If you wish to book Claire for your event, please contact her agent at Red Records.
Thanks to everyone who's turned up at recent gigs...The Shed,mChorlton crowd were amazing and great audiences at Stalybridge and Marple too. Last week I worked with parents at the Black-E in Liverpool who have children dealing with neurodevelopmental conditions...the song they came up with was tremendous and yesterday it got its first outing at ADDvanced Solutions - who commissioned it- 5th Birthday Bash. A top response! I'm presently writing a song for a library celebration plus a Christmas song - with a difference!
Keep Healthy, Love Claire
PS For more to date stuff about what I'm doing you're best to check Twitter @MooneyInfo or @Tailormadesong
well I haven't done this for a while...Trump in power in America, umpteen general elections in the UK, Brexit....and austerity marches onwards. Plus I've been battling cancer for all of 2017...hopefully over the worst of it. Huge thanks to everybody who's supported me through it - and of course the brilliant NHS. We have to do everything in our power to keep it out of profit-monger hands. Sadly I had to miss some gigs and workshops because of treatment but I did manage, again with ace support, to play at the Bridgewater Hal as part of TramTracks...thanks to Radio Manchester for the commission. Other song commissions this year included Body Positive for an LGBT conference at Chester Town Hall, Merseyside Women of the Year Awards for the third year, a couple for a Garden Festival, an Anti-Cuts song for MCC, etc. Anyway I'm hoping now I'm back in the land of the living I'll be getting stuck in to more!
Im presently working with the marvellous ENjoy Arts on a music-theatre project for Lyme Park called the Legends of Lyme...we're still in rehearsals but things are looking good. Plus I'm playing at the wonderful,FC United this Saturday 2nd September as part of their pre-match entertainment - can't wait!
Hopefully I'll be back blogging more often. Stay healthy.
The year has started busily that's for sure. Completed a songwriting and recording project last night...let the mixing commence. Thanks to all who attended. Today includes putting the finishing touches to the BBC News of the Week Song....it's Number 99...99 original songs on the spin - who would have thought it! I'll be racing back from London to perform it on Saturday morning...tomorrow night I'm hosting the London event for LGBT History Month at Islington Town Hall...speakers include Peter Tatchell, Angela Eagle MP and many more...it's going to be inspiring!
Other events coming up include a gig on 19th February at The Station in Ashton-u-Lyne - it's a brilliant community pub! Come on down if you can make it. I'll be hosting Manchester City Council's International Women's Day event at Central Library in March and doing a gig for Manchester Irish Festival at Fred's Ale House in Levenshulme on 11th March...
Hopefully I'll be back on the ball doing my blog on a regular basis this year...meanwhile...
I know it's been a while. Loads has happened...more to follow.
Just so you're aware information from the website has seemed to have gone walkabout - including many lovely reviews...not to worry this year has included an endless amount of xciting and interesting events..commissioned songs too. The wonderful Emerge - recycling enterprise for many years - had me perform at their Ambassadors event at The Midland Hotel in Manchester. Plus I was asked to perform at an event against the cuts in Albert Square in Manchester - Shaun Ryder of The Happy Mondays had a few words to say as well!
All I can say is that life has been very busy...
First off I wrote and performed at MMU's Social Science Festival at an amazing inspiring event about Surviving Sexual Violence...well done Dr. Kate Cook and team for organising it!
I was commissioned to write and perform at the North West Football Awards and the following weekend at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool for lgbt Unison Cnference with a specially commissioned tune! A fabulous night...thanks one and all.
Last week I was performing at a celebration of radical singer Lynn Hardman RIP...she was missed I can tell you.
I completed a songwriting and recording project for arc with Young Carers in Stockport...they are amazing young people.
Yesterday I wrote and performed a short song on spec for a Safety for Sisters event. Amazing turnout in the freezing cold to shout out against the cuts...well done all.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Thank you all for your support over the last 25 years and for coming to the Levfest 25th Anniversary gig - you were amazing! Thanks to John, Ian and Robin for performing with me and to Alex and Dave for performing too.
Thanks also to all of you who have said such lovely things about my weekly 'Song of the Week' on Radio Manchester - it's great you listen and you like it!
Yesterday I was creating a song in a day at the Sapphormation event...a few of us performed it - great fun. Well done to the organisers and attendees...it was one of those events that you just want to hug! Brilliant!
Stay safe. Love Claire
You may know that for the last 6 months I've been writing and performing a song about the week's news on Andy Crane's Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Manchester. The news is often offbeat and songs are quite quirky. The one I'd done for today included the marathon world record and a magpie who had over a thousand Facebook friends...I did say offbeat! But I didn't perform that song today. In the wake of Alan Henning's murder I was asked by the producer if, as well as reviewing the day's news, I could write a song for Alan. I hope I did him justice..it strikes me he was a true humanitarian. I have been overwhelmed by so many of you contacting me to comment on the sentiments of the song...thank you so much.
Be safe wherever you are. Love Claire
Where does the time go? So that's summer done! Austerity still bites the majority of the population in the UK. Many of us are still fighting against it. And Scotland have the option to create a more equal society as they are close to voting for independence.
It's nearly 6 months since I started writing a Song of the Week about quirky news on Andy Crane's Saturday Breakfast Show on Radio Manchester...it's song 25 next weekend! Phew! But just love finding the ideas and writing the tunes.
4th September is the 25th anniversary since my first album 'Rocking the Boat'was released on vinyl! Those were the days! I'll be doing an intimate gig at M19 Bar in Manchester to celebrate on 25th October...be great to see you there. I'm blessed that I've managed to work for two and a half decades and just want to thank all of you who've promoted me at gigs, booked me for projects, come to gigs, bought albums and the like...couldn't have done it without you! THANK YOU!
Meanwhile you can find my musings @MooneyInfo on Twitter.
Stay safe. Love Claire
So much happening no time to write! Congrats to all who supported the public sector strike on Thursday. Good to see solidarity in Manchester - and great to see people I haven't seen for ages...I like people who keep their politics!
I'm off to play at a music day in Whitefield...will write more soon.
Take care. Claire x
Just gutted to hear that Carol Rowlands, a brilliant opera singer, top mate and irrepressible spirit died on Sunday. See below - two months ago she was singing her heart out at a stunning concert. So one more RIP...good people seem to be dropping like flies this year.
Meanwhile, warmongers seem to go from strength to strength without any thought of the heartbreak they cause. Shocking.
Off out for a folk club gig tonight and working with Mike Sweeney and his 'band' tomorrow and Friday for BBC Radio Manchester...hopefully my spirits will lift.
take care. Love Clairex
Oh dear! Some people in England have voted UKIP. Why? Do they really want to have no human rights, poorly paid work, no workers rights, etc?! Seems the Conservative Party are keen to join forces with them...as we meet war-ending anniversaries do people not remember what their ancestors fought against? Wake up!
Mind your backs, be safe. Love Claire
The annual Workers Memorial Day event in Manchester was brilliant as ever and a privilege to perform at...thank you so much to those who came over at the end of the event to thank me for the songs.
An equally inspiring event was Carol Rowlands gig in Seaford at Easter. Carol is going through the mill health-wise yet still sounded like the brilliant mezzo she is...John, Lawrence, Clarissa, Tim, Mark, Russell, Peter and all those I've left out! - what a great event to peform at with you all...you were amazing.
It seems every time I write a blog I have to do at least one RIP...this time a bit closer to home. RIP Roger, you were a lovely character and it was unsurprising the crem was packed for your farewell. And RIP Sue Goldsack...you were wonderfully feisty and a fundamental part of my life and I'll miss you loads.
Stay safe everyone. Love Claire
RIP Sue Townsend - another good 'un gone...sad news. I bet she would have had something to say about the debacle which is MPs expenses...they really are disgraceful especially when you think of what they say about so-called benefit scroungers. I've managed to get a verse into the Song of the Week for BBC tomorrow about it...needs must.
Thanks to BASCA who published my article about women songwriters in this months issue of The Works...I hope to instigates a debate.
Thanks too to Frankie and Daniel from Dovetail for the meeting re songwriting workshops in Preston...a great laugh and a top discussion about arts in the community. I'll be back working with them in June...looking forward to it.
Tomorrow after singing the new tune and reviewing the days news on Andy Crane's Show I'll be hosting the ALLOUT Radio Show on ALLFM. Guests include the Manchester Gay and Lesbian Chorus and the brilliant Clare Simpson looking at lgbt news. I'll be saying big thanks too to all at PLUS a lively, fun group who meet in Stockport and were very welcoming when I went to record an advert with them this week.
Meanehile, stay safe. Love Claire
Losing Bob Crow and Tony Benn so close to each other has been really sad news. But some are still fighting for decent working conditions as I found out when I joined the teachers demonstration in Manchester. And radicals were in the audience of the Subversive Histories gig for Manchester Histories Festival last weekend.
For the last two weeks I've been writing and performing songs about the weeks news on the Saturday Breakfast Show for BBC Radio Manchester...it's been great fun despite the 5am starts. One show followed the last night of The Mallory Monologues run in Salford - what an amazing time doing that was - but still managed the early start..ouch! In the process of writing this week's song so better set to...
Stay safe. love Claire
How sad to hear of the sudden death of RMT Union leader Bob Crow yesterday. A man who clearly understood the importance of workers' rights and fought tooth and nail for them. There has been a call for more people to join unions in his honour. People need to unite for the greater good and what better way...
i thoroughly enjoyed all the International Women's Day events - and there were a fair few - thanks to everyone who came to gigs, workshops, bought albums...you were fabulous.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Yesterday's ALLOUT Radio Show went with a bang. Guests Jackie Crozier and Clare Simpson and presenter friend, Carol, stayed the full 2 hours to make it informative and fun! Co-presenter Murry was away so we managed to make it an International Women's Week speacial with music by a variety of female artists. Thank you.
As it is International Women's Week my diary is full. I'll be hosting Manchester City Couyncil's Women's Awards again on Friday. On Saturday I'll be running my Song in Seconds workshop at the LGF followed by a few tunes. In the evening of the 8th I'll be back at Bolton Socialist Club for an International Women's Day special. On the 9th I'll be a guest at Shilly Shally in Levenshulme, Manchester with an all women bill.
Since I last wrote I've played a gig at the home of the TUC, Congress House as part of LGBT History Month - the theme being music. The TUC's General Secretary, Frances O'Grady gave an inspirational speech and then was a great sport when she joined 'the band' to finish off the evening. The following Monday I was back at Manchester Metropolitan University giving a talk on lgbt anthems...at the end of the talk we wrote our own anthem for our brothers and sisters in Uganda who are facing draconian laws since the President made homosexuality illegal!WE must always fight for human rights.
And finally I have to say I never thought I'd hear the words Crimean and war in the same sentence unless it was referring to a deadly conflict in the 19th century....let's hope it doesn't come to thsi and 'super powers' operate some self control.
Be safe. Love Claire
So Barclays Bank up bonuses by 13% and cut 1000s of jobs at the same time...who makes these decisions?!!
My heart goes out to thoese who've been affected by the floods in the UK but people complaining that local authorities haven't been on the scene as much as they would have liked need to remember this is what happens when you cut local authority budgets in two...so look towards the Coalition who thought it was a great policy to cut hard and fast! The private sector don't seem to turn up an major events where there's no money to be had! Oooo I needed a good rant!
Be safe. Love Claire
Well that was a great few days. The Manchester Met Uni lgbt event was inspiring and great fun all at the same time - I loved being a part of it. Well done to Chris and Katie for organising it. The following day I was co-presenting the ALLOUT Radio Show from Taurus Bar with a cast of 1000s - I know I exaggerate a bit. But it was great fun as well as discussing the serious issues of lgbt discrimation in Russia. From there I went to Leeds to perform at a private party. On the bill was Isla St Clair of Generation game fame. She performed some cracking Robbie Burns songs...impressive!
I've been asked by a national magazine to write an article on whether women songwriters give voice to a different perspective in the 21st century...what do you think? Yes? No? Why? Thanks for your help!
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
My I am slack doing this blog...I blame Twitter where I go to from time to time to bang on! Who would have thought 140 characters would be enough for me to get my point across?! And it's more important than ever to be able to speak up and openly especially now that the gagging bill is to become law...shocking! Last Saturday I got a late call to go on Andy Crane's BBC radio show to discuss the news. It was Hate Crime Awareness Week last week so it seemed fitting that one piece of news about crime around the gay village in Manchester got an airing and a feisty discussion ensued. It can heard on the BBC iPlayer for the next few days but as Andy said off air we could have done a whole show about it! It was also fitting as February is lgbt History Month - its theme this year is music. I'll be helping to launch Manchester Metropolitan University's celebrations and debates this Friday. They'll also be an outside broadcast of ALL OUT Radio Show from Taurus Bar on Saturday morning from 11am to also helo launch Pride House as part of solidarity with brothers and sisters in Russia before the Winter Olympics.
I've lots happening and hopefully will have time to share more soon. Be safe. Love Claire
Happy New Year if this is your calendar of choice! Big thanks to all of you who booked me last year for gigs, workshops, projects, speaking engagements, radio shows and various events - I couldn't have lived without you! Massive appreciation too to all of you who came to gigs and workshops, came on radio shows and bought albums - THANK YOU!
2014 is the 25th Anniversary since the relelase of my first album 'Rocking the Boat' on Big World/Playtime Records and I hope to be celebrating by doing an A to Z of gigs over the next year. If you want to book me feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime my first gig of the year is next Tuesday at The Navigation in Marple and everybody'd welcome. Other events to check out will be my acting debut - I know it's a long story - in March and I'll be performing as part of Manchester Histories Festival at Subversive Histories.
Tomorrow is the first ALL OUT Radio Show of the year on ALLFM which I'll be co-presenting with Murry and great guests are lined up...they'll also be another OB from Canal Street in Manchester later in the year - watch this space!
We're promised yet another year of austerity...but hey they'll be elections soon and hopefully we can change direction!
In the meantime, stay safe. Love Claire
Last weekend's gigs at Unison lgbt National Conference was a fabulous, if a little wild, time. Thanks one n all! To have to come baxck to Manchester after the Friday night gig and get back again for the Saturday night gig was bad timing but worth it. I was sharing a platform panel debate with Alice Nutter, formerly of Chumbawumba but now writing for Channel 4. Though I say so myself we were a fine team and there was a healthy discussion chaired by Bernadette Hyland. Nice one!
Tonight I'm hosting Sound Women at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfiled. The annual event is a little earlier than the festive night that usually takes place. Thanks to those who've bought tickets in advance. Future gigs include the White House in Stalybridge and I'll be doing an OB for Radio Manchester on 11th December....something quite different for me...not the OB but what I'll be doing on it! Will keep you posted...
Stay safe. Love Claire
Last Friday creating A Song in Day at The Christie was amazing. I was there early for Beswick at Breakfast on Radio Manchester and then we performed it live at 4pm on Phil Trow's Radio Show. Stalwarts Ste, Alana and cancer survivors Jason and Faye were awesome...nt a word I use that often but they were all amazing. The SONG'S been played more than once since on Radio Manchester I believe and while I was reviewing the papers on Andy Crane's Show the following day a kind listener phoned in to say she'd loved it!
From MediaCityuk I went to chair a panel of brilliant women for the opening of the Sapphormation Festival...inspirational. Well done all...particularly the organisers, Myrtle and Pauline.
Also a reminder that Sound Women this year comes in November! Still at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield it's on 29th at 8pm with 4 acts and only £6 in advance - Box Office 01484 430528. Be great to see you.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Life is rarely dull! After a great run of gigs - thanks to all who came out in wind and rain to see the shows - I spent the first part of this week creating tracks with young offenders. Tomorrow I'm at The Christie all day creating a song with patients, staff and visitors as part of BBC Radio Manchester's support for the hospital. It starts at 7.45am on Allan Beswick's Breakfast Show on the BBC when Allan will help us come up with an opening chord for the song! We'll be working on it all the day until it is broadcast on Phil Trow's Show on Radio Manchester at 4pm. Early night for me then!
Take care. Love Claire
Wow have I not been blogging for a month?! Shocking. Thanks to everyone you came to the opening of LevFest last Friday...what a night! Particular thanks to the band - Ian, Robin and John and Michael's guest appearance was fab as was the LevFest band! Life is racing away at the minute...I really will update via the blog soon.
Meanwhile stay safe. Love Claire
Last Thursday's People's Assembly gig in Manchester was an inspirartional event. Sadly, Tony Benn didn't make it as he's still poorly...get well soon. But it was good to hear that many are carrying the baton and speaking up for the many who are victimised and punished for merely for being poor. Zero hours contracts, payday loan sharks and Coalition policies made their way into speeches! We are the many! Thanks to all of you who contacted me in various ways to say how much you enjoyed the set....you're very kind!
It's World Peace Day - let's give it a chance.
Yesterday we were told by the UK Chancellor that his austerity measures have been a brilliant success and we;re on our way to economic recovery! How blinkered can some people be?! If there is any recovery on the way, and millions are yet to see it, it's been on the backs of those who work every hour they can for less than a living wage. 'A hard difficult road we've been travelling' according to Mr Osborne....the rich have been on a different track it would seem. Next week I'll be performing at the People's Assembly in Manchester, with Tony Benn among others, as 1000s mobilise to demonstate for fairer pay and working conditions in Manchester on 29th September. Rise up!
I was not so much on the streets but in a park when 'Song in Seconds' got an outing in Stockport last Saturday at a community day. The lyrics reflected what resources people felt they needed in the neighbourhood. It never ceases to amaze me just how creative people are...thanks to the 15 lyricists who gave their all!
Tomorrow is 9/11 - the 40th anniversary of the military coup in Chile...spare a thought for all the missing and lost who disappeared during a hideous regime.
Next Saturday I'm playing at the 'smallest party' at the end of a conference on girls work, its relevance and its importance. Can't wait!
Meanwhile, stay safe. Love Claire
So the House of Commons voted not to enter military conflict in Syria...and there are endless discussions about the pros and cons of such a decision. In July this year The Independent reported that the governemnet issed 3000 export licences for arms and that £12.3 billion arms sales go to 'repressive' states. Some of which go to Russia and then end up in Syria. It strikes me if we get to the root of the problem in the first place we may be able to prevent hideous atrocities by out of control dictators, zealots and the like. WAKE UP!!
I'm up to my eyes in audio edits but will be back on ALLFM on the ALLOUT Radio Show looking back at Manchester Pride and discussing Russia's anti -lgbt laws among the vast array of topics on the show. Listen in 11am tomorrow 96.9FM.
Stay safe...as we know others in the world have a harder job of it. Love Claire
Back in the real world after BBC Radio shows, Manchester Pride and the like! Been asked to do a gig with the brilliant Tony Benn on 19th September for a Manchester People's Assembly event at the Central Methodist Hall in Manchester in the lead up to the demonstartion on 29th September. What an honour!
Life goes on apace! Last weekend included a gig to mark the anniversary of Peterloo (and for those who didn't quite get it the second part of the Peterloo song I sang is about a woman broadcaster, who after discussing Peterloo on air told me off air that she had never voted! Whatever you think of the democratic process I believe we need to acknowledge those who've died in the past to give us the right to vote). The following day we did an OB with ALLOUT Radio Show - with a multitude of brillant guests (thank you Taurus for letteing us use your venue!) and then I was a judge for the 1st Village Bake-Off with John Whaite and Jennie McAlpine. Well done to the organisers and all who entered...I'm slowly coming down from the sugar rush! I think it will become an annual event - sorry Kevin - more work!
This coming weekend is Manchester Pride. Probably more important than ever to celebrate the lgbt community after all the recent attacks on it from Russia and right back to the British classroom! I'll be doing a fewpolitical and passionate tunes on the Women's Stage on Saturday although I start the day bright n early reviewing the papers on Andy Crane's Show on BBC Radio Manchester. Talking of which I'll be back on the same station with Jacqueline Hughes Lundy presenting a show on Bank Holiday Monday from 3-4pm...the content will be varied and it aims to be entertaining! Hope you can tune in!
Stay safe. Love Claire
I'm just returned from gigging and having a bit of a break in Ireland. Thank you one and all for the hospitality and the lovely comments you made about my performances - wonderful. I've come home to some very exciting radio news - can't tell you about it just yet but it won't be long untl I let the cat out of the bag!
Before I went to Ireland I was running a Song in Seconds workshop and doing a gig at a WalkingWomen holiday in the Lakes. Fabulous. First off the song that was completed in bang on an hour was great and the gig - which included the first ever Fleece Song Dance - was truly enjoyable. Thank you Sue, Clara and the team...really sorry I had to set off so soon after the gig but the Irish gigs were calling!
Stay safe. Love Claire
As some of you may know I recently got on to Twitter. It's a strange beast I feel! Handy for information sure but I find people make assumptions about others and then write about it as if it's true. A few did it about me recently...luckily I put them right! A year or so back I did some compliance training with the BBC and, whatever you may think of dear ol' auntie,at least it gave an insight into what is fair (and legal) to say/state. After all the recent (although we know it's been going on forever!) hideous misogyny there needs to be some boundaries! Write what you would say face to face with someone - then have the debate!
Life has been busy - I attended the inspirational Musiains' Union Conference and met some top people, then did more music making with young offenders and co-hosted the brilliant Oldham Pride. Within all that I got to see the Bronze Award winning Creative Recycling Garden at RHS Tatton Flower Show - well done you!
I'm off to gig in the Lakes tomorrow and then to Ireland for some gigs and a bit of a break.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Phew life is full on at the minute. The first part of this week was taken up with the Musicians Union National Conference. It was brilliant - met some great people and learnt tons. In tough economic times it's good to know a union is on the side of hard working people - often ignored as the tax payer!
Yesterday I went to the RHS Tatton Flower Show (a very different vibe!) - never been before. Some great gardens, particularly Bronze Award winner Creative Recycling! Well done...it looked amazing.
This very minute I'm in Liverpool about to do a music making session with some young offenders, should be fun!
tomorrow I'm co- hosting the best community Pride in the world in Oldham. Hope I see you there.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Justin Moorhouse mentioned on the BBC Radio Show I guested on last Saturday that he'd read my blogs....hence he's got a mention. I was on the programme creating a song from scratch and performing it 'live'. Justin gave the topics - summer sports. I concentrated on tennis...unsurprisingly! Anyway he seemed to like as he played it again at the end of the show!
Today Education Secretary Gove has introduced his revolutionary ideas to change education and learning. One proposal is for young people to learn their 12 times table! My understanding was that that part of Maths was important when Britain had a pounds, shillings and pence monetary system and there were 12 shillings to the pound. So rather than looking forwards it seems we're going backwards....unless the government is changing coinage soon!!!
Stay safe love Claire
Thanks to all of you at the SUE conference gig....you were ace. And especially to Tracy and Lorraine who'll be celebrating their birthdays tomorrow....who would have believed it....so many shared birthdays all in one night!!!
I performed at the TUC Austerity Uncovered event in Manchester yesterday. What a brilliant idea. Ordinary people giving their take on how the cuts are affecting them...heartbreaking half the time, angry the rest of it. It really is time to fight back.
And back to birthdays....have a great one tomorrow Ian Bamford...top songwriter, percussionist and lovely bloke. The latter applies to my twin...happy birthday Dan...
Tomorrow morning at 11am tune into the ALLOUT Radio Show on ALLFM. online or 96.6 FM. I'm presenting with Murry...top guests, interviews and music.
Stay safe. Love Claire
The Art of Protest gig in Lancaster was an amazing night...I even got an encore! Whatever next! Great to see poet Steve Pottinger - who was around in the early years of Leeds Alternative Cabaret - hey they were the days! And I saw one man and his beard for the first time...he can certainly hold a note!! Check out his library - sshhhh song!
I've been asked to be a champion of GOLD, an lgbt group for people with learning disabilities and is a new initiative from MENCAP. I'm delighted to accept and will be saying a few words at their launch tomorrow (19th). I'm attempting to create a song for the event too. I then have to race down the A1 to do a union gig near Grantham and then back for an early start on Thursday to play at the Austerity Uncovered TUC Tour in Manchester. When people say politics is boring I can only assume they're not awake. This world needs to be kinder and we should be doing everything in our power to make it so....just a thought.
Stay safe. Clairex
The gig at Night and Day with David Rovics and Dave Puller was top. Thanks to all of you who came over to say you enjoyed the set - appreciate it. It was really sad though, in one coversation, to hear of the death of Chris Evans - a wonderful musician and sound engineer from Bolton...and just a lovely man. I did a Love Music Hate Racism gig with him at Bolton Socialist Club not so long back. He was a top bloke and his death is, quite simply, tragic. RIP Chris.
I've just come home from Liverpool by rail where I discovered the train was being operated by 3 companies! I don't know why I was surprised but it's privatisation gone bonkers! There was the train company, then there was the buffet run by some other company - making profits galore judging from the prices - and then the cleaners worked for somene else. Not to mention who runs the track or ticketing. Re-nationalise!
Tomorrow (11th) at Night and Day Cafe on Oldham Street, Manchester I'm a special guest at David Rovics gig there. Dave Puller's also doing some poetry. Costs £8 on the door and starts at 8pm. Be great to see you there.
And for those affected by the government's mean disability welfare changes - good luck...keep up the good fight.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Ah MPs and members of the House of Lords seem to be neglecting their duties and trying to make a fast buck AGAIN!! Charging for 'consultancies' and mis-using their influence. What is it with these people, why are they so greedy? Austerity? All in it together? Drives me nuts.
Busy old times...the Inspiring Women song I was asked to write for the 21st Anniversay of the event of the same name went down well I'm pleased to say. It was discuused on Andy Crane's Radio Manchester Show the following day. Andy had been the MC - and a fine job he did to. The gig for Chorlton Arts Festival at The Shed Gallery the following night was packed to the gills...thanks to all of you for making it such a top evening. The following night's gig in Wallasey was lovely too...and so good of you all to come back again to see me.
AND...I've been brow-beaten and have got on to Twitter...hopefully I can keep in touch with some top people a little easier...mind you one nonsense comment I've just received reminded me why I didn't bother doing it in the first place!! Follow and find out about it! @MooneyInfo
Stay safe. Love Claire
Happy May Day. Across the globe workers are celebrating International Workers Day - let's celebrate ourselves!
I worked with a group of young carers at the beginning of the year on a project I've developed called Rapid Radio. The magazine programme they developed was excellent - funny and thought-provoking. There's a celebration of their work and that of other young people at arc - a wellbeing project using the arts for recovery in the community at Greg St., Reddish, Stockport. The exhibition is open for the next few weeks from 10am - all welcome so get down there if you can.
Yesterday I performed at the Workers Memorial Day rally in Albert Square in Manchester. It was, as it is every year, a passionate and poignant event with families of those who've died at work coming together to support each other and speak out for better health and safety in the workplace. Truly amazing. Well done to Hilda and all the organisers.
The poor (sic) of Ashton-under-Lyne are the guinea pigs for the new universal credit policy being rolled out by the UK government today. It's supposed to make claiming benefits easier, you do it online. Sadly, some people can't afford computers scuppering their attempts to start the process. They've been advised to use computers in libraries....yes, those important facilities that are facing closure through the cuts. Joined up thinking doesn't seem to be the order of the day with the Coalition.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Yesterday I travelled, with my partner, to Accington in Lancashire to march in memory of Lucy Meadows, a primary school teacher who committed suicide a few weeks ago. She was also trans and had suffered some disgraceful media coverage particularly from the right wing, transphobic press. Luckily, the march and demonstration was full of like-minded, tolerant people from different backgrounds - trade unionists, activists, parents and school children, different cultures and different creeds. Some of them were good enough to let me record their stories of why they needed to show their support. You can hear them on the ALLOUT Radio Show this coming Saturday (27th April).
Be safe. Love Claire
Cameron tells us we're all Thatcherites now!'. Don't think so.... But it is ironic that on the day of the funeral of the PM who got into power with the slogan 'Labour isn't working' and saw unemployment rise to over 3 million under her watch we hear today that employment has risen again to 2.5 million....was this what Cameron meant?
Thanks to everyone at the Navigation gig last night and for all the lovely comments. Thanks too to Robin Sunflower and Steve, who I'd never met before, who played cajon throughout the whole set! Amazing!
Am I hearing things? The public purse is being raided to the tune of £10 million for Margaret Thatcher's funeral?! For once I think there's something that could be privatised!
I was the guest at The White House (sic) last night...and what a night. The landlord gave out free bubbly and we sang political songs and some of the north's best musicians joined forces to make a huge sound. Brilliant. Mrs T Blues was requested and we added a few verses.I've been told off from more than person for my comments about Thatcher...I think some people forget history or maybe you had to live through it to realise just what damage she did.
Margaret Thatcher's died! A Prime Minister who helped to stamp on trades unions, the miners, gay rights, gave us the poll tax, sold off public utilities, council houses and left us with a legacy of self interest and greed. I also hear on the news she was one of the reasons Iain Duncan Smith (architect of the present dismantling of the welfare state) got into politics....says it all. Some have said she was the greatest peace time Prime Miniter Britain's ever had....obviously forgot she took us to war in the Falklands. I feel the Mrs T Blues which I wrote and performed during her years in office will be making a comeback. No tears here.
So the latest 'kick the poor' idea from politicians in the UK is to make sure that people only get assistance from the state if they have 'contributed'...I think that means paid taxes in their working lives, of course difficult with unemployment so high. We all pay tax through VAT where the poorest take the biggest hit proportionately. The new plan made me think of a conversation I had with a friend's partner a few years ago who laughed when I told her the income tax I had to pay as a sole trader. She told me she'd earned a fortune and through her company paid no tax at all! So the idea that the rich contribute more is somewhat misguided.
Take care. Love Claire
Last night I did a gig for my good mate Damien. He had organised a fundraiser as part of the 20th Anniversary of the Family Centre in Wythenshawe. What a storming event. Despite tough times the place was packed and the audience was a brilliant mix of different generations....many who have used the Centre in the past. Of course we shouldn't have to do fundraisers for such an important resource but we have a government that doesn't seem to value communities. Luckily the people there last night do. It was a lovely gig to play and the Family Centre Band who joined me at the end of my set were remarkable. Well done Damien, well done all.
Tax thresholds change in the UK today...unsurprisingly the rich get richer and the poor, who are told they'll be better off because they can earn more before they pay tax, will pay the price long term for the greedy. Who votes for these people in power? They're frighteningly good at pulling the wool over our eyes.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Sorry I still haven't got back to regular blogs....I'm still catching up with myself after being so poorly earlier in the year. There's a lot been happening news-wise....was it a deliberate government policy to bring in major changes to the welfare state and NHS on All Fools Day?! Of course the changes are cruel and mainly unwarranted. The poor once again taking a hammering so the rich can stay so. When will it be recognised that the poor don't create poverty and that the rich do....if rich people didn't take so much there would be enough for everyone. Today some bankers were, at last, named and shamed for the crisis they caused. It was scary to hear that one has just had to resign from an equity group....he was still working in finance despite his appalling ability to do so it seems. Another of these bankers is helping to construct laws for us in the House of Lords....staggering. Another good reason to get rid of the place. Ah I must be feeling better I'm back ranting!
