigs, please do spread the word – all support would be really welcome. And if you can make it, come and say hello, it’d be great to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
My book 'Start Over Again'
[10.10.10]
 
Today is World Mental Health Day. One in four people in the UK suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. I am one of them. Now I’ve written a book, called ‘Start Over Again’, which tells the real story behind my songs. It’s available from today. If you want to know more, click here.
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Singing with the kids
[06.10.10]
 
I’ve had some pretty special moments in my time as a singer-songwriter… hearing my first song on the radio… standing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall… hearing my string arrangements played live for the first time… playing the acoustic stage at Glastonbury… and last weekend, in a church in Manchester, a group of kids aged between 4 and 12 who knew all the words to all my songs and sang along from the front pews until I got them all on stage at the end to sing ‘Lighthouse Man’ with me. Big love and thanks to them for making my night. You can see a photo here.

xx
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Red Box album
[30.09.10]
 
Back in 1999, a friend introduced me to Simon Toulson-Clarke from the band Red Box. Red Box had a couple of huge global hits in the 80s – ‘For America’ and ‘Lean On Me’ – and had achieved a cult status among their fans worldwide. Simon was now making a new album, and looking for someone to play strings on it. I took my cello round and did some sessions for him. I loved his songs so much I then spent the next 2 years in his studio in London working with him on them. Then I went to off to Australia for a 3-week holiday which turned into 4 years living in a shack out in the Australian bush, something which Simon was not very impressed about - I was fondly called the ‘traitor’! But now the much-anticipated and long-awaited Red Box album ‘Plenty’ is being released on October 11th on Cherry Red Records. I think it’s brilliant and feel very proud to have played a small part in making it. You can hear me singing on their new single ‘Hurricane’ and also my all-time favourite ‘Brighter Blue’. Check out Red Box here: www.redboxmusic.net.
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Autumn news
[08.09.10]
 
It’s been a good summer – I’ve managed to overcome my writer’s block and we’ve been playing some great gigs. Last weekend we played the Purbeck Folk Festival in Dorset on a beautiful farm with 2 huge barns for the stages and ducklings out in the yard – pretty idyllic. If you get the chance you should check it out next year.

I’ve been busy working on a writing project, which I promise I’ll tell you about very soon, and we’ve started putting together a song list for the next album. We’re going to be recording some demos for it in the next few weeks… I’ll keep you posted on progress. In the meantime, I’ve got a new single coming out – ‘Start Over Again’, the last song on my latest album ‘Believer’. As you’ve probably heard me say at gigs, it’s the story of my life in 3½ minutes…:)

Just confirmed... I'm doing a very special acoustic concert at the beautiful St Werburgh's Church in Manchester on Saturday 2nd October. Check my gigs page for details. If you can make it, it'd be great to see you there.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Writer's block
[10.08.10]
 
I’ve had writer’s block. I don’t know whether my muse has gone on strike, or it’s a lack of confidence, but I haven’t written a song since March. This has happened to me before so I know what I have to do. Firstly nothing, because sometimes we all need a break. Secondly, not to worry that it won’t come back. It always does. Thirdly, I go and look at paintings in galleries. I don’t know anything about art but I absolutely love it. If creativity is a reservoir, it definitely helps fill it up again. Fourthly, I go for walks. We were in Purbeck for a gig the other day and I went for a gorgeous coast walk with my cellist Beth up to St Aldhem’s Head (which you can see in my ‘Lighthouse Man’ video). The sea helps too. And finally, I read lots of poetry. My two favourite books are ‘Poem For The Day’ volume 1 and 2. Then last week I bought Leonard Cohen’s ‘Book of Longing’ and sat on the wall outside the National Gallery eating a sandwich and reading his wonderful words. My kind of heaven.

And then out of the blue, I woke up this morning and wrote a song :).

xx
____________________________________
New gig photos up
[18.07.10]
 
I had a great gig last night in Colchester at this fantastic venue called the Headgate Theatre. Lovely audience, great sound and some wonderful singer-songwriters playing – it was a ‘Women of Song’ night with me, Liz Simcock, Dave Ellis and Boo Howard. Thanks to James Hibbins of AcoustiCity for promoting such a great night. It’s been going for about 8 years now. It’s people like him who make it possible for people like me to go around singing my songs. Click here to see photos from the gig. You can also see photos from my gig at Stuminster Newton the other week.

I’m really looking forward to next weekend playing in Berkshire, Cambridge and Reading and then the week after down to the Purbeck coast to play my favourite pub the Square & Compass with Christian and cellist Beth. Dates and details are all on my gigs page – all support much appreciated.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Singing for the mums
[29.06.10]
 
There are some gigs I do that make me wish I’d trained as an accountant and some that make me feel like this is the best job in the world. Last night we went to Blandford Forum in Dorset and played to a room full of women who all bring their young kids to Playsongs groups and were having a night out on their own. It was just me and Christian playing (who was in his element ;) and we did 2 sets which included ‘A Song for Stephanie Rose’, my new songs ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Old Valentine’, and a new piano version (with the original lyrics) of my last Radio 2 single ‘I’d Rather Be’. The response we got was just amazing. A huge thank-you to Nickie and Gill of Playsongs for inviting me and for organising such a wonderful evening, and to the 70 women who came and listened to my songs and made me feel like this is so worthwhile.

xx
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Lyrics, laughter and cellos
[12.06.10]
 
For the past few weeks I’ve been busy writing cello parts for new songs and re-writing some of the big string arrangements from my albums for a wonderful cellist called Beth Porter who is going to be doing some gigs with me and my bass player Christian.

Beth is also singing backing vocals for us. It's quite something to be able to sing and play cello at the same time – I know cos I’ve tried it. So we’ve been busy rehearsing and I’m really looking forward to our first gig at Ondaatje Hall in London next weekend.

This is all a good distraction because at the moment I seem to have writer’s block. I had a really creative burst at the start of the year when I finished a lot of new songs and started many more but now I’m left with all these new songs with no words. I’ve been through this enough times to know that it passes but I still get a bit frustrated.

So last night to cheer myself up I went to see some fantastic stand-up comedy at my favourite pub (the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers as you probably know already) and spent the evening laughing and drinking Guinness - a magical combination which I highly recommend. It made me forget all about songwriting angst… for the time being.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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New single and bonus tracks
[18.05.10]
 
I’ve got a new single out now called Anything You Do and to celebrate we decided to include a couple of bonus tracks which have never been released before.

One is my cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ which I was commissioned to record a few years ago for the audio-visual installation ‘Electric Storm’ on London’s South Bank. More recently, it was used on a Radio 2 documentary for Remembrance Sunday.


The other song is a lullaby that I wrote for my sister’s baby girl who was born in the UK while I was living in the Australian bush. I didn’t get to meet her for another 6 months and so I wrote this song for her to let my sister know how much I was thinking of them, and wishing I could be there. It’s called ‘A Song For Stephanie Rose’ and has never been released before.

You all know the words to ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ but here are the words I wrote for ‘A Song For Stephanie Rose’ in case you want to sing it to a very small person in your life…

A Song For Stephanie Rose

Take your time, go slow
The world is your mind
Make your heart so light
And open it wide
And see what’s inside


Make your smile so bright
To shine on the world
And every time you fall
You’ll see that you’re strong
And nothing is wrong


Make your way someday
And leave us behind
But take her hand, her arms
Holding you now
Will always be holding you now


Always be now
Always be now
Always be now


These tracks are only available as digital downloads – a plastic free world! Click here to hear clips of them on iTunes.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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Playing live again
[29.04.10]
 
Thanks to everyone who came from near and far to see us play at the Square & Compass Inn in Purbeck last weekend. It’s one of my favourite gigs in the UK, and not just cos I get given flowers at the end of the night!

It was so great to see everyone and to be out there singing my songs again – now I can’t wait to get back on the road. We’re on the case booking gigs now so I’ll keep you posted on dates. If there’s a great venue near you – no matter how small – where you think I should play, let me know. You can email us at: gigs(at)shaktu-records.com.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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New single
[06.04.10]
 
My new single ‘Anything You Do’ got its first airplay on Radio 2 on Sunday by Aled Jones on ‘Good Morning Sunday’. You can listen back over the next 5 days by clicking the link here (scroll to 2:07). The single will be released on 17th May.

xx
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Thanks to Caffè Nero
[09.03.10]
 
I finished my Caffè Nero tour in Brighton at the end of February after 6 weeks of gigs in coffee shops up and down the country. Thanks so much to all the friends and fans who came down – through rain and snow - it was great to see you. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Pablo Ettinger, one of the founders of Caffè Nero, who chose me to be his ‘Artist of the Month’ and has been playing my songs every day in his 400 coffee shops around the UK.