If you're about I'm doing a set at the Greenbrow Social Club tonight and I'll be playing with Robin Sunflower at the White House in Stalybridge on Monday and the Navigation in Marple on Tuesday.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Many thanks to all of you who've been to gigs recently - there's been some top nights - made brilliant by the band and lovely audiences. As they can vouch I'm still not quite with it health-wise...not sure what virus I've got but it seems to like me very much and won't go away. My life's been full-on with workshops and the like so thnaks to everyone for being accommodating...I really hope normal service will be resumed soon. Meanwhile if there's anything to make us feel poorly it will be looking at a smug Chancellor tomorrow informing us there's no other way than to make the poor poorer and the rich richer and then all will be well in the economy. I think he had a public school education - what a waste of money...maths, economics, history...don't seem to be his strong subjects...
Take care...Love Claire
If you've seen me croaking through gigs or workshops recently you'll know I've had some beast of an infection. I'm hoping I'm about to turn a corner so nexr gig you come to you may realise I sound quite different from the bluesy tones I seem to have picked up! I truly hope you don't catch the bug, it's horrendous. Head down to try to catch up on a pile of audio work that needs an edit....
Stay well. Love Claire
I got out of my sickbed to trek over to the studios at BBC Radio Lancashire for the John Barnes Show last Thursday to discover John himself was off sick. At the reins of the show was the marvellously affable Joe Wilson and it was great fun. The listeners are paramount to the show so it was brilliant when Florrie rang in and came on air to give her take on the Wizard of Oz! Lovely!
I was on the BBC again yesterday with Andy Crane at MediaCity. We were discussing the news with fellow guest Hannah. Andy commented more than once that it was unusual for me to agree with what the Daily Mail might say, and of course he's right, it isn't my paper of choice, but their call to see the chief of the NHS go is a right and proper one in my opinion. Why do certain people think they're so high up in an organisation they don't need to take responsibilty for failings?
Last night I did a short set at the Love Music Hate Racism gig in Manchester...what a great atmosphere - well done organiser Andy!
Should you be around on Friday 22nd February it would be great to have your company at a gig I'm doing with the band at Bury Met. It's for the Hurdles Project who do brilliant work with special young people with complex needs. Like most organisations they're finding it tough in tough times...all support gratefully recieved.
It's all go for me at the minute. Hope all's good with you. Stay safe. Love Claire
It's all go at the minute with audio story-telling projects, radio projects and up and coming gigs. I'm playing with the hugely talented Moving House Band at Bury Met on 22nd February...it's a benefit for the Hurdles Project that helps special young people with special needs. I believe, as I constantly say in this blog, that services and resources should come out of taxes and be funded by the public purse,but as this government doesn't think it's important to help the vulnerable I give my support where I can. Please support this event if you can.
The first ALLOUT Radio Show was great fun. With top guests and co-presenter Murry the time flew by. We're back on air this Saturday at 11am on 96.9FM and interviews from the show are on iCloud thereafter.
I'll be on John Barnes's BBC show this Thursday looking at the quirky news of the week and back on Andy Crane's Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Manchester on Saturday at 7.30am looking at the headline news...both are great shows and stay on the BBC iPlayer a week after broadcast. I'm hoping the heavy cold I seem to have contracted will have eased off by Thursday...fingers crossed.
I hope you're safe and well. Love Claire x
Last Saturday Robin Sunflower and yours truly played 'Who's Looking after Leveshulme' as 100s of marchers made their way to the local park after demonstraing along the roads of the neighbourhood. Regular readers to the not-so-regular blog will be aware I wrote the song a few years ago when we were trying to save our community services. Sadly they're under threat again. You can't help but be amazed at the mass array of people who demonstrated - from kids in buggies to pensioners. It's brilliant to live in an area with such passion. Mark, the landlord from the Blue Bell Inn opposite the park where we stood, put on free soup for the marchers - can't think of anywhere else that would do this. All power to us!!
Reminder - the first ALL OUT programme on ALLFM (96.9FM - also available online) launches on Saturday with Murry and me presenting. We'll be having guests, chat and debate and loads of top music. We'll be on air every 2 weeks - forthright and fortnightly - is how we see it. Listen in to see if we're right!
Be safe. Love Clairex
It seems the powers that be are trying to cut our services again - stop it! Anticipate protests galore in Levenshulme to save the Swimming Baths and Library.
Hope your 2013 has started well! I've started the year by being interviewed for a BBC Radio 4 Achive documentary about the EEC Referendum with my twin brother....mind you the edit is such that if you blink you might just miss me!! I look forward to having more air time next week when I'm back on Andy Crane's Saturday show discussing the news of the day...I had a good feisty debate about women's pay and fracking when I was on last week. One of my new year resolutions is to write my blog more frequently...watch this space....in the meantime stay safe.
so the Chancellor in the UK has spoken with his autumn statement......and no surprise to hear that the poor get a got kicking again. We're supposed to be pleased to hear that people who earn £9500 won't have to pay tax. The fact that in one of the richest countries in the world people only earn this paltry amount is pretty shocking. We're paying for loads more Free Schools as well it appears - well if that isn't a complete misnomer I'm not sure what is! They're not free for starters - they cost a fortune - and sadly they don't appear to be for free thinkers either.
There's a demonstration tonight at 5pm in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester to protest against this Budget. I'd be there if I wasn't creating songs with young people in Salford. Maybe they'll want to write a song about national affairs.Will keep you posted...
Take care. Love Claire
Well it wasn't a surprise really was it? A religion that was born of male conceit (Henry XIII) was unlikely to agree to it and so the CofE Synod voted against having women bishops. You do sometimes have to pinch yourself to see if we're actually in the 21st century.
So today's the day the Church of England's Synod votes whether or not to allow women ministers to be bishops. There are many who do not want women to be able to hold such office. I'm not religious ( i referred to myself as a humanist on the radio the other day) but I do believe in equality so I await for the result with interest. Isn't the Queen the head of this Church? Wonder what she makes of it?! Having been subject to a dose of sexism yesterday I can't wait for some men to get off their high horses!
I've just been sent a link to a voiceover I did for a short report for the German World Service. Basically I read out a short statement on behalf of someone I vehemently disagree with....thought I'd better make it clear just in case you heard it! I wouldn't want to lose my street cred...such as it is!
Stay safe. Cx
Yesterday I did a gig in Cardiff, Wales. I'm not a great believer in charity as I think we should be able to afford healthcare, housing, education, humanitarian aid, etc etc through proper taxation....and maybe we would be able to if certain corporations didn't use inventive ways to avoid paying it and as we know there's always money for war...but I digress. However I am happy to perform at Jensing - organised by Rob and Claire - they do it every year to help cancer charities. There's always top acts playing, has a lovely atmosphere and I haven't done one yet where I don't meet lovely people. Yesterday's was no exception. After my set Claire presented me with a gift from her and Rob. I didn't open it until I was leaving. How lovely to receive a Welsh love spoon in the shape of a treble clef...'to remember us by' Claire said. Truly you guys are impossible to forget. Gobsmackingly gorgeous. Thank You!
As some of you will know I'm no fan of Facebook - I know it gets people connected but it does seem to take on a life of its own. Driving back from Cardiff I heard on the radio that Facebook has taken to making 'couple' profiles on sites of people who are in a relationship and have shared their times together on the site. By all accounts the only way you can stop it is by splitting up on Facebook! Big Brother or what?! So ridiculous it's true....
For regular blog readers, and many thanks for coming to the website....i realise there are a million and one other thing to do with your time on the internet, I'll be back on track doing more regular updates in the coming weeks....
Meanwhile be safe and sound. Love Claire
Am I correct in thinking the PM, David Cameron, is chairing a meeting about eradicating world poverty today? As he's caused so much economic misery in the UK with his with his nonsense economics I'm amazed he has the nerve!
A couple of gigs at the weekend - one in Yorkshire on Saturday and another at the first Sapphormation Festival in Manchester (see Live Page for details) - there's some other top acts on too check out there website..
Be safe. Love Clairex
Just a quick HUGE thanks to all at the LevFest gig yesterday. Thanks particularly to Ian, John and Gordon for performing with me in the band. Some people said after the gig that the addition of the trumpet was inspired! Nice one too to Dave and Alex for some top notch poems. There's loads of events on at LevFest - well worth getting to some of them if you can.
I've been asked on to the Becky Want Show on BBC Radio Manchester next Monday (29th) afternoon for a chat and a song - listen in at 3.30pm to catch it.
Be safe. Love Claire
In the UK the news is awash with comments about the actions of various DJs over the past few decades. There have been some shocking revelations. There appears to be no apologies but one statement that seems to come to the fore time and again is 'times were different then'....like that makes everything all right. Hats off to all those people, and feminists in particular, who worked tirelessly over the years for change in order that we can live in a less offensive times. Still work to do of course!
Some of the revelations have been connected to the BBC. I was at MediaCity UK last night co-hosting the BBC Citizen Manchester LGBT show. One guest was talking about Allan Horsfall, a tireless activist for gay rights, who died in August. There will be a celebration of his life at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday and everyone is welcome to attend. From what we were told Allan probably would have been on the TUC March against the cuts in London had he been around. So that means two great events are happening on Saturday.
The Irish Citizen Manchester show goes on air just before we do. Last night they dedicated the whole show to the the famous singing duo Foster and Allen. They performed a live sing-a-long and I was invited me into the studio to join in...I think I knew the last line of the chorus! Whatever my Mum would be proud of the fact that I sang with her favourite international stars!!
Be safe wherever you are. Love Claire
I was interviewed last week by Bernadette who has an excellent blog at lipsticksocialist.wordpress.com/ - check it out and be inspired...one of her recent interviewees is the marvellous Mandy Vere from the brilliant News From Nowhere radical bookshop on Bold Street in Liverpool. If you're ever in the city you really must take time out to go to the shop - it's brimming with books and music and cards and everything about how the world ought to be!
Last Friday I performed at Wallasey CND's 'Peace One Day' event. The audience included 7 month old Amber - who managed to 'sing' in key with most of my songs! The Peace One Day made-up-on-the-spot song with the-not-met-you-before-but-let's-have-a-bash percussion band was something else...loved the dancing Barbara! I met some top radicals...keep in touch...
This week I'll be at the 3MT with Dave Puller on Wednesday and reprising the Edinburgh Fringe show with Alex Keelan at the wonderful Shed Gallery in the Manchester suburb of Chorlton. Be great to see you.
Stay safe. Love Clairex
Today, by chance, I saw some of the final round of Women's British Open Golf Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. To say the conditions were blustery would be an understatement. It wasn't quite that I paid to watch more that you could view the first green from the road. A few of us did. We watched many of the competitors struggle with the wind - one drove her ball over the fence near where we stood. It bounced on the road to land in a plant pot in an adjacent garden! I thought it would be quite a momento but I had to give way to the eager hands of a small child who might well have the ball on ebay at this very minute. We watched them tee off at the second and then went for a coffee in Hoylake. A drive back to my partner's home, natter for an hour or so, packthe car and then back to Manchester. The traffic was pretty bad. By the time I got home I put the TV on to see that the golf was still being played and they had only just got to the 15th hole! Was it Mark Twain who said golf ruined a good walk? Certainly time consuming....
I'm back on the Wirral on Friday performing for CND at a Peace One Day event (see Live Page for details). There are many peace events taking placethat day including one in Albert Square Manchester at mid-day with Musicians without Borders - well worth giving some time to see/hear...
Al last! Today we heard the findings of the independent panel set up to investigate the Hillsborough disastor where 96 Liverpool FC fans lost their lives in 1989. The families of the deceased have campaigned tirelessly for 23 years to get justice for their loved ones. Today, after an apology from the Prime Minister, we discover the hideous details of the cover up, the lies, the deceit and the plain dishonesty of the police and the powerful. Better people than me will document the facts but one of the stark realities of the findings has to be the disregard for health and safety at the Hillsborough football ground. It's good that the Prime Minister has apologied (Margaret Thatcher was in power when the tragedy took place) and if he's read the report, like his speech suggested, I hope he'll recognise that Health and Safety laws aren't to be dismantled as 'red tape' but tightened up for the protection of all of us.
For all those fighting for justice, and there's plenty of campaigns at the minute including JusticeforGrainger (check out their Facebook page) , keep your heads up the truth will out.
Stay safe. Love Claire
Last Saturday I performed at the 2nd Diggers Festival...what a tremendous event in the centre of Wigan. Music and poetry about proper politics. Well done to the organisers and volunteers - you deserve a huge pat on the back!
I was commenting on the news of the day on Andy Crane's Show on BBC Radio Manchester a few hours before I went over to Wigan...it's a great gig. Being given the freedom to find stories of interest and have a debate about them is a privilege and fellow guest, Azmat ,was a top sparring partner.
Hey I think the Oympics and Paralympics are over! Is it me or did they seem to go on for an age? Of course congratulations on the endeavour-front to the athletes but sport isn't everything...the endless conversation in the media about how every effort has to be put into more people getting into sport seems to dismiss other important cultural activities. In the bits of the Games coverage that I caught I noticed that practically every athlete, whether they were running, jumping. throwing, cycling, diving, swimming, etc was listening to music before they competed. So let's not forget the arts (and music in particular - I would say that wouldn't I?!) when the pitiful amount of public funding or Lottery money is being divvied out...and after the painting of post boxes (is this a shunt towards privatisation?!) and ticker tape parades I hope we get a better understanding of what the whole thing cost, who paid for what, who got paid, who got paid and paid taxes in the UK...such questions in the hullaballoo of the Games aftermath are deemed to be cynical and almost treacherous - I just believe them to be important.
Stay safe. Love Claire
You may be aware that the Paralympics are taking place in London at the minute. I watched some of the opening ceremony that was broadcast on Channel 4 here in the UK with news journalists describing the event. As each country's athletes entered the stadium with their flags aloft we were informed almost one nation after another about the conflicts that had taken place in the different regions. It was staggering. - truly by the end of it you recognised we're a world at war. Some of the athletic achievements show a slightly better version of the human condition.
I have, over the years, performed at some varied events in unusual places...yesterday I performed at an allotment prize giving show in my neighbourhood. I'm pleased to say our sitting MP was pretty good on the shaker shaped as a pepper! Last night the entertainment moved indoors to the Klondyke Club. It was a top night. Thanks to Ian, Robin and John for performing with me. What a lovely audience. The 'unturnaoffable' mirror ball had me a bit dizzy by the end I have to say and those people from Cheadle are interesting! Well done Eileen and the team for organising the event(s)...thanks for the vegetables!
I'm back on the BBC tomorrow night and making a swift return visit to the John Barnes Show on Thursday looking at quirky news (with a topical song of the week) and taking a more serious look at current events on Saturday on the Andy Crane Show on BBC Radio Manchester at 7.30am! Later on Saturday I'll be performing at the 2nd Diggers Festival in Wigan....really looking forward to it. There's some brilliant acts on and it's an inspiring radical event.
In the meantime stay safe. Love Claire
Phew Manchester Pride has been and gone. Thanks to all of you who watched me perform at the Women's Stage - what a lovely crowd you were. Plus it was a treat to introduce chart topping singer Alison Moyet to the main stage with my co- Manchester Pride patron, Adam Zane...wasn't she brilliant? And of course the Vigil was the moving, inspirational event it always is...
As my performing life is never dull this weekend I'll be doing a set at an Allotment Party close to my home...it's a first for me! later the same day I'll be at the Klondyke Club with some of The (everchanging) Moving House Band. there's a few other acts on so come down and support the community.
Be safe. Love Claire
Yesterday I was asked to be on a panel for a Women's Pride event at the LGF in Manchester - it was short notice but I'm so pleased I could attend. It was packed to the gills and a wonderfully, inspiring event - for me at least. Questions ranged from the position of young lgbt-ers, to coming out, to feminism and what is it, women's history, to why are some acts have been booked for Pride, to where's the space for women generally to meet and debate and share....feisty, intelligent, funny and uplifting to be in such great company. Well done Annie and Frankie for organising it. I'll be co-hosting the women's stage at Manchester Pride this coming Sunday in Sackville Park. Come and say hello!
I'm not sure I've recovered from my trip to Edinburgh yet! Suffice to say it was a great experience, I loved the gigs and the audiences were fabulous.
Meanwhile back home it's wall to wall Olympics. I tend to enjoy the trumphs of those who aren't so well known and let's face it the medals wouldn't be worth a jot without all the other athletes - so a big hand for those who do their upmost to compete and don't win
Many thanks to the Creative Recycling team for organising my 'Song in Seconds' session at Chorlton Arts Festival. It was a top way to spend an afternoon and those who attended the workshop were lovely, creative and team-spirited women. The song was excellent and the group performed it before my gig at the Shed Gallery the same evening - thanks one and all. The workshop was such a success we're hoping to repeat it at some point soon.
It's a shame the teamwork of that afternoon can't be transported to meetings of government leaders. As Europe spirals from one economic crisis to another a more constructive dialogue would be useful!
Here in the UK we seem to be smothered in wall to wall Olympic torches or the impending Diamond Jubilee. The Olympic flame seems to go out a lot and according to the news there's been some heavy-handed bodyguards around it. Are strong arm tactics necessary? And then there's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - there's so much bunting around it looks like an old Pathe Film after the Second World War! As you may be aware I'm a republican but my credibility seems to be creaking. It appears there's a photo of me welcoming the Queen to Manchester in the city's Tourist Information guide! And if that's not bad enough some of my fellow artistes have taken to telling their version of my story about the day I met her as part of their own act!! Cheeky! You can hear an accurate account of the event and make your own mind up - BBC Radio FiveLive will be broadcasting part of my tale over the Jubilee weekend - check it out. And I'll be doing my antidote to the Jubilee at the New Cleveland Folk Club in Crumpsall in Manchester on 8th June
I'm back on John Barnes BBC Radio Show on Thursday, and next Saturday I'm co-hosting the main stage at Sheffield Pride - should be brilliant. Come and say hello if you're there. Meanwhile have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Yesterday I performed at the Workers' Memorial Day event in central Manchester. Once again hundreds of people demonstrated for better health and safety at work. Scores of people stood in Albert Square after marching through the city streets holding banners high and with photographs of loved ones who had perished because of poor, often illegal, working conditions. Like other years the event was full of sadness, passion and anger. We presently have a government who think that health and safety legislation is just a nuisance - maybe arrogant, posh boys (to paraphrase a Tory MP about our present Prime Minister and Chancellor) would say that because they don't really care about real workers. If they ever met the children, men and women who have lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, partners, relatives and friends through work related accidents they might just change their minds. Next week some of us in the UK can vote in our local elections - vote wisely.
I thought by listening to the Murdochs give evidence at the Leveson Enquiry I might learn something but they only seemed to confirm what many of us have been thinking for years - there's one hell of a lot of corruption in politics and that their business practices leave a lot to be desired. We're constantly being told that the private sector will be the saviour of the economy and the free world as we know it... can't see it myself, with giant media corporations behaving so badly. And we are now in a double dip recession in the UK... I think in old money it means an economic depression.
I was speaking at the media launch of Manchester Pride last week. I'm one of the patrons and my role was to talk about my passion - the Pride Fringe - full to bursting with some brilliant art, literature, music, drama, cabaret etc etc from all sections of the LGBTQ community. I'm really looking forward seeing it in August.
Next week I'll be back on John Barnes Late Show on BBC Radio North West with a topical song of the week and on 7th May I'll be performing at May Day celebrations in Manchester. I'll be introducing some new songs to the set including the recently recorded 'Rise Up (For Us)' a song about how women have been affected by the cuts. It's to be used by the Fawcett Society for a DVD they're making.
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Gigs, radio...and a speech to the Queen! You couldn't make it up...First off thanks to the lovely audiences at the the Shed Gallery and the packed house at M19's Manchester Irish Festival gig. Thanks to Maureen, Ian and John who performed with me. The encores and the Irish tunes at the end of the night were particularly brilliant.
Apart from my usual radio work I did an interview and sang some tunes on Women's Link on North Manchester FM for the International Women's Week programme. It was great to be able to give my slant on issues of the day and how I feel that women are taking a hammering with all the public setor cuts - and that was before the Budget! Am I hearing things? The rich are so good at avoiding paying tax it seems there's no point in collecting the money from them in the first place so the 50p rate has been reduced to 45p to accommodate them. Incredible. This leaves the rest of us paying up on their behalf for any services governement provides. To legitimise people's selfish, greedy behaviour is just nonsense. Sadly this government does seem to be a million miles away from what real people are facing. The latest idea from a Cabinet minister to stockpile fuel has caused untold misery with people panic buying at the pumps and the subsequent dangers of doing so has seen at least one person in a burns unit. How far removed from an electorate can you get?
As many of my blogs have stated I am truly rooted in the democratic process and believe there is no place for an unelected second chamber nor a monarchy that is outdated and, in my view, keeps us locked out of opportunity and 'in our place'. So it was rather strange to find myself giving a speech to the Queen! It's something of a long story but it included a performance of the Manchester Anthem. I worked with young people to create and record it 7 years ago - it was part of a project that considered the best bits about the city. I was asked to work with a primary school choir (and a signing choir) to recreate and perform it at an event to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I was briefed on the protocol of meeting the monarch...only shake her hand if she offers it, how to address her, etc, etc. I have a vague feeling when she came over to me with her arm out-stretched she thought I was going to head butt her such was my bow! On a positive note she listens to what you have to say (which is more than can be said for some of our elected representatives that's for sure) and looks you straight in the eye - consequently I reckon she might have guessed I wasn't a fan of the institution she represents. She was very complimentary about the Anthem and the young people. I didn't get a chance to ask her what she thought of the 'grannie tax' or not to give the Royal Assent to the Health Reform Bill (sadly it received it last Tuesday). Prince Philip seemed to be on his best behaviour. I wrote and performed a song about his faux pas for Radio Manchester last year - I didn't mention it when we were chatting!! The young people and signing choir were absolutely BRILLIANT. Huge thanks to them, to all the staff, the techs and Manchester Town Hall crew who were lovely to work with on the project. It's ironic but I think I might have helped create the next generation of monarchists!!
Next Saturday I'll be performing as part of FC United's pre-match entertainment. My life isn't dull that's for sure!
Have a great week ahead. Be safe. Love Claire
Once again thanks to David at ALLFM's 'underthepavement' show for playing 'Give us the Health Service Back' from the Fleece Song EP. It has an important message. Today I joined 100s of people in Albert Square in Manchester to protest against the Coalition's Health Reform Bill. The legislation will help to break up our precious health service and allow for the greedy to try to profit out of patients and illness. Plainly wrong.
8th March is International Women's Day and I'll be at Manchester Town Hall tomorrow (Sunday) hosting the live music stage. Some top acts on - come and have a listen. Next weekend I'll be back at The Shed Gallery in Chorlton performing at their IWD event. It's one of the loveliest places to play - intimate and full of warmth. It's worth a visit to see the brilliant art that's for sale that's been made by some of the loveliest people on the planet.
To women everywhere celebrate your talents, your wisdom and your inspirational selves.Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
I'm indebted to David at All FM's 'underthepavement' programme for giving the first radio outing to The Fleece Song. Check the show out online - it's a great music mix and full of decent politics.
There was a top version of the song last Friday when I performed at the launch of an Oxfam installation 'Bags of Attitude'. The audience was in great voice. Part of the exhibition includes stories I recorded of how women are affected by government cuts. They are poignant, sad, funny, illuminating and have an underlying anger. One of the main themes is that women should be listened to particularly as they are taking the hardest hit with cuts in public sector expenditure. Politicians should remember we are voters too!
My ranting will probably be in full flow when I'm a guest panelist at Question Time at the University of Manchester next Wednesday. It's organised by the LGBT group. I was on the panel at a similar event last year - they are amazingly feisty events!
I'm on the radio a few times this week too - check out the diary page for some of the information or it might show on the scroll.
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last night I was the guest at Radical Liverpool - a superb evening that included radical songs from Liverpool Socialist Singers and Our Morals as well as yours truly. Many thanks to the orgnisers and the wonderful audience who came along. A number of people came up to me at the end of the night to say that they'd come to the gig because they'd received tickets as a Christmas pressie! So to you and all those who came over at the end of my set and were so complimentary I hope I'll see you again at another gig. You helped to make it a very special evening. Radical Liverpool is on every month so check them out.
Evening's like the one last night are good for lifting spirits and in the light of Ed Balls (Shadow Chancellor) comments yesterday (basically he said the Labour Party will make sure workers don't have any pay increases for years to come), we need them lifting. The Coalition government is bigger than I thought and includes the so-called official Opposition! Meanwhile as workers lose their jobs and pensions and pay increases the bankers are still getting huge bonuses for failure. One it appears graciously refused some of the £2 million plus bonus he was entitled to because he'd been on the sick for 2 months! A bonus for not turning up to work - mmm I feel a song coming on!
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
The blog that I ended last year with was about the UK government's promise of a year of austerity (for some!) and they didn't disappoint! We've ended the year with the highest unemployment since the last Tory administration and sadly no one's surprised to hear the news. You can't make 1000s redundant in the public sector and it have no affect can you? The promise of jobs from private enterprise has, of course, not materialised - and it won't unless they get public money to help create them which makes you wonder why wealthy ministers tampered with local government spending in the first place? Well, we know the answer really don't we? And there's worse to come as the Coalition continues to privatise the National Health Service which is plain and simply outrageous....making profits out of ill-health has got to be wrong.
With this in mind I've just finished a new 3 track EP which includes a track 'Give Us the Health Service Back'! Many of you have asked for a recorded version of The Fleece Song and your wish has been granted (we are in panto season aren't we? Oh no we're not, oh yes we are.....!) and that's on the CD too, as well as 'Emperor's New Clothes'. It's available at gigs until its official release or if you can't get to a gig email us and we'll see what we can do.
Huge thanks to everyone who's come to gigs over the last year and those who have booked me for their venues, events and radio shows, bought albums, visited the website, had me run songwriting and performance workshops and just been fabulous - life wouldn't be the same without you!
Next year starts with a guest slot on John Barnes BBC North West Radio show. The first gig is at Radical Liverpool at Parr Street Studios on 14th January (details on the Live Page) and it would be great to see you there. In the meantime have a happy 2012.
Stay safe. Love Claire
It has been a busy few weeks. I performed at the North West TUC Women's Conference and the following day went to Bristol to play at the South West TUC Women's Conference. Both were inspirational events. The theme was how women are more affected by the public sector cuts - in terms of jobs, benfits, resources, pensions and the rest. The actions and tone of the coalition government is that the best place for women is in the home - doing all the unpaid, hidden household chores and caring jobs. Well, we've been there and we're not going back. The women I met were inspirational and strong and both events incredible - I felt honoured to be a part of them. Women are the brilliant, award-winning multi-taskers - the doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, professors, broadcasters, politicians, writers, poets, musicians, mothers - the list is endless and growing and our skills should be encouraged rather than rubbished. There are a number of campaigns - the Fawcett Society being one, Oxfam another - working to get the message across that women are not a minority (and as 52% of the population we clearly aren't) and should not be marginalised by the cuts. Fight is on!
I joined the marchers in Manchester who were striking against public sector and pension cuts last Wednesday. The demonstrators were good-humoured, extremely angry and thousands strong. The government had done all in its power to stop the democratic right to strike and failed. The day after the strike ministers, who had previously said they had made their final offer, were back round the negotiating table - power to the people! What the Coalition government needs to realise is that they cannot expect ordinary working people to pay for their mis-management of the nation's finances. I said as much last Thursday in a BBC radio debate with two very angry men who were saying the strikers were wasting their time. The sexist tone to their argument made me even more committed to fighting the cuts.
1st December is World Aids Day. There was, as always, a candle-lit vigil in Sackville Park in Manchester. I was asked to read the Poet Laureate's specially written poem for the event entitled 'Vigil'. It was an honour to be asked. The event was moving and inspiring with some excellent speeches. Congratulations to George House Trust for organising the vigil.
I'll be performing at the Three Minute Theatre in Afleck's Palace next Thursday and then on 16th December I'll be back with two other cracking acts at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield - the first and last one of the year! Be great to see you there. Tickets are now on sale at the Theatre box office.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Many fell silent today (and last Friday) to remember those who have been lost in wars since 11th November 1918 - the end of the First World War, the war that would end all wars we were told. Sadly that has not happened. Today political leaders placed a wreath on monuments with no sense of hypocrisy. Not only service men and women have died in wars - hundreds of thousands of innocent people have perished too. And still bullets fly and bombs drop in scores of nations all over the globe...when will we ever learn?
Last week in the UK an NHS hospital fell into private hands. We are constantly told that the 'private' sector - I think this means people who are into making a profit - will be the saviour of the economy. This is the same sector, as far as I can make out, that pays pittance wages, flaunts health and safety legislation and expects the taxpayer to bail them out when their greedy ways leave their businesses floundering (see banks, older people's care homes, etc etc). We must fight to keep the NHS in public hands.
On 30th November there is a planned strike of many public sector workers in an effort to save their pension rights, their working conditions and, in so doing, protect the rest of us from being eaten alive from greedy profiteers. Why on earth we constantly hear our present governement bang on about the brilliance of the private (capitalist) sector is beyond me. How many more years do we have to live in endless recession for the penny to drop? Fat cat millionaire politicians, who wouldn't recognise austerity if whacked them in the mouth, are not the people to be telling the poor to tighten their belts. A government minister has suggested that rather than strike for a day the unions take action for 15 minutes - thereby making their point and not causing too much disruption!! Fifteen minutes?! I think that used to be called a 'break' - those gaps in work that unions struggled to get for their members so that they weren't exploited the whole working day! I'll be performing a two TUC women conferences later this week - one in the north west and another in the south west of England - really looking forward to it!
Be safe. Love Claire
I am aware these blogs are getting rather infrequent. Put it down to a rather busy schedule....great to see all those I met on the TUC march against the cuts last weekend. I then had to dash across Manchester to go on the panel for Question Time - a different one to the BBC version - it was on all things LGBT and quite fascinating! I was the only women on the panel and there were only 3 other women in the room.....one of whom came up to me at the end and said I should put myself up for election! The free-thinking, free spirit in me thinks maybe not!
Next Friday I'm back at the Royal Exchange Theatre for their SpecialFX event - starts about 5.30pm and it's FREE. There follows a run of gigs thereafter (please check the LivePage - Diary - for details).
I've been busy doing audio and desk training at MediaCity in Salford where the Citizen Manchester LGBT radio show is relocating - the technology is out of this world - the open-plan environment is interesting and surroundings very differeent from the old BBC studios on Oxford Road in Manchester! As I was on the MediaCity tram the other day I overheard a woman from Salford saying how she remembered the docks, what Ordsall really looked like and how Salfordians don't like it!
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
First off thanks to everyone who came over to say 'hello' at Manchester Pride - lovely to see you - hope to see you at other events in the next year.
Am I hearing things? The news informed us last week that it costs the UK one and a half million pounds a day to bomb Libya, and to pay for this conflict money has been found in some secret government fund!! Could I suggest the cash would be better spent on education, health care, pensions, job creation and one hundred and one other things! This government has an uncanny knack of finding pots of money when it wants to (see previous blog regarding debt advisors!). The government's proposed changes to have the private sector run hospitals needs to be stopped immediately. Making a profit out of people's poorliness (although I know many do - drugs companies for instance) is tantamount to treason in my book so let's attempt to get our priorities right and plunder the secret coffers for the health service. Rant over!
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
As some of you will know I have had a one-woman boycott of 'myspace' since it was taken over by Rupert Murdoch - never liking the man's politics nor his wish to control the world's media. I've been told constantly that it's a bad idea as the network is such a useful way to get your music heard. Well, I'm glad I stuck to my guns because to watch the shady performance of the media tycoon in The Commons recently was very telling. As I said in the last blog I'm heartily sorry for journalists who've been thrown on the scrapheap by an international corporation that believes it can literally do as it pleases with people's lives - whether it's hacking phones or trying to influence how people vote through its media. So who knows what it does with all that internet data?!
As some of you will be aware I'm usually on the BBC on a Monday night but I understand that BBC NUJ journalists will be on strike against redundancies tomorrow. As I can't cross a picket line I'll not be on the airwaves.
Olympic Games fever seems to have taken over the nation (or should that be London?) where they'll be held next year. It seemed a little ironic that Seb Coe, one of the organisers, welcomed the foreign Olympic Committee members to a big bash in Trafalgar Square last week, a year before the Games begin, to invite atheletes of the world to compete. You may remember Seb won a gold medal at the Games in Moscow, Russia in 1980. At the time the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and various other world leaders asked atheletes to boycott the Olympics that year. Why? Because the Soviet Union was at war in Afghanistan! That poor country just seems to suffer the bullets of superpowers endlessly. Anyone boycotting London?
I performed at Oldham Pride yesterday and it was just brilliant. Huge thanks to the organisers, the lovely audience and some excellent 'band' members who joined me on stage. It's an event that aims to bring the diverse communities of Oldham together - and it certainly does what it says on the tin!
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
So the News of the World (the UK's largest selling Sunday newspaper) is no longer, due to dodgy (other words apply too!) past editorial practices. It was fascinating to see owner Rupert Murdoch say 'No comment' to TV journalists - easy for him to say!! How easy as well it is for international corporations like his just to pull the plug on 200 jobs and, although no fan of the paper, I'm sorry for NUJ members who've lost their livelihoods at the whim of a too wealthy/powerful-by-half media mogul.
Had a series of lovely gigs last week - a couple with harmonica wizard Robin Sunflower, one in Leeds (thanks to all you lovely audience - and did Rob turn up!!)and another with fiddle player Mo in sunny Todmorden...hope the birthday was all you wanted it to be Pam and glad you liked your special song! Next weekend I'm co-hosting and performing at Sheffield Pride - come and say hello if you're there. Or catch me on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow night.
Have a safe week ahead.Love Claire
A week or so back I was asked to be part of a radio debate entitled 'Is it fair to strike?' Yes. My line being it's a human right to withdraw your labour (wouldn't it be a form of slavery if you couldn't?), that workers do it as a last resort and that unions, in the UK at least, have to go through multiple hoops to be able to call a strike in any case. My adversary argued that good ol' market forces (yes, the useless economic nonsense that has left half the western world on the brink of being bankrupt) decide how much people should get paid and, as far as I could gather, that she believed workers in 'vocational' jobs such as teaching, nursing, etc go into such occupations knowing full well they won't get paid much! I know, it beggars belief! I don't expect any worker to have to live on pittance pay and not everyone who works in these jobs has to be Mother Theresa - in fact they should be paid handsomely in my book for being so dedicated. The strike by teachers, civil servants and others this coming Thursday (30th) in the UK has come about because the government (full of millionaire Cabinet members) seems to think it's 'fair' for people to pay more for their pensions, to get less from them and to work longer before they are eligible to claim. When people have being paying years into their pension pot on the understanding they will be able to get it sooner rather than later I find the government's approach (and reproach for that matter) quite shocking. Good luck with the struggle.
Thanks to all of you who contributed to the songs I created on a Manchester tram on 2 days during the Contact Theatre's Lost and Found Festival. You were fabulous - it was great fun.
The day before the Festival I was at the British Sociological Association's conference on domestic violence and mental health. I performed 'Hitting Home' after the keynote speakers and was commissioned to write a song for and about the event on the day that I sang at the end. Thanks to all of you who were so positive about the content. The conference was inspirational to say the least.
I hope you have a safe week week ahead. Love Claire
I was back performing at the Shed Gallery last Saturday night as part of Chorlton Arts Festival. It's a wonderful intimate atmosphere - thanks to all of you for coming and packing the place out. It was particularly lovely to meet up with people I hadn't seen for years. It's often stated in good ol' show business speak that you're as good as your audience. Well you were all terrific...thanks for making it such fun. I'll never be able to listen to Cilla Black in the same way again!! (You had to be there!!) And special thanks to the wonderful crew at Creative Recycling for asking me to perform - stay wonderful.
Stay safe, keep fighting against the cuts. Love Claire
Happy May Day! The spirit of wonderful working people came through loud and clear at a gig I did last week with Liverpool's Socialist Singers (and the other top acts that were on the bill). A brilliant entertaining and inspirational night - thanks for asking me to perform. The following day I played at the Workers' Memorial Day event in Manchester. It was moving, sad and incredibly touching. The speakers were their usual passionate selves demanding that Health and Safety legislation, to protect employees, become stronger rather than watered down - which is what we're threatened with by the Coalition government. The families of those who have been needlessly killed at work came to observe the day. They told their stories and made it abundantly clear that Health and Safety laws aren't about red tape but about protecting the lives of sons and dads and mums and partners and each and every one of us. They are quite an amazing group of people and all power to their campaigns for justice.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
For regular readers of the blog apologies for being so slack recently...I've been working on a number of projects and time has passed by quicker than normal with hardly a moment to rant about the impending royal wedding which seems to have descended on us with wall to wall coverage on TV, in newspapers and no end of pottery in the shops! Why do we always get the opportunity to buy mugs of the happy couple - it's not as if they'll be drinking out of them!? We're told the 'happy day' will help us to forget our woes (unemployment, war, cuts...) for a short time - well, until reality kicks in and we recognise just how much the shebang has cost us all!
The day before the nuptuals I'll be performing at Workers' Memorial Day in Manchester. It's an event I've performed at for a few years now and is always heartbreaking as well as inspirational. It starts at 11.30am for about an hour and everyone's welcome. The night before I'll be gigging at the Working Class Music Festival in Liverpool with the wonderful Liverpool Socialist Choir and Vinny T Spen. A fabulous night for sure!
Last week I was back on John Barnes Show on the BBC (with a topical song of the week). Thanks for the gift you brought me back from your hols, John it was very sweet and in pride of place at home!
I hope you have a safe, loving week ahead. Claire
Why is it that successive British Prime Ministers seem so quick to send us to war no sooner have they got their feet under the table at Number 10? It appears another dictator in a foreign land needs to be ousted by a bombing campaign by the West in order that democracy can reign. I am no fan of tyrants but neither do I believe scouring a country with missiles is the best approach for a peaceful transition of self-determination. The hypocrisy of it all is incredible - the UK has had no problem propping up a variety of dictators for years including those who rule with a good measure of brutality close to Libya. Double standards? Absolutely. I've asked a number of times in recent blogs - what is that Peace Envoy doing, while war rages across nations? And while I'm on a rant why is it there's no money for new school buildings, or youth services, or student grants, or the health service but there's always money for war? World Leaders please get your priorities right! I'll be performing at a Peace Gig at Bolton Socialist Club on 1st April just to try to give a bit of balance to the proceedings.
I was somewhat less argumentative on John Barnes' Late Show on the BBC last Thursday. It was a good laugh as ever and John was on great form as were his texting listeners - I appreciated the information about Woolworths!!! I'll be back on his show on 14th April when he gets back from his holidays and you can catch up with other gigs and radio shows I'm doing on the Live Page of this website.
In the meantime I hope you have a safe week ahead.Love Claire
Yesterday I performed at the Working Class Movement Library's LGBT History Month event and then dashed over to the Contact Theatre in Manchester to play at 'Queer Riot' - an event to look at ways to fight the cuts and which included some amazing entertainment! Thanks to both organisers and audience - I felt I did two completely different sets in the space of 4 hours!
The cuts to public spending in the UK are starting to spread far and wide. I was interested to hear Deputy Prime Minister answer questions from students in a televised debate last week. It appears that the Coalition government want to cut the country's deficit as fast as it can so that future generations don't have to pay for the debts of the present one. Well I think that's what they're telling us - they seem to change tack depending on who's asking the questions. If the government's trying to cut debt why are they so insistent on leaving a graduate with an almighty £20k plus one when they leave university? I fail to see the logic. Politicians seem to get into some economic gymnastics, trying to say students won't have to pay if they don't earn such n such when they get a job, and when graduates do start paying back it'll be some paltry amount. Why have fees in the first place then? The administrative costs will be enormous. Free education for all is my mantra and let those with the most pay the most in taxes (bankers included!).
It seems the government 'found' £27 million at the weekend to help to keep debt advisers in jobs. My eyes rise to the skies! Good on the individuals who can keep their jobs but how does a government just manage to 'find' that kind of money? The public purse is in safe hands?!
A few bob wouldn't go amiss in my neighbourhood where our local swimming pool is threatened with closure. Residents have been up in arms and the fight to keep the baths open as a public resource is in full swing.
Many years ago I plied my trade in folk clubs. The Cleveland Folk Club in Crumpsall, Manchester, was one that gave me one of my first professional gigs. It's re-launching and I'll be performing there this Thursday (17th) with Damien Maddison to get the old place back up and running again. Feel free to come and support it. Next Saturday I'll be playing at the cabaret event of the 'Everybody Out!' conference at the TUC buildings in Manchester. Check out the North West TUC website for details.
And finally congratulations to the people of Egypt who have demonstrated peacefully for change. I hope you get the democracy you deserve. Be safe. Love Claire
At the end of last year I forgot to thank all of you who have visited this website - leaving feedback, sending messages or asking me to perform at gigs or run workshops. The stats show that numbers have gone up over 15% on last year - and there were 1000s of you then. The number of hits we get are enormous but web designer Joel has informed me it's the 'visits' that count so huge thanks to all of you for taking the time.
We are constantly informed that this year is going to be a tough one money-wise for all of us. Well, as we know it's not all of us who are suffering...bankers have been quick to lay out their stall and state why they for one shouldn't be cutting back on salaries or bonuses. So it's just the ten of thousands of public sector workers who have to take the brunt - so much for the Big Society! I'll be ranting about this for the rest of the year no doubt - you've been warned!!
My year's started with a raft of radio shows. I was putting music to the news on John Barnes Show on BBC Radio North West last Thursday as well as chatting about superpowers!! I'll be on Manchester FM's Women Links show (106.6 FM) at 2pm this coming Wednesday chatting about what I do and singing a couple of tunes and my first gig of the year is back at the Q Inn in Stalybridge with the brilliant Robin Sunflower tomorrow (Monday) - it's free and starts at 8.30pm. Be great to see you there.
In the meantime be safe. Love Claire
As we come to the end of another year I send my heartfelt thanks to all of you who, over the last 12 months, have booked me for gigs, come to gigs, performed with me at gigs, bought albums, invited me on to your radio shows or been guests on the one I co-present on BBC Radio Manchester. Thanks also to those of you who have booked me for songwriting workshops or arts consultancies and all you who have been brilliantly creative within the sessions. There's been too many highlights to mention but if you scroll down the blogs you'll get to read about some of them.
Here in the UK we are promised a year of austerity by the Coalition government. It seems the many are being asked to pay a high price in wage cuts and job losses for the actions of the few greedy rich people who have helped cause this economic ruin. The latter are often faceless and nameless and masquerade as the blameless too. Maybe in 2011 the penny will drop and the majority will seek a fairer society. I hope 2011 is kind to you. Be safe. Love Claire
Many years ago I took a turn at doing a piece of investigative journalism for the New Manchester Review - a radical magazine in the city. I have to admit that I wasn't the most cut-throat reporter in the pack but it was eye-opening. I enjoyed one particular night in the pub with the editor who gave me a few tips and some remarkable tales of the trade. The editor was Andrew Jennings. It's good to see he's still plying his trade with his Panarama piece into the workings of FIFA and its members which was broadcast last week. He, and the programme, have been widely criticised for scuppering England's bid to host the World Cup in 2018. For me, he deserves immense praise for attempting to expose corruption. Now the poor losers seem to be agreeing with him after England managed only 2 votes - and one of those was from our own representative. How anyone can be surprised that Russia won the bid is beyond me - with the other European contestants being EU countries in financial disarray, Russia's likely to be the only country in the world not bankrupt by 2018! And besides the last (and only) time England hosted the football World Cup the trophy was stolen so we're hardly a safe pair of hands are we?!!
How refreshing that radicalism is still alive and kicking in the shape of students, academics and their supporters who have taken to the streets in protest against the proposed new university fees. We watch a Coalition government in permanent disarray with Ministers saying one thing then changing their minds then going back to the first thing they said then putting spin on the spin - they must be dizzy! Luckily the rest of us can see quite clearly what they're doing and it's wrong.
I had my say with fellow guests Ian and Janet on the BBC's Coffee Club last Friday although the topics of conversation were a bit more on the lighter side - as was the off-air chat! I'm back on BBC Citizen Manchester on 95.1FM tomorrow night for our weekly (unless football commentaries come first) look at LGBT news.
If you're around on Friday night (10th) I'm back at SpecialFX at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester - there was a wonderful audience at the last gig. It's free and starts at 6pm prompt.
In the meantime stay safe,. Love Claire
It's been a very busy radio week...I've was on four different shows - each unique in its own way. Before co-presenting the LBGT show on BBC Radio Manchester I was on one of our sister shows Citizen Irish talking about my life generally and playing 'live' - thanks Lennie and the team for making it a great experience. A couple of days later I was on Heather Stott's Coffee Club with fellow guests singer songwriter Matt and actress Jo. You're never sure who your fellow guests will be so this was a bit of a luvvie natter! And last Thursday I was back on John Barnes show on BBC Radio North West. The topical ditty I wrote for the programme was about Christmas and how it comes earlier each year (why is that?!). John was feeling a bit off colour but whatever was ailing him he was on great form and it was, as ever, top fun.
The week before I'd been performing (with harmonica supremo Robin Sunflower) outside the BBC on the picket line in support of the NUJ members who were out on strike. My it was cold but we got a great response from pedestrians and bus drivers and the like and applause! Tomorrow I'm performing indoors at the peace event, Eloquent Protest V, at the Quaker Meeting House in Manchester. It's a mix of poetry, prose and song to remember those who've been lost in conflict and to raise our voices about the terrible cost of war. Come down if you can - 2 to 3.30 pm
A year or so back I was filmed by the great guys at fruit tv - an internet tv station - for a music special. The evening was fabulous apart from the fact that I was still getting over the remnants of swine flu!! Yes, not great for a singer at the best of times but if you want to see and hear how I got on go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2lu2nOKrjM - the production standards are excellent. And I can assure you no audience members were hurt in the making of the film despite my germs!!
I hope you're well and keep safe in the week ahead. Love Claire
A week or so back I received a DVD called 'Face the FACKs'. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) have produced a DVD about their campaign for justice for those who have lost their lives through poor, often illegal, health and safety in the workplace. They have lost sons, partners, fathers and brothers and they tell the story of each of them. It is a heartbreaking testimony while at the same being a brilliant campaigning tool. At present we seem to have a government that believes health and safety laws are irrelevant and an unnecessary cost to business. When you see the DVD you discover the price for not having decent health and safety laws is far too high. I was asked if my song 'Enough is Enough (Sold Down the River)' could be used at the end of the DVD and wholeheartedly agreed - the first few verses were written for the FACK campaign as it was. Thanks to those of you in the group who have written to thank me for letting you use it - believe me it couldn't have been used by a better campaign - all power to your elbow.
Thanks to everyone who's come to gigs recently. It was a fun night at the weekend launch of the Levenshulme Festival (thanks Mary, Mo and John for being a top band as ever) last week and next Sunday (7th Nov) I'm playing an 'end of Lev Festival' gig at POD (Post Office Deli) in Levenshulme. It's a wonderful little deli and the gig starts at 2pm so you can have Sunday lunch too!!
Tomorrow I'm on Radio Manchester as usual so please listen in if you're able. Meanwhile have a safe week. Love Claire
Last night I was performing at Huddersfield's TUC 125th Anniversary celebrations. After great songs from Rotherham's Red Choir and a number of rallying speeches it was pretty late by the time I got to play. It made me realise why we need public transport back in public ownership as half the audience had to set off for their trains long before I started my set and privately-owned railways don't seem to like to work late!! Big thanks to the organisers for asking me and having such a stirring celebration.
Last weekend I performed at a couple of 'peace' events. One was in New Brighton, outside in beautiful Vale Park. Sadly it was pouring down with rain but it didn't deter people from attending with their various supporting organisations. It was quite a gazebo fest from where I was standing on the stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. Earlier this afternoon, as I was walking around West Kirby marina, I met a couple who'd seen me play there. Many thanks to them for their plaudits about the songs I played - glad you enjoyed my set and you're right the event was 'peaceful'! I was sorry not to be able to hang around as I had to get back to play at a CND event to launch Manchester's Peace Festival. It was fabulous, full to the brim with great performances particularly from top of the bill Leon Rosselson - still making people think through song.
For a few months now I've been involved with a project in Derbyshire working with a community there to create a CD of poetry and song. Last Thursday we launched the CD. A cracking event. Those who contributed poems (with the help of my co-worker, the wonderful poet Pat) and song were there to celebrate themselves and their great achievement. High Peak's Mayor turned up to congratulate them, and sadly his chauffeur managed to prang my car in the car park!! Remarkably, it didn't make the proceedings any less enjoyable! To everyone who took part, I have to say it was a joy working with you.
The party conference season is in full swing in the UK...and lo and behold I found myself agreeing with one of the Coalition Governement's Ministers who told us in his speech that capitalism doesn't work. If only the 'penny' had dropped earlier!
I understand the Song for Salford is now on the city's website. It was written with 30 lyricists at an outdoor event I was asked to work at in August. It got its first radio airing on Becky Want's BBC Radio Manchester show a week or so back. As I said on air I could see the faces of people who gave the stories or lines for the song as I played it. Thanks to all of you and to those who picked the chords out of the hat on that sunny afternoon to help create the tune you were ace too - it's simple and heartfelt - well done. People are very creative aren't they?
I'm back on Radio Manchester tomorrow night at 9pm - listen in if you can.
Oh, and it seems the Pope's been and gone...
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
So Tony Blair has published his autobiography - no I haven't and won't be buying it. From what I hear from radio presenters though it seems to be a lot of arrogant tosh. How he could write anything with all that blood on his hands is beyond me - you'd think the ink would be scarlet!
Last weekend was Manchester Pride. The Parade on Saturday that meandered through the streets of the city was led by actor Sir Ian McKellan. I was positioned just behind him at the front of the march - one of my tasks being to deal with the press and photographers who were keen as mustard to get close to him. But really it was for the people of Manchester who lined the route in their 1000s to get the snaps and Ian was a great ambassador for the event, taking time out to have his photo taken with scores of people. Sadly there were one or two bigots in the crowd but in the main the brilliant Mancunians cheered the parade of colourful floats - from the cast of Coronation Street to Age Concern...all wonderful. I performed a couple of times over the weekend - thanks to all of you who came over for a chat and your lovely comments. On Monday night I co-presented the BBC Citizen Manchester show 'live' from the Vigil that ends the Pride weekend... moving and inspirational as ever.
I'm back co-presenting on the BBC tomorrow night (as I do most Mondays)- listen in at 9pm on 95.1FM or on the BBC iPlayer.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
One hundred days of the Coalition government in the UK and it's been death by a 1000 cuts for some brilliant and important projects from London to Liverpool, Birmingham to Bradford and beyond. It's no way for responsible adults to behave!! It's a bit rich for politicians to insist that ordinary working people have to foot the bill of greedy, inept bankers by cutting their jobs or reducing their pay. Naughty!
I did sing some ranting political tunes at the Above the Beaten Track Festival in Liverpool yesterday - thanks to the organisers for asking me and to the lovely audience who stayed for the set. I'll be ranting in tune again tomorrow no doubt when I perform at the Peterloo Memorial gig in Manchester (see Diary for details). Times are hard already and we're promised there'll be worse to come by those who have the wealth (and intend to keep it) so we need to stick together - unity is strength!! Stay safe. Love Claire
Last weekend I hosted and performed at Oldham Pride - it was an amazingly positive and warm-hearted event. Well done to all the organisers - and thank you for the lovely card and bouquet of flowers. Thanks too to all of you who came over to say how much you'd enjoyed the set I did - which, apart from the songs, included a proposal of 'marriage' (not me!!) Also to those of you who tried to catch my attention and didn't get the good chat you might have expected - please forgive me....I wasn't being rude but hosting the stage didn't leave much time for conversation! By the way, I gave you all a mention on the Citizen Manchester LGBT show that I co-host on BBC Radio Manchester last Monday so I hope you caught it (still available on the BBC iPlayer for the next few hours!). I'm back on the airwaves again tomorrow so if you live in or around Manchester tune in on 95.1FM or listen on line via the BBC website.
Apart from working for the Beeb (I also got a late call to go on the Morning Show's Coffee Club - fellow guests Clare and Charlie were great value) and doing a gig here and there I've spent a good chunk of the last few weeks running songwriting and recording workshops and mixing (and adding a music bed) to a poetry CD for a project in Derbyshire. The latter is due to be launched at the end of September and is well worth a listen.
Next weekend I'm gigging at the Bluecoat in Liverpool on Saturday afternoon... if you're around please come and say hello - I'm not the compere so should have a bit of time for a chat! In the meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be performing at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset. It's the first time I've played at it (and I hope not the last!). What a stunning event. Full of decent (and debating) politics. I met some brilliant people including a couple who I know from Rochdale Labour Club events of years gone by - the times when the club supported the struggles of (extra)ordinary people. Thanks for re-introducing yourself David - a joy to meet you again. And all of you who participated in the set or were part of the 'end of the weekend band' - you were fabulous. Particular thanks to my partner who came with me and ended up with sunstroke! Sunstroke and England? - I know but it happened and we're still here to tell the tale!!
Next week you'll find me on BBC Radio Manchester (tomorrow) and the John Barnes Show on BBC Radio North West (on Wednesday). I'll be hosting the brilliant community Oldham Pride on Saturday (31st). They've got great acts on and it is always a joyous event. Be lovely to see you. Meantime be safe. Love Claire
Thanks to the wonderful audience at Sheffield University's Student's Union last night - you really were lovely. Congratulation to Nigel and co for putting on a night of radical music. It was a pleasure to support Seize the Day. Good to know that there are still fair minded people out there who consider the greater good more important than self interest. I hadn't done a gig in Sheffield for quite some years so thanks to all of you who came over to say 'hello' it was great to meet up with you again. And to all of you who wanted to buy a recording of 'Peterloo' I am on the case really - I just seem to get side tracked with a host of gigs or projects. Promise it'll be soon - visitors to the website will be the first to know when it's available as a track.
Later today I'm performing in Liverpool at a Peace Festival so hope to meet even more people who have their politics in the right (left!!) place. Tomorrow I'm playing at the Q Inn again in Stalybridge. It's always 'different' - come along and see why!
Meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last Tuesday was Budget Day in the UK where the new Coalition government did their best to make the poor poorer by raising VAT and by cutting benefits and public services - they should hang their heads in shame. And to rub salt into the wounds they had the nerve to ask public sector workers where the cuts should be made. 'A bloody cheek' was the response from one union boss and I totally agree with him. Why the poor always get a good kicking is a complete mystery to me.
Next weekend I'll be playing a mix of political, passionate and playful songs in Sheffield on Saturday (with Seize the Day), Liverpool on Sunday and Stalybridge on Monday (please check the 'Live' Page for details). Be great to see you at any of the gigs.
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
PS - words fail me about the overpaid management and players of the England football team!!! Hopefully, the players won't be criticizing the supporters for booing on this occasion!
So we have a government in the UK who have asked us all to go online and tell them where we think they should make cuts in public expenditure. The cheek! I don't want any cuts - we need our public services. Just get the rich to pay taxes like the rest of us do and get bankers to re-pay bonuses they received when they were really behaving poorly and stop getting involved in illegal wars and things should start to even out!
If you are not suffering from World Cup fever please come to an hysteria-free zone at Sound Women at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield next week (Friday 18th June) - okay maybe we'll tell you the score from time to time but we promise to skip the cliches until the final whistle - ooops couldn't help it!
I'll be back on the radio tomorrow night (BBC Radio Manchester) and the following week I'll be on the Coffee Club segment of the Heather Stott show and then with John Barnes on BBC North West on 24th June.
Be safe and sound. Love Claire
Well, how quickly people become Tories!! I can't recall seeing a LibDem manifesto in the recent UK General Election that said they'd go to bed with their political opponents should the opportunity arise - in fact I'd thought that there were some progressive bits in their original election pledges - what a turnaround! What a disgrace! Once again capitalism, with all its ugliness, got into power. We're promised £6 billion worth of cuts (and that's just for starters) in the 'public sector'. The public sector always seems to be in for a big kicking from politicians - as if it's not made up of taxpaying, hardworking people trying to make society a bit of a better place!
The latest double act of Cameron and Clegg (our PM and Deputy PM for those outside the UK) formed the basis of my topical song on John Barnes's BBC show last week - there have, of course, been successful partnerships in the past but with these two needing to force legislation through parliament to let them have 5 years of power I'll let time be the judge.
Next Saturday (22nd May 7pm) I'll be performing in Chorlton Arts Festival at The Shed - come on down, be great to see you. Also on 18th June Sound Women is back at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. Tickets are now available at £7/5 from the Theatre Box Office on 01484 430528 or online www.thelbt.org.
And finally we've made long awaited changes to the website (with a few more to come)... the first one of you regular blog readers to spot 3 changes can win a Claire Mooney album... just email email@example.com with your answers and we'll be in touch.
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
So the UK electorate have voted - not quite the result I was hoping for but it was good to find that there was enough interest that I had to queue at my polling station... not so good if you went to vote and couldn't though because of unstaffing or lack of ballot papers... what's that about? We'll be needing UN observers next time.
So the electorate make their choice and all political commentators are concerned about is 'how will the markets react' as if they run the country! Yes, after the years of bankers fat fingers in the tills, I recognise what I long thought - that they do! The people of Greece seem to have had enough of them that's for sure, as they take to the streets in protest... as one observer noted, why do we all want to get up to go to work in the morning (or evening as is often the case for me), just to pay bankers a bonus?
I couldn't help but make a comment about the unfairness of it all when I performed at the Workers Memorial Day event in Manchester on 28th April. There were scores of people there including families of those who have lost their lives in work-related (and preventable) accidents. Moving and inspiring as usual with some excellent speeches from trade unionists and activists alike. I always feel honoured to be asked to play.
Huge thanks to all of you who've been to gigs recently... particularly to John Gorman who came to the Manor Folk Club, where I was guest the other week, and did a nice long spot. It was great to meet some people I haven't seen for years there too - just brilliant that you came and introduced yourselves. Thank you.
Next week I'm back on Radio Manchester (I was featured as 'Mrs Manchester' last Monday - or 'Ms' Manchester as far as I'm concerned - which was a lot of fun) on Monday evening and on John Barnes show on the BBC on Thursday. Next gig is at Chorlton Arts Festival at The Shed...the last gig there in March was a joy.
Have a safe week ahead.Love Claire PS Happy birthday to my partner!!
I know it's been a while since I last wrote... it's been a busy old time - most of this year has been crammed full of radio, gigs and workshops. At the moment here in the UK we are gripped with election fever!!! Well the leaders of the main political parties seem to be. We also have tons of volcanic ash floating high above us stopping all flights in and out of the country so we can't escape the endless speeches! On a serious note we have to hope those who want to cut our public services don't get in...
Thanks again to all those who've come to gigs recently and to those I've shared the airwaves with over the last month or so...it's been really enjoyable. Tonight I'm the guest at The Manor Folk Club in Wallasey and I'm playing at the Acoustic Collective in Stalybridge on Tuesday. I haven't played at that many folk clubs recently so I'm really looking forward to both gigs. Once again on 28th April I'll be in the centre of Manchester performing at the Workers Memorial Day event. It's always a moving and inspirational event to remember those who've lost their lives in work-related accidents and to fight for better rights for those who remain - it's well worth giving 30 minutes of your time to it if you're in the city.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Thanks to all of you you came through the rain to the M19 gig last Friday - you were a lovely audience and to have so many of you sing along to my songs was a treat. Maureen, Mary and John formed the band and were fabulous as usual. It was a wonderful evening and after the show I had a good ol' natter with some of the people who'd come...so much so, the following day I'd lost my voice!! It's returning slowly, thankfully.
The night before the gig I had been on John Barnes' Late Show on the BBC which gets broadcast across the north west of England. It was the usual mix of quirky stories and chat which branched out into getting listeners to send in requests of old 70s TV shows for John and I to do an impromptu short sketch about. Amidst 'Only Fools and Horses', 'On the Buses', etc I have to thank 'Alan from Stockport' for asking me to do an impersonation of Ena Sharples (an old cast member, now sadly deceased, of Coronation Street). Sadly I sounded like someone from 'Shameless' - impersonations aren't my strong point, sorry Alan!! You can listen again to the show for the next few days on the internet via the BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p006xx44
Last Wednesday I was in Leeds playing at the launch of the city's Rape Crisis Helpline - an excellent cause that really should get funds from central government but don't get me started on that one! Well done to all the volunteers who made it happen.
Tickets are now on sale for 'A Bit of Peace and Mooney' a show (well 2 shows one at 5pm and another at 8pm on 10th April) I'm doing with actress Heather Peace (soon to be seen on BBC TV in 'Lip Service'). It's at Taurus Bar in Manchester and tickets are available from www.quaytickets.com.
In the meantime I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last week I was in Styal Prison running a songwriting/recording workshop. I've done workshops in Styal before - many years ago - and had forgotten how long it takes to get in and out of the place! The women were fabulous - and after the initial 'I definately won't be on the mic' protestations came up with a fine theme tune for the radio play they're recording and everyone went on the mic at some point!
My visit to Styal was brought up by presenter Heather Stott on her BBC show the following day when I was there as part of the Coffee Club contingent. With fellow guests Martin and Clare, we covered topics as wide-ranging as pornography and tidy houses - it was a mass of serious fun! I'll be back on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow (15th) night on Citizen Manchester and on John Barnes Late Show next Thursday. Tune in if you can. Next Friday I'm playing with the band at M19 Bar in Levenshulme as part of the Manchester Irish Festival. The gig is also tagged to Love Music Hate Racism - everyone welcome.
Should you be in Leeds next Wedsnesday I'll be playing at Circle Arts for the launch of a Rape Crisis Helpline - of course, in 2010, it would be good to believe that women are safe from such violence but sadly there is still work to be done. Please support this important cause if you can. I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
As ever I had a great laugh with John Barnes on his late night BBC show last week. We got to talking about bathrooms because his producer is having a new one fitted and was wondering about what colour she should have the accessories. Accessories?!! When I was asked to describe the colour of my bathroom suite, walls etc - sorry, no accessories to speak of - I was asked to send in a photo!! Let's just say it all makes for quite a psychedelic mix!