Last week we were down in Devon playing at the lovely Otterton Mill. Next month you can see me playing at my favourite pub in the UK, but in the meantime I’m taking some time out to do some more writing before my next single comes out. It's on my new album 'Believer' and I’ll tell you which song it’s going to be next time… or can you guess?

xx
 
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New video for 'Wanting Time'
[12.02.10]
 
My amazing multi-talented bass player Christian Dunham just made a new video for my song 'Wanting Time' from my new album 'Believer'. You can watch it here on my website or on my Youtube channel.

We've also put up on Myspace
my new single 'I'd Rather Be' which has been played every day on the biggest radio station in the UK, BBC Radio 2, for the past 5 weeks. I was asked about the lyrics in a recent radio interview. I wrote 'I'd Rather Be' at a really tough time in my life and yet this song came out of my head that was so strong and positive, saying I accept the highs and lows and I'm grateful for them - cos that's where my songs come from. You can't have the silver lining without the cloud. Read the lyrics - you'll see what I mean.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
 
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What goes up must come down
[07.02.10]
 
Last Sunday morning I did a live interview on Radio 2 with Aled Jones, talking about my songwriting, Buddhist practice and the story behind my current single ‘I’d Rather Be’. Aled was the first to play my music on Radio 2 and he’s been a huge supporter of me ever since, playing my songs regularly on his ‘Good Morning Sunday’ show. He's a lovely man and it was great to see him.

I’ve had a very creative time over the past couple of months - melodies and lyrics in my head all the time, writing lots of new songs. It’s a truly wonderful feeling. But I know from long and bittersweet experience that what goes up must come down and these past few weeks I’ve made a not-so-graceful descent from cloud nine back to ground zero.

So I packed my guitar and heavy heart in the car at dawn last Thursday to go up to Manchester to do a couple of gigs and see my Buddhist teacher Lama Jampa Thaye. The first gig was in the Caffè Nero on Oxford Road where some very lovely people had come from far and wide to hear me play and I had some fantastic backing singers aged 9, 6 and 4 who cheered me up no end.

The second gig was at the Buddhist centre where we were staying. Kagyu Ling was the first Buddhist centre to be founded in Manchester, established in 1975 by Karma Thinley Rinpoche and Lama Jampa Thaye. It is part of the Dechen community, an international association of centres of the Sakya and Karma Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. I’ve been a student of Lama Jampa for many years and we were asked to do a special gig at Kagyu Ling as part of their cultural programme of events.

It was the most amazing night. With my bass player and partner Christian, we played songs we hadn’t played in years, like ‘The Borderline’, and songs from my new album 'Believer' to a packed room of people - some Buddhist, some not. To see my teacher, to be made so welcome and to be given the opportunity to play my songs in such a special, inspiring place was just wonderful beyond words. I got back in the car the next day in a completely different state of mind.

And now it's Sunday morning again, and I've been playing my guitar and thinking it’s alright having my head in the clouds - I just need my feet on the ground.

xx
 
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New single 'I'd Rather Be' on Radio 2
[27.01.10]
 

It's been a fantastic start to the year hearing my new single 'I'd Rather Be' being played every day on Radio 2. Big love and thanks to Chris Evans, Steve Wright and all the other Radio 2 DJs who've been playing it these past few weeks.

Hearing 'I'd Rather Be' on the radio really makes my day cos it's a song that means a lot to me. I wrote it during a very tough time and it was like a really positive, strong statement to the universe about the choices I'd make for my life. If you read the lyrics you'll get the idea... the single's out now so if you'd like 'I'd Rather Be' on your iPod, you can download it from iTunes now.

I've been writing a lot of new songs recently so it was good to get out and do some live shows - thanks so much to all the friends and fans who came down to my Caffè Nero gigs in Cambridge and Oxford, it was great to see you there. Tomorrow night (Thursday 28th) we're playing in Bath but the location's moved due to building works – it's now the Caffè Nero on Old Bond Street, not the High Street. It will be very intimate! Entry is absolutely free - just get there for 7pm, say hello and I'll sing you some songs for half an hour.

The following Sunday (31st Jan) you can hear me being interviewed by the lovely Aled Jones on Radio 2 (around 8.15-8.45am) then we're off to do more Caffè Nero gigs in Manchester, Birmingham, Gloucester and Brighton (see details). If you've got friends in these places, please spread the word… and if you can make it, come and say hello. It'd be lovely to see you there.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx

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My free gigs at Caffé Nero
[10.01.10]
 
My Caffé Nero gigs are all confirmed… I’m playing Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Manchester, Birmingham, Gloucester and Brighton, all in the next 6 weeks.

Entry to all these gigs is absolutely free. Just get there at 7pm, buy a coffee and I’ll sing you some songs for half an hour.

Dates and addresses are on my gigs page and on Myspace. Please feel free to invite your friends – spread the word! It’d be great to see you all there. Go to my Facebook site and check out who is already going...

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
 
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Happy new year
[04.01.10]
 
I spent the past week on the Isle of Purbeck, with lots of family, food and wine. It’s the place where I wrote some of the songs on ‘Believer’ and there’s no electricity where we stay so I’d sit with my guitar and pen and paper writing songs by candlelight. It reminds me of our home in Australia though the walls here are stone not potato sacks. On New Year’s Eve, we went up to the Square & Compass Inn and watched the blue moon and the people in fancy dress dancing to some crazy band you could hear but not see.

I’m really looking forward to this year – I got a good feeling about it. My new single ‘I’d Rather Be’ has just been playlisted on Radio 2 and this month I’m the ‘Artist of the Month’ for the Caffe Nero chain. They’re really into supporting music and it’s fantastic promotion for an indie artist like me. They’re playing my songs every day in 400 coffee shops nationwide and I’m going to do some live shows for them over the coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted on when and where…

Wishing you a very happy new year.

xx
 
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Keeping music alive on the Sunshine Coast
[10.12.09]
 
If you’ve ever been to the Sunshine Coast of Australia, you’ll know that it’s one of the most special places in the world.

And one of the best things about the Sunshine Coast is a live music event that happens every Sunday afternoon by Peregian Beach. Hundreds of people come to lie in the grass in the sun and listen to live, acoustic, original music for free.

It’s called Peregian Originals and it’s one the best gigs in Australia. It’s the last gig I played before I left Australia back in 2007 for a UK tour that ended up at the Royal Albert Hall.

And now the local council say they're going to shut it down.

I want to stand with my guitar on the grass beside Peregian Beach and sing my songs again someday. Please sign this petition and let the local politicians know that we want more for our culture than just clubs, pubs and pokie machines.
 

http://www.gopetition.com.au/online/32682.html

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Light a candle for climate change
[10.12.09]
 
Out of a world population of 6.8 billion, 15,000 people have been chosen to go to Copenhagen and make decisions that could determine the fate of our planet.

You’d think this would be the moment for nations to unite behind a common cause, but so far the headlines are saying the opposite. Maybe that’s just the media - maybe behind closed doors the delegates are all in agreement that something must be done, and done now, just in case. That the risk of doing nothing is not worth taking.

But it seems right now all the talk in Copenhagen is about saving money, not saving the planet. Do they think that gold will stop the seas rising?

As for the rest of us, we’re not at Copenhagen. We can’t go and knock their heads together. But we can make a stand. This weekend, over 2,800 candlelit vigils are being held in 136 countries across the globe, organised by people like you and me. To find out the nearest vigil to you, or to organise one yourself, visit http://www.avaaz.org/en/.

xx
 
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Caffe Nero 'Artist of the Month'
[01.12.09]
 
I'm delighted that I've been chosen as the first 'Artist of the Month' for 2010 by Caffe Nero. They're already playing tracks from my new album 'Believer' in their chain of 400 coffee shops around the UK. From the beginning of January, if you're passing one at 3.30pm any day, drop in and you'll hear one of my songs being played.

xx
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Greenpeace: 'Love Letters To The Future'
[21.11.09]
 
I’m very happy that Greenpeace asked me if they could use one of my songs for their global climate change campaign. The song is on my new album ‘Believer’ and it’s called ‘Woke Up’. I wrote it after watching a film about climate change which had a particularly big impact on me because we were running out of water at the time because of the terrible drought in Queensland, Australia.

Greenpeace asked me to film a video to the song for their ‘Love Letters To The Future’ which is a campaign where anyone can write a message, post an image, or make a video about their vision of the future of our planet. The top 100 Love Letters, as voted by the public, will be included in a time capsule that will be locked in Copenhagen on December 13th 2009, to be opened again in exactly 100 years.

You can watch my Love Letter To The Future video featuring my song ‘Woke Up’. If you want to read more about the Greenpeace campaign and write your own 'Love Letter To The Future', click here.