I think my house could be transformed if I ever got a minute to sort it out but last week I ran two songwriting/recording workshops, did two radio shows, a gig (thank you, you were a great audience!), had umpteen meetings and did a pre-recorded interview for tomorrow night's Citizen Manchester BBC radio show. The latter was with the artist Charlotte Newson (www.charlottenewson.com) who has just completed a billboard-size photo-mosaic of Emmeline Pankhurst that you'll be able to see all around Manchester from next week. I've seen one of the panels for it and it's quite amazing. As you'll hear Charlotte say on tomorrow's show the photos are all of inspiring women - from mothers to sisters to daughters to broadcasters, actors and the like. I was asked to record some of the stories behind the photographs and you can hear them, as well as see all the women included in the portrait, at Manchester Art Gallery from 9th March. Believe me it's well worth a visit - inspirational, poignant, humorous and reflective.
The exhibition coincides with International Women's week. I'll be back performing at The Shed in Chorlton, Manchester next Saturday (6th) and at Manchester Town Hall the following day to celebrate the best of us. Hope to see you there. In the meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Many thanks to all of you who came to recent gigs. Four gigs in five days (phew - I know some of the myspace brigade would probably call it a north west tour but I wouldn't be so bold!) - all different and all having some lovely highlights. Particularly memorable was the Special FX gig at the Royal Exchange where there was a delightful and listening audience. One woman came up to me at the end of the set to tell me she had nursed my Mum when she was in hospital many years ago and had a cassette copy of 'Rocking the Boat'! It was very special that she introduced herself. As it was with the numerous people who came over to say 'Hello' who had seen me perform at the Viraj Mendes campaign from a couple of decades back and any number of protest gigs over the years - great that we're all still going strong!! Thanks to Robin, Maureen and John for playing the gig with me. Also it was a pleasure to perform at the Pride Sports celebration in Manchester last Thursday. I met some great people and congrats to Trev and Lou for staging the event.
Next week I'll be back on the radio - Citizen Manchester tomorrow and then the Late Show on BBC Radio North West on Thursday. Listen in! (you can listen live on the internet - it's also available on the BBC iPlayer after the shows have been transmitted)
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
'I've done nothing wrong' seems to have been a popular cry among bankers, footballers, any number of celebrities and the like for some time now (on these shores at least) as scandal after scandal has been reported. It has also been used by scores of politicians too during the expenses debacle that has rocked our cosy parliamentary system. Of course, our legal system states we are all innocent until proved guilty so you'd think MPs who have been charged with mis-use of public funds (I know I'm being kind to them!) would be happy to have their 'day in court'. Sadly not. For some reason they see themselves as above the law they help to make and insist on parliamentary privilege. Words fail me. We have a General Election coming up soon in the UK - use your vote wisely.
Last week I was back on the BBC on the John Barnes Show. It was as ever a pleasure and lots of fun - I even got the opportunity to perform my little song (tuneful rant!) about Facebook - it being its birthday and everything!
There's a few gigs coming up in a week or so...15th February I'm at the Q Inn, Stalybridge, then the Horse and Jockey, M21 launching their monthly acoustic sessions on the 17th; on the 18th I'm performing at the Launch of the Pride Games in Manchester and the following day I'll be playing at the Royal Exchange Theatre at their Special FX event...details on the Live Page. Be great to see you.
In the meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last week I got called on to BBC Radio Manchester's Coffee Club at short notice to fill in for an absent guest - it was of course a pleasure - chatting on about the weird and wonderful aspects of the news is always good fun!!
More serious aspects of the news at the minute include the humanitarian disaster that is Haiti and the Iraq War Enquiry. On the former - the great and good and very wealthy are doing their bit by giving to charities in whatever shape and form - staffing phone lines, making pop records, etc etc. Pardon my cynicism but if they paid out more in taxes, didn't have such bulging bank accounts and recognised that the disparity between rich and poor is a disgrace maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better and kinder place. The Haitians must have been made up to see former President Bush putting in his bit for the aid effort - too little too late Mr Bush!
Speaking of which his ally in war is up in front of the Iraq War Enquiry this coming week amid reports that government lawyers at the time claimed it would be illegal to engage in such a conflict... many of us have thought this for some time. It will be interesting to hear his response.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Happy 2010! I know it's nearly the middle of January but I get there in the end!! I really enjoyed 2009 and had some fascinating times guesting on a variety of radio shows and ended the year co-presenting one on the BBC. Love it. Thanks to all those who booked me for their venues in 2009 and to the wonderful audiences who made each event special.
My first gig of this year was playing at a civil partnership celebration - congratulations Vicky and Lisa. It was a privilege to be asked to perform and your family and friends were my kind of audience! Sadly I had to leave early as I was playing at a benefit on the other side of Manchester - a completely different experience than the one I'd had earlier in the evening but fabulous to see so many acts playing in support of radio presenter, Paul Ripley.
Next Thursday (14th) I'm back on John Barnes' Late Show on the BBC. Tuesday's gig at the Acoustic Collective at the Wharf Tavern in Stalybridge has been cancelled because of the snows that have brought the UK to a standstill. It's been re-arranged for 20th April when hopefully the weather will be a bit brighter!
Be safe as you go. Love Claire
A couple of weeks back I was at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester at the opening of a photo exhibition, 'Made in The North'. There are some fabulous photographs of northern luminaries from the world of show business, politics, science and culture all taken by Paul Wolfgang Webster. Next to Terry Waite, adjacent to broadcaster Joan Bakewell and above Bernard Manning(!) you'll find a picture of me. I'm not sure why I'm so close to Bernard when Arthur Scargill is a bit further along the gallery but hey! I absolutely loathe having my photo taken but it was an honour to be included in this exhibition. Nice one Paul!
There was a sprout fest on John Barnes' BBC Show last Thursday. Producer Leanne had organised for an award winning chef to come into the studio to have us taste a variety of sprout recipes and in so doing convince us that the little green vegetable isn't the work of the devil. Gourmet chef Chris did a sterling job and the sprout ravioli and the suet pudding and sprouts were delicious. It has been one of the highlights of the year to be regularly asked to go on John's programme because it's always such a good laugh - thanks for inviting me. A suggestion has been put forward, due to the fact that I outed myself as a completely useless cook, that I have a cooking lesson live on air in the new year - will it make exciting radio? Watch this space!
Huge thanks to those of you who braved the snows to come to the Sound Women gig at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield - a tremendous crowd as ever. Thanks to Maureen and Mary for performing with me and guests annthepoet and Emma Decent. The highlight was without doubt Maureen picking up her fiddle to play a Christmas carol and ending the piece with an Irish reel. Inspired!
Once again our beloved NHS has come up trumps. My partner broke an ankle and shin so badly a crash team were on hand at A and E to save the foot! I was mid-way through hosting a gig 150 miles away when I heard the news. I carried on in 'the show must go on' way but there are times you really want to be somewhere else aren't there?
I'm back on the Coffee Club this coming Wednesday on BBC Radio Manchester and then that's me done for the year and what an exciting one it's been...
If Christmas is the festival you celebrate I hope you have a good one.
Be safe. Love Claire
At short notice I was on ALLFM today playing 'live' and discussing, with promoter Chris Coope, the forthcoming festive Manchester Busker on 10th December - a night fit to burst with great talent.
Tomorrow (Thurs) I've been asked back on to John Barnes' Show on the BBC. This time not to do a skittish song about the news but to talk about my last album and the music I write generally - I'm looking forward to it.
Meanwhile the winter has arrived in the northern hemisphere - later than usual it seems. So as nations come together in Copenhagan to discuss climate change let's hope there's more constructive debate than just hot air - as we find with global warming there's enough of that all ready!
Be safe. Love Claire PS I'm playing, and hosting, a festive gig at The Irish World Heritage Centre this Saturday - be great to see you there.
Today I marched in the cold and wet with around 2000 people against homophobia in Liverpool. It was a brilliantly uplifting event. Well done to the organisers, fellow marchers and the City Council for raising a rainbow flag over their Town Hall in solidarity.
It's been a busy week again. After co-presenting on the BBC's Citizen Manchester on Monday (thanks Sue and Eleanor and Amelia and Rachael for being part of it) I guested on Vicky Richardson's Nightwaves programme on ALLFM in the early hours of Wednesday. I felt completely weary as I'd run a songwriting workshop the previous afternoon but such is Vicky's enthusiasm you tend to be wide awake by the time you leave. A fabulous show and brilliant to be able to perform on it even if I didn't get to bed until 4am!
I was up early enough the next day to catch the Queen's Speech (which officially opens a new session of Parliament in the UK). I couldn't help but wonder if she was at all concerned when she read out 'My governemnt will reduce the gap between rich and poor'. She needn't worry; the gap just gets bigger no matter which government's in power!
Last Thursday after recording women's stories about their role models (amazing tales they are too - strong, bold, warm, tender) for the Pankhurst Centre's 'Women Like You' project (organised with Manchester City Council and the city art gallery) I was back on John Barnes' Late Show on the BBC discussing the weird news from around the world and this week performing a song about the 15th birthday of the UK Lottery. John was on sparkling form - particuarly off-air where we didn't seem to stop laughing! Look forward to the 'sprout-tasting' when I'm back on your show in December, John!
And some sad news. I heard last week (thanks Alex for letting me know) that singer-songwriter Mary Asquith had died. She was undoubtedly an amazing singer, songwriter and performer with a huge character to match. Way ahead of her time, she's left us too soon. Search for her fantastic version of 'Closing Time' on YouTube and recognise what an incredible talent she was - sadly some people don't always get the recognition they deserve. RIP Mary
Have a safe week ahead, Love Claire
Ooops! Seem to have added the blog without checking the typing errors and before I could say that 'Sound Women' is returning to The Lawrence Batley Theatre (for the first time this year) on Friday 18th December - tickets now on sale (still a recession busting £7/5) - thanks to those who've bought tickets already.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
The Raise Your Banners Festival was another stroming success and it was great to be part of it. Apart from performing my set and being compere for the event I got to pull out the tickets for what must be one of the biggest raffles ever! The audience were fabulous and did a sterling rendition of the Fleece Song in true 'fashionista' style - they'll know what I mean. Well done to the organisers - still standing at the end of a long weekend and deserving all the applause they received.
The NWTUC Women's Conference that I performed last Friday was another top event where some wonderfully strong women articualted what it was really like in the workplace in these recession hit times. There were top 'band' members as well.
I've been doing quite a few radio shows including Citizen manchester on the BBC and I was back on John Barnes's Late Night BBC Show discussing the news and performing the song I'd written especially for the show. As it was 5th November the lyrics pulled together included Guy Fawkes, MPs expenses and the digital switchover and somehow it made sense! I'm performing and chatting on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow night on Citizen Manchester at 9pm And I'm on Vicky Richradson's Late Show on ALLFM on Tuesday.
A mixture of rampant bugs and lots of work have left the blog on the back burner I'm afraid. I don't think I had swine flu but whatever it was knocked me for six twice in 2 weeks! I had to miss playing at a demo (apologies to the organisers) but managed to perk up enough to do a couple of indoor gigs. There were great (and sympathetic) audiences in Shropshire and Manchester and I don't think I spread too many germs! The poorliness meant I didn't get chance to write a song for John Barnes Show on the BBC but we did have a good natter about some strange news items!
So it's only a couple of weeks since the BNP leader went on BBC's Question Time programme. I was one of the majority who thought he shouldn't have been asked on in the first place - he leads an organisation that has been deemed illegal because of its racist (among other things) membership rules (how on earth did they put candidates up in elections - does the Representation of the People Act have no clout?) The argument was that he was asked on the show in the name of free speech. Sorry that's rubbish. Spouting hatred and lies isn't free speech it's just disgusting. I can't comment on the programme as I boycotted watching it - and thought everyone else should have done so as well. I decided to listen to the radio instead only to find that the BBC had decided to run Question Time on FiveLive as well - now, broadcasting the same programme on more than one network at the same time makes me think there's something sinister afoot.
Postal workers in the UK are on strike. Being self-employed and having a few cheques in the post backlog is playing havoc with my cashflow but I support the workers to the hilt. Why should we trust Royal Mail management when they have closed 1000s of post offices (despite community campaigns to keep them open) and have found the funds to give the top brass bonuses while the black hole in the postal workers pension scheme widens? No doubt we will be singing the praises of the workers at the Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song in Bradford next weekend (6th-8th November). The bi-annual festival returns to prove yet again that decent politics are uplifting and inspirational. It's a great way to feel better about the world. I'll be playing on Sunday afternoon along with the Hall Brothers among others - hope to see you there.
In the meantime you can hear me co-presenting the LGBT programme tomorrow on BBC Radio Manchester - starts at 9pm.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
I was busy working at the rehearsals of a concert that was helping to promote social cohesion in a not so wealthy part of Manchester when the English Defence League held their meeting in the city centre last Saturday. What part of England are they trying to protect? I’m no monarchist but as the Queen’s got German ancestry and Prince Philip Greek, I’m feeling a bit for them at the minute. I’m often thwacked with the argument that we should allow free speech but I’m more in favour of a law the criminalises incitement to racial hatred (or hatred of any sort) so the EDF really should change what they say or be stopped from saying it.
The social cohesion piece of work I was involved with was hosting (among a multitude of other jobs, as it turned out!) ’Gorton’s Got Talent’ - less of a contest more of a celebration of the gifted people in the area. Full marks to the organisers - I’ve attended three meetings with them over the last few weeks and they are a really hard working, socially connected band of people. Big thanks to Vicky Binns (who plays Molly in Coronation Street) for letting me rope her in to coming down to give out the prizes. She was exactly what the night needed. And to all the contestants - you’re all winners in my book.
I think I was less generous when I was on Radio Manchester last Friday. After doing a few tunes and having a chat I was invited back into the second hour of the show as part of a music panel to discuss upcoming new releases. I think my own songs take a couple of listens to connect with the hook, so voting for these tracks on one listen was perhaps a little unfair… although a lot of them did have banal lyrics and were over produced to the hilt. Earlier in the show I had been asked what I thought about Barak Obama being given the Nobel Peace prize - this on the day the Americans had been bombing the moon looking for water (supposedly - my conspiratorial theory is that they were really destroying the ‘evidence’ of the moon landings so when people do get there they won’t be surprised to find zilch). Anyway, I’m staggered that a guy who governs a country still at war in Afghanistan can get a peace prize. On air I suggested that Stop the War Coalition get the award - they could certainly do with the money - but I guess they wouldn’t want the nomination from such an elitist organisation.
Ranting over (hey it’s good to be back!). Keep safe. Love Claire
Apologies to regular blog readers for the delay in posting this one - it's been a busy ol' time with gigs, radio and recording. Some highlights include a fine time on the lovely John Barnes' BBC Show in early September and last Tuesday's gig at The Working Class Music Festival in Liverpool sharing the stage with some ace performers was also a wonderful experience. Top marks to the tireless Alun Parry for organising the 4 day festival. Before the show started some of us who were on the bill met up with members of Culturepool, an 'actual' social networking group who attend cultural events in Liverpool....and a lovely bunch they were too - and thanks for being so complimentary about my set guys. I hope to see you again at other Merseyside gigs and maybe tomorrow (20th) when I'm performing at Peace in the Park (Vale Park) in New Brighton - an event organised by Wallasey CND. There'll be a great mix of entertainment pushing the cause of peace and the event starts at 1pm. I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
So 70 years after the outbreak of World War 2 politicians are still at it and seem to have learnt nothing. Shame!
I have a bit of a croaky voice due the fact that last Monday I was asked by an American journalist to explain who Peter Andre was (you did ask, Kathy!) while he was performing at Manchester Pride. Above the sound system I set off on his biography but after about 10 minutes the story started to sound vaguely ridiculous, and I was sorry I’d started. Pride itself had some great highlights though. Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell was invited to lead the parade through the city centre last Saturday and, as a patron, I was asked to go with him. I don‘t agree with everything he asserts but I found him to be a humble, principled guy with a goodness about him. En route - and about 200,000 cheering people lined it - endless hands would reach out of the crowd to touch him. It felt like I was walking with Nelson Mandela or someone. Scores of people called out to thank him for all he’s done for them over the years. Quite incredible. At the end of the march we stopped and watched the rest of the parade - there were scores of floats. Then on Sunday I was the presenter at Women’s Space with a ton of top acts and a brilliant audience too who stayed through the showers to watch and applaud. There were a few speeches at the beginning of the event and I was asked to brief (through a cordon of minders) a Pussycat Doll on what to say on stage by way of 'opening' the evening. She came on in the highest stilettos I've ever seen, and gave a top speech about the need for women to be self-expressive and creative and strong - it was impressive to say the least. Then on Monday the vigil for those lost to AIDs or diagnosed as being HIV+ was a moving tribute to all and a fitting way to end the weekend. Well done to all who put the work in to make the event so special and I know there‘s loads of you..
Yesterday I was back on BBC Radio Manchester’s Coffee Club on the Heather Stott Show. Fellow guests were Radio 3 producer Les Pratt and show-biz journalist Debbie Manley. It was a great laugh from start to finish - I hope it came over that way over the airwaves.
And a special note to finish on. As tomorrow (4th September) is the 20th anniversary of me taking the plunge to be a self-employed jobbing singer-songwriter and arts worker - a few thanks. To all of you exceptional people who have performed and recorded with me, all those wonderful radio and TV producers and presenters who have had me on their shows; the special journalists who’ve reviewed albums and gigs and done interviews with me over the years; everyone who has stocked, sold and bought albums over the last 2 decades - big high-fives. To all of you who have booked me to work on projects, creative consultations, workshops, etc - hundreds if not 1000s of them - I really have appreciated it. To all you who booked me for their theatres, arts centres, folk clubs, festivals, conferences, seminars, events of all shapes and sizes - you have been wonderful. To the amazing, warm, lovely audiences I‘ve had the pleasure to perform to - it‘s been a privilege. To those who think I‘m too political or not political enough all I can say is thank you for taking the time to listen. To all those who have supported me and friends I‘ve made along the way (and my detractors too - you helped to make me more determined) heartfelt thanks. And, of course to my family, friends and wonderful partner who have backed me up through thick and thin I couldn’t have stuck with it without you. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL - you’re brilliant.
Have a safe week, Love Claire
Earlier this year I was asked to become one of the patrons for Manchester Pride. The approach was a little unexpected to be honest but after having a chat about increased community involvement I was pleased to accept. Last Friday was the Launch of this year’s Pride. It was quite a swanky ’do’, by my standards at least, but it was fit to burst with some lovely down to earth people including some of the great and good from TV and radio. If you’re at the Big Weekend that starts this coming Friday come and say ’hello’.
Last Wednesday I was back on the radio with the wonderful John Barnes on his Late Show on the BBC. Not only is John one of the most relaxed broadcasters I’ve ever met he’s marvellously droll to boot. He, and the show’s lovely producer Leanne, made it a thoroughly enjoyable ‘gig’.. Thank you, both. As Leanne is a Burnley Football Club supporter she was in particularly good spirits as they‘d just beaten Man United - I tried to be gracious in defeat!
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
PS I’m having a short break from having a rant - normal service will be resumed soon!
Thanks to all of those who came to the ‘Hear and Now’ Peterloo commemoration event last Sunday - you were a great crowd. It’s good to know that people can relate to the struggles of 190 years ago and recognise how it can connect with the on-going campaigns of today and recharge the batteries with uplifting music and poetry all at the same time. And thanks too for buying albums and getting on the mailing list. A special mention to Joan who had watched the ‘Enough is Enough (Sold Down the River)‘ footage on YouTube and put in a request that I play it. It will be available to buy on CD soon (I hope). Dave Puller, Alun Parry and the Sargasso Township Jazz Band all did top sets. Dave and I had organised the night a few months back and we were pleased that Kate and Sara from the Trades Council got on board and sorted out funding and support for it - much appreciated.
It looks like we’ll have another struggle coming up, trying to keep the NHS in safe hands after news reports that a prominent Tory MEP and some MPs think it’s a waste of space and money. No, it’s a waste to use our taxes to bail out greedy bankers - free health care at the point of need is a vital service. I heard one woman on a BBC phone-in tell a tale of how her relative, on holiday in the USA, was rushed to hospital with breathing problems, met an empty waiting room but was left gasping for breath while hospital staff phoned the UK to see if the patient had the right insurance!!! Defend the NHS at all costs!
I hope you have a safe and healthy week ahead. Love Claire
PS - I'm back on John Barnes show on the BBC tomorrow night at 10pm - listen/text in if you can!
My role on John Barnes' Show on the BBC last week was a little more than a review of the news from around the globe and the song of the day. After I'd done my stint he kept me in the studio with his next guest - a pet shop owner from Accrington who had brought in some of his 'wares'. On air I was given a giant (six inches - though it felt bigger) African snail to hold and then one of its eggs - the latter proceeded to hatch while we were chatting! Never a dull moment with John.
Next Sunday 16th August is the 190th Anniversary of Peterloo (I've mentioned it on previous blogs over the years). It was the day 100s of people were injured and some died as they peacefully protested for reform. I'm doing a gig 'Hear and Now' (with Dave Puller and Alun Parry among others) - supported by the North West TUC - at Britons Protection in Manchester on the day to mark the occasion. We want to link the struggles of the past with those of the present so it will be a night of uplifting political song and poetry. Everyone's welcome, it starts at 7pm and it would be great to see you there.
In the meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Since last I wrote I’ve been on the wireless a bit! Last Saturday I was chatting about quirky news items with ‘B’ (a rapper) and presenter Matt White on BBC Radio Manchester’s early morning show - and good fun it was too. I was back at the station again on Monday’s Coffee Club with fellow guests Adrian and Donna. Donna, it turned out, was in a radical drama group in the 1980s so we reckoned we’d done a few gigs together at political events in the past. A very entertaining way to start the day - from my seat in the studio at least. I’ve also done a pre-record for Citizen Manchester’s LGBT programme which will go out next week I’m informed. To stay on the radio theme I’m back on the John Barnes’ Late Show tomorrow night (Thursday) that comes from BBC Radio Lancashire... I’ve just finished writing the topical song of the week that I’ll be performing - you won’t be surprised to hear it’s a little ditty about the state of the economy - all sorted in two and a half minutes! And finally on the radio front I’ve just been asked to go on a new programme on another BBC late show - can’t say anymore at the minute but will let you know nearer the time.
Gig-wise I played at Robin Sunflower’s Q Inn gig last Monday with a cast of musicians too numerous to mention but thanks one and all. I don’t know if the night always works like this but musicians turn up and play along with your songs - as mine are all self-penned I’m generally in awe of how they perform them - they sounded terrific.
I hope you have a safe rest of the week. Love Claire
What a great week full to the brim of wonderful people! Last night I was performing at Creative Recycling’s 5th Birthday Party in Manchester. What a gorgeous crowd! Fiona, Glennis and Jack who run this brilliant, not for profit, ethical art gallery have to be some of the loveliest guys on the planet - generous, spirited, welcoming and, to top it all, they have the right sort of politics. They entrusted me to give their vote of thanks to all the scores of superb people who have helped them along the way - I hope I did it justice. For those who weren’t there you can always visit the gallery at 40 Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester and you may even hear a song about the shop gently wafting around the place from the sound system!! Thanks to Robin who performed with me by the way - top as ever.
Yesterday afternoon I was performing at Oldham Pride - it too is still going strong after 5 years. Thanks to Mary for playing the stage with me.
I performed on a couple of radio stations last week. One was with Andrew Edwards’ on his Artbeat programme on a local community station. He’s a top broadcaster and it’s always a pleasure to be included in the line-up! The other was on John Barnes’ Late Night Show on the BBC. John is a great bloke - very witty and droll and has a top line in shirts! If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know I’ve performed on his programme a few times - we chat about the news and I do a quirky song about what’s been in it - the myths of the moon landing was my topic of the week. Thanks for the lovely comments about the tune by the way Mr Barnes. On last week’s show we had listeners call in and I was set loose chatting to them on air. Great fun as ever.
This week I’ll be doing a storytelling/song writing session out in the hills of Derbyshire, then a gig in Manchester and next Saturday I’m on the brilliant Sam Walker’s early morning show on BBC Radio Manchester.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
In a UK Social Report published today there's a widespread belief that it's still the privileged few who do well in Britain these days. I hope they didn't spend too much time (or money) on the report because any one of us could have come to that conclusion by scanning the news. Does it bypass politicians that we still have a class system here - a monarch, aristocracy, an unelected House of Lords - which bit of 'privilege' aren't they getting? Isn't it all built on keeping the poor 'in their place'? I only ask!
I was privileged though to get a lovely audience at the Taurus gig last Saturday - I think there was just enough oxygen in the room for all of us! Thanks to Mary for performing with me. Taurus is a bar with an intimate gig venue on Canal Street in the heart of Manchester. It's a bit of an oasis. Visit whenever you're in town - you won't be disappointed.
This Thursday I'm back on BBC North West (Radio Lancs/Mancs) doing my take on the news and a new satirical song. On Saturday I'm at Oldham Pride in the afternoon then later on in the day I'm playing at the 5th Birthday Party for the wonderful people at Creative Recycling. On Sunday I'm back on Andrew Edward's excellent Artbeat programme on ALLFM. Some of the radio stuff can be heard on the web should you not live in these parts.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last week a UK broadsheet published details about how journalists on a Rupert Murdoch owned Sunday newspaper hacked into the mobile phones of some prominent people by using the 'creative' techniques of private investigators. Naughty, naughty - it was a little reminder as to why I don't encourage the expansion of the media mogul's empire by having a one-woman boycott of his social networking internet site 'myspace'. Anyone is free to join the boycott at any time!
Next week the people of the north west of England (and Yorkshire) will be 'represented'(??) in the European Parliament by the BNP - the British National Party. Not in my name, and many thousands of others, though. All those poor people who lost their lives fighting against the fascists in the Second World War must be turning in their graves. If we ever needed reminding about the horrors of fascism there is now a live performance of my anti-fascist song 'I Do Not Like', from my first album, on YouTube - you can find it by doing a Claire Mooney search. The song was singled out for particular praise in a review of the Y Theatre gig we did last month. I am indebted to Alex Scoppie for sending me the piece from the Leicester Mercury and huge thanks for your wonderful comments about the event Alex - I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. My next gig is at Taurus on Canal Street in Manchester on Saturday (18th) at 8pm. It's nice to go back after filming there for FruitTV last March... hey and this time I don't have the 'flu! Be great to see you if you can make it. Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Some footage of the Lawrence Batley Theatre gig has been uploaded to YouTube. Yes you're probably as shocked as I am to hear that I've entered the digital age! You can have a gander by going to the YouTube site and doing a name search. I understand more uploads will take place after we've checked with 'the audience band' that we have their permission to use video with them in it. I know people seem to upload plenty of stuff of me without checking first but we're nothing if not polite!
Last Wednesday I got asked back on to BBC Radio Manchester's Coffee Club and among chat about the news of the day was asked what I was writing songs about at the minute. I said I was in the middle of two of them. One, I've just finished this very day as it happens, is about Peterloo which I hope to have recorded before the 190th Anniversary on 16th August. There are plans afoot to mark the day in Manchester with a gig and a poetry reading so I'm hoping the tune will get an airing then. The other tune was a little more quirky - about the mosquito (see last week's blog). I performed it on BBC Radio Lancashire's late night show last Thursday. I got to the studios still sporting the scars from my own bites only to find the show's presenter John Barnes had also suffered the same afflication. There seems to be something of a plague of mozzies around these parts - though nothing compared to some areas of the world of course.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
If anyone can tell me any redeeming qualities of the mosquito, I'm all ears... I have just returned from a camping holiday - fantastic scenery, company, weather (for the most part) and chill-out time but I've come back looking like I've got the measles thanks to these creatures. They have tucked into me as if I'm some gourmet meal. Luckily the gigs I've got this week are on radio so you won't be able to see me! I'm hoping I'll be fully recovered before the next live gig (at Taurus, as it happens, on 18th July).
Before I went off on my hols I did a gig at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Hudderfield with the band (this time comprising of Maureen, Mary, Ian and John - marvellous one and all) and with a lovely audience. Thanks so much for being a part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations and thanks too to the staff at the LBT who were wonderful as ever.
I've been well away from the news so I can't comment on it at the moment. I'll need to catch up first!
Stay safe (and avoid those mozzies!). Love Claire
It’s been a week of late nights. Last night I was doing a stint at the BBC when reports came in that a local MP was resigning after another expenses revelation. I had a ringside view of what happens behind the scenes when a news story breaks. Loved it! The news stories I was given to comment on were somewhat less exciting in view of everything else, although I did manage to put a word in for the workers of BA who have been asked to work for free for a month. As you will realise from my rants on this blog I am no fan of capitalism as I believe it’s unfair, incompetent, obtuse and just plain (or should that be plane?) greedy. Whichever way you look at it, when multi-national corporations do well the people at the top put their avaricious hands in the trough and gorge themselves on the labours of the many. Then, when their gross mismanagement leads to company debt, those who’ve done all the work in the first place - and been paid a pittance for their toil - are expected to bail them out again. Capitalism really is taking the p”””.
The other late nights came as a result of some fabulous gigs. Last Friday’s 21st Manchester Busker Anniversary was brilliant. I performed and co-compered it with promoter Chris. The behind the scenes team were great guys and the talent on show was fantastic. Well done CC!
You’d think getting back from that gig to then go to Leicester the following day would have me on my knees but not a bit of it - we almost got to the East Midlands on adrenalin alone. Okay, no we didn’t, we had a brilliant, patient driver to help us along. Thanks to all who came to the gig - especially those who had last seen me in 1993! High fives to Maureen and Mary and the amazing 20th anniversary band who performed with us!!
On Saturday I’m back at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield with a 5 piece band. Thanks to those who’ve already booked tickets. There’s lots of birthdays around (including band members) so expect a party atmosphere.
You, like me, may have noticed that the blog clock is a bit wonky - ie I write something in the afternoon and it shows a time in the morning… ignore it!
Have a safe week ahead, Love Claire
Last Monday I was in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester protesting against the BNP leader scraping into European Parliament as an MEP in the North West of England. Old, young, black, white, gay, straight, religious, non-religious and varied sections of the community came together in their hundreds with one voice to say we don’t want Nazis in our city. Last night, a United Against Fascism meeting was packed to the gills with a similar cross section of people all anxious to stop the lies of this so called political party. And this lunch time scores of us protested as the fascists held a press conference behind the shuttered windows of a pub in Manchester. They had been refused entry to their preferred location as the manager of the hotel said Manchester was a multi-cultural city and his premises weren’t for the use of racists. The press followed us down Oldham Road as we raised our banners and chanted slogans of tolerance. We listened to speeches from a varied band of speakers - pensioners, students, trade unionists - and peacefully protested as the BNP filmed us all. Ordinary people had come in their dinner breaks or taken a half day off to join the protest and motorist on motorist tooted their horns in support of us. It was strange, then, that the BNP leader referred to us as a ‘violent mob’ to the TV cameras. It was indeed a lie. Standing and chanting loudly and peacefully isn’t violence, murdering people because of their ethnicity or sexual orientation or skin colour or religion is. It’s time to wise-up - ignorance isn’t clever. Be safe. Love Claire
So, two days after commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the Normandy landings when 1000s of people (maybe some of your ancestors) died as they fought against fascism in World War II, we find that enough voters in the UK have given their support to the BNP to help elect fascists into the European Parliament. It is a sad day for all of us who believe in freedom, justice, equality and decency. Our Westminster politicians should hang their heads in shame for their years of complacency, arrogance and self interested behaviour that has led us to this point where it seems easier for people to believe that it's their neighbours who are to blame for our ills and not the wealthy who have stolen from us. If we are to build a society on hope and not hate we need to start it now and counter the BNP lies.