Greenpeace need and deserve all the help and support we can give them in their work. To find out more about them, click here.

xx
____________________________________
My new album 'Believer'
[16.11.09]
 
My new album ‘Believer’ is out today. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people whose incredible talents made it what it is… producer Philip Tennant, drummer Geoff Dugmore, guitarist Luke Potashnick, violinist Jae Yoo, and engineer George Apsion. Above all, I’d like to thank my partner, producer, bass player and best friend Christian Dunham who told me 7 years ago to start over again and make a record. Now ‘Believer’ is our third studio album, released on our own independent record label Shaktu Records. And the reason we can do it? You. The FANS. A huge thank you for your support – without you, we couldn’t do it at all.

xx
____________________________________
Saving the Mary
[11.11.09]
 
Huge congratulations to the Save The Mary River campaign in SE Queensland, Australia. After three and a half years of hard campaigning by hundreds of local people, environment minister (and ex-Midnight Oil frontman) Peter Garrett has finally said no to the dam that would have flooded the Mary Valley, wiping out countless wildlife, trees and over 1000 homes. Check out www.stoppress.com.au for pictures of the campaign.

xx
____________________________________
Gigs & new album release
[06.11.09]
 
It’s now less than 2 weeks til the release of my new album ‘Believer’ (16th Nov) and I can’t wait!

While I’m counting the days, we’ve been busy rehearsing for my headline shows which are coming up in the next few weeks… I’m playing in Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Stratford on Avon and Petersfield plus (just confirmed!) a very special show in Sturminster on 11th December. Venue details and booking info are all here on my website… please spread the word among your friends and come down if you can - it’d be great to see you there.

I’m so excited that my new album will finally be available at these gigs. You can preview all the tracks from ‘Believer’ at http://www.emilymaguire.com/htm/music.htm. If you can’t make it to a gig, pre-order the CD now from Townsend Records and you’ll get your own signed copy sent to your door the week after next. You can also order it now from Amazon, Play.com and HMV - click here for the links.

Other news… I was filmed recently talking about my music and why I ended up living in a shack in the Australian bush – you can watch this interview on my new YouTube channel… my cover of Bob Dylan’s classic ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ is being broadcast on Radio 2 this weekend in a documentary for Remembrance Sunday… Aled Jones on Radio 2 gave my song ‘Anything You Do’ (which is on the new album) its first airplay … and I’ve just done some filming for Greenpeace, who are using one of the songs on ‘Believer’ for their global climate change campaign. There’s so much happening, it’s exciting times! I’ll keep you posted…

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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My new YouTube channel
[30.10.09]
 
I’ve now got my own YouTube channel – you can watch it here. Videos include footage of us in the studio making my new album ‘Believer’, the video for my new single ‘Lighthouse Man’, plus footage of me being interviewed about my music and life in the Australian bush. Click ‘subscribe’ on the channel if you want to know when there’s new clips to watch – more videos will be up very soon.

xx
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Playing the Union Chapel
[15.10.09]
 
Last night I played the Union Chapel on London’s Upper Street. It’s one of the most beautiful venues I’ve played in. People sat in old wooden pews with candles everywhere under a massive high arched ceiling. It was my first gig playing live with Luke Potashnick, the amazing guitarist who played on my new album ‘Believer’.

We played 'Free', 'Wanting Time', 'I'd Rather Be', 'Lighthouse Man' and 'Start Over Again' all from the new album. I'll be playing all these songs and more with my bass player Christian at some headline shows next month in Stratford Upon Avon, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Petersfield. Dates are on my website. If you're around it'd be great to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
A prize for peace
[09.10.09]
 
After years of leaders like Bush, Putin, Berlusconi and Mugabe running the world, now we have Barack Obama, current President of the United States, winning the Nobel Peace Prize. That made me smile today.

xx 
____________________________________
Playlists and pythons
[06.10.09]
 
For an indie artist like me, it doesn’t get much better than waking up to Wogan playing your song on his Radio 2 show, like today. ‘Lighthouse Man’ is the first single from my new album ‘Believer’ and it’s just been playlisted on Radio 2 here in the UK.

This made me happy to stay this side of the world for a while even though I’ve been feeling very homesick for our shack in the bush - even missing the creatures! I never thought I could get misty-eyed over a 7-foot python, giant hairy spiders and a million other sentient beings that live with us in our house made out of wood, tin and potato sacks (all covered in red dust from the desert so I'm told).

Anyway, back to this reality. We’ve made a video for ‘Lighthouse Man’ which you can watch on my revamped website at www.emilymaguire.com, where you can also hear clips of all the new songs on ‘Believer’. The album will be out on 16th November but you can now pre-order it now from Amazon, Play, HMV and Townsend Records who are doing a special pre-release deal. Check it out on the website.

We’ve got gigs coming up soon so we’ve been busy working out new songs and rehearsing old favourites. I’m really looking forward to the gig at the Union Chapel in London next week where I’m opening for Jon Allen and playing for the first time live with Luke Potashnick, the genius guitarist who played on ‘Believer’. If you’re around, it’d be great to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
New album release date
[15.09.09]
 
Suddenly, after months of waiting (not very patiently), it’s all happening. My new album, called ‘Believer’, has gone to press and will be released on 16th November. Fortunately I’ve just been on retreat meditating for 6 hours a day so I’m slightly calmer than I would be otherwise. But still so excited I managed to jump in the freezing cold Channel for a swim with my sister at the weekend – the first time I’d braved it since living next to the Pacific ocean. It was well worth it.

We were down on the south coast, the Isle of Purbeck, to do our annual gig at the infamous Square & Compass Inn in Worth Matravers. This seems to get bigger each time - this year the only way I could get in or out the room was through the window. Not being able to fit a string section or drum-kit in, I played some very acoustic versions of some of the songs from ‘Believer’ with my indispensable bass player Christian Dunham. We also played some very new songs I’ve written in the last few months which I guess will end up on the next record. Thanks to everyone who came from near and far to hear us play – it was a great night.

The next morning the first single from my new album, a song called 'Lighthouse Man', was played on Radio 2. It's a great moment, going from hearing a song in the studio to hearing it on radio for the first time. Thanks to Aled Jones for playing it - he was the first Radio 2 DJ to play my songs on his 'Good Morning Sunday' show 2 years ago and has give me amazing support ever since.

New gigs dates are now being confirmed – keeping checking the website or join my mailing list and I’ll send you an email. I’ll also let you know when ‘Believer’ is out.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
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A bit about the songs
[10.07.09]
 
I’ve put a couple of new songs up on MySpace – one called ‘The Borderline’ from my first album ‘Stranger Place’ and one called ‘Someday’ from my last album ‘Keep Walking’ – so I thought I’d tell you a bit about all the songs you can hear and where they came from.

‘Keep Walking’ is a song about perseverance I wrote while stuck in London one long winter waiting for Australian immigration to decide whether to let me back in the country. I am eternally grateful to them for eventually giving me a visa, teaching me a bit of patience, and giving me the opportunity to write a song that ended up on the Radio 2 playlist.

‘Falling on my Feet’ I wrote in a hospital in north London where I played endless Bob Marley songs in the smoking room and wrote this song which turned out to be a kind of premonition – a few months later I was on a plane to Australia and happiness in a shack in the Obi Obi valley.

‘Someday’ was inspired by the Isle of Purbeck on the south coast of England, a place I’ve known and loved all my life. It was the only place I really missed when I went to live in the Australian bush 5 years ago.

Writing ‘Back Home’ I was thinking about reincarnation and how life could be like the rain cycle – from sea to cloud to rain to river back to sea again, and so on, round and round.

‘The Borderline’ I wrote after a long period of writer’s block. I’d been to see my Buddhist teacher Lama Jampa Thaye in Manchester and he told me to write first thing every morning after my meditation practice. The next morning I got up and wrote ‘The Borderline’. It’s one of those songs that seemed to come through me rather than from me.

I still write every morning after my practice. Sometimes songs come easily, sometimes they don’t. This week my life’s been turned upside down again but I take comfort in knowing that where there’s heartache, there’ll be a new song to express how I feel, make me feel better, and hopefully make you feel something too.

xx
____________________________________
On the road & Radio 2
[28.06.09]
 
Armed with my guitar, keyboard and bass player Christian, I headed down to Cornwall to do a gig in a crazy little village called St Agnes. I’ve never really seen Cornwall before – only Newquay on a very grey day - so this was a bit of a revelation. The coast down there is gorgeous – very like the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset which is a place very dear to my heart. Thanks to Tim at The Taphouse for the Sambuca and the local cops for turning up when it was time for bed.