On a more positive note I met the best of our wonderfully diverse society over the weekend at the FEAST Festival in Platt Fields in Manchester. I went back to my busking roots and had scores of people forming little percussion bands as we went through the set(s). I don’t often see my songs as dance tunes but that’s what they turned into! Thank you. And well done the organisers for bringing such a positive event to the community!
Gig-wise I’m at The Legendary Manchester Busker’s 21st Birthday bash this Friday (12th) at The Green Room in Manchester sharing the stage with some of the best songwriters, comics and poets around. Then on Saturday 13th June (8pm) I’m back at The Y Theatre, East Street, Leicester doing a full concert with the band. Tickets are a credit crunching £8/6 from the Theatre Box Office on 0116 255 7066. Be great to see you there.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Thanks to all of you who came to The Halfmoon gig last week and for sending such lovely feedback. Maureen and Mary who performed with me were on sterling form. Last Tuesday I went over to the studios of BBC Radio Lancashire to perform on the Late Show - I'll be back there next Thursday (4th June). It's the same day we'll be voting in the European Elections. The vote comes at a time, here in the UK, when we are probably the most disillusioned with party politics ever because of the revelations about the expenses that MPs and those in The House of Lords have claimed. It's been shocking to say the least during a time when workers have been forced to take pay-cuts or face unemployment and we see our taxes have been used to bail out wealthy bankers and now it seems feed greedy politicians. So will I be voting when our 'democracy' is in such a state? Yes, I will (finding a candidate who deserves it may be a bit more difficult - I don't know who's on the ballot paper yet!). But I will use my vote because women fought for the right for me to have one. The 4th June marks the anniversary when suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of the King's horse at The Derby in 1913 to demand votes for women. She died a few days later. I think we should spare a thought for her. She did it to benefit us all, not to have women abuse a parliamentary system that has become some exclusive club - can we wise up please? Use your vote wisely. Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Where to start? I’ve had two trips to the A and E Department in a matter of days - a bit worrying at the time but all’s okay(ish) now. I have to applaud all the staff I came into contact with at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) - they were brilliant.
You could be forgiven for thinking I was in casualty because of the jaw-dropping saga of MPs expenses and I that I'd had to have my mouth re-set.. Incredible - cleaning moats, duck ponds, avoidance of capital gains tax, take-aways, damp proof courses, cleaners, TVs to the tune of eight grand (isn’t that a cinema?!) etc etc - good of them to leave some money in the coffers for the NHS. If I hear them say ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’ one more time I won’t be responsible for my actions. Greedy, greedy, greedy - the only thing that you can hope for is that they paid their cleaners more than the minimum wage but I won’t hold my breath.
Needless to say these ‘honourable’ members have been mentioned once or twice at my recent spate of gigs. And there’s been a few. Oxton Secret Gardens Day was quite incredible: the North West Radio broadcast was great to do if not a little ‘lonely’ (ask me about it!). Then it was back to the packed-out Shed for Chorlton Arts Festival (and fund-raising for 'Breakthrough’) totally brilliant - a stunning audience - thank you. Apologies to all of you who were turned away because it was sold out - hopefully see you another time. The trip to Brighton for the PCS Conference was, as ever, a novel affair… it included a talent night, which a raccoon won. What can I say?! But it was great to meet a delegate there who said her mates had been at The Shed gig in Manchester and loved it. Good ol’ word of mouth. Last night I did a more sedate gig at The Hillary Step with the ever brilliant Robin Sunflower and Dave Puller. I had a little panic though as
I’d managed to forget my plectrums - I seem to manage to have them in my pocket when I’m rooting for change at the Co-Op but not at a gig. Robin kindly made me one and my mate Mick turned up after a cry for help with 2 more of them… then the problem was which one to use!! Thanks both of you. Yesterday there was a piece in The Morning Star about my 20 years of writing politically motivated songs - thanks Mike for writing it - I’ve had some lovely feedback.
Tomorrow I’m back on Radio Manchester’s Coffee Club first thing and tomorrow night I’ve been asked on to The Claudia Winkleman Show on BBC Radio 2 to talk about the arts in the community, the ‘Who’s Looking After Levenshulme’ song and such stuff. Listen in if you can.
And finally, after being asked for years by the southern wing of our mailing list to perform in London I‘m coming with the band to The Halfmoon, Putney, London on Sunday (24th) so I hope you‘re not going away for the weekend!! Be great to see you there.
It's not often - actually it's never happened to me before - that you go on a radio show and get given a box of fruit and veg as you leave!! But that's what happened to me last Monday after playing on the Folk Show on Oldham Community Radio. Thanks to Ali and Bernard for a great show and the fruit and veg were ace.
The following day I topped and tailed the Workers' Memorial Day event in Manchester. This year a row of yellow hard hats were placed in front of the banner 'Remember the Dead. Fight for the Living' and as in previous years the event was heartbreaking, heartfelt, inspirational and moving. After speeches and a minutes silence families of those killed at work laid wreaths and held up photographs of their lost sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and workmates. You get the picture that no one is immune to slack health and safety in the workplace - plasterers, electricians, construction workers, musicians... the list goes on and on. It is always a privilege to be asked to perform and as I said before the final song if there's enough money to bail out bankers and for illegal wars why isn't there enough to keep the majority of us safe at work? - Enough is Enough!
The gig at Bury Met last Thursday has to be a major highlight of the year - it was such a lovely atmosphere. Thanks to Ian, Maureen, Mary and John for being such a top band, to all at The Met and to all of you who came (and for the lovely feedback). I raved about you all the following day when I was featured on Ms Manchester (it's usually Mrs Manchester but they changed it to suit my feminist credentials!) on BBC Radio Manchester. The feature celebrates Mancunians so it was a thrill to be asked on again. Thanks to presenter Becky Want for being such a wonderful host.
Tomorrow I play at my first street party then it's off to perform at the 'Love Music, Hate Racism' May Day celebrations at Castlefield Arena in the centre of Manchester.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last week I almost felt that I’d gone back in time. For the first time since 1960 the economy is suffering from deflation, we’re told. Yet despite a paltry tax rise we have a budget that still protects the rich and a Prime Minister who talks of young people wanting to be ‘fireMEN and ambulanceMEN‘. Time moves on but little changes apart from the fact that Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made his announcement about MPs expenses (that included the above quote) on YouTube. His comments about youth aspirations came after he’d spoken to young people across the nation and had heard none of them wanted to be politicians. I’m amazed!!? - you’d think they’d be rushing to get into the House of Commons, where it appears you never have to pay for a bag of compost or a garden gnome or a bath plug or patio table and chairs or ’adult’ (oh, come on - degrading) videos again. They say it’ll change, let’s hope so and the sooner the better.
For the rest of us in the real world money’s at a premium these days so many thanks to those of you who have spent your hard earned cash on tickets for our Bury Met gig next Thursday (30th) - I appreciate it! The following day I’ll probably be talking about you all when I’m featured as ‘Mrs Manchester’ on BBC Radio Manchester (2pm, 1st May). Also if you’re in the Oldham area of Greater Manchester you can listen to Ali O’Brien’s Folk programme tomorrow at 7pm - I‘m on playing ‘live‘ and having a chat.. I know Ali from way back and she’s been a constant supporter of the folk scene for decades.. I’m really looking forward to seeing her again.
And finally don’t forget to give a minute of your time at 12 noon on Tuesday to remember those who have been killed in accidents at work. 28th April is International Worker’s Memorial Day - a day to remember the dead and fight for the rights of the living by demanding better health and safety at work.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Since the start of the year (as some blogs have mentioned) I've been asked on to Sam Walker's night-time show on BBC Radio Manchester once or twice a week, writing topical/quirky songs addressing what goes on in the world and chatting about various news items. Due to 're-scheduling' at the BBC the show has made way for a network broadcast from another station. All I can say is that it has been a pleasure to be on the show for the last few months and a particular gift to be on the last show for which I wrote a song about 'Sam Walkers' - there are many in the world it seems (according to google at least). It was a lovely surprise, as I drove home after my stint on the programme, to hear the song repeated at the very end of the broadcast. Sam has been as easy-going off-air as she is on - a fabulous broadcaster and I anticipate there's an even greater future ahead for her - I hope so at least, she deserves it.
Last week I also did a TV piece for the local station here in Manchester commemorating 20 years since the first album release and plugging the Bury Met gig (30th April). Thanks to Robert, Steph and the team for making it all as painless as possible... I don't know what it is about TV cameras but they're a touch unnerving - like big eyes staring right into you....and then they take what they see right into your front room. Amazing!
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
From time to time I get asked onto the Coffee Club - a chat about some of the stranger items of news on BBC Radio Manchester's morning show. You never know who the other guests might be. This week I shared the airwaves with James Hickman, former World Champion and Olympic swimmer who's now MD for a PR/production company (which has just been nominated for a Sony award). The subjects on offer for discussion this week were putting calorie counters on menus, a new pillow with an arm attached(!!), a women's sense of smell and the like... we didn't get onto the economy or boat hijacks (mind you, if the greedy could be less so, I reckon we could start to sort out those two issues). Throughout the show, presenter Heather Stott re-introduces the guests so you'd get "James Hickman, 4 times World Champion and Olympic swimmer with his own production company etc etc and singer-songwriter Claire Mooney". Against such greatness my intro seemed a little lacklustre to say the least, so I did remark at one point that I had won the Potteries Songwriting Contest in 1988.... This fact then took on a life of its own - questions were fired at a rate of knots - you would be excused for thinking I'd won a Brit - ooops! The show was good fun though so thanks for having me on - I look forward to the next one.
I returned to the same studios later in the week for Sam Walker's night-time show. As well as writing and performing my topical song of the week, Sam and I also discuss news of the day with a left-field slant. I am indebted to her listeners for coming to my aid with text suggestions when I voiced my concerns about the army of slugs that have invaded my garden. Appreciate your ideas and for taking the time to contact the show on-air.
I'm back on Sam's show tomorrow (Monday) and Thursday, then I'm doing a spot of telly on Tuesday (for broadcast later in the week - City Life, Channel MTV). I'll also be running a radio production session with some young people in Old Trafford - I'm looking forward to all their ideas.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Phew! Life seems to go faster and faster.... hardly anytime to do blogs! If you caught me on Sam Walker’s BBC Radio Manchester show over the last few weeks, thanks for listening. I did three shows in a matter of days for various reasons but it was all great fun. I’m on again next week with yet another quirky song about the times we live in and no doubt Ms Walker will be offering a musical interlude in the way only she can! I’ll also be on the Coffee Club on the same station next Tuesday at 9am.
A number of you have been asking where the ‘Claire Mooney Newsletter’ is - well as you can tell it‘s about 18 months late… you’ll get a gist of what’s been going on via this blog (intermittent as it is these days - sorry, regular readers) or by trawling the ‘Live’ page but I will make an effort to do one soon.
The G20 has left a sour taste in the mouth - lots of photo opportunities but I wait to see what will really happen (and if these are the richest 20 nations on the planet what is the bankrupt UK doing there?). When will greedy rich people get to understand that they are only rich because millions, nay billions, are poor… Do they really want to live like that? A conscience is free of charge but really does need nurturing. And why don’t they name and shame tax havens and those who have money there? Ah, I’m just realising how much I’ve missed a good rant!
Talking of which, thanks to all of you who have been so complimentary at gigs about the song ‘Enough is Enough’ (a rant with a good tune!). There is a demo doing the rounds but I’m hoping to record it properly soon.
A week last Friday I went to a public meeting about cuts at the Manchester Evening News and other local papers. It was sterling stuff. We need journalists who are in neighbourhoods digging deep for the stories, otherwise we’ll just get what the powers that be want us to know about - so give them support!
And talking of support tickets are now on sale for some theatre gigs with the band… (what a link - now you know why I’m not a journalist!)
Bury Met - on Thursday 30th April. Tickets £8/7 Box Office 0161 761 2216 or online at www.themet.biz
Halfmoon, Putney, London - Sunday 24th May. Tickets only £5/6 from Ticketweb 08700 600 100 or online www.halfmoon.co.uk
The ‘Y’, Leicester - on Saturday 13th June. Tickets £8/6 Box Office 0116 255 7066
The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield - Saturday 20th June. Tickets £7/5 from the Box Office on 01484 430528 or online www.lawrencebatleytheatre.org
Thanks to those of you who have purchased your tickets already!
Have a great week ahead. Love, Claire
Thanks to all of you who have left feedback on the website recently - really lovely of you to take the time. A week or so back I was performing at a conference about domestic violence at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool. As some of you will know, over the years I've been commissioned to write a number of songs about the subject and get asked to play at conferences in between keynote speakers to give the audience a chance to reflect on what's been said. After performing one of the songs, 'Hitting Home', I was pleasantly surprised to be told (thanks Caroline) that contributors from the Family Justice Center in San Diego who attended the conference had written movingly about the song on their blog when they returned to America. Thank you - I'm glad it had such an impact on you.
I will be perfoming a short song on a different topic on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow night and giving my take on the news of the day. Listen in if you can. Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last week I attended two funerals - both sad, both celebratory. One for the Dad of a friend who'd lived a long, loving, honourable and generous life and one for a mate who had done the same until her life was cut short by cancer. Rest easy Alf and you too Di. Di had requested that at her funeral she be carried out of the church to 'Heads Held High'. It's a song I wrote nearly 20 years ago. During the service a friend read out Di's own farewell - she had written it a few days before she died. It was, as she was, big-hearted, engaging, humane and radical. The reason she wanted the song, she told us, was to remind us all to keep up the struggle to make a difference and a better world. I felt touched and honoured that she chose it and whenever I sing it it will always be for her. You will be sadly missed Di. Love Claire
Last week I was still suffering from the flu but performed at a number of gigs - my ears are half closed, my throat's killing and I'm speaking a bit like a cockatiel (whatever they sound like) and somehow I’ve performed to the most wonderful audiences I’ve ever met.
Yesterday I was MC at Manchester Town Hall as part of the city’s International Women’s Day celebrations. It was a brilliantly diverse mix of young and old, performing poetry and song and the day ended with a panel of inspirational women talking about their lives. At the very end of the event I was presented with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to mark my 20 years of music making - it was a treat and a very big surprise - thank you.
Last Friday I was playing at M19 in Manchester as part of the Irish Festival (Happy Birthday Neil - glad you shared your night with us and I‘m glad you felt ‘special‘) and last Wednesday performed back at The Shed in Chorlton-cum-Hardy as part of their International Women’s Week celebrations. Joyous! I’m was still suffering from the flu but I met the audience from cloud nine. I even got a packet of lavender hankies from one member of the audience to help me through - I was overwhelmed by the kindness shown. Particularly memorable was the Swiss/Wolverhampton version of 'Dead Dead Good' - it will never be repeated, sadly. And the version of 'Unhappy Tonight' with a choir, no less, was stunning. Happy Birthday Colette by the way - hope you liked your sing-song. It’s been a week of people coming to gigs to share their birthdays, I'm glad you find the gigs a great way to celebrate!
Last Tuesday I was being filmed at a performance I was doing in the centre of Manchester at Taurus. A wonderful film and sound crew saw me through as did a brilliant audience garnered by fabulous Iain from Taurus. Also thanks to Mike for the hankie! (I do carry my own most of the time!)
This week, as the flu slowly subsides, I’m back on BBC Radio Manchester with my slant on the news and then on to a gig at the Lloyds in Chorlton with some stunning musicians. Check the Live Page for details, and I hope you can listen in or come along if you're around.
Have a safe and healthy week ahead. Love Claire
I set off last Saturday to do my bit at a Benefit Gaza Gig in London only to get as far as Birmingham and recognise I was too ill to continue. I hear the gig was fabulous and you can donate money for humanitarian aid Gaza by going to www.cheekymaggotproductions.co.uk - just press the donate button. Apologies to the organisers and yes I’m more than happy to perform at another event in the future - I‘m glad it was so successful.
This 'flu bug has really taken its toll and I’ve spent the last 36 hours in bed… with occasional forays to get soothing drinks from the kitchen and sip them while watching untold rubbish on night TV… just when you want something light and fluffy you get murder, blood and gore or some inane game show - not good for those of us with raging temperatures. Sadly, I also had to pull out of a live slot on Radio Manchester due to the dreaded lurgy and some workshops too - thanks to all of you for being so understanding. After a trip to the doctors (and dipping into my savings to pay for the prescriptions!) I’m hoping to be okay for gigs later this week.
And… why didn’t the UK bankers, who have managed to oversee the loss of billions of pounds in risky - nay toxic - dealings, put ordinary people’s money where they put their own pension funding? It’s uncanny that the £100,0000s that they will receive each year for the rest of their lives as part of their pension plan was safe and sound in a trusty, dependable account. And there’s me thinking that such secure investments didn’t exist! Yes - not so ill that I can’t have a rant about the greedy!
I hope you have a healthy week ahead. I'm back to my bed... Love Claire
I thought I'd managed to get away with it but the dreaded 'flu hit me with a vengence last week. Nonetheless I managed not to cough on-air when I was doing a couple of stints on BBC local radio and I also managed to do a short set last Thursday at a gig organised by Dave Puller in the Northern Quarter - a great night it was too.
I'm hoping I'll be fighting fit next Saturday (28th) when I'm performing at another benefit for Gaza, this time in London. There's a bunch of top acts on the bill including Children's Poet Laureate, Michael Rosen. You can book tickets at www.cheekymaggot.co.uk/apps/webstore - not only do you get a great night's entertainment but you give to a much needed cause. Hope to see you there.
I hope you have a safe and healthy week ahead. Love Claire
Last night I performed at a benefit gig to raise money for Palestinians in Gaza. The Birch Community Centre was packed out. I had played this venue many years back in my early singer-songwriter days so it was great to return. Last night’s gig was a lively affair with speeches and bands galore and it looked like it might have raised a few thousand pounds to help the humanitarian relief fund. Many thanks to the ‘Freedom Fighters’ band who joined me in an ad hoc version of ‘Unhappy Tonight’ - the average age of the group must have been about 11 and all I can say is that you’ve all got stunning careers in music ahead of you! Well done all the organisers too and particularly to Ben who generously allowed us all to use his PA and had to do his brilliant set very late on in the proceedings - well worth waiting for though.. I‘m playing at another gig for Gaza later this month in London and will let you have full details when I get them.
Also thanks to all of you who braved the snow to come to the Swinton Folk Club gig too - and for staying alert during it!
And please tell me that I am hearing things when the news informs us that bankers, who you and me have bailed out for their crass inefficiency, are going to award one billion pounds of our money to themselves in bonuses? Sometimes it seems that the world has lost its soul - then I remember some of the people from last night and remember it hasn’t, just the greedy have.
Finally, I’m back on Sam Walker’s Show on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow night with a brand new topical song - and it‘s not about the weather! Listen in live via the BBC website if you get the chance.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
I'm no fan of the House of Lords. For all the changes to it, in recent years, it still remains a non-elected, elitist, and undemocratic institution. I hear that members get £350 a day in expenses to attend the chamber where they make speeches and vote on the laws of the country - when they're not asleep that is! Look at the Parliament Channel to see what I mean (yes I know I must get a life!). So it was even more disheartening to hear on the news a secretly recorded interview with one peer who seemed to be bragging about what he can earn in consultancy fees for various companies and corporations. Whatever the position is in law regarding such matters it seems quite shocking to me. But hey I'm just a taxpayer who helps to bail out the greedy - what do I know?!!
No doubt I'll be in a ranting mood when I'm back at Swinton Folk Club tomorrow and on the beeb on Tuesday. Thanks to all of you who have come to recent gigs (and to Mo, Mary, Jaydev and Robin for performing with me). Be safe. Love Claire
At last - so long George W Bush! Let's hope the next US President brings the change he's promised and a foreign policy that helps to bring a little peace to the world. By the way, can anyone tell me what the Middle East Peace Envoy has been doing over the last few weeks?
I'll be giving my take on the news back on Sam Walker's show on the BBC tomorrow evening (listen live on the BBC website) and then I'm doing a tour of south Manchester next weekend (see Dates on LivePage) after another trip to Liverpool next Saturday morning ... the 'gig' there last week was unique to say the least!
Have a safe week ahead, Love Claire
I started the 20th Anniversary gigging year last week when I performed on Sam Walker's show at the BBC. I was giving a quirky slant on the news of the day and wrote a song especially for the occasion - it was a great way to start the new year. Next week I'm doing a gig in Liverpool (see LivePage). I used to help run a folk club there many years ago (before the big acoustic music boom) and it's always a pleasure to return. If you're around it would be great to see you.
I hope you have a safe week ahead - stick with those resolutions! Love Claire
Happy New Year from the frosty UK! 2009 is the 20th Anniversary of the release of my first album 'Rocking the Boat'. As it came out on vinyl I'm told it's now deemed a collector's item - if you have a copy, you decide! Anyway to mark the passage of time we've quite a few gigs planned for this year - some with the band, some solo. Do check out the dates on the Live Page and if I'm in your neck of the woods it would be lovely to see you at one of them over the coming months.
I was being interviewed for a newspaper article the other day to mark the start of the anniversary year (as it seems that anyone who lasts more than 2 minutes at anything these days should be commended!) and I was asked which album had sold the best over the years. Well, as I'm still selling them it feels like the race is still on but all I can say is that a good few have found their way into people's record collections over time and I'm very grateful to you for including me there. I've also been asked by several people if there's a new album out this year - although there's plenty of new material it seems unlikely. However, we are considering releasing a limited edition 'Most Requested Songs' CD. So, if there's a track that you'd like to see included, do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do.
A new year is always a time to look forward, but just for a minute I'm looking back on 2008. There were far too many events to mention individually but I'm pleased to say it was another wonderfully varied year. Varied enough to
see me performing with Arthur Scargill at Hay-on-Wye one minute and then playing at the switch-on of the Christmas lights in Huddersfield the next - and singing some of the same songs along the way! There have been some top gigs over the last 12 months and an array of reviews. I was surprised to be drawn to one of them, which featured in Newsletter 35 produced by the Sociology Department at Manchester's Metropolitan University. The article reflected on a gig I did for a book launch at a lecture there early in the summer. Thank you for your lovely comments Helen - it was an inspirational event.
So to all of you who came to gigs, bought albums, booked me for
your radio shows, festivals, venues, workshops, creative consultancies and took time to leave feedback on the website in 2008 - heartfelt thanks. There have been some lovely highlights to the year and if you browse previous blogs you might just read about them.
And finally, it's a sad indictment on humankind that as we move into another year it starts as the last one ended, with bombing and death and casualties in many places including the Middle East. In a world that stumbles from one economic crisis to the next it amazes me that there is always enough money for war. Time to wise-up? I think so.
I hope this new year is a peaceful one for you. Be safe. Love Claire
So an unelected minister in the British government thinks it's a good idea to start to privatise the
Royal Mail does he? Where has he been these last months as the said same government has nationalised
and bailed out any number of banks and private companies because they're so inept they can't regulate
themselves or run their businesses properly? I heard some 'champion of industry' on a news programme on the BBC recently tell a different minister that what the government should do is engage people like the self-made millionaires from the Dragon's Den (a UK programme where entrepreneurs look at inventions from joe public and see if they think it's a good investment) and use them as advisers during the economic downturn. What the industrialist failed to mention was that a company of one of this band of profiteers went bust a year or so back - so maybe they're not as clever as they make themselves out to be. And, as I often say, people are only rich because the majority are poor - is that deemed to be smart or just greedy? I only ask.
On the brighter side - Happy Solstice! Hooray for the birth of the sun - we're on our way to summer! Okay not quite - we've got to get through chilly January and February (in this part of the northern hemisphere at least) but we've turned the corner. There was warmth aplenty at the last Sound Women event though at The Lawrence Batley Theatre last Friday night (next Sound Women December 2009 by the way!) Guests Jo Bywater,
Julia Brosnan and annthepoet did some cracking sets and Maureen played some superb violin with me. Big appreciation to the scores of you who came out on a cold, wet evening to support the event. And to the regulars who have come to Sound Women since its inception - well, you're just wonderful. It was a first for me to be presented with a bottle of bubbly from the audience. Thanks to Blaize and Nell who organised the gift for me and for the brilliant card that was signed by loads of people there. When did you get that done?! I pride myself in keeping tabs on most of what goes on during the gig - obviously not as clever as I thought! How kind of you - I'm not usually lost for words but somehow you managed it. You are incredibly generous. Thank you. I'll treasure the card for years to come (the bubbly will be gone by Christmas, when I'll raise a glass to you all!)
This afternoon I was a guest on Artbeat on the local radio station. Andrew Edwards is a passionate radio
man and it comes across in his enthusiastic manner. Thanks for having me on the show again Andrew and for such a cosy chat!!
The last performance of the year for me is back on BBC Radio Manchester tomorrow on Citizen Manchester where I'll be chatting to Andrew again with programme
Seasons Greetings! Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Over the last few weeks the people of Greater Manchester have been voting about proposals for a
congestion charge in the area. Last Friday we discovered the plans had been rejected by an
overwhelming majority. I was one of the NO voters. Not because I'm a selfish motorist who doesn't give a stuff about carbon emissions or global warming but because the plans were so ill-conceived. The carrot dangled before us was that £3 billion would be pumped into the public transport system if we voted YES. What public transport system? Since de-regulation during the Thatcher years we have had private firms provide local transport for the public and what a dire job they've done of it. Why would we want to line the pockets of those who've made enormous fortunes on the back of us already with more public money? The buses here have been plastered in 'VOTE YES' posters for weeks - I was even on a bus on the final day of voting and was asked by a person in an XXXL VOTE YES tee-shirt if
I'd cast my ballot. Yes, I told her. 'Have you sent it off' she continued. 'Yes', I replied. And what if I hadn't - would I have been frog-marched to the nearest Town Hall to submit my vote? It felt as if feudalism had returned (did it go away?). And to top it all the government was to provide one and a half billion pounds towards the scheme - where would that have come from? I thought they'd bequeathed most of the money in the country's coffers (for now and years to come) to bankers? I recognise the world is bonkers but I'm glad I live in a city where a little sanity prevailed. YES
we need to cut congestion. YES we need to cut carbon emissions - but YES, we need to re-regulate public transport! Rant over...
The trip to BBC Radio Manchester's Coffee Club session
last Thursday was also an animated affair. Fellow guests Austin and Barbara were excellent company. We met up again at Austin's Brollywood short film debut shown in the city centre later that evening. I'd never met either of them before but somehow we made a connection.
The following day I played at an Anti-Deportation benefit for Steve. He is in fear of his life if he has to return to Kenya and is in need of funds to pay a solicitor to represent him in the UK. A lovely crowd turned up to support his campaign. I get asked to perform at any number of benefits, which I'm happy to
do (when I'm able). The organisers of this one were exactly what these events should be about - welcoming, warm and enthusiastic - and incredibly nifty on percussion instruments! The 'band' at the end of my set were pretty stunning! All good things with the campaign Steve - you've got a great bunch of people on your side.
I'm thankful to all of you who trekked through the rain to come to our gig at Bolton Octagon last night. The gig was sold out, but one group booking didn't make it for some reason - I hope you're all safe and sound. Big thanks to Maureen, Mary and John who performed with me and managed to keep up with the ever-changing set list - you were fabulous, as ever. Bernie Murphy and Simon who opened the night did a top set - wonderful stuff. The audience were a mix of those who remember me from 'Just Another Working Day' album days (1992) to those who have never seen me before. I hope I'll see you at gigs next year - you were all lovely. And finally thanks to Andy for brilliant sound and lights, Helen for front-of-house and all the staff at the
Octagon - you were, as usual, professional, enthusiastic and excellent. Hope to see you again next year.
Next Friday is the last Sound Women gig of the year at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield and we won't be back until December 2009. As next year is the 20th anniversary of the release of Rocking the Boat' (my first album) it's likely that I'll be performing all over the place so sadly I can't commit to organising Sound Women on a regular basis. Thanks to all the acts who've performed at the event over the last 18 months and particularly thanks to the superb audiences. I hope we'll all meet up again soon.
Have a good week ahead. Love Claire
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the release of my first album 'Rocking the Boat' on Playtime/Big World Records. We've being attempting to organise some gigs up and down the country at the venues I first performed at all those years ago by way of celebration. Some are confirmed, some are in the pipeline...It never ceases to amaze me how many people I meet who have bought albums of mine in the past and come to gigs to remind me. Recently a fellow performer I introduced on stage (and hadn't seen for years) told the audience how he queued to by a CD off me 15 years ago! Strange but true. Hopefully, I'll meet more of you next year as we travel from place to place. It seems appropriate that we kick off with a gig where I grew up in Chorlton, Manchester, in January
This week I'll be playing at an anti-deportation gig close to home in Levenshulme and then at the BNT, at Bolton Octagon with the band and the fabulous political singer Bernie Murphy. If you're coming to either gig come over and say hello. I'm also back on BBC Radio Manchester giving my slant on the issues of the day.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last Sunday I was co-compere, with Chris Coope, at his 'All New' Manchester Busker event in the heart of Manchester. There were 15 plus acts on stage over the space of 4 hours. There was a fabulous array of talent on display and some outstanding performances. Chris is an amazingly enthusiastic promoter. He's passionate and generous about everyone he asks to play. The Busker has, over the years, been instrumental in starting the careers of some (now) famous faces and has often been, what it set out to be, a giant hamper of egoless talent where fellow performers stay to watch and applaud their own. The world's changed a bit in 20 years. Next year will be the 21st Anniversary of the original Manchester Busker - back at the venue where it all stated, The Green Room. It's hoped that those who set out on the original journey will be there. One sure thing though - it will be brilliant. By the way Chris , the after-show party on Sunday was tremendous - thanks!
Last Tuesday I was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds performing at an event to mark the International Day to end Violence Towards Women and Children. I'm often told such events must be heavy going but actually they are inspiring and often humorous - a bit like this one. Well done Sandra for organising another incredible occasion. The following day I did a gig for Bury's LGBT group which was also fabulous. I'm hard-pressed to remember such a welcoming, lovely crowd of promoters - a bit like the audience who packed out the Bury Met Theatre. A top night!
The week ended with a meeting in my local community about the proposed introduction of a privately financed GP surgery. A spirited crowd demanded a proper consultation before our NHS is dismantled. I think the battle lines are now drawn!
And finally thanks to all of you who have pre-booked tickets for the Bolton Octagon 'Claire Mooney and Friends' gig I'm doing with the band in December - it's sold out I'm told. But I hear that the Theatre is operating a waiting list in case of returns.
Have a safe week ahead, Love Claire
My trip over to Huddersfield last Thursday, to perform as part of the Christmas Lights Switch-On celebrations, was really good fun. The night was organised by PulseFM and I was asked to appear because I'm playing at a Sound Women gig in December at the town's Lawrence Batley Theatre. It's the kind of event I imagine panto stars doing (and indeed they were there in force) and not particularly singer-songwriters like myself but I really enjoyed it. Outdoor gigs can be a law unto themselves but this event worked well. The version of Unhappy Tonight with an 8-piece percussion band went down a storm - I particularly liked the hat choreography from the audience! Big thanks to the PulseFM team - it was well cosy in the 'green room' - and to Graham and Suzanne from LBT. Always a pleasure to work with you, guys. The Sound Women gig (with great acts and loads of festive give-aways) is on Friday 19th December and tickets can be obtained from the theatre Box Office. Oh no they can't.. oh yes they can... - now, see what mixing with panto stars does to me?!