Then last week we went back to the Acoustic Club at Bishops Stortford where we played a couple of years ago. It’s a fantastic open-mike night with a guest spot at the end which they gave us at very short notice. Lovely club, lovely people. Thanks to Keef and Annie for having us back – I hope the Eukele convention went well…

After that we did a gig at CB2 in Cambridge in a tiny basement with US country singer Rachel Harrington and Jenni Alpert. Another great audience - some who’d seen us play at Bush Hall last year and seemed to enjoy the more intimate surroundings! Rachel sang ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ which made my night plus I got to see some very old friends who turned up out of the blue.

So now I have the bug back. I still don’t know when my new record’s coming out so in the meantime I’m going to get back on the road and play gigs of all shapes and sizes to as many people in as many places as possible. If you’re on my mailing list I’ll keep you posted on where and when - otherwise keep checking my gig guide.

By the way, this morning Aled Jones played my cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ on his Radio 2 show. I recorded it back in 2004 for an audio-installation called ‘Electric Storm’ on London’s South Bank. You can hear it over the next 7 days at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wqvh (scroll to 00:45mins).

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Back on stage again
[10.06.09]
 
Leaving my string section, lead guitarist and drummer at home, I’ve been doing some intimate acoustic warm-up gigs to showcase some of the songs from my new album. It feels so great to be out of the studio and playing live again - and I’m playing some songs on piano which I’ve never done at gigs before.

With just my bass player Christian, we did the first gig in Bristol at The Prom Bar. It’s a great venue we played a couple of years ago just before our tour with Don McLean. Thanks to all the fans who came down to support us including all our friends from the Sakya Buddhist centre which is just up the road from the venue, and friends who came from the other side of the country. It was great to see you all there.

The next gig was at another great venue - the Guildhall in Gloucester where Al Biernacki has been promoting his ‘Acoustica’ night for the past 5 years. We opened for Iain Archer who used to be in Snow Patrol and is now a great solo singer-songwriter. I always love playing at the Gloucester Guildhall - the staff are so friendly and it’s such a fantastic venue for acoustic music. I hope the new management team there realise what a gem Acoustica is and keep it going. Big love and thanks to Nick the sound engineer for another great gig and to everyone who came to support us.

Next up is The Taphouse in Cornwall tomorrow night then a couple of very intimate acoustic clubs in East Anglia next week. Dates are up on my website at www.emilymaguire.com and on myspace. If you can make it, it’d be great to see you there.

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Warm-up gigs
[31.05.09]
 
I’m doing some intimate warm-up gigs next month to showcase some of the songs from my new album. If you’re around, it’d be great to see you there. Check my gig guide for dates. First one is tomorrow night at the Prom Bar in Bristol.

xx
____________________________________
New song on Radio 2, March 29th
[26.03.09]
 
I’ve been taking some time out after finishing my new album and we’ve been back to Australia to make sure our shack is still standing after all this time away and to spend some time with family and friends on that side of the world.

Now we’re back in the UK and looking forward with great excitement to the release of the new album which I hope will be very soon. If you want to be one of the first to know the release date, join my mailing list and I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, you can get a sneak preview on Radio 2 on Sunday morning (29 March) when one of the songs is given its first airplay on Aled Jones’ show ‘Good Morning Sunday’ (7am-9am). The song is called ‘Start Over Again’ and it’s an acoustic ballad that will be the final track on my new album. I hope you like it. If you miss the show you'll be able to hear it on BBC iPlayer for the next week or so.


Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Going home
[25.01.09]
 
The album's done. Big love and thanks to Christian Dunham, Philip Tennant, George Apsion, Geoff Dugmore, Luke Potash and Jae Yoo for making my songs come to life.

Now, after 18 months away, we're going home. In July 2007 we left our shack in the Australian bush with a bag of CDs and our guitars, thinking we'd be home in 12 weeks to start making goats cheese again to pay for my next album and our next UK tour. Instead, mainly thanks to Aled Jones at Radio 2, we've ended up spending the past year and a half touring the UK and promoting my last album 'Keep Walking'.

It's been brilliant but we've been homesick too. Getting burgled in London on New Year's Eve makes you long for a home where there's not even a lock on the door. So tomorrow night we'll be on a plane to Brisbane, then we'll drive north up into the hills behind the Sunshine Coast to the farm. All the dogs will be there and the goats. I can't wait to see them. It's summertime and there'll be snakes around but I don’t mind.

But the main thing we want to see, aside from the shack and the animals and the huge blue sky and the green hills, are the people we love and miss. Australia is a long way from London, but to us it's still home.

xx
 
____________________________________
YouTube video of us in the studio
[20.01.09]
 

I’ve spent the past 4 weeks in a studio in London recording my third album, living on caffeine and ready meals and developing a secret addiction to American Idol (I don’t normally get to watch Sky so this is truly a revelation).

We’ve had some great days working with guitarist Luke Potash, drummer Geoff Dugmore and violinist Jae Yoo. You can see us all in a video posted on my website by my bass player Christian Dunham with footage of our recording sessions and rehearsals. Make sure you check out the final scenes with our trusty engineer George Apsion and his faithful assistant Tariq dancing to what might be the first single, a song called ‘I’d Rather Be’. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

All the new songs for this album are now recorded including ‘Lighthouse Man’, ‘Anything You Do’ and ‘A Bit of Blue’ which you might recognise from recent shows, as well as brand new songs including ‘I’d Rather Be’, ‘Believer’, ‘Free’ and more. We’re now in the final stages of mixing with the wonderful George and working all hours because we have to finish the album by the end of this week. I'm excited...

Hope all's well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
Recording a new album
[21.12.08]
 
I love this time of year. Maybe it's the winter solstice or the Christmas lights or just something in the air, but I always get a bit emotional in December - in a good way - and now more than ever cos we're now halfway through recording my third album at a very lovely studio in west London.

Awesome drummer Geoff Dugmore has been in to lay down the grooves with bass player Christian Dunham, I’ve finished most of the vocal and acoustic guitar parts and after a break for Christmas we start recording again in the new year with a string section and guitarist Luke Potash. The songs are starting to come to life and while trying to remain calm at all times, I am really, really excited about this record.

We finish in the studio at the end of January. If you want me to let you know when the new album’s out, join my mailing list and I’ll keep you posted.

I hope all’s well in your world - wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year.

xx
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Hope and pray
[03.11.08]
 
I'm watching the news and wondering how I'm going to sleep tonight I'm so excited about what's happening across the Atlantic, waiting to see if Obama is going to make it to the White House, feeling like if he does the world could change tomorrow, for the better. A thought which helps when I'm also watching people in Congo walking for miles in bare feet looking for food and shelter from the fighting.

Here in my safe house I've had dinner and I'm listening to a song we've been working on today. It's called 'Believer' and it's going to be on the album I'm recording next month in London. This is my favourite part of music-making - when it's all open and unknown and anything could happen. Kind of like the American election. Fingers crossed for tomorrow...

xx
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Tours & tales from the shack
[01.11.08]
 
Photos of my Bush Hall gig in London are now up on my website – you can see them by clicking the link on the news page. I've just finished a UK tour with Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze and his very lovely band called the Fluffers, and I had this idea I was going to put my feet up for a week or so before starting work on a new album, but apparently there is no rest for the wicked so we're back on the road again, this time with Roddy Frame, the man from Aztec Camera.

I'm really looking forward to this tour cos we're going back to venues I've played before and really enjoyed - particularly The Sage in Gateshead, The Stables in Milton Keynes and Cadogan Hall in London. I've also got the privilege of playing the first note on the opening night of the brand-new Komedia venue in Bath.

But right now I'm feeling a bit homesick again cos today I spoke to my good friend Aki who is housesitting for us in our shack back in Australia. While I'm looking out the window at freezing cold clouds and rain-soaked streets, she's enjoying spring sunshine on the farm. Aside from a snake in her printer and a large, blue-tongued lizard that seems to think it owns the bed, all seems to be well. The shack survived a huge hailstorm last week. The goats are not missing me (bastards).

Ah well, I guess if I was there I'd be up at dawn making goats cheese again rather than singing my songs at The Sage. Suddenly this feels like the right side of the world to be on ;).

xx
____________________________________
Love and thanks
[19.10.08]
 
Last Thursday night, I played my first proper headline show at Bush Hall in London.

I know in rock'n'roll you're supposed to be cool about things like that but sorry, I'll be cool as fuck when I'm reborn as a polar bear, but til then I'm a very warm-blooded human being and right now I'm full of boundless love and gratitude for the players who were there onstage with me and all the punters who were there to hear us. I sang new songs that are going to be on my next album, and old favourites from my first two albums, some with string arrangements for the first time. It was the most amazing night for me - we performed my songs as they were recorded, as I'd always wanted them to sound.

Big love and thanks to all the friends, family and fans who were there, to my stunning string trio Jae Yoo, Jenny Ames and Lucy Railton who played my songs so beautifully, and to my fantastic Aussie rhythm section - Damon Wilson on drums and Christian Dunham on bass. Big thank you to Paul Charles and the totally indispensable Philip Tennant for putting it all together. I'm looking forward to the next time... and the one after that.

In the meantime, I've got a tour to finish and an album to record... I'll keep you posted.

em xx
____________________________________
London gig 16th Oct 2008
[26.09.08]
 

Just spent 2 blissful days in the mountains after 3 weeks locked away writing string arrangements for my first headline show in London next month. Looking forward to singing my songs backed by a stunning string trio and a butt-kicking rhythm section that includes the drummer from The Waterboys. The gig is on Thursday 16th October at Bush Hall in London (nearest tube Shepherds Bush) and tickets are available online at www.bookingsdirect.com or the Box Office on 08700 600 100 or 0870 735 5000 (24 hours).

Hope all's well in your world.

xx

____________________________________
New fibromyalgia information website
[15.09.08]
 
I just did an interview with the founder of FibroAction - an information website for people suffering from Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome. I was disabled with Fibromyalgia for 10 years - it's why I ended up teaching myself the guitar and started writing songs to pass the time while I was stuck at home. If you know someone who has it, this is a great website for them: www.fibroaction.org. You can read the interview here.

xx
____________________________________
First headline gig in London
[11.08.08]
 
Lots of things have made me very happy recently: getting a viola and a new piano keyboard, discovering Lee Child (yes I am now a Reacher creature), drinking Guinness in Galway, spending time with my sister and her kids, playing a gig at the Square & Compass Inn in the Isle of Purbeck, finding a 125 year old copy of Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs Without Words’ for 6 quid in Oxfam and, last but not least, having my first headline gig confirmed.

I’m playing Bush Hall in London on Thursday 16th October. Bush Hall is a beautiful old venue in Shepherds Bush with a very intimate atmosphere. Together with string players and a rhythm section, I’ll be performing songs from both my albums and some new songs that will be on my next album. Tickets are limited so book early if you want to be there – check the gigs page for booking info.

In the meantime, we’re back in the studio this week recording a new single. I’ll keep you posted…

Hope all’s well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Find me on Facebook
[11.08.08]
 
If you do a search on my name on Facebook you’ll find a fan page and a group (The Music Of Emily Maguire) set up for me by a lovely lady from Canada called Christine.
____________________________________
Leaving home
[03.07.08]
 
It’s a year ago today that we left Australia with a suitcase of CDs and our guitars, leaving behind all our worldly possessions to gather dust in our shack on a goat farm up in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast.

We thought we’d be gone for 3 months, back in time to start making goats cheese again to pay for the next UK tour, or the next album. Instead here we are a year later on the other side of the world, where it’s now summertime, and the shack seems a million miles away.

Here we have TV and heating when we need it, and no giant hairy spiders or deadly snakes to slide in under the door when we’re not looking. But home is where the heart is, and however much I’m enjoying CSI and the lack of wildlife, my heart still lies on a sunlit hillside 18,000 miles away.

I miss the goats, our dogs, even Dudley our resident carpet snake. I miss the sound of the dingos howling in the hills at night, the kookaburras laughing in the trees in the morning, the cocks crowing, the goats fighting, the kangaroos hopping round the paddocks, the bulls bellowing across the valley, and the Milky Way sprayed across the black night sky like my own private planetarium.

But at the end of the day, as someone once said, it’s all about the music. This last year has been the most wonderful of my life so far, as I’ve been given the chance to play my songs to people all across the UK and Ireland. Last weekend we played the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury. Next week I’m performing at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with The Blue Nile. I’ll get back to the shack someday but in the meantime, I’m happy to stay on the road…
____________________________________
On the road with Eric Bibb
[23.06.08]
 
These last few weeks I've been touring the UK and Ireland with American troubadour Eric Bibb. We've played in Dublin, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, Southampton, Newcastle, London, Milton Keynes, Bath, Edinburgh... I've met so many great people and had such a good time I'm wishing we could do it all again next month. Eric and his band – Trevor Hutchinson on bass, Larry Crockett on drums, backing vocalist Yana Bibb plus his tour manager Sari - are some of the loveliest people you could wish to be around.

The last gig with Eric is this Thursday at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry, then I'm off to Glastonbury Festival with my bass player Christian Dunham where we'll be joined by drummer Geoff Dugmore to play the Acoustic Stage on Saturday. After nearly a year of touring as a duo, I can't wait to hear some beats behind the songs again. If you're going to be there, come and see us.

xx
____________________________________
Seeing the Dalai Lama
[23.05.08]
 
Last year, just before I left Australia to tour the UK, I saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama give a public talk in Brisbane. Yesterday along with thousands of other people, I went to the Royal Albert Hall in London to see him again.

He talked about his main aims - to promote global responsibility, human value and religious tolerance. He said that people who practice compassion and altruism seem to be happier than those that don't, however much material wealth they have.

And afterwards I was thinking, what is it that we love so much about the Dalai Lama? And I thought that maybe in this age of celebrity, where you can be famous for playing football or being rich or doing drugs, the Dalai Lama is famous for being a good man. And smiling a lot.

And just for being like that, he has touched the lives of millions of people round the world. As he said, "If you think small things don't make a difference, try spending a night in a room with a mosquito".

xx
____________________________________
'Keep Walking' on Radio 2 playlist
[14.05.08]
 
I've just heard that the single mix of my song 'Keep Walking' has been playlisted on Radio 2. It will be released here in the UK on 16/06/08.

xx
____________________________________
Barack Obama
[06.05.08]
 
Last week I finished reading Barack Obama's book 'The Audacity of Hope'. I thought it was brilliant. He comes across as intelligent, kind, confident and humble - a rare combination. If he manages to stay that way, I think the world could be an infinitely better place with him as President of the USA.
____________________________________
Playing Glastonbury
[02.05.08]
 
I'm very happy to say that I'm playing the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury on Saturday 28th June. I'm touring in May and June with American singer-songwriter Eric Bibb, playing as a duo with my Aussie bass player Christian Dunham, then we'll be joined by drummer Geoff Dugmore for the festival. Can't wait!

In the meantime, my song 'Keep Walking' has been remixed and is being released as a single in the UK and across Europe next month. I hope you'll be hearing it on your radio before too long. It's a song about persevering, which feels very apt right now.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
Free Tibet rally
[05.04.08]
 
Tomorrow (Sunday 6th April) at 2.30pm, Argyle Square, London...

So we were there, with thousands of other people standing in the freezing cold in Argyle Square with banners and flags, listening to songs and speeches in support of Tibet. And though it didn’t make the news (no violence, no dramatic pictures), it happened. People in London, in Athens, in Paris, in San Francisco - all over the world, people are protesting, making a stand. I think China getting the Olympics is the best thing that could have happened. Suddenly the spotlight is on them - on Tibet - and suddenly human rights, not war or money, is in the headlines.

xx
 
____________________________________
Singing in the snow
[23.03.08]
 
It's Easter Sunday and I'm sitting beside a window in a house on a green hillside, playing my guitar and watching the sun go down across the valley. It's snowing and there's a blackbird on the wall outside singing its heart out. It's moments like this that make me glad to be.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
____________________________________
What's happening in Tibet
[16.03.08]
 
Have you turned on the news today? If you are anywhere in the world except China, you’ll hear about an uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule. Peaceful protests started by Buddhist monks a few days ago have turned bloody and now tanks are rolling into Lhasa. Demonstrators have been given until Monday night to surrender. If they do, they will be treated ’leniently’. Considering the average jail sentence for Tibetan political prisoners is 10 years and 11 months, and considering China executes more than 1,000 of its own people every year, I wonder what their idea of leniency is.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama no longer asks for his country back. He asks for Tibet to become a peace zone, to have some autonomy in its own affairs within the People’s Republic of China, for his people to be allowed the freedom to practice their Buddhist religion without fear or censorship. Here in the West, the Dalai Lama is regarded as a symbol of compassion and peace, a living example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s legacy of non-violent resistance. In Tibet, people cannot own a picture of him or even mention his name without risking being thrown in jail.

There is no democracy or human rights in Tibet - or in China for that matter. But that won’t stop hundreds of runners and jumpers going for gold in Beijing, just like our business leaders and governments who in the name of ’freedom’ drop bombs on one country and do business with another. My heart goes out to the Tibetans, and the Chinese soldiers shooting at them. In the words of another Buddha, they know not what they do.

Om mani padme hum.

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An anniversary
[10.03.08]
 
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. This is my story.

Five years ago today I got a phone call out of the blue that changed my life. I had this friend, an Australian guy I'd met in London years ago. He'd got me into playing guitar and we were good mates. He had a lot of shit going on in his life and eventually I helped him get out of London and back on a plane to Australia. A few months later I got an email with a postal address so I could send him some of my song demos. After that I heard nothing more. His email address stopped working.