The following day I was back in Manchester performing at the North West TUC's Women's Conference. The theme of the conference was equality - seems to have been the major theme in my work life over the last week or so. It was a joy to be asked back - thanks to all of you.
Next Sunday I'll be co-compere (with Chris Coupe) at the 'All New' Manchester Busker at Matt and Phreds - loads of acts, loads of talent - hope to see you there. In the meantime have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Yesterday was busy to say the least. It started with me and a few hundred others marching in central Manchester to highlight the need for a humanitarian response to the crisis in the DR of the Congo. I then went to a debate on feminism and counter culture - sounds dull? No, it was enlightening and a reminder as to how far women still have to go in music, theatre and the arts in general to have an equal voice. The debate was part of Manchester's 'Ladyfest' and last night I was the compere at their Cabaret. From bands to burlesque, poets to power-cuts, divas to dancing it was a night to remember. There was a massive array of talent on show, a top team of workers (thanks Sarah, Rose and Rosalind - and DJ Dolly) and a warm and astute audience who stayed and applauded from the start to the finish of a mammoth show of nearly 5 hours! A compere's job is diverse to say the least. Apart from introducing acts, keeping to time, etc etc etc I found myself last night (for the first time in this role) having a short seminar with one audience member about intrusive videoing - you had to be there... it was quite an amazing evening. Big thanks to Siobhan and the team (and the scores of volunteers) for asking me to be involved - you have my utmost respect for all the work you put in to stage an event that aims to be diverse and inclusive while pushing the boundaries - one hell of a juggling trick!
The circus of my life takes me to Huddersfield next Thursday to entertain at the town's Christmas Lights Switch-On and the following day I'm back at th North West TUCs Women's Conference. If variety is the spice of life...... I'm lost for words.
Have a great week ahead. Be safe and true to yourself. Love Claire
Last Sunday I was performing a few songs and giving my take on some of the headlines of the day on Andy Crane's show on BBC Radio Manchester as part of a 'live' outside broadcast from The Lowry in Salford Quays. Thanks to Andy, Emma and fellow guests for an interesting time and particularly to the young kids who stood, stared and then applauded after each song. It almost took me back to my busking days - but obviously the Lowry's surroundings are just a bit more warm and cosy!
This weekend I'll be the compere at Saturday's Ladyfest cabaret event at the Zion in Manchester - there'll be workshops, bands, art, debates and tons more throughout the weekend so if you're in Manchester bob down.
Also on Saturday (and also in Manchester) you might want to support a march to highlight the plight of those displaced by war in the Congo. There's a rally in the
Peace Gardens from 1pm.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Thanks to all of you who came out to the gig at the start of the Levenshulme Festival last Friday. The night had started very early with a launch including speeches and short sets from some of the Festival artists and our gig followed - so some of you were out for hours on end - well done for your staying power. Big thanks to Maureen, Mary and John for being brilliant musicians and to Dion and Dave for their sets too. The 'band' were ace at the end - I shouldn't single out any of you but I particularly liked 'CAN ADA' for her star turn! For those of you who had come thinking it was a comedy gig by the way I hope you found it hilarious, for others who asked about the 'Who's Looking After Levenshulme?' CD please google the title to find the group who can sell you a copy and to those of you who I didn't recognise immediately because of a new haircut or the years that have passed since I last saw you - apologies... you won't be forgotten again!
Next Sunday I'm playing 'live' on the Andy Crane Show for BBC Radio Manchester at The Lowry, Salford Quays - everyone's welcome to come and watch or listen in at 11am.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
First off, apologies if you have tried to contact me via the website - there were some technical problems last week and it crashed... a bit like the stock market, but not so long-lasting - all sorted now (I hope!).
It was lovely to meet some old friends when I played a pocket-sized set at a gig in Lancaster last week. To my amazement, I learnt from an old chum that I hadn't seen for over a decade that singing Claire Mooney songs whilst busking helped her to earn a few bob (that's money for those
of you outside Lancashire) - thanks for letting me know! Sorry I didn't get chance to play your request of 'Is it Any Wonder' during the set by the way - will deffo include it at the Bolton Octagon gig in December!
Next Friday I'm playing with the band at M19 in Manchester to launch the Levenshulme Festival (together with a couple of songs at the press 'do' before the show). Some tickets have been sold already, so do come down early (7.30pm on Friday) to make sure you get a seat. As always, it would be great to see you.
Be kind. Love Claire
You could be forgiven in thinking that the blog was like money in our banks and had disappeared for good but no it's much more reliable than that! I have spent the last few weeks in heated debate - well ranting really - and deliberating on where the money has gone (did it ever exist?) that has caused our prevailing financial turmoil. Rolling news programmes (yes I've been that hooked!) have constantly reassured(?) me that stock markets are built on 'confidence' and once that returns all will be well. So to perk them up, pat them on the back and get them to start trading, the government (in the UK at least) has given banks billions of pounds of our money. Do they embrace this generosity? - no, the stock market plummets. So as clear as day itself we can now all see
it's built on, what it has always been built on, greed. More and more it seems to be one big casino
where the players will only participate if they know they're going to win. And those of us not round the table pay up every time. AND where has this money come from to bail out selfish bankers and the like when we were told there was nothing for hard-pressed public sector workers? It's all bonkers!
As the news here is transfixed by worldwide stock markets it's been interesting to see a little of how they operate as well. For instance, can anyone tell me why people with inane grins on their faces applaud the bell on Wall Street? Don't they realise that the western world is stumbling from crisis to crisis and they've played a major part in causing it? Nothing to smile about in my book. (Aren't you regular blog readers glad it's returned?!)
No doubt I'll bang on a bit when I'm back on BBC Radio Manchester next Thursday but I will, of course, be on my best behaviour(!) when I play in Lancaster next weekend. Be great to see you there.
In the meantime watch the pennies and have a great week ahead. Love Claire
I've found recently that I keep meeting up with people I haven't seen for years. For instance, last night at the Manchester Fun Box gig - what a night of brilliant entertainment by the way, nice one Tony, Rooks, Attila and George and, of course CC, for promoting the gig - a guy came up to me who'd seen me in Killarney when I toured Ireland with the band, Pours of Reign. That particular night all those years ago was the highlight of the tour as I recall. Thanks for coming over to say 'Hello' Steven. Talking of last night, it's very unusual (in fact I can't remember a time when it's ever happened) for me to be moved to tears by a bloke singing a song but when Kim, George Boroski's drummer, sang I was stunned by his extraordinary grace - gorgeous. Thanks to sound engineer Chris for doing such a top job - and for the coffee!!
The previous night I was at the Working Class Music Festival gig in Liverpool and I met more people I hadn't seen for ages. Congratulations by the way to singer-songwriter Alun Parry (www.parrysongs.co.uk) who organised the Festival - it was an inspired event and proves that to write and sing 'protest' songs doesn't mean you have to bang on (although I do have my moments!) but can be an expression of progressive possibilities with poetry.
I'd gone over to Liverpool after being on the Stop The War march in Manchester where I joined countless people I hadn't seen for years on the demo. Alas I couldn't march all the way to the rally (had to get to a sound check). We were stopped endless times en route so it took hours to move a few centimetres - and yes I know the Labour Party are in Manchester for Conference but did we really need such a large police presence for a march about peace? I lost count of the number of times the police took our photos - honestly, they were like the paparazzi!
The night before I'd done an anti-war gig with Dave Puller and Robin Sunflower - another grand night's entertainment, chaps! At the end of the night I was presented with a 'suffragette' brooch bought by some marvellous mates and regular gig attendees by way of making it into 20 years of self-employment as a
singer-songwriter and, as Dave put it, for years of 'paying tax'! Which indeed I do and wouldn't it be brilliant if the money was spent more wisely on public services and not on illegal wars.
I'll be back for another Sound Women event at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on Friday - it's our first birthday - and it would be great to see you there.
Meanwhile have a peaceful week ahead. Love Claire
It was lovely to return to Rochdale last night to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Solidarity at the
local Labour Club. Over the years the people there have supported scores of good causes and political
struggles and it was wonderful to meet so many who had been involved with different events over the years. The way you joined in with 'The Mrs T Blues' was quite extraordinary! Well done to the organisers - a top time.
Another blast from the past came last week when I was given a folder full of old press cuttings that had been found in my late uncle's effects. I had no idea he'd kept so many articles and reviews of my albums and gigs. It brought a tear to my eye I can tell you.
Talking of gigs there's a few on the horizon next weekend. On Friday there's an evening of powerful poetry and songs about peace, before the Stop the War demonstration in Manchester on Saturday. After which I'm in Liverpool for the Working Class Song Festival and then back to Manchester on Sunday to Matt and Phreds for another Manchester Fun Box gig that has a wonderful line-up. Check out the Live Page for details.
I hope you have a good week ahead. Love Claire
My foray into self-sufficiency has not gone as well as I'd hoped. I harvested the rest of the carrots I'd planted (see previous blogs) to discover that the lovely, long green tops above the soil were not quite an accurate reflection of what lay beneath. A strong pair of binoculars were needed to make the crop look half decent. I shall plant for next year with a little more care!
Next Saturday Rochdale Labour Party HQ is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The building, opened by Barbara Castle and Colin Welland, has been at the forefront of solidarity campaigns with workers from any number of disputes over the years. I, and many others, have been lucky enough to perform at scores of benefits there. While de-cluttering the house last week (well just a little bit!) I unearthed 'Mrs T Blues', a protest song I wrote many moons back that used to get regular outings at the club. It was recorded to cassette (those were the days) on a music project at a studio in the north of Manchester. Where did the time go? As I like to think that protest songs help to change the world for the better it would be good to believe that the song was instrumental in the Iron Lady's downfall....but as we know her own policies and backstabbing colleagues managed that! Who knows the song might get one last outing at the party on Saturday. Have a great week ahead. Love Claire
Should you be in the NW of England tomorrow morning you can catch me giving my take on the latest current affairs with guests on BBC Radio Manchester from 9am. I think you can also listen live on-line if you're further afield.
Thanks to those of you who, I hear, have already booked your tickets for the Claire Mooney and Friends gig at Bolton Octagon on 13th December. Last year's event was sold out so I'm glad some of you are booking early for Christmas! Before then you can also catch me in Rochdale, Manchester, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Lancaster and numerous places in between. Check the Live Page (Dates) for details.
Have a great week ahead. Love Claire
Yesterday a couple of hundred of us said our farewells to Uncle Ken. I think he would have been pleased with the send off - a celebration of a generous-spirited man full of goodness. He'd asked me to sing at his funeral which I did after some excellent eulogies from my siblings. We then all raised a glass to him in the local Conservative Club! A life-long socialist in a Con Club? - can't believe you managed it, Ken!
Last weekend I did a gig of a different kind at Manchester Pride. Congrats to all the organisers of Women's Space - particularly co-ordinator, Katy, who's
boundless energy was infectious - hey, liked the top too Katy! Thanks to band member Mary for doing the gig with me and all of you who bought albums - you were a top crowd.
On the same day, we said 'goodbye' to the Olympics. I can marvel at the sportsmen and women's excellence but did it really need to cost billions and billions, with 1000s displaced in the building of the magnificent
Games' venues? I only ask as worldwide poverty's on the rise. Not least in the UK where I heard recently that a new board member at the Bank of England had remarked that "fingers crossed" we would avoid a recession! Fingers crossed? Is this the best economists can come up with? Nice work if you can get it!
Hope you have a prosperous week ahead. Love Claire
Earlier today I was on the Andrew Edwards show as part of Manchester Pride. He's got a lovely style and genuine warmth. It was a pleasure to be on his show. Should you ever see his name in the listings listen in - you won't be disappointed. I'm playing Women's Space at Pride next week - look forward to seeing you there. Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Last Saturday the band and I had the pleasure of playing at Paula and Pete's wedding celebrations at
Hebden Bridge. What a lovely, lovely night. They've been together for a couple of decades and now they've decided to tie the knot. They are two of the nicest people around - sound politics, great
sense of humour and all round good souls. The evening was a bit like them - brilliant. It was so nice to be able to do a mixed set of politics and love songs and not be out of place at such a 'do'. Thanks for asking us to perform.
On a sadder note one of the nicest men on the planet
left us last week. Uncle Ken was full of goodness. Over the last few years he's been the mainstay of our family Christmases. His homemade festive games, usually made in March, were the stuff of legend. He was also a very fine artist and year in year out we'd all get a painting as a gift from him. He was a prolific painter and as time went by it became harder and harder to find wall space for them all! It will be very strange not to have him around and I can hardly believe he's gone. I don't think I ever heard a bad word said against him - and you can't say that about many people, can you? Rest easy Kenny.
Spare a thought too on 16th August for those slaughtered in the Peterloo Massacre. I tend to mention this every year but that's only because I believe it's something we shouldn't forget.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
First off thanks to all of you who have been in touch during the week to say how much you enjoyed the
performance at Manchester Metropolitan University for Helen Jones and Kate Cook's book launch - very kind of you to take the trouble. Some of the comments are on the Feedback Page.
I did a performance of a different kind last Friday when I played at the funeral of the Dad of some mates
of mine. Funerals tend to be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster - for me at least. It was a poignant, humorous, joyous and touching event and it was an honour to be asked to perform. Christopher did a sterling job on guitar with me (your grand-dad would have been proud of you). RIP Walter, I'll remember you as the man with a twinkle in your eye who put the word 'gentle' into gentleman.
Meanwhile the world turns and the energy corporations, who's profits hover around a few billion every quarter, have found it necessary to increase our household gas and electric bills. I'm all for saving resources but not at the expense of the filthy rich. So cut your bills and wear a fleece! And for those who keep asking, the Fleece Song will be recorded shortly
and be available at gigs (or even as a download!?).
Be safe. Love Claire
Last Friday I played at Helen Jones' and Kate Cook's book launch at Manchester Metropolitan University. Their book is all about Rape Crisis, an agency that has helped 1000s upon 1000s of women who have endured one of the worst violent acts on the planet. You might be forgiven in thinking it was going to be a harrowing event given the subject matter. On the contrary, it was an inspirational, uplifting, moving and humorous occasion with powerful speeches, humane interaction
and some pertinent tunes from Annie Muse and yours truly. It was an honour to be invited to perform.
Thanks to all of you who came over at the reception afterwards for a word - for your warm comments and for buying albums (I know Rape Crisis were grateful for the monies donated from CD sales - as it doesn't get enough funding from government it relies on endowments and charitable donations). It was particularly impressive to meet people who had bought the cassette version of Slow Riot in the past (yes it's that old) and as a result joined in with 'Hitting Home' while I was playing it - thanks for updating to CD by the way. It will be an event that will live long in the memory
- congratulations to all, but principally to Helen and Kate for researching and writing the book in the first place.
Yesterday's gig at Oldham Pride was an all together different event. Thanks to Mary for playing bass and the overwhelming audience participation - the owl was an excellent addition to the band by the way!. It was a great celebration - well done to all the organisers!
I hope you have a safe and celebratory week ahead. Love Claire
Thanks to all of you who came to the M19 gig last Friday and joined in with gusto the roller-coaster ride that is a Claire Mooney gig! You were wonderful and very generous with your after-show comments. Of course, Maureen, Mary, John and Ian (who played with us for the first time in a year - and stunningly too) were on top form and graciously put up with my 'songwriting on the spot' episodes with the brilliance of the skilled musicians they are! High fives too to Moore Marriott who opened the evening with a cracking set and Dan and Dave for their wonderful word-smithery. Last but not least thanks to James who did the sound - I'm going to miss you as you set off for pastures new - good luck!
Earlier in the week I had been invited to ALLFM for the late night/early morning Vicky Richardson Show. The programme is streamed online so messages come from far and wide from her listening audiences in America, Canada, Eire, Australia and so on. I played a few tunes and some of my favourite music tracks. It was a brilliant experience not least for the fact that Vicky adores radio and music and her enthusiasm is infectious. I'd turned up for the show at half past midnight just a little bit tired after a day's travelling to and from a recording workshop. By the time I left at 3.30am though I was all set to party! Nice one Vicky!
I didn't go out on the town though but lay my head down for a couple of hours as I had an early start back on BBC Radio Manchester on the morning show. I managed to stay awake long enough to defend my corner on a debate on different aspects of the news of the day with fellow guests. There was a good deal of off-air chat so I'm not quite sure what part of it got broadcast - it all rolled into one!! The proposed curfew after 9pm of under 16s did get an airing though. What a sad indictment of our society. This all comes about after a rise in knife crime in the UK. As we still have intolerable levels of domestic abuse in this country it just feels like we're shifting the problem and not tackling it to me. Sadly the desperate feeling of hopelessness that has overwhelmed communities for decades has turned to anger and what a way for it to manifest itself!
Then I woke today to hear that Margaret Thatcher is to have a state funeral - an accolade, I'm told. Very surprising, as it was she who helped to create the millions of unemployed during her Downing Street tenure who we find never quite got back on their feet again and today we reap the 'rewards' of her selfish policies. Even more surprising as she isn't dead yet! Mmmm... Have a safe week ahead, Love Claire
No I'm not sure what happened at 10.53 on Mon 30 June 2008 either...but the date is there on the blog page to stay it seems!! I was doing a gig in London last Friday and had to drive over with the PA in the car. 'Driving' in London is an interesting ordeal. For nearly 3 hours we picked our way through the busy thoroughfares. At one point, completely out of the blue, one guy got the hump for some reason and started to circle the car on his bike (as if in a Western and the wagons were rolling round) mouthing all sorts of stuff and saying 'do I look good in this?' pointing to his tee-shirt. As we'd only been off the motorway 5 minutes it was an interesting welcome to the capital. Then I had the SatNav woman screaming at me when I took a wrong turn - 'do a U turn, do a U turn' was blasting at me - easy for her to say. Do satellites not pick up the bumper to bumper traffic? - probably not; too much smog. Anyway we got to our destination in one piece in the end. Hey and thanks to those of you who helped write 'the song' for Kevin and John at the gig...catchy chorus!
The gig at The Q Inn up in Stalybridge earlier in the week had some fabulous musicians playing (not least Robin Sunflower). As with previous visits I've made there were trombones, mouth-organs, a variety of guitars, a whistle and endless other instruments adding individual solos to the songs I played. Thanks to all of you. And cheers to Linda for taking to the microphone with me - I will learn some cover versions at some point honest!
Next week I'm on the BBC giving my take on the news with fellow guests on the morning show. This follows a late late session on ALLFM so I might be a bit bleary eyed. Friday sees me with the band back at M19 Bar in Manchester. Moore Marriot will also be playing a set so it should be a good night. Thanks to everyone who's bought tickets already - look forward to seeing you there. Have a safe week ahead (particularly if you're in London). Love Claire
I read in the papers last week that, according to research, there has been a 6% raise in dollar millionaires around the world - 10.1 million of them (and rising). Apparently they spend their 'spare' cash on race horses, jets, boats and the like. How good to know that the credit crunch only hits the majority of us in the West! Our very own Queen is having a hard time of it we hear after she published her latest accounts. So badly in need is she that she's unable to re-decorate her many dwellings. Windsor Palace, Buckingham Palace and Sandringham are all in poor shape and that place in Scotland could do with a lick of paint as well - how many royal residencies are there these days? Such a state of poor repair is all probably due to the fact that 60 million of us in the UK only give her 66 pence each per annum. Shocking?! The rich, it appears, have a gift of making themselves out to be in dire staights and still their numbers rise and rise!
Happy birthday to the NHS as it celebrates its 60th birthday. I hope you keep on going to a ripe old age - but we'll need to take better care of you as I hear that private enterprise is doing its best to make big business out of poor health with the latest developments in polyclinics. Hands off the NHS!
Yesterday I did my first workshop ever in a yurt and immense fun it was too. Big thanks to the scores of lyricists who created 'Tales in Tempo'. Tomorrow I'm back at the Q Inn in Stalybridge with the brilliant Robin Sunflower and for those of modest means you'll be pleased to know it's free!! Have a safe, healthy week ahead. Love Claire
BBC Radio Leeds are celebrating their 40th Birthday (this very day I believe) and have been on tour in Yorkshire. I performed at their outside broadcast in Huddersfield last Friday, as it coincided with a Sound Women gig at the Lawrence Batley Theatre that evening. It gave me a chance to meet up with David Crickmore, of the Durbervilles (the folk band who had hosted a Christmas show I was on a year or so back) as he was driving the desk. Presenter Graham Liver, producer John and BBC truck driver Mick, as well as all the team, were warm and complimentary. Thanks to Suzanne and Ranjit from the Theatre for organising it, for all the moral support and, particularly, the laughter!
The Sound Women gig was once again attended by a lovely audience. Thanks to all of you for coming - it
really wouldn't be the same without you. As always, you showed your appreciation for the talent on show - thanks to Becca and Steph for top sets and to Maureen and Mary for performing with me. There was a particularly sparky version of 'Just Like That' this time round - the added 'ooooooooooooo' was something special! As always, you needed to be there to fully recognise how audiences make an evening unique (and Happy Birthday David - thanks for sharing your party with us!). I also have to mention Dan who has done the sound and lights for us at all 4 events so far. He's going back to Uni to finish his degree shortly, but he really has been a joy to work with. All good things with the career Dan and I'll definitely get you back whenever we do our world tour! The next Sound Women is on 26th September so I hope to see you there for another night of wizard wordsmiths and a touch of mayhem!
The day after the Huddersfield gig, I was back in Manchester at the protest to save our local Post Office. A sizeable crew turned out in the mid-summer rain and gales (well it is the UK!) to show our resolve. More protests to follow.
I also celebrated my birthday over the weekend and I'd like to thank all of you who sent cards, bought presents and remembered it - and there have been quite a few to remember now! It was a truly wonderful time. We had a great family party and my one and only made it all perfect. You'll never guess what I got as a 'big' pressie!!!
I hope you have a great week ahead and, if it's your birthday, have a lovely time. Love Claire
So a majority of our politicians in the UK think it's acceptable to detain people without charge for up to 6 weeks for national security reasons. I really am lost for words but sadly not surprised. What did shock me though was the news that on more than one occasion last week 'top secret' files were left on the seats of a couple of trains - I didn't think you could get a seat on a train these days! No doubt in such enlightened times the poor civil servants who owned up to their mistakes will be flogged. A little joined up thinking about tolerance, acceptance and respecting diversity might work a bit better than criminalising people - just a thought.
Joined up thinking seems to be lacking closer to home too. We have discovered that our local post office is to close (although we are fighting to keep it open). As you can see in previous blogs people in the area are in a constant battle to keep services in the locality. Once again the poorest, who have no access to transport, are penalised as they'll have to find some way to get to the nearest post office that's miles away. We're led to believe it's closing as it's not profitable to keep it open. I fail to see how a business can be failing if the bosses can pay themselves gigantic bonuses to pat themselves on the back for how well they're doing!
I'm ranting all the way over to Huddersfield for the Sound Women gig on Friday (my softer side will on show though as the evening's 'free raffle' will be bigger and better than usual as it's my birthday week) - hope to see you there. Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
It is a constant mystery to me that I can pass through the cold, wet winter months with barely a sneeze and then come June I get the flu! Any fellow sufferers out there? You have my sympathy.
Thanks to those of you who mentioned to me that last week's blog was missing - and Natalie, since you asked, the carrots I planted (as mentioned a few weeks back) - or what's left of them after the snails had munched their way through the crop - are all set to make a tasty meal for one...eventually!
I'm back on the gig trail on 20th June (I expect the sneezing to have stopped by then) at the next Sound Women in Huddersfield (check Live Page for details). There's some top acts on and you can book your tickets in advance. In the meantime have a healthy week ahead, Love Claire.
Where to start? It's been a week and a half (almost) since the last weekly blog. Yesterday's gig in Llantrisant, South Wales, was a joy. Surrounded by some of the most talented musicians I've met in a long time I had a ball. To have 12 year old James play drums on 'Unhappy Tonight' was quite incredible and I'm sure I'll be mentioning him in blogs to come. Claire you did a top job on bass - to get up after you'd been in tears with 'Not a Day' was lovely of you (I know I owe you for a box of tissues!) Thanks to Sue and Amanda who also joined the band. Diolch yn fawr i ti. I hope I've got that right - and to Rob (a fabulous singer) who organised the event with all his trusty helpers - you're an inspiration. To top it all I got another chance to hear Andy Brice, an old mate from our Ray Davies workshop days, which was a treat.
The day before I'd been in Hay-on-Wye playing songs just before a speech from Arthur Scargill. Another top band joined me on stage - big thanks to all - I think it was the quickest version I've ever played but with the great man in the wings waiting to come on what can you do? Cheers Mike for asking me over - hope the rest of the event went well.
A couple of days before my travels to Wales I'd played at Chorlton Arts Festival in a venue that can only be termed Shangri-La. The Shed at 40 Beech Rd M21 is an oasis for anyone who enters from the bustling 21st century. Check the place out at www.40beechroad.co.uk or better still take a journey to 'creativerecycling' and see for yourself and buy the wonderful art on show. Big thanks - Fiona, Glennis and Jack for asking me to perform - you are the kind of promoters I dream about!!! Huge thanks to all who came to support the gig - Alan and Winifred who trekked all the way over from the Wirral, all the band of 'Unhappy Tonight' and another Welsh version of Dead, Dead Good (Wales was a theme of the week!). You were brilliant.
Earlier in the week I'd been in Brighton playing at a trades union conference (yes, I clocked the miles up this week and apologies for using up so much of the world's finite resources by going by car - needs must!). What a talented bunch of people civil servants are - cheers to John and Karen for asking me to perform again... it was quite incredible. Thanks to everyone who bought CDs at all the gigs as well.
And finally congratulations to the local football team for coming up trumps. You nearly wrecked my voice by going to penalties mind...well done Ryan Giggs for scoring...it's been a week for the Welsh and aren't I the lucky one for meeting so many of you? Have a great (alf tidy - is that right Rob?) week ahead. Love Claire
I know the blogs are a bit all over the shop (a Lancashire term for disarray) at the minute. You don't get one when you expect it then 2 come at once (I'd usually say a bit like the buses but sometimes you end up waiting at a bus-stop for a lot longer than the intervals between my blogs!). I'm about to set off to Brighton for a gig at a trade union conference. I'm then back to perform on Thursday at The Shed on Beech Road, M21 as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. Tickets are free and available from the shop 'creative recycling' (see Live Page for details). Then next weekend I'm back on my travels again this time to Hay-on-Wye doing a gig with (among others) miners leader Arthur Scargill who's even more outspoken than me!! Can't wait. I hope you have a safe week ahead wherever you are. Love Claire
I was lucky enough to be back on BBC Radio Manchester as part of an early morning chat show again last Friday. It was an interesting affair. My fellow guests included a retired headteacher and a PR consultant. We discussed a variety of topical issues ranging from chef Gordon Ramsey's idea that his peer group should be 'banned' if they don't use fruit and veg that's in season in their restaurants (I almost agree with him - we need to consider the environmental consequences of what we're eating but the thought of masses of sprouts and cabbage isn't that eco-friendly from my postion!) to an NHS pilot scheme that requests we complete a card should we not require medical assistance should we need resuscitating in the event of an accident. My line on it was it seemed like another cut in the NHS and what a way to reduce service provision!
It's also been a week for a million and one (okay slight exaggeration) lovely people asking for money from me by way of sponsorship. All worthy causes. many of which I believe should receive government funding from our taxes. Apologies to those who haven't received a cheque from me but with so many withdrawals from my account the bank was beginning to think there was a run on the funds of another financial institution in the UK!
Next weekend I'm away gigging in Brighton - if the weather stays sunny I might extend it into a bit of a holiday! I hope your week ahead is a bright one. Love Claire
I heard on the radio this week that 50% of the world's population have never heard a ringtone. I mentioned this at a gig and the audience, almost as one, decided those people were the lucky ones! The things we take for granted hey? The said gig on the Wirral was a fine affair - along with my set there were some excellent wordsmiths plying their trade too. It's amazing where the imagination takes you.
Our local elections in the UK gave the national government a good drubbing - hardly surprising with the way they've been (mis)managing things. I got a postal vote as I couldn't venture to the Polling Station on the day as I was away performing. It was a bit of a rigmarole - but I couldn't have done it without phoning for it first - hope they didn't mind the ringtone! Have a good week, Love Claire (and Happy Birthday to my one and only!)
Today in the freezing rain of Manchester I was privileged to perform at a Workers Memorial Day event
in the city centre. Amid the speeches from MPs and trade unionists there were the heartfelt stories from relatives who still fight for justice for those they've loved and lost through workplace accidents or the wanton failure of bosses to implement proper health and safety measures. It was, as last year, moving and inspirational. Huge thanks to Eddie who, with his trusty umbrella, endeavoured to keep me dry while I was playing - it took me back to my busking days although I'm not sure I played outside on days like this - I'm still drying out!
I've been mixing a bit with trade unionists recently. Last Thursday I took to the streets to march in solidarity with striking teachers and other public servants. There were 1000s on the march and I met with some people I hadn't seen for years and a fair few from a gig I did last week. It's little short of a disgrace that teachers are pushed into such action by a Labour government (a Labour government no less) and
the discontent was palpable. There would, of course, be plenty of money in the coffers had we not embarked on an illegal war - yes, I know I bang on about it blog after blog.
And then, to make matters worse, Britain's 'rich list' gets published yesterday and we find that the rich are getting richer - didn't come as much of a surprise I must say. This self same issue came up when, with fellow guests Vince and Ivan, I was on Andy Crane's BBC Radio show yesterday at The Lowry
in Salford. I couldn't help myself - I had a rant about it! The show was fabulous even though you could be forgiven in thinking there was a jack-in-the-box in the foyer as I kept going from one mic to another. All great fun. Thanks to the Beeb team of Andy, Emma, Becky and Gaydon and all of you who stopped and listened to the songs I played in between the radio banter.
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love, Claire
Last night was the 20th Anniversary of The Legendary Manchester Busker and we all packed into Matt and Phred's in Manchester to celebrate it! 16 acts tumbling on and off stage at the speed of light, a
sparkling atmosphere and packed to the gills. A complete joy to meet up with so many old friends who
gave some cracking performances and to co-compere with promoter Chris was, once again, a pleasure. Nice one CC - I think it was every inch the night you worked for and hopefully all your dreams came true! Thanks to John who put in a sterling performance on whistle with me. One of the highlights for me didn't come from the stage though. I met up again with a guy who was in a show I was musical director for at Oldham Theatre Workshop. I remember him as being a top musician and
I'm glad to hear that when he's not working the bar he's out and about performing. So pleased you said 'hello' Chris.
Earlir in the week I was on ManchesterRadioOnline (who also recorded and filmed last night's event) to help promote the Busker. Presenter Paul Ripley has a fine style and it was a joy to be on his programme. Also last week I had a trip over to Liverpool to play at a Hope Not Hate (a campaign to celebrate diversity and to tackle the lies peddled by the BNP) event with Alun Parry and his band. Regular blog readers (and I keep on meeting you!) will know we did
a gig in Manchester together last year and he's a bustling songwriter. On the bill also was Tayo Aluko who performs a one-man show about Paul Robeson. He performed an extract from it and powerful stuff it was too.
Closer to home I ended the week with a gig in Levenshulme, which was a bit of a mix of making up a song on the spot and creating the best band of the week!
And finally, I'm back on the beeb! Next Sunday morning I'm helping review the papers and playing a few tunes on Andy Crane's Radio Manchester show. It's an OB from The Lowry, in Salford Quays, so I guess you can always come and have a butchers (a Lancashire term for having a look!) if you're passing by between noon and 2pm. Maybe see you there.
If you are Manchester-based there's a rally in the
town centre next Thursday to protest about the paltry public sector pay increase (well, a pay cut in real terms!). You might want to show your support for our public servants and particularly teachers who will be out on strike for the day. I do a lot of songwriting/recording sessions with young people in schools and from my experience teachers deserve every penny they get and then some!
One last thing - I did something today that I have never done before and sowed some carrot seeds. Will keep you posted on their development!!?
Have a great week ahead. Love Claire
It seemed to rain and rain and rain last week with a few hailstones thrown in for good measure. Fortunately, the clouds lifted and the sun came out in the shape of Ann Wilson's book launch in Barrow-in-Furness. Ann had asked me to perform at the event a few weeks back. She is a generous-spirited soul and, with her mate Kay, picked me up from my motel before the gig to take me for a walk on a nearby beach (passing a ewe and her lamb by the side of the road on the way). It was picture postcard stuff as we wondered over the dappled beach and looked out over sun-drenched Lakeland hills. It was a lovely way to start an evening that was brimming with entertainment. Ann is a wordsmith of the highest calibre and her audience is warm and discerning and very kind to me. A complete joy from start to finish. Good luck with the book Ann - a bestseller if ever there was one.
Next Thursday I'm performing in Liverpool with Alun Parry. He performed (with his band) at a gig in Manchester with me last year and has kindly asked me over to his stomping ground to play at a 'Hope Not Hate' concert - a campaign that has been initiated by a national UK newspaper. Hopefully the sentiment will start to filter though as we reach another anniversary of the humanitarian disastor that is Darfur.
There's a few gigs on for me at the minute and next Sunday is the 20th Anniversay of the Manchester Busker. I'll be playing a couple of tunes (with the other 15 acts!!) and being the co-compere with its promoter Chris Coope. All the other Busker events of yesteryear were awesome - I'm sure this one will be too. Have a safe week, Love Claire
As I mentioned last week there was an event to celebrate the life of Ruth Frow (who co-founded the Working Class Movement Library) yesterday at Salford University and 100s of people attended. There were speeches from family and friends and comrades and warm tributes from members of the audience. I was in the fine company of Aidan Jolly and Bernie Murphy singing a couple of songs that the organisers believed Ruth would have enjoyed. What was so inspiring about the whole tribute was how one life can affect so many others in such a positive way - awesome.
Next Thursday I'm performing in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria at Ann the Poet's book launch (see Diary Dates). She's a fabulous writer so check her out. Safe travels wherever you roam this week. Love Claire
Sound Women, at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, last Friday turned out to be a fabulous
night with a wonderful audience. Thanks to Mary and birthday girl Maureen for performing with me, and
to guests O'Donnell and Bird for an ace set and the wonderful Ann the Poet for trekking over from Cumbria to do the gig. I'm told she had a bit of a hairy journey back home but am glad to hear she's now safe and sound. I'm supporting her Book Launch in Barrow-in-Furness on 10th April (details on the Live Page(DATES) and, having seen her perform, consider it to be a privilege.
It's also an honour to be asked to perform (with Bernie Murphy and Aidan Jolly) at a celebration of the
life of Ruth Frow, co-founder of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford (see previous blogs) at Peel Hall at Salford University next Saturday. There have been tributes aplenty to her already in all sections of the media, and it promises to be an inspirational event. It starts at 2pm and I'm sure you'd be welcome. In the meantime have a safe and peaceful week ahead. Love Claire
Well that was a week and a half that just flew by. I got a call (out of the blue - again!) to go on a topical chat show on BBC Radio Manchester which was great fun I have to say and I'm pleased to get an invitation for a return visit to the station in May.
After the show I rushed to the Miles Platting area of Manchester to host the launch of a CD I'd been working on over the last few months with some groups in the area about the issue of respect. The participants were a fabulous bunch who came to the celebration and applauded each other as the Lord Mayor distributed the newly pressed CDs. Thanks to all the workers as well who put up with me disrupting their sessions as we embarked on making brilliant music and recording it on the mobile studio - you were top.
Next Friday (28th) I'm back hosting the SOUND WOMEN promotion at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield (see 'Live' page for details). As always it would be brilliant to see you.
In the meantime I hope you're having a Happy Easter should this be a time you celebrate. It's usually a time of sunshine and flowers here in the UK at least but you can't see the blooms for the snow! Safe travels and safe week ahead. Love, Claire
My whole week has been spent mixing other people's CD tracks so I hardly had a minute to hear about the Vatican suggesting we should have a few more sins added to the 10 Commandments list. As you might have gathered from previous blogs I'm no fan of greedy, rich people but did find it surprising that the hugely wealthy Roman Catholic Church didn't seem to connect with the irony of it all. God knows what Jesus would have made of it all. Whatever your religion (or none) I hope you have a safe week ahead, Love Claire.
Last week was International Women's Week (Happy International Women's Day for yesterday by the way)
and a very busy and rewarding time for me. It started with a gig at Rochdale Town Hall (thank you
one and all) and ended at Manchester Town Hall, respective homes of local democracy - which is interesting as it's 90 years since women in the UK got suffrage (well, partly at least!).
After starting the week at Rochdale, I was asked to lead a debate about politics on Tuesday in Manchester. I am often told that 'politics' is boring, which is a bit of a shame as so many of the songs I write refer to them! I think when people say it they're often referring to party politics and governments that seem far removed from 'the people'. As you can see from the rants on these blog pages I find politics fascinating and so was the debate I facilitated, with a diverse group of women, at the LGBT Centre. The night was inspiring (for me at least), humorous, challenging and stimulating. Big thanks to Amelia and all of you who entered into the creative side of the proceedings so whole-heartedly.
My week continued with a return visit to the BBC in Manchester, where I was asked to take part in their version of 'Desert Island Discs'. They call it 'Mrs Manchester', but kindly referred to me as 'Ms Manchester', to suit my feminist leanings! I got to choose some of my favourite tracks and they asked me to play one of my own songs and talk for an hour about my life and times. Half way through the interview I discovered that I'd met the presenter, Diana Luke, before - about a decade ago, when she was presenting the afternoon show on the BBC in London. My time on Wednesday's show raced by, and it was a great laugh too. Thanks for asking me onto it - it was an honour.
The following day I facilitated a song writing session at the Pankhurst Centre (birthplace of the Women's Social and Political Union and, literally, the home of the Pankhursts'). 90 years since (some) women got the vote in the UK and yet there's still so much women need to say. You were all great..
Thanks to all of you who packed out the M19 Bar for the launch gig of Manchester's Irish Festival on Friday night. Massive thanks to Maureen, Mary and John who played with me and cheers too to Odi and Steve for playing support. Particular thanks to those of you who bought the 'Who's Looking After Levenshulme?' CD, which was on sale on the night. All monies are going towards the campaign so well done. It was also a pleasant surprise to see photographer Phil again - he had trailed around the suburbs of Manchester with me snapping away for the local press when the song got its first 'live' outing last October.
Then, after an interview on a community radio station with the excellent Andrew Edwards, the final event of the week was at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday where I was
compere and performing on the main stage. The occasion finished with a panel discussion that I facilitated, which covered a host of topics from forced marriages to sexual orientation. Phew! After a week like this I recognise it's a diverse working life I have!!!
I hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Out of the blue I've been asked to go on BBC Radio Manchester this week to do an hour long 'Desert Island Discs' kind of programme. It's on Wednesday 5th March from 11pm-midnight - give it a listen if you can and I'll help put you sleep! For me this week is dominated by International Women's Week events - from radio to gigs to song writing workshops with even a couple of debates thrown into the mix! So it's good, at this time, to be celebrating one woman's triumph over adversity. Over the last year or so I've played several benefit gigs for the anti-deportation campaign of Florence and her son, Michael (you'll find them mentioned in previous blogs). I'm indebted to Lisa for informing me that they've now won the right to stay. There were times when you could have been forgiven for thinking that there could be a less welcome outcome for this struggle but battling on has had its just rewards - so well done to all of you who led and supported the campaign.
Talking of 'battling on' (prepare for tenuous link) we have been bombarded in the UK with the news that
Prince Harry has returned from his clandestine deployment in Afghanistan after his cover was blown by
foreign press. We're told our own media had relinquished 'the freedom of the press' for security
reasons. I have found myself almost seduced by the reporting - a Royal at last 'earning' a medal rather than just adding one to the rows that adorn their uniformed regal chests at state occasions and then I remembered we're at war and a very unpleasant one it is too. 100s and 100s of Afghan civilians have been killed, scores of military personnel have lost their lives (and where are the camera crews when the body bags are flown home?) and what's changing in Afghanistan other than the poor are getting poorer and opium production has increased? A sure fire disaster it seems to me and not something to be celebrated. Rant over - and here's me trying to get you to come to gigs this week!!!!
Have a great week ahead.and if you can make it to one of the performances it'll be lovely to see you. Be safe. Love Claire
So much to do, so little time to write blogs... but we're back!! First off 'Hold Hands' had an outing on Australian radio this week, which was very good to hear. I wrote the song by way of protest about Section 28, which was a nasty piece of homophobic legislation passed by the British parliament 20 years ago - thankfully it's been repealed. Talking of protest songs there is now a recorded version of 'Who's Looking After Levenshulme' available. All proceeds from sales will go to The Friends of Levenshulme campaign to highlight the need for public investment in this little neighbourhood of Manchester.
Last week the news channels reported that revolutionary leader Fidel Castro had stepped down from power in Cuba. President Bush was quick off the mark to wish Cubans the same liberties that are experienced by great freedom-loving democracies such as America. With the notorious US base, Guantanamo Bay, literally on their doorstep they must be overjoyed at the prospect!!
Lots of gigs have been added to the 'Live' page so check them out - oh, and belated thanks to the Chester posse who were at the Women's Space fundraiser a week or so back and were very generous with their marking as they took on the 'X Factor' judges role during my set - you had to be there! I promised I'd mention them and there you have it.
I hope you have a fine week ahead, Love Claire
Last week started well when I received a letter from Warren Lakin. We hadn't been in touch for years, and it was great to hear from him. Warren was the late great Linda Smith's partner and is touring a show at the moment that includes many of her comedy sketches. You can get details from www.lindasmithcomedy.co.uk. He set up Popular Productions in the '90s and I was lucky enough to be on their books. I performed numerous gigs with Linda and learnt a great deal on the way. One thing I discovered was that no two gigs are ever the same. This week I did two, including a fabulous 70 minute set at Swinton Folk Club, which was a huge buzz. A lovely audience, some top musicians (thanks John) and the time just flew by. There was some great music and loads of laughter - which for me is what a gig's all about. Thanks one and all for making it so special.
Last night's gig was very different - it was in a church for starters - great acoustics, top sound (nice one Steve) and an array of acts. I was last on and time was limited so my set was somewhat shorter than the Swinton gig - still had a laugh though! Waiting to go on I found time to consider comments attributed to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week regarding the place religion should play in our society. His gist was, that in order to make
society more inclusive religion, in certain circumstances, would be right to operate within its own laws (eg allowing the catholic church to forbid gay couples to adopt if it fit in with their ethos or the use of sharia law). On a number of fronts it seems a bit rich to me. For starters, we have a mass of non-elected bishops in The House of Lords at the minute helping to create statute so religion (or one of them at least) already has an undue influence on law and secondly, man-made interpretation of faith doesn't seem to be all that inclusive to me in any case. Respecting religious freedom is one thing but having it determine what we all can and cannot do is another. Discuss!
But while I'm on the topic of religion I'll mention one saint - to the one I love, who makes my life better because you share it with me, Happy Valentines Day! (and this isn't instead of a card!)
Have a loving and safe week ahead. Love Claire
To all you regular blog readers, I apologise for missing last week's rant. It's all been pretty busy around here but I still found time to watch snowdrops and crocus come out in many a garden, only for them to think better of it once the arctic winds took hold - here in NW England at least.
I mentioned in my last blog that I was doing an interview on Channel M TV Breakfast Show on Friday, to plug the 20th Anniversary Fun Box gig. I was supposed to be doing it with Chris Coope, the promoter, but he was otherwise indisposed so the station kindly filled up the space talking about the last time I was on and the Levenshulme protest song. Going on TV at 7.30 in the morning and trying to look your best seem polar opposites to me. Luckily there were some American footballers on before my spot, bulked up in all their gear so that their shoulders looked to be the length of the M6.. so I didn't appear too out of place! Singing at dawn is always a bit of a daunting experience, though - thankfully the vocal cords did the business.
The Fun Box gig was last night in The Castle, a famous old pub in Manchester. Some great songwriters and poets did their thing and me with Mary and (guest band member for the night) Robin Sunflower did our bit too. Thanks guys. Oh, and the crash barrier was very useful by the way - no one managed to storm the stage!
Tomorrow night (Monday) I'm back guesting at the Swinton Folk club. The club's been going for a couple of decades and includes all sorts of acoustic music. There's usually space for people to do a couple of songs themselves, so do come along. When I performed at the Q Inn a couple of weeks back there was a prodigious army of musicians. As the guest I got to play for the first 45 minutes (with host Robin Sunflower, no less) and then finished the night with a short set. As I set off on the first song I found a fiddle, a trombone, guitars, mouth organ and all instruments in between joining in and that's how it was for the rest of the night! Generous and fabulous.
I'm a Manchester United supporter (although, needless to say, I'm no fan of the corporate direction the club's taken), which is something I normally keep to myself but I was brought up only a few miles from the ground and used to go to matches when I was a child. So it seems fitting to be raising a glass on Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, not only for the Busby Babes who were lost that day, but for all 23 victims. You may want to raise a glass too.
Have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
Back on the box! As part of the 20th Anniversary of The Manchester Fun Box I'm making a return visit to Channel M's Breakfast Show with Chris Coope on 1st February. Check it out! We'll be on about 8am.
Now there are those who may say that television is a bit old hat and that the way forward is through the internet and no doubt the debate will continue for a good while yet. The internet's got a lot of things going for it - see I'm on it at this very minute! Mind you, I was pleased to read Tom Hodgkinson's article in The Guardian last week about why he doesn't go on any internet social networking sites. His analysis of the ownership of Facebook was excellent...so my boycott continues.
My first gig of the year is at The Q Inn in Stalybridge tomorrow (Monday - see 'dates' on the Live page for more info). I'm back there with the brilliant Robin Sunflower. It doesn't cost a penny to get in and the beer is excellent. There's usually space should you want to come along and play a tune or two. Hope to see you there.
Have a great week ahead. Love Claire
Last Friday I heard the sad news that Ruth Frow had died. She was co-founder of the Working Class Movement Library (WCML), which is based in Salford. I only met her a handful of times and she always came across as she was, passionate and forthright. Diminutive in stature but absolutely huge in character. Quite simply a massive loss for all who fight for justice, peace and freedom in the world. She's left an enormous legacy in the Library though. Should you ever visit (it's on The Crescent in Salford) you'll see what I mean.
On a completely different note I also discovered yesterday that today is the Ukranian New Year. So if you're having celebrations, enjoy and raise a glass to Ruth. Have a good week ahead, Love Claire
So time to put the tinsel away for another year. Christmas seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye and now the January winds begin to bite (here in the UK at least). Our greedy energy companies have also got their teeth into us as oil reaches $100 a barrel (press reports here led us to believe it was widespread trading at this level, but the stockmarket analyst I listened to on BBC Radio 4 said it was only one barrel - who do you believe?!). No matter, it's of no consequence to those with an eye on a quick buck. I'm all for taking care of finite resources - which is one reason why they shouldn't be in the hands of those who don't know how to use them properly - but putting energy prices up to line the pockets of shareholders is no answer. The speed of the price hike is almost Olympian. That's profiteers for you.
This news is small change, I should imagine, to all those who have been displaced by violence in Africa - as if the continent hasn't got enough problems! But if the world is to survive in decent shape for future generations we really do need to take care of it, and each other, a bit better. I daresay I'll continue in the new year as I've started it - ranting but hey!
On a lighter note belated high fives to all of you who booked me for gigs (and songwriting workshops) and who bought albums and came to gigs in 2007 - hope to see you again in 2008. There's loads of personal thanks and if you meander through the blogs of last year you'll see who you are. I'm pleased to say there's a number of gigs booked in for the next few months (with more awaiting confirmation) and SOUND WOMEN will be back at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in March and June - check Dates on Live Page for more details.
Hope you have a great year ahead. Love Claire
It's always lovely to start Chrismas on a high and the last two gigs of the year have certainly helped. HUGE thanks to all those who came to the SOLD OUT Bolton Octagon gig (and sorry to any of you who missed out on tickets) - you were a fantastic audience, each and everyone of you. Particular thanks to Geraldine who came all the way from Leicester - how fabulous are you? And to all of you who hadn't seen me perform since the release of Rocking the Boat (18 years ago!) - really great to see you again. Loads of you commented on how brilliant the sound was, so big high fives to techie Andy and to all the lovely staff at the theatre. Glad so many of you got your stocking
filler albums too! Cheers to band members Maureen, Mary and John - I couldn't have done it without
you... And good on Damien Maddison as well for being our guest slot - you did a top job.
The following night I was performing at the Red Records Sound Women promotion at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. Another top audience bought tickets and came along - Natalie coming all the way from London was a top surprise. And to those of you who travelled on a freezing, foggy night from Leeds, Wakefield, Hull and all places in between what can I say but you are an excellent bunch. Big ups for Secrets Out and the Deep C Divas who performed on the night too.
Performance-wise that's me done for 2007 although Andrew Edwards informs me that I'm included in his 'best of 2007' round-up on his Artbeat show on ALL FM 96.9 on 30th December - nice one Andrew!
Merry Christmas to all of you - hope you have a peaceful one. Love Claire xx
Arggh! The blog's missed it's Sunday slot again... I just have to put it down to being a bit busy plus there's Christmas and that brings on a few deadlines for recording projects I've been working on. I took time out today, though, to go to a Carol Concert for the homeless in Manchester. In many ways it was really uplifting, however it was particularly poignant as those who led the service reminded us how the poor still suffer in Bethlehem - and contend with an occupying force to boot. What a shame the world hasn't moved on in 2000 years, don't you think?
The Christmas spirit has been dropping through my letter box and I've received a number of cards from people I haven't seen for years saying that they're CM blog readers and wishing me well. I return the good
wishes and will google you all to see what you're up to!
We're told tickets are selling really well for the Bolton Octagon gig on Thursday (20th) so I look forward to seeing you there. Or in Huddersfield at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Friday.
Have a great week, be safe. Love Claire
Wythenshawe FM Radio (97.2) in the south of Manchester are producing a week-long series of programmes about domestic abuse. They've asked me on the show tomorrow (Monday) and again on Friday to sing a couple of songs that I was commissioned to write a few years ago about the subject (and which can be heard on the album 'Slow Riot'). Full marks to the station for bringing such an important subject to the fore. There's a vigil to remember those affected by the horrors of domestic violence in the Peace Gardens in St Peter's Square at 4.30pm tomorrow - worth attending, if you're around.
My last two gigs of the year are coming up. On Thursday 20th December I'm playing with the band, and have the marvellous Damien Maddison as a guest, at the BNT in the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. Tickets (£9/£7)
are available from the Box Office on 01204 520661. The following day I'm scooting over to Huddersfield to perform again at the Lawrence Batley Theatre - another Sound Women promotion, with Secrets Out and the Deep C Divas. Tickets are £7/£5 and available from the theatre's box office on 01484 430528. There'll be plenty of festive freebies and some serious fun at both events - be great to see you there!!
Hope your week ahead is a safe one. Love Claire
It was lovely to read Mike Newman's column in The Morning Star last week when he referred to me as 'one of our leading radical singer-songwriters' - very kind of him to say so. I was performing some of my 'radical' tunes last night at the Manchester Busker event. What a truly brilliant experience. Well done Chris and birthday boy Damien for bringing all of us together again... a stunning, ego-less night brimming with excellent songwriters and a top audience to boot... packed so close I could have hugged them from where I was performing!
The audience were a bit further away the previous night when I was playing at a benefit for Nicaragua. They seemed like miles away (okay slight exaggeration!) across the dance floor, which always makes an intimate acoustic set a little harder to achieve! But hey, they raised £1000 I'm informed - well done. I also met some great characters. Not least a teacher who introduced herself and reminded me that I had worked with her class many years back to perform a percussion piece at a carnival (percussion? Claire Mooney? I know!). I remember I'd suggested at one workshop that the kids rehearse in the playground, as they'd be marching along when they played for real. However, they were so keen that they set off at a pace - and we then spent the rest of the morning herding them back in from every nook and cranny!
Next Saturday I'm back performing with some of the guys who performed at last nights event... if it's half as good it will be great - come on down! Have a great week ahead, Love Claire
Today is the international day against violence towards women and children - sad but true that we have to mark it but we strive for a kinder world. Last week I perfomed at a couple of events that, amongst other things, were looking at the issues of provision (housing, health, education, etc) for those leaving abusive, violent relationships. I was asked to play 'Hitting Home'(a song that I was commissioned to write a few years ago). There is something incredibly moving that takes place when women come together, from many different backgrounds, to offer solutions for a better future. All power to you.
Yesterday, my partner and I marched, with 100s of others, in support of Karen Reissman (see previous blogs) in the centre of Manchester. The predictable Manc weather didn't let us down and we got a good soaking from time to time. The Christmas shoppers were somewhat bemused as we passed them but we live in hope of a fair and just resolution to a case that shouldn't have seen a nurse sacked in the first place!
Thanks to all of you who donned your scarves and winter coats to come out to see me (and Mary) at Otley Folk Club on Wednesday. We kept up to date on the England footie score throughout... The impromptu band that got up to join us were stunning - I hope I can play with you again sometime.
Have a great week, Love Claire xx
The Karen Reissman meeting last week was packed out with supporters, including those who are out on strike with her, all demanding her reinstatement (see last week's blog). Such solidarity is very impressive. Over 300 of us applauded the right to free speech in the work place, for union representation and justice for those who take a stand. There's a march in Manchester next Saturday (24th) to encouarge more to support the action. Good luck, Karen.
Next Wednesday (21st) I'm the guest at Otley Folk Club in Yorkshire (Mary's playing the gig with me too). It's a lovely club with some great organisers and I hope to see you down there - that is if you're not watching the England football team!! No doubt the score will be mentioned periodically throughout the set, so you can still come down and join us! Hope you have a great week, Love Claire
The Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song in Bradford was brilliant... huge thanks to Rob, Molly, Alan and all the organisers who were about the most friendly people I've worked for in a long time. I was sharing the bill with Roy Bailey (inspirational), Alistair Hulett (and Phil) (great songs from over the border and what shoes!), the wonderful voice of David Ferrard and Scarlet Heights - (laid-back band you just can't stop tapping your feet to!). The audience were lovely. One of the great aspects of the festival is that there are plenty of choirs raising their voices for justice and freedom and all things in between so when they turn up to a gig and sing along with the chorus of one of your songs you get these stunning four part harmonies... if I could pack them in my guitar case and take them with me to every gig I would.
Voices need to raised in protest of the sacking of community mental health nurse, Karen Reissman. It appears she has been sacked because she spoke out against cuts in the NHS. As her union has said this is Britain not Burma and if we can't criticise what we believe is wrong then what's happened to free speech? There's a rally in support of her re-instatement at the Mechanics on Princess St, Manchester tomorrow (Weds) at 7pm. Hope to see you there.
I was at the Mechanics last week when I was performing at a NWTUC event that was organised to encourage more women to participate in their union. From where I was standing I think they'll get their voices heard before too long!
Tickets (Box Office 01204 520661) are now available for a gig I'm doing at the Bolton Octagon on 20th December - there'll be loads of festive give-aways, so book early for Christmas!
Have a great week, Love Claire
Now which do you want first? The good or the bad news? Okay here's the good news. Last Friday's gig at M19 was packed to the gills... thanks to all of you who pre-booked tickets, to the Friends of Levenshulme crew, to those who came at 7pm (as the start time publicised in the Levenshulme Festival brochure said) when it didn't start until 8.30 but still stayed the whole night and to the new faces in the audience. You were marvellous. Mary, Maureen and John were on great form in the band, as was Alun Parry who started the night - and even let me tech his sound check! Alun and his band are well worth seeing - great musicians and lovely people to boot - so check out where they're playing at www.parrysongs.co.uk... really good to hear lyrics that mean something. Hopefully we'll do a gig together in Liverpool in the new year which would be wonderful.
I met loads of the audience (who were very complimentary about the night - cheers) yesterday at the public meeting initiated by the Friends of Levenshulme to question our MP and the Leader of the City Council (LoCC) about 'Who's looking after Levenshulme?' since our Community Centre has been closed, as has the supermarket and there's enough rubble around the area to allow strangers to mistake the place
for a bombsite! So here's the bad news - prepare for a rant!
Hundreds of us crammed into a local church - yes, we know it's not the ideal place to hold a meeting for a population as rich in diversity as Levenshulme's but hey, we had to hold it there because we haven't got a community centre!! And, as our MP kindly reminded us, the old one got demolished because it wasn't fit for purpose!
The MP and the LoCC spent half the meeting telling us (and sadly neither are great orators) how much they do for us and how much the Labour Party has done while in government and this after the MP (who was chairing the meeting) said he would not tolerate any party political speeches! They 'told us' how much politicians wanted to listen to the people... but they didn't!! Only a handful of people were 'picked' to speak, when they did they didn't really get any answers. Basically, we were told a consultation on the strategic regeneration of the area would take place in due course... though we weren't told when, where, how...
We were then informed that the meeting was over, despite there being six of us who had been waiting 15 minutes to speak, whilst listening to the MP bleat on! Without being called, I went to the mic in any case and told him he wasn't giving the people a chance to speak. To which I was told "Madam (I ask you!), stand away from the microphone otherwise you'll be asked to leave". I thought my head would blow off with anger! Now, both the MP and LoCC are knights of the realm (and don't get me started on that one) but 'ye oldie worldy patronising doff your cap to your betters' attitude I thought was a thing of the past - sadly they don't seem to agree with me. And they wonder why people don't vote these days! I come from and live in Manchester, home of the Pankhursts and the suffragette movement... and for the first time in my life I really did wonder why I bother to go to the ballot box if this is the condescending rubbish we have to put up with from our elected representatives. At the beginning of the meeting the MP had held aloft some of the correspondence he'd got from his disillusioned constituents and said he'd be happy for us to contact him and "make my life a misery" - be careful what you wish for I say.
Despite the disappointing response, the campaign will go on for better facilities in the area... everybody I spoke to as they came away from the meeting was furious with the lack of respect the politicians had for our concerns. Power to the people! Talking of which, the Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song takes place the whole of next weekend in Bradford. I'm performing on Saturday night - be great to see you there.
Happy Diwali. Have a great week ahead, Love Claire
I know, I know - the 'weekly' blog is getting to be a bit wayward. Will get back into good habits soon!! I'm still recovering from a great weekend in York. What a lovely crowd it was that turned up to the YLAF Outdoor Concert in the city centre last Sunday. I was hosting the stage as well as playing a few tunes (with Mary on bass) as well. Sista Slap, Secret's Out, Helen Sandler and the
Deep C Divas all did cracking sets too. Thanks so much for your warmth (especially as 100s of you were in the cold for nearly 2 hours!) and sorry you then had to queue to buy CDs! Particular thanks to the guy who came over to buy 'Good as You' and said how much the words of the song meant to him. So many of you were very generous in your comments - I really appreciated it. It's a team effort and all the security staff, techs, Gus (production) and volunteers galore helped its success - HUGE thanks.
My next gig is tomorrow (2nd Nov) with Mary and Maureen performing with me and support from Alun Parry. I'm at the M19 in Levenshulme - hope to see you there. Enjoy what's left of the week, Love Claire
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the opening of 'Fragile State' an art exhibition of Kosovan artists organised by Manchester Aid to Kosovo (MaK) at Stockport Art Gallery in the North West of England last Thursday. Not only was it brilliantly curated (by the wonderful James Walmsley) the art was stunning and illustrated the strength of humanity in the face of war and conflict. It also showed how art can tell huge stories with a stroke of the pen. If you're in the area it's well worth checking out.
I hope you'll also check out the concert in York city centre next Sunday morning (don't forget the clocks!) as part of YLAF. I'll be performing with some great acts and it's free! If you're there come and say 'hello'. Have a great week, Love Claire
Last Wednesday I ended up back on Channel MTV. I was asked to perform some of 'Who's Looking after Levenshulme?' on the Breakfast Show which meant a very early start as I needed to be at the studio by 7.15 am. Live TV is an interesting world. Cameras move around as if they are in a ballet all of their own, contributors are ordered on and off the sofa so often it makes you dizzy - it feels a bit like playing chess without actually seeing who your opponent is! It was a particularly friendly atmosphere and the coffee on tap was a welcome addition. Thanks to Byron, Joe, sound man Dave and all the crew.
The Levvie song (and last week's gig) continues to attract a wealth of comments from people I meet in the area. People seem to be more vocal (at the least the ones I seem to speak to!) about what needs to be done to improve things...we live in hope.
Hopefully I'll see you at the gig I'm doing at the M19 Bar with some of the Moving House Band (and singer-songwriter Alun Parry) on 2nd November as part of the Levenshulme Festival. Tickets are only £3.00 and can be obtained by writing to us at email@example.com
Have a safe week, Love Claire.
I'm often told that protest songs are a complete waste of time, that they've never changed anything and never will. It's remarkable then that the little ditty I've written about the area in which I live, highlighting the need for better facilities (I mentioned last week that the press have christened it 'The Levenshulme Blues', but officially it's 'Who's Looking After Levenshulme'!) has caused such a stir. Last week I sang part of it on BBC Radio Manchester, then again down the phone as part of an interview for the Manchester Evening News (who then plastered their pavement boards with the tag 'LEVENSHULME PROTEST SONG BLASTS NEGLECT' to publicise the article in Saturday's paper!), had a press photographer take my photo at various sites around the area and then had a number of people tell me off, because they think I'm criticising the place and that no good will come of it. And all this before I'd sung the whole song to anyone other than my nearest and dearest and my next door neighbour who'd suggested I write it in the first place!
To clarify, I wrote the song because I feel strongly that the area I love living in is losing itself due to a lack of care and attention. It's in need of some TLC from all quarters.
I hope that message was heard loud and clear at the Friends of Levenshulme gig last night, when the song got it's complete airing (twice, actually, as it got it's own encore!). It certainly got people talking about what they'd like to see in the locality. The event was packed with locals, and I really appreciated your participation in the song. Will it change anything? Well, if the response last night was anything to go by, you never know - time will tell. Heh, what a great name for a song - check out 'Good As You'!