A few years later I was in a bad way. Heartbroken, just out of hospital, I didn't know where to turn or what to do with my life. My sister suggested a change of scene – she said try and find your old friend in Australia. On 10th March 2003, I sat down to write a letter to the old address he'd given me. I'd just written the words "I don't know if this letter will find you cos it's been so long" when my phone started ringing. It was him, after 3 years of no contact, calling me from his shack in the Australian bush.

Sometimes signs are subtle, sometimes they're a bolt from the blue. I got on a plane and didn't look back.

One thing's for sure, you never know what's going to happen next :).

xx
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London showcase
[07.03.08]
 
i did a London media showcase on Wednesday night at the Buddhist Temple at Oxford Circus, the first time I've ever played with a live string section. I can't tell you how exciting it was to hear my arrangements performed live (on both my albums I recorded all the string parts one by one in a serious labour of love!).

Big thanks to all the string players from the Royal Academy - Jae Yoo, Robert Ames, William Burrows and Colin Alexander - plus acoustic guitarist Phil Hudson and my bass player Christian Dunham for a fantastic performance.

Thanks also to everyone from my mailing list who responded to our invitation and came down to the gig - it was great to see you there and your support was much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you at the Royal Festival Hall in May if not before... I'll keep you posted.

xx
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'Keep Walking' on GMS compilation
[28.02.08]
 
The title track of my album 'Keep Walking' has been included on an album of 'spiritually uplifting music' chosen by Aled Jones, presenter of 'Good Morning Sunday' on BBC Radio 2.

Aled plays the most fantastic, eclectic music on his radio show and this double-CD includes tracks by Eva Cassidy, Sarah McLachlan, Aretha Franklin, Jeff Buckley, Bill Withers and Eric Bibb to name but a few.

A fan sent Aled one of my CDs last year and he started playing my songs on Radio 2. The Don McLean tour and a licensing deal followed and my life has changed completely. So I may be completely biased but he really is just as lovely in person as he sounds on the radio.

'Good Morning Sunday' is released on 10th March - check it out.

xx
 
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Royal Festival Hall & other gig dates
[18.02.08]
 
Just confirmed: I'm playing the Royal Festival Hall in London at the end of May supporting Irish singer-songwriter Paul Brady, followed by a month's tour of the UK and Ireland with American bluesman Eric Bibb. I can't wait to be back on the road again.

The sun's been shining here in London - nothing like a clear blue sky on a winter's day. I've been busy doing radio interviews for the BBC and writing out parts for the string quartet who are playing with me at a showcase next month.

My current tour schedule is up on myspace and on my website. More gig dates, including festivals, will be confirmed soon - if you want me to keep you posted, just join my mailing list.

Thanks for your support - I really appreciate it.

xx

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Radio 2 interview tomorrow
[19.01.08]
 
If you're up early tomorrow morning, you can hear me on BBC Radio 2 talking to Aled Jones on his show 'Good Morning Sunday'. I'll be on around 7.30am.

xx
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4 star album review
[15.01.08]
 
My new album 'Keep Walking' was given a 4-star review in the Financial Times last weekend. You can read it here.

xx
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Clouds with silver linings
[10.01.08]
 
There's a old Hindu saying: if you don't worry about a misfortune, within 3 years it will become a blessing.

Armed with a new minidisc recorder (yes I am old-fashioned and I like it that way) and my guitar, I've spent the past 10 days sitting on my bed with songs pouring out of my head like I never lost all those ideas, just made space for new ones. So right now I'm in a state of solemn gratitude for this strange and wonderful life that gives us all these clouds with silver linings.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
 
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Cops & robbers
[04.01.08]
 
We celebrated our first cold Christmas in years by eating and drinking as much as possible and were still in festive mood when we came back to London to find our room completely ransacked. Everything of any value was gone, except our guitars. They even took my ancient minidisc recorder with all the songs I've been working on these past few months - now no doubt in a dustbin somewhere in London. I'm gutted. But I also feel sorry for those 2 robbers - they obviously haven't heard of karma. You can lose the police but you can't run from your own shadow.

xx

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With love & thanks
[19.12.07]
 

This week I was interviewed on 'Woman's Hour' on BBC Radio 4 and performed my song 'Falling On My Feet'.

I was really touched by the reaction of some people who were listening and got in touch with me through my website or myspace. It was also great to hear from some long lost friends who also happened to be listening that day.

It's been an amazing year. Thanks so much to all the people who've heard my songs and let me know what it means to them – it makes it all worthwhile.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

em xx

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The shack menagerie
[10.12.07]
 
It's Monday morning and I'm sitting in a studio in London doing a radio edit on 'All That You Wanted'. It's a beautiful clean studio. The only creatures here are human.

On the other side of the world the shack menagerie is growing. In our absence the bat that lives in our live recording room has had a family. Dudley's returned and taken up residence in the ceiling and now a new snake has appeared - a small brown tree-snake with a big attitude. Apparently he investigated every corner of the shack and tried to frighten a jumper lying on the floor before retiring under the fridge.

The best news is Dudley hasn't eaten the Bills after all and they are still happily living in the toilet cistern. I'm hoping they'll still be there when we return.

xx
 
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Reasons to love London
[30.11.07]
 
As I've said, I've been feeling a bit homesick. Sometimes it's like I'm living on another planet a million miles away from our Australian bush.

But sometimes I love London. Yesterday I was sitting in a cafe at Victoria Station and this pigeon marched in like it owned the place, taking no notice whatsoever of anyone and carrying out what looked like a military inspection of the premises.

Then I went to Soho and sat in my favourite cafe drinking cups of chai and watching night fall and the city light up like a Christmas tree. Someone smiled at me. Then we went to St Martins-in-the-Fields at Trafalgar Square to listen to some Bach by candlelight.

And just when I was thinking my day couldn't get much better, sitting opposite on the tube on the way back was a man with a paper bag and a big red rose sticking out of it.

These are some of the things that make me happy - animals, people, hot drinks, lights, music and flowers. On either side of the world.

xx
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New songs on myspace
[19.11.07]
 
I've put up 2 more of my songs on myspace today - thanks to Cate for reminding me.

xx
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Wishing I was home
[18.11.07]
 
I don't know if it's the frost on the ground or the darkness in the afternoons but right now I would gladly sit for 3 days on a plane to be driving up that dirt track through the trees with the sun on my face and the sounds of the bush in my ears. I wouldn't even mind if Dudley was still lying in state on the sitting room table when I got home.

Talking of giant snakes, I just heard he's left our shack after spending the last 2 days there wrapped around the bottom of the toilet. According to my dear friend Aki who is shack-sitting for us, this made going to the loo 'interesting'. Ummm...

The good news is we've just signed a UK/European licensing deal for both my albums which is a good enough reason to stay on this side of the world for the time being. And I'm looking forward to a cold Christmas (it's just not the same in 42 degrees) with TV and turkey. Ahh, I'm feeling more cheerful already.

Hope all's well in your world.

xx
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Live session on Radio 2
[04.11.07]
 
Last night I did a live session for the Bob Harris show on BBC Radio 2, playing 3 songs ('Stranger Place', 'Anything You Do' and 'All That You Wanted') with my Aussie bass player Christian Dunham. Presenter Gideon Coe was standing in for Bob Harris. He finished the session by playing the title track from my new album 'Keep Walking'. You can hear the show at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/listen/.
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Hypnosis
[01.11.07]
 
I've always had a phobia of snakes. Couldn't look at them on TV or even in books. Singing my songs on stage at pubs and folk clubs held similar heart-palpitating fear at first which I managed to get over with large glasses of red wine and a swig of brandy.

Then this summer I was offered the chance to tour with Don McLean and play some of the biggest concert halls in the country. Instead of 50 people in an audience there would be 2,000. For days I went around in a dazed state of complete terror. But by the time I came to walk out on stage at the first gig, instead of bottling it, I loved every minute of it.

And the main credit for that goes to an amazing man called Stuart Taylor. Stuart is a clinical hypnotherapist based in Bristol, England who cures people of their fears, phobias, addictions and anxiety attacks. If you have any of them, I highly recommend you go and see him.

http://www.taylorhypnotherapy.co.uk

xx
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Radio 2 interview today
[28.10.07]
 
This morning I was interviewed by Aled Jones on his Radio 2 show 'Good Morning Sunday' and he was as lovely in person as he sounds on the radio.
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Playing the Royal Albert Hall, 26th Oct 2007
[27.10.07]
 
Last night I stood on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall and sang 7 of my songs to a crowd of about 4,000 people and part of me was thinking maybe I'm dreaming this, but don't wake me up! Big love to all the family, friends and fans who were there. It was one of the best nights of my life.

em xx
 
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Big snakes and stages... the Royal Albert Hall
[25.10.07]
 
I should be back on our farm in Australia making cheese right now but instead tomorrow night I'm playing the Royal Albert Hall in London. It's surreal to think that 4 weeks ago I was playing a folk club in Bishops Stortford.

Since then I've been touring the UK and Ireland with Don McLean, playing my songs to 2000 people a night instead of 50, standing on the stage of some of the biggest concert halls across the country, listening backstage to the band from Nashville playing 'American Pie'... does it get better than this? Huge thanks to Aled Jones at Radio 2 and his producer Hilary Robinson for giving me the break that made it all happen.

And then amid all this excitement we get a call from Australia to say that a giant snake has decided to squat our shack. Dudley's been quite happy for years scaring the shit out of people like me up in the goat shed but I guess he fancied a change of scene. We've been absent for 4 months now so he obviously thinks we're not coming back and it's fine to get his feet under the table (metaphorically speaking) and knock over lampshades and eat all the mice in the piano.

Unfortunately he can't be evicted until 2 strong snake-friendly people can heave him off the sitting room table and out into the paddock. Fortunately I'm on the other side of the world so one of those people isn't going to be me :).

Hope all's well in your world.

em xx
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Touring with Don McLean
[29.09.07]
 
I was supposed to be flying back home to Australia this week after playing 32 UK gigs in 3 months on the road, but now I've cancelled my plane ticket and am heading off to Ireland to play the first of 16 dates supporting Don McLean on his UK & Ireland tour. I might miss the shack and the sunshine, but I don't mind staying for that.

Tickets will sell out fast, so check out www.don-mclean.com and book early.

em xx
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Live gig video
[11.09.07]
 
A few weeks ago I did a gig at the infamous Square & Compass Inn on the Isle of Purbeck. It was one of the highlights of my 32-date UK tour. Click here to see a video.

em xx
 
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BBC Radio 2 airplay
[09.09.07]
 
This morning I was profiled on BBC Radio 2 as the Sunday Spotlight for Aled Jones' show 'Good Morning Sunday'. He played my song 'Back Home' (which you can hear on myspace). Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/goodmorningsun/ontheshow.shtml. Big thanks to Andy Cole for contacting the show about me.

I'm doing interviews with BBC Radio Cambs, Swindon, Birmingham and Bristol this week, and performing in Cheltenham, Swindon, Bristol and Gloucester before my last London gig of this tour at The Troubadour in Earls Court on Thursday 20 September. All gig details are on myspace or my website - if you can make it, it'd be great to see you there.

em xx
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On the road... part 2
[09.08.07]
 
After the Secret Garden Party festival, we have a few days off in the wilds of Cambridgeshire, consuming more cider and the infamous brown soup in the Queens Head pub in Newton (aside from the Square & Compass in Worth Matravers, possibly my favourite pub in the world).

Tour bus finally fixed, we head south to the Half Moon pub in Bishop's Stortford for a gig at the Acoustic Club, playing the showcase at the end of their open mike night. I've always loved going to open mike nights and this one is just brilliant. It's on every Monday night so if you're ever in Hertfordshire, go check it out.

The next night we do a gig in the oldest pub in England – St Anne's Castle in Great Leighs, Essex - built in 1147 or something. It has low ceilings and a resident ghost who apparently likes to ring bells in the night. The ghost keeps a low profile while we're there and the lovely Hutton brothers and some fans from the night before turn up to see us play. 24 songs and several hours later we find ourselves on an empty M25 (ahh, heaven eh?) heading towards the southern suburbs of London.

After a few hours sleep we're on the road to Brighton for the Lewes Guitar Festival, where we perform outside in beautiful gardens under a boiling hot sun for an hour and 15 minutes (I am eternally grateful to the lady who gave me some sunscreen!). After the set, I do an interview with a local TV station which you can watch at http://www.itvlocal.com/meridian/locallife/?void=87046. There's also some footage on YouTube - do a search on my name at www.youtube.com. An old friend turns up out of the blue to make my day.

Next day we're back in London playing at the Barfly in Camden Town, and that evening I'm falling asleep into my bowl of pasta, despite having decided that coffee, cider and sandwiches don't substitute for a hot meal. Only another 19 gigs to go before we get back on a plane to Australia again. Next up is a chapel in Suffolk and a club in Brighton… I'll keep you posted.

em xx
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On the road... [UK]
[30.07.07]
 
So I packed my bags, said goodbye to the frogs and spiders in our shack, and left the farm and bush behind as we headed for Brisbane airport.

Oh joy, 22 hours in a plane… again. This time I stopped overnight in Japan where despite spending hours at the back of every queue in the airport, once I actually got to the hotel everything was great – a bed, a hot shower, the best spaghetti bolognaise I've ever had (bizarrely enough), and the Teachings of Buddha next to the Gideon Bible. What more could you ask for?

So I get to Heathrow the next day and there's my bass player who's somehow made it through customs despite his haircut, and we head off into the bus station with our guitars and bags and coffees in hand.

First off to the lovely Larmer Tree Festival near Salisbury, where it's raining. Rain is something we are really short of in Australia but here in England it's summertime so it's pissing down. Fortunately at the festival the tent stayed dry, we did our first gig and I had my first pint of cider in years. Ahhhh… this was something of a revelation! Apparently though cider is now cool here so I find myself being fashionable which is worrying but I can't help it for now. Cider is definitely the drink of this tour.

We do gigs in London, Cambridge, Hayling Island and Lymington, before turning up at the Cambridge Folk Festival, again to a small welcoming monsoon. By this time I'm half wishing I'd brought my wellies with me from Australia but they have been known to contain tarantulas so I thought best not. We open the festival, meet Paddy the sound-man who I haven't seen for years, and play in the Festival session accompanied by Heather Downie, a very talented young harp player from Scotland.

In between times, our very reliable and trustworthy tour bus has broken down with an as-yet-undiagnosed-but-possibly-terminal case of paralysis. This is where touring gets interesting. We hire a car, weeks old with an MP3 player and coffee holder (I am easily pleased), and head off to the Secret Garden Party festival for a gig on the last night. This is like turning up sober to the end of an office party, but once again cider comes to the rescue - despite being cider that looks the EXACT colour of piss, it tastes lovely and makes me feel much better about everything, including the sight of the toilets.

We've got a few days off now before we head into deepest, darkest East Anglia for gigs in Hertfordshire and Essex. If you're in the UK, check out my tour dates and come hear us play. Cider donations will be gratefully received.

Hope all's well in your world.

em xx

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Bed hats & blessings [at home in Australia]
[22.06.07]
 
Last night I went to bed in my hat. No this wasn't a bipolar symptom but just the fact that shacks made from wood, tin and potato sacks are not very warm in the arctic temperatures we've been having here in the Australian bush.

And now I'm sitting here, still wearing the hat, typing this on our terminally erratic computer with a brown cow outside the door threatening to munch the power line, and Tom Waits on the stereo singing one of my all-time favourite albums, and I'm counting my blessings of the past month.

Starting with the Dalai Lama, who came to Australia and gave a public talk in Brisbane. I can't tell you how amazing it was to actually be in the same room as His Holiness, even if the room was the size of a football pitch. I was in tears. He talked about how important it is to teach our children 'warmheartedness' – compassion - and how he hopes this century will be one of dialogue rather than force. He talked about forgiveness - how to separate the person from the action - and how he applies this personally to the Chinese and their actions in Tibet. It was just wonderful - I felt so privileged to have been there.

And then yesterday I met Tariq Ali. He was here on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, being interviewed by ABC Radio and I'd been asked along to sing some of my songs. In case you're wondering, Tariq Ali is a novelist, political campaigner and bit of a revolutionary figure back in the day. Mick Jagger wrote a song for him, Marlon Brando invited him to dinner, Henry Kissinger lost a war of words with him. Like the Dalai Lama, he is one of the sane voices in the world. And I got to shake his hand!

And on top of all that, 3 weeks ago my life changed completely and forever. Everything is the same and yet something happened involving two very small words that I never thought would make such a difference - but it has and I have never been happier :).

xx
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Rain and romance
[12.05.07]
 
Today it rained. Here in the Australian bush, we've just had our wet season pass by with barely a drop. I come from the UK, a country where rain is 'miserable'. Here, rain is a miracle. There are kids out west who have never seen water fall from the sky. But now for once the clouds aren't just taunting us but pouring rain into our water tanks and dams. The dust is damped down, the brown grass is a bit greener, and we've got drinking water again on the farm.

But I wasn't going to write about water, I was going to write about Robert James Waller. I read The Bridges of Madison County years ago. It was the only book apart from Watership Down and The Color Purple that made me cry (yes I'm Piscean and a terminal romantic in case you're wondering). I sat on the sofa in my London flat with a box of tissues and bawled my way through the last 20 pages. It was fucking great in that way tears can be sometimes.

Anyway, I found another book of his - Old Songs in a New Café - in a charity shop here in Australia. It's a collection of his autobiographical stories from the 1980s and his compassion, wisdom and love of life shine through every page. I loved it. It reminded me that alongside the arms dealers and despots, there are lots of Robert James Wallers in the world as well.

And where would we be without rain and romance?
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The joys of new technology
[01.05.07]
 
There are apparently good and bad sides to most things, but for me as an independent artist, the internet is a complete blessing. It makes my whole life possible.

Picture this: I'm sitting here in a shack in the middle of Australian bush. The walls are made of potato sacks, the roof is tin, the floor is a concrete slab. Outside are trees and hills and creeks, dingos, kangaroos, snakes, spiders and a billion other creatures. We have no heating and no TV but in one corner there's recording equipment and in another is this computer and a wireless modem.

Which means you can read this, wherever you are, in a city on the other side of the world, in another timezone, another season even. I can write and record my song here, and you can listen to it there, with not one A&R man to come between us. I don't know about you, but that cheers me up no end ;).
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Lyrics
[22.04.07]
 
All the songs from both my albums 'Keep Walking' and 'Stranger Place' are now available on iTunes, so I've finally got round to putting all the lyrics up on my website. Check out the music page at www.emilymaguire.com. I've illustrated them with some of my own photos from here in the Australian bush (and beyond). You can also hear clips from all the songs there too.

We've just confirmed a gig at the Secret Garden Party festival in the UK. I'm also playing the Cambridge Folk Festival, Larmer Tree Festival and a festival at the Inn On The Beach on Hayling Island near Southampton, as well as about 20 other dates in pubs and clubs across the UK between July and September 2007.

Can't wait to be back on the road, playing guitar for 3 months instead of making cheese here on the farm. I'm sure the spiders will miss me :). It will be spring here when we return so we'll have to search the shack carefully to make sure we don't have an eastern brown for a flatmate. Harry and Harriet will no doubt have had a zillion babies by then. Ah well, so it goes... the big question is, will it rain?

em xx
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Meeting Harriet & the blues
[13.04.07]
 
So a month has gone by, and my head's done years of time inside itself. The sky's still blue, the hills still green, everything is as it was and yet nothing's the same. Buddha said your mind creates this world. I'd like to see through his eyes.

One interesting thing that's happened, aside from my mental gymnastics, is the appearance of a huge rainforest spider called Harriet in our toilet (this is south-east Queensland in case you're wondering). Harriet is the girlfriend of Harry (the Huntsman Spider) who likes to scare the shit out of me by absailing from the top of our fridge as I'm opening the door. Harry is about the size of my hand.

Harriet is not much smaller and has clearly taken a liking to our toilet bowl, please don't ask me why. You can see her legs sticking out from under the rim (is this too much information?). We tried to extract her with flushing and coat hanger but to no avail - she simply stalks back up the pipe and into the cistern. This somehow dulls the excitement of actually having a flush toilet in our bathroom which works but no-one now wants to use.

Anyway, apart from trying to evict Harriet from the toilet, I've written a new song (you've got to have the cloud to have the silver lining), made lots of cheese and booked lots of gigs for the UK where I'm doing an 'unplugged' acoustic tour this northern summer with my bass player Christian. If you're around for any of the dates, come and say hello.

Hope all's well in your world.

em xx
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Happy days...
[18.03.07]
 
Today I managed to get tickets to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama give a public talk in Brisbane. To a Buddhist, this is a bit like a Christian going to see Jesus, so as you can imagine I am ecstatic.

So much so, I don't even mind the fact that I've just discovered a big pile of snake poo on the bathroom floor, which means there was a snake in the shack last night while I was in bed happily dreaming about hot water and a flush toilet...

yes I'm afraid, being human, after two whole weeks of intense gratitude and appreciation of our new hot tap, I now want MORE (a flush toilet would truly transform our shack into part of civilized society!).

... but then I don't suppose the snakes would care - they'd still go on the floor. Actually the poo is a good sign cos it means they're about to go into hibernation for winter, so I can stop walking around the farm with my eyes glued to my feet and going face-first into a spider's web. Ahhh, I love it here...

Hope all's well in your world.

em xx
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Radio, wellies and a huge spider
[12.03.07]
 

This morning I was making goats cheese up at the dairy and my partner Christian comes up to tell me that my song 'Keep Walking' has been put on the national playlist for ABC Radio. Our local station ABC Coast FM has been playing it for the past 6 months, but now it will be played on all 60 ABC radio stations across Australia.

Naturally I tried to remain calm and dignified (as dignified as you can be wearing white wellies, rubber gloves and a shower cap), but this is the best news I've had all year (apart from hot water in the shack) so instead I squealed and squeaked and bounced up and down in my wellies like the eight-year-old I really am inside (aren't we all? she says hopefully). In case you're wondering, wellies are gumboots - I live in Oz but I'm still a Brit.

Anyway, it's 38 degrees in the shade up here in the hills and I've just spotted a fucking huge spider heading for my shopping bags. There's no way it's coming to the supermarket with us today - frogs are one thing, but this could give the check-out lady a full coronary and we'd be permanently banned from Nambour Plaza. This would be a devastating blow as I am terminally addicted to the stationery department in Big W... is this too much information?

Ah well, while I've been writing this, the spider has disappeared... but which bag?

em xx

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Back Home (new song)
[09.03.07]
 
I've put up another song on myspace from my new album 'Keep Walking'. It's called 'Back Home'. To me it's a song about reincarnation and the rain cycle. To you it's about whatever you want it to be - all my favourite songs by other artists are about me, not them.

em xx
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Back to the shack
[01.03.07]
 
After 20 hours of head-splitting sinus agony on the plane from London, followed by 2 days glued to the sofa in a jetlag semi-coma (yes I'm playing this down), it's now a week since I arrived back home to our farm in the Australian bush. My eyes have adjusted to the sunlight, the dirt-encrusted floor, the spiders on the walls, and the possibility of a snake in every nook and cranny. Little Bill the bullfrog is alive and well, and I am feeling happy again.

And today I am positively RADIANT, with the momentous development of hot water in the kitchen sink. With matching taps! Being human, in about a week's time I'll be taking this completely for granted but the time being I am in a state of divine appreciation.

Hope all's well in your world.

em xx
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Album review
[14.02.07]
 

Still in London but just 5 days to go til I'm on a plane back to civilisation in the Australian bush...

Making me feel it's all been worth it, just got the first review for my new album 'Keep Walking' from IndepenDisc in New York. [Read reviews here]

xx

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Gigs in New York
[06.02.07]
 
Back in London after 5 fantastic days in New York doing my US debut gig at Mo Pitkins, and launching my new album 'Keep Walking' at Pianos NYC.

Despite freezing -10c temperatures outside (I thought my Aussie rhythm section might never breathe again), we rocked... so much so that I managed to break a string, which gave my bass player the perfect opportunity to grab the mic (he's been waiting for years) and do his Aussie accent… photos, video and audio will all be up on my website at www.emilymaguire.com very soon.

And the best thing of all? All that time I've been sitting in a tin shack in the middle of the Australian bush making friends on myspace and then I finally get to New York with my band and there they are – real people, real faces, come to see us play. Micki, Bryan, Steve, Pete, Gary… thank you all so much for coming down, and everyone else who was there on the night to support us. We really appreciated it.

Finally, big love & thanks to promoter Lena Chen of Chilen Music for organising the whole trip – and for generally being such an inspiration and motivation to us. Being an independent artist is great at times, and fucking hard at others… people like you are priceless. It was such a pleasure to meet at last after being friends for so long… can't wait til the next time.

We'll be back soon...

em xx
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London gig
[24.01.07]
 
First London gig of this tour tomorrow night at The Troubadour on Old Brompton Road. I can't wait. I've got new boots, which always help a girl get up on stage, even if The Troubadour has pretty big boots to fill… Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, even Jimi Hendrix have all played there.

I'll be headlining with my Aussie bass player Christian and drummer Shane, singing songs from my new album 'Keep Walking'. If you're on this side of the world tomorrow night, somewhere near Earls Court in London, come down and see us – it'd be great to meet you in person.

em xx
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Beam me up
[08.01.07]
 
Standing in the supermarket, strip-lighting glaring down on my tear-filled eyes, people everywhere, like ants, rain falling in the darkness outside... I'm standing holding an empty shopping basket, my soul shrivelling up inside me, wishing with every ounce of my being that I was back home on that green and sunlit hillside 18,000 miles away.

I have no skin, no barrier between me and the mass of humanity that is Kilburn High Road. It takes a day or 2 to grow a shell, to grow comfortable inside it, to become a Londoner again. Guess I'll just keep walking...
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