Hope you have a great week ahead. Love, Claire
The world of protest songs has come a little closer to home. Way back in May, I demonstrated with members of my community outside Manchester Town Hall about the (lack of) facilities in our neighbourhood - this under the banner 'Who's looking after Levenshulme?' My next door neighbour, who's big in the campaign, suggested I write a song about it, which I finally got round to doing. It's due to be premiered on 6th October at a 'Friends of Levenshulme' social event. The local press were interested enough to interview me about it last week. I let them know it was work in progress (although now complete) and that they could quote some of the lyrics I sent them. As it turned out, I read ALL the lyrics of what they re-christened 'The Levenshulme Blues' in the paper at the weekend! Unfortunately, given the premiere is still a week away, I wasn't able to perform the song when I appeared on Andrew Edwards 'Artbeat' radio show yesterday on ALL FM, but I gave 'Kindness of Strangers' an airing, and had a great time with an excellent radio presenter. And now I find that BBC Radio Manchester want an interview and a showcase of some of the song this Thursday, as well!
A fabulous community spirit was on hand on Saturday. An awesome sunset welcomed a Lantern Parade to Chorlton Water Park. 100's of people took part, holding aloft an array of exceptional lanterns that they'd made - they glistened and sparkled as dusk settled, it was magical - they almost outshone the stars. I was compere on the music stage and had the pleasure of starting the night with a performance of 'Ordinary Rebel' that included an impromptu drumming accompaniment from The Singh Crew - a couple of 12 year olds (I reckon!) who I failed to get the names of but who played brilliantly - thanks guys!
Hope to see you at the Friends of Levenshulme social on Saturday - should be fun! Have a safe week. Love, Claire
Am I missing something? Banks make billions of pounds worth of profits and give chairmen (are there any chairwomen?!), directors and chief execs a monetary amount of bonus in a year that most don't earn in a lifetime, right? So why are they so inept and why do they have ordinary people panicking about their savings? Last week's run on the Northern Rock (in the UK) and the need for the Bank of England bail-out really made a mockery of such a system. What's the point of having such private (capitalist) institutions if they have to come running to the government (ie us as taxpayers) whenever they make a mistake? I only ask!! Rant over (ish)...
Huge thanks to those of you who came to the Sound Women gig in Huddersfield (the first one outside Manchester). You were a lovely crowd (bring your friends to the next one in December!). Thanks to Jess Gardham, Jessie and Rachel Jury for appearing on the night. Thanks too to Mary for performing with me ...we really appreciated the encore!
The past called round last week - there's a revival of 'The Manchester Busker' planned for later in the year, and I've been asked to get involved. Chris Coope and Damien Brehony devised the first shows, which helped to catapult Steve Coogan and others to fame and fortune in the early '90's. The night's were an eclectic mix of talent - music, comedy and poetry - at various theatre venues in Greater Manchester. I was lucky enough to be one of the original performers and I remember the gigs being warm, ego-less events. At one gig, I was the compere and had the pleasure of introducing Screaming Lord Sutch from the Monster Raving Looney Party, performing with his band ...never to be forgotten! I hope the forthcoming reunion is as much fun!
Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
On 21st September this year (like last year) there is the Peace One Day event. It's a number of events actually - all aiming to promote peace. I'll be performing at the Cellar Bar at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield at a Sound Women gig (come on down - also playing is Jess Gardham and poet, Rachel Jury) and, no doubt, will be including some of my anti-war material. Well done to all those who protested against the tragedy of Darfur in London today as well - peace will come - sooner rather than later would be best though! Hope your week is a safe one, Love Claire.
Well, the power of the protest song eh? No sooner have I sent the 'Good as You' album (which includes the track 'Stop the War') to Downing Street than British troops start to pull out of Basra in Iraq. Can it all be coincidence?! I know, I know - but every little helps!! Maybe the surge in anti-war public opinion has finally pushed the change of policy? It's clear the war hasn't stopped (certainly the killing hasn't) but hopefully the British government will soon accept that an enormous mistake was made, that cost countless lives and billions of pounds (that could have been put to good use) has been wasted and now it's time to stop meddling. I wait in hope. But when I discover that Gordon Brown openly admits he admires Margaret Thatcher...well the mind boggles!
During last week I was asked to perform at a couple of events in the weeks ahead. One is the Lantern Festival at Chorlton Water Park at the end of September which is free, has a number of bands on the bill and is open to everyone - so come on down. And while I'm plugging gigs...I've heard that Ian (a brill bloke) who played percussion at some of the 'Good as You' dates is performing with his band, Moore Marriott, at the BNT at Bolton Octagon on 5th October at 7.30pm. The night's are usually a sell out (I was lucky to perform at one of them!) and worth checking out. Have a good week ahead, Love Claire
This week I was interviewed for a couple of radio stations - one in Bradford and one in Manchester. The BCB studio in the centre of Bradford was fit to burst with guests and presenters and was a good humoured affair. Thanks to Dave who invited me on the show and to Georgina who interviewed me and reminded me of a particular gig I did in the city many moons back. Good to see you again. (I'll be back in Bradford in November for the 'Raise Your Banners' Festival of Political Song which has a fine rosta of acts included in its programme). The other show was closer to home and included a 'live' performance of 'Good as You' as well as a debate with fellow guests Andrew and John about the LGBT 'community'. It comes in different shapes and sizes and is as diverse as any other, is my take on it all. Big thanks to Andrew Edwards who presented the show and has a style all of his own. Looking forward to coming onto your ALL FM programme at the end of the month, Andrew - thanks for asking (and for your feedback).
The 'Good as You' album got a review in The Salford Star magazine. One of the songs off the album 'One Step Forward' was inspired by the people I met and what I witnessed while running a couple of music projects in the area. The magazine is quite stunning and pulls no punches. It is written for and by Salfordians so the content all relates to the city. It's just had its first birthday and goes from strength to strength. Check it out at www.salfordstar.com. Hope your week ahead is a good one, Love Claire
I have been in a bit of a daze since attending Anthony H Wilson's funeral last Monday. What a send-off! The church doors were closed to the press so who am I to disclose any details of the service? What I can say is that it was a moving, poignant, humorous and, occasionally, irreverent tribute to a man who helped to shape the cultural heart of my home town...looks like heaven's going to be in for an interesting time!
Afterwards we gathered in a nearby bar to raise a glass to Tony. Some of the mourners were from the Manchester music circuit of yesteryear (most of us are still performing!) and we reminisced - which seems to come with the territory at funerals. One greeting was 'Hello Claire Mooney. You were the only feminist I ever liked!' Lovely to see you again Mark and glad to see you're thriving.
I took my brand of feminist song writing to Women's Space at Manchester Pride yesterday and had a top time. Thanks to Mo and Mary for playing the gig with me. And yes, Gemma and Shelley, I will perform at your civil ceremony - whenever it may be!
I've been asked on to a couple of radio stations next week (thanks very much) to talk about the 'Good as You' album and wotnot (a Lancashire term for all sorts of things). They are both pre-records - one goes out on Weds on Gaydio and another on 2nd September on BCB in Bradford. Both are available online...check out the 'Live' Page. I hope you have a great week ahead. Love Claire
16th August is the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. This event took place in Manchester in 1819 when 1000s of people gathered to protest for universal suffrage (among other things). It has hardly had a mention in the press (partly because on the same day 30 years ago Elvis died - and, as it is so it has always been, 'kings' get more column inches than 'ordinary' people!). It seems that huge events that lead to momentous changes ie democracy fade into the unknown like the nameless people who were massacred on that day for the benefit of the many. There is an on-going campaign to have a monument built near the site by way of recognition of those who lost their lives - let's hope it succeeds.
One Mancunian (a son of Salford in truth) who won't be forgotten easily is music mogul and broadcaster, Tony Wilson. Tomorrow is his funeral and I've been invited to attend. It's a private event for family and friends and you may wonder why I should be asked. It was a surprise to me too. Let it suffice to say that, in its own way, it all connects to the kindness of strangers. I hope you have a great send off Tony - I'm sure you will.
Next week I'm performing at Pride in Manchester so hope to see you celebrating diversity in the city centre. Have a good week. Love Claire
Thanks to you regular blog readers who've been in touch to say where is it!? It's a day later than usual as I have been well away from the internet, emails and mobile phones in the Snowdonia National Park where I can reliably inform you that you get 4 seasons in a day (or should that be an hour!?). A completely different world....and wonderful for it (hello Howard and Kenny - hope the tent's stayed dry!). There were plenty of sheep on the hills so I assume that the causes of the foot and mouth outbreak of last weekend have been rectified. Just after the last outbreak a few years back I was working in the Forest of Bowland for Littoral, a brilliant arts organisation putting the 'culture' back into agriculture. As no animals at the time were going to market the auction marts in Lancashire were being used for a variety of other activities. One such event had me performing at a farmers' market - in the auction ring! The audience were delightful but the experience - looking up at everyone in the round (but luckily with no one bidding!) was quite extraordinary. Times move on! Although I hear the clock has slowly stopped ticking for Manc music legend, Tony Wilson. Love him or loath him you've got to recognise he made a difference to Manchester culture. RIP Anthony H. Take care. Love, Claire
We discovered late last week that the Red Records PO Box address had been temporarily cancelled - for reasons only the Royal Mail understand. The information is that any mail that has been sent to the Box in the last two weeks or so has been destroyed!!! I know, an interesting way to conduct a communications business. We have been reliably informed (though my faith waivers) that normal service is now resumed. Should you have sent any mail in the last few weeks perhaps you could email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can try to locate the shredder they used! I am in full support of the postal workers' strike for decent pay and working conditions and can only wish you luck with a management system that seems to ignore its own accounts procedures and treats customers (of 15 years standing) with complete contempt.
On the plus front I had two cracking gigs this week...one back at the Q Inn in Stalybridge. As the weather was fine it was decided to have the gig outside. All was wonderful until about ten past nine when we realised that in England at this time on a summer's night means it's freezing...still we weren't daunted and thanks to Robin, Tony (bass), Tony (guitar), Ian and Adrian for making 'Unhappy Tonight' sound better than ever before. And to those of you who came on down to Wednesday's gig (where the venue had no beer on draught) and stayed(!) thanks very much - enjoyed your company.
And as we witness the withdrawal of troops from Northern Ireland after decades encamped there who can say how many hearts have been left broken? Long live peace. Hope you have a good week ahead, Love, Claire
I became an intrepid adventurer as I ventured south to a gig in Oxford last Sunday - I'd checked weather warnings and thought I might get away with the trip. The wonderful one (my partner) had packed enough sandwiches for a week, a sleeping bag, water and all sorts of goodies so I almost felt that I was part of a solo rescue team. As it was, the weather was glorious ... this, of course, is of no consolation to those in Oxfordshire who have been flooded out since, and I don't wish to make light of it. Congratulations to Maureen, who navigated her way through the waters to get to the performance. It was a top gig, despite the weather causing audience chaos. I heard on the radio that some people were profiteering from the misfortune of those without water by selling bottles at inflated prices .. luckily the kindness of strangers (yep, that song title just crops up daily!) has been more apparent than ever so all is not yet lost with western society.
For the last few years I have been working as a creative consultant for Manchester City Council, using innovative ways to engage with the people of the city. The work has produced an anthem for Manchester, a short film festival, a pop DVD, quality CD tracks of the residents' feelings, poems and an endless stream of creativity. I won a tender to get the job and throughout it I've had great support from council officer, Natalie Smith. She's leaving to go to London, so we had a night out this week re-living some of the memories and having a great laugh. All good things, Natalie - it's been an inspiring journey. I'm sure the future will be bright for you and remember, if you ever need someone to create a song in seconds, you know where to find me!
The night out had been my treat, so we had to have a bottle or two of fizzy by way of celebration. At certain times, one of my maxims in this life is 'what goes around comes around', so it was quite amazing the following day to receive a bottle of champagne from Rosie and Anna to congratulate me on the new album. Many thanks - it was lovely of you.
The following evening I went to a public meeting in support of Karen Reissman, a nurse and trades union activist who has been suspended from her post for (to cut a long story short) mentioning to the press that cuts are imminent in the NHS in Manchester. It was an inspirational event and you have to admire 'ordinary rebels' like Karen who hold on to their beliefs when others do their utmost to persuade them differently. The event was packed with people who believe passionately in retaining public services and the right to free speech. All power to your elbow, Karen - you are not alone.
Yesterday I performed at two very different gigs. In the afternoon I was playing in the sun on the outdoor stage of Oldham Pride, which was full of celebration and fun. Thanks to Mary for playing bass with me. In the evening, Maureen joined us on fiddle for the Hazards Conference social event in Manchester. The Conference attracts over 500 delegates, all working towards safer practices in the workplace. Thanks to all of you who stayed in the cavernous Barnes Wallis building for the gig... it was a bit strange, with the stage facing in one direction and the audience straddling the sides but, hey, you were lovely. Particular thanks go to Hilda, Caroline and Douggie - and Kate, get back on that guitar and let's do a gig sometime!
Tomorrow I'm back at the Q Inn in Stalybridge with the brilliant Robin Sunflower and I'm doing another gig with him on Wednesday, at The Ladybarn in Manchester. Both are free entry, so you've nothing to lose by taking a trip down! Hope to see you. Have a good week. Love, Claire
What an amazing group of people who came to the Song in Seconds workshops at the 25th Street Choir Festival at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester last Sunday. Two groups who came up with two completely different songs in the space of a couple of hours. Thanks to all of you but particular praise goes to Mark, who came to both sessions and had a great way about him - joined in both sessions with equal amounts of humour and enthusiasm, the two main ingredients of the work. And yes, of course, I'd be more than pleased to come over to Leicester to run another workshop for the choir there - get in touch!
The workshops were followed by a BIG SING in the canteen area, which sounded like it was good for the soul ... singing is a great stress buster! Later on last week I was in Preston where a group of 20+ young people created, rehearsed and recorded a song too. Wow, there's a lot of talent in the world!
Today I'm off to Oxford to perform at an anti-war event organised by Neil who I met at Glastonwick in June. It's an all-dayer, so get on down for some great music and to support a brilliant cause. I'm hoping the floods are subsiding, not only for my journey (I'm seriously thinking of learning how to swim..) but for all those poor people stuck in them - remember, 'kindness of strangers'!
And to the Hoylake/Neston/South Africa/Caldy crew, it was great to meet you and thanks for a fab night last night - hope to see you again soon! Have a good week and take care. Love, Claire
The week started with a letter from 10, Downing Street, London telling me how pleased the Prime Minster was to receive the 'Good as You' album I sent him!! Well, what can you say - government policy could be changing as we speak! The following day I was working with a Year 10 class at a high school in Prestwich creating a couple of songs from scratch and recording them on location. The lyrics will be incorporated into the 'new' Longfield centre public art work in Prestwich village in Bury, Greater Manchester. It was a top day all round. As I'd been touring the album for the last couple of months I hadn't done work like this for ages but it was fabulous to be writing songs again with other people. Issy - who had asked me to to do the work with her - is the public artist engaged to oversee the new works and is a generous, lovely character. The young people - sceptical at first at working in a group - were full of ideas and humour. I've been editing and mixing the tracks and they sound brilliant.
Today I've been on the Wirral (as the locals put it), and walking along Hoylake prom this morning my partner found an abandoned mobile phone (more left by mistake I reckon) on the sea wall. A couple of phone calls later the owner's been tracked down and it's to be picked up on Monday in Liverpool. It reminded me of a time a few years back, just after I'd nearly drowned in the fast incoming tides of Morecambe Bay (another story!), when I lost my mobile phone (one of those brick-type ones of years ago) and had it posted to me by the couple who'd found it after they'd called one of the names stored in it. The kindness of strangers, eh? (what a great name for a song!). What goes round comes round it seems.
Talking of kindness, thanks to all of you who keep purchasing albums from the website and then come back again and buy some more! 'Good as You' is only available on this website and at www.fourdogsmusic.com at the minute - because we haven't asked anyone else to stock it (yet!) - so if you want a copy come to us. You generally get it delivered within 3 days of ordering, subject to strikes (pay the Royal Mail workers properly please) and postage and packing is free.
This blog is a day early as I'm running two of my Song in Seconds workshops tomorrow for the 25th Street Choir Festival at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Sounds like it's going to be a great event. Hope your week is a good one, Love Claire
Good on all of you who came along to Bury Met last Friday...appreciate it. Thanks for the encore and for buying albums and for being lovely. I was very impressed with Nathan (4) and Nicole (6) for staying for the whole gig! See, you're never too young to get in touch with some politics are you?!! The staff at the Met are great so a name check for Terry, Nathan and Alex who looked after us all really well. And as I come to the end of a string of gigs to promote 'Good as You', big-ups for Maureen, Mary, Ian and John who played on the night and have been at many of the gigs across the country...you've been wonderful as have all of you who've turned out to come to see us.
The Big Issue in The North magazine plugged the Met gig by telling its readers 'She's certainly a presence worth noting, and in such apathetic times, is a force the music world clearly needs' - well I'm not going to disagree am I?!
The music world (minus me) was out in force for the Live Earth extravaganza on Saturday - I tried to miss it but did catch Duran Duran....and struggled to see which song was raising awareness about global warming. It was estimated that 2 billion people would be watching - surely all this use of electricity wasn't good for the planet?! I turned off pretty sharpish as we were invited to a wedding reception on Saturday night. These events aren't usually my favourite pastime but this one was top. Congrats to Ian and Clare...generous to a fault and such lovely workmates you have too!
Next weekend I'm running a couple of 'Song in Seconds' workshops for the 25th Street Choir Festival - can't wait to see what you come up with. Have a good week, Love Claire
As the 'Good As You' promo tour continues, it's been lovely to meet 'old' friends and make new ones along the way. I played The Y in Leicester last Friday and have to name check a few people. Thanks to Mark, Rachael and Caroline who played in 'the band' - you were fabulous! Mark is off round the world shortly and has told me he intends to make the album a best seller on his travels! Ruth, a fabulous YLAF supporter, came miles out of her way to the gig - really appreciate your support Ruth, and I'm glad you've got a copy of the album to add to your collection! To all of you who booked tickets and came on the night - you were a tremendous audience, the kind that would be great to travel from gig to gig with! Our bass player, Mary, was spotted in Loughboro' the day after the gig she tells me and met with an appreciative 'fan', who said how much she enjoyed the night - we all did too!
I came out of 'tour' mode to be a singer-songwriter in residence at a networking conference in Stockport on Monday...great fun and thanks to all of you for your contribution and for staying to listen to the 'conference song'. I believe it's going on the Public Health Network's website soon! Also congrats to Gerry and Ani on their 25th wedding anniversary celebration ...their party took the form of a music festival and it was a pleasure to play at it...though I'm not too sure they will remember how they played along in my set!!
I'm performing with the wonderful band members at Bury Met next Friday (6th July) as part of the album promo tour. As always, it would be lovely to see you there. Massive thanks to all of you who have bought the album from this website as well as at gigs, and who've been so complimentary about it...yes it all one big 'THANK YOU'.
If you're Manchester-based you might have seen the write-up about the STOP THE WAR track in the local press - copies of the song have gone to Tony Blair (Peace Envoy - he'll find the song a great training tool!) and to Gordon Brown the new Prime Minister. We live (here in the UK) in slightly perilous times...we can make things better with a fairer, kinder attitude. It's not rocket science, just common sense. Celebrate diversity and recognise the best in people, please! There, rant over! Have a safe and peaceful week ahead. Love, Claire
It's been a week of playing many (different!) gigs and meeting up with old songwriter friends. We had a trip through the gorgeous Welsh countryside on Wednesday to get to a gig in Pontypridd - it was an acoustic evening run by the brilliant Andy Brice. Andy and I were on a Ray Davies songwriting course together a few years back - a very talented guy, as is Ray! So, too, is Rob Hughes who also played on the night - one of the best voices I've heard in a long while. Keep on playing your own songs, Rob! Unfortunately, we couldn't stay in Wales too long; we had to race back through the night as I was filming for Channel M TV the next day. Not a good move, as I'd only had four hours sleep ... don't you think high definition TV is over-rated?! But huge thanks to Robert, Claire, James and the crew for letting me plug the 'Good As You' album. On Friday afternoon I had a live radio interview by 'phone with BBC Radio Leicester, ahead of the forthcoming gig at the Y Theatre next Friday. Many thanks to Martin Ballard, the presenter, who remembered me performing at The Phoenix in Leicester many moons back. Thanks too to his producer, Anita. Two tracks from the album, 'Strong Enough' and 'Kindness of Strangers' got another airing, and we had a good old natter. Friday evening was the album launch here in Manchester - thanks to all of you who came along, and to top songwriter Dave Hulston for playing support. It was great fun, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks to Joel for taking photos (and adding some of them to the website already!). Yesterday I met up with my old pals Barrie and Lynn Hardman when I played at Droylesden Folkfest. If you get the chance to see Barrie and Lynn performing, DO! They're funny, radical and just a joy - like all good political songwriters! Talking of being political, I'm off to sing at the Stop The War demo in Manchester city centre this afternoon - let's hope the message gets through to the new P.M. I've done a couple of gigs with Gordon Brown in the past (I know, not many would admit to it!) and he's even quoted me in one of his speeches ... but he hasn't quite done what I said, though! And what's this I hear? Tony Blair, a peace envoy to the Middle East?!! Have I missed something? Isn't he the guy who's caused untold misery to hundreds of thousands of people by pushing us into an illegal war? Who on earth would consider him for such a role? Ah, yes - the Bush administration! But hey, it's great to know that he's listened to the words of 'Stop The War' - I've sent him the album as a leaving prezzie, and I'm sure Gordon's redirected it! If you're around this afternoon, come and support the demo. If not, it'll be great to see you in Leicester next Friday at the Y Theatre. In the meantime, listen in to BBC's Citizen Manchester radio show tomorrow evening at 8pm (online, via the BBC website) - I'm being interviewed, and they'll be playing some more tracks from the new album. Samples from the album have also been incorporated onto the front page of the website (thanks again, Joel!) so you can have a quick listen before you move through to the Discography page to buy your very own copy! Have a good week ahead. Love, Claire
Just back from the Glastonwick beer and music festival near Brighton. How great to see faces from the past .. Steve & Phil from Haslingden folk club days, you haven't changed a bit! Unlike some - I couldn't believe it when Neil, who used to promote Human Zoo in Yorkshire, came over with my publicity pack from Popular Productions days in the early 90's when I was doing gigs with Linda Smith and Henry Normal. Did I really look like that?!! I promised to give Sue, Margaret and Nicki a mention too - I'm glad you liked 'Hold Hands', I think I might have to re-release it! Thanks to Attila the Stockbroker, who was the mainstay of the event - it was absolutely top. Earlier in the week I had a fine ol' time on the Sound as a Pound radio programme on ALLFM. I played live, a couple of the tracks from the album got an airing and I had a fabulous natter (Lancashire for chat!) about all and sundry! Then my pre-recorded interview for BBC Radio Manchester's Irish programme was broadcast mid-week. In all these years in the performing business I've never actually listened to myself on the radio, as I'm usually on live - so it was a new experience! Massive thanks to Brian who interviewed me, and to Evelyn who presents the show - generous to a fault. And thanks for giving 'This Day is for You', from the new album, it's first exposure on the radio! I've been asked onto Channel M TV's City Life programme this week, as a result of their coverage of the Stop The War track recording we did. I'm filming with them on Thursday and I'll let you know when it's due for broadcast. I also received a lovely note from the wonderful women at the Black Sheep Music Festival I played at recently - much appreciated! (and other comments about the new album are making their way onto the Feedback page, too). I'm off to South Wales on Wednesday, and then playing at the (sold out) album launch with Maureen, Mary and John on Friday. Thanks to all of you who've bought tickets - look forward to seeing you there. If you've missed out, book now for Bury Met and we'll do it all over again! If you're around Manchester city centre on Sunday (24th), I'll see you for the Stop The War demonstration. Have a great week ahead. Love, Claire ps - Happy Birthday to my twin brother for Friday!
It's all go, leading up to the 'Good As You' album launch. The processing plant appear to like it so much they don't want the CDs to leave their possession! In the meantime, I seem to rush from one interview to the next with promo copies of it, talking about how long I've been performing and why I just can't help putting myself through the gruelling merry-go-round that is an album launch ... yes, you're right, I'm loving it! You can catch an interview on BBC Radio Manchester's Irish programme on 11th June at 6pm - streamed on-line, I think, if you're not in the area. I'm just back from the Black Sheep Music Festival in Masham, Yorkshire - what a complete joy it's been, from start to finish. Too many highlights to mention but I promised to give some name checks ... to our campsite neighbours Alan & Jeanette, saviours after the 'Buzz Lightyear' shower dive; to the Fearby Festival Band - Glyn, Helen, George and Andrew and the Hebden Bridge percussion posse (what can I say? I have never heard anything like it!); to those of you who came up to me at the end of my set (before Hugh Cornwell came on) at Masham Town Hall to say thanks for playing 'Hold Hands' (I'm not sure those Stranglers fans got it, though!!); to Sally (hope to see you at the Y gig in Leicester); to all of you for your wonderful renditions of 'Dead Dead Good'; to everyone who bought albums; to those of you who came over after each gig and were so complimentary; to Steve (and all the hard-working Festival team) for booking me to play three sets in 24 hours (every gig different and fantastic, because of the sheer warmth of the crowd); to Helen, Claire and the crew from the Black Sheep Brewery (I've never been to a festival where the staff were so friendly and helpful - go visit them, they're ace); to the Duncan MacFarlane Band for playing my request and to Ani & Gerry ... I really could go on forever, it's been such a great time. Now I'm looking forward to next Saturday and the Glastonwick Festival being as brilliant. On a different tack, thanks to all of you who've been in touch about the album launch on 22nd June - there's only a few tickets left. If you can't get them for this gig, don't worry - I'll be doing a full concert with the band, and including the songs from the new album, at Bury Met on 6th July - it's a great theatre and deserves your support. Have a great week. Love, Claire
One of the songs off the new album, 'Letting Go', is about those who care for people with Alzheimer's - I know, not the usual hub for a song but, hey... I wrote it after performing at the Alzheimer's Society launch of their LGBT Network a few years ago. I was so moved by the stories of the people there, and their enormous capacity to love in the face of adversity, that it felt like a story to be told. It was heartening, therefore, to receive feedback from the Society's Chief Executive saying how touched he was by the song and asking whether or not it could be used at their future events. Definitely! Another track on the album is entitled 'Kindness of Strangers', something that crops up constantly in my life. I had raging toothache at the start of the week only to find that my dentist (yes, I know - how lucky am I? I have one!) was away. One emergency phone call later and a visit to a local practice with a man who must be in the running for 'droll dentist of the year' award. Thanks to his help and expertise my Desperate Dan jowl started to recede, so I didn't scare too many people at the Hebden Bridge gig last night (hmmm, or then again...!) But what do I find when I get there but - you've guessed it - more kindness of strangers. I have to big up Claire, Beth and Ellen who came all the way over from Bangor, North Wales for the gig (I will try and get a gig a bit closer to you in the future!). Some of the new songs off 'Good As You' got an airing, with the help of band members Ian, Maureen, Mary, Gerry and John - you were all fabulous, as ever. The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge is a smashing venue with a great socialist tradition. You can join as a member for a few quid so give them the support they deserve, if you can afford it (and thanks to Peter for his kindness too - top to meet you). And for those of you still patiently waiting for copies of the album, I am again (!) reliably informed they will be with me soon - at present they're sunning themselves in a pressing factory in Shropshire! Next week I'm back on the BBC promoting the album launch in Manchester later this month, and I'm off to the Black Sheep Music Festival on Friday. I'll be playing three sets over the weekend - come over for a chat if you're there. Have a great week ahead. Love Claire
At last!!!! The album is completed and being manufactured even as I speak so it will soon be available at the numerous up and coming gigs and, of course, from the Discography pages of this website. This has been a busy old week. I was interviewed on the BBC Radio Manchester morning show on Tuesday, which was a feisty and enjoyable affair. I was asked about the 'Stop the War' track from the new album and we had a long discussion about protest songs and whether they made a difference... thanks to presenters Eamonn and Dianne for making it an interesting debate. Then there was the final event for Manchester's 100 Days Campaign at Urbis on Thursday. I'd worked with a group of young people to write and record a song about making a difference (the story of the week it seems!), which was made into a pop video (well done Dave!). It got cheered to the rafters when it was presented to the audience on the night. Much respect to the band, JJLE! And the after-show party was great too! The following night I was performing at the Sound Women event, part of the Chorlton Arts Festival - a great atmosphere - thanks to all of you for coming and to Gerry who arrived in the nick of time after being stuck in miles of traffic and played a fine set. Next week I'm performing at the 80th Anniversary of Withington Library celebrations and playing a song at the Homeless Memorial event in Manchester... an event that remembers the homeless who have died over the last year. I've performed at it before and it always manages to be a warm, poignant event - it's a sad state of affairs, though, that in a country as rich as the UK, homelessness still exists. From then on in, I'm rehearsing with top musicians for forthcoming gigs - next Saturday we're at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge... I'm told there's lots of interest so it's perhaps best to book tickets in advance on 01422 845265... hope to see you there. Have a good week ahead, Love Claire
I was gigging down South earlier this week, so missed the Citizen Manchester BBC broadcast that I was part of (the one postponed 'cos of the elections!) - I hear it went well, though. I was in Brighton performing at the PCS Union Conference. What a wild old time that was; not only performing at the PCS event but also experiencing an earthquake while I was on the pier the following day - yes, the gig was that rocking!! It was great to meet Paul and Pauline again, those great folk who were at the Court in Session gig last month...look forward to seeing you at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club gig on 2nd June. I was also indebted to the wonderful Karen, for her Cher impersonation (you had to be there - I feel the charts are beckoning!). And thanks to all of you who cheered my rant about 'myspace' and why I'm not on it - nice one comrades! Appreciation too to Langford who I had a long chat with after the gig and has since sent me a link to Jimmy Cliff's website - totally agree, he's a top songwriter. Back home, and back on BBC Radio Manchester this coming Tuesday (10.20 am) for an interview about the new album. I'll also be promoting the Sound Women gig on Friday 25th (with Gerry Ffrench, a top singer from Liverpool). This event is part of the Chorlton Arts Festival and starts at 7.30 pm at St John's Social Centre - followed at 9.30 by the satirical 'What the Papers Said'. I'll be at Urbis, in Manchester, the night before showcasing a CD and accompanying short film produced by a group of young people I've been working with for the final event of Manchester's 100 Days Campaign. Thanks to Natalie, Jane and Dave for all the support on this project - been great to work with you. From here on in I'll be promoting the new album (very close to release now honestly!) that contains a mix of political, passionate and punchy songs and which will soon be available from this website. And talking of politics it wasn't surprising to hear that Prince Harry isn't going to Iraq. Now, if our class-ridden society can make that true for all service personnel we'll be better off... I'll be incensed, though, if the next time we see Harry he's bedecked in medals - the majority of the royals seem to get them like sweets. And for what?! Have a good week ahead, Love Claire
Thanks to Channel M TV for sending me the DVD of the news footage of the Stop the War recording that was broadcast in April. It coincided with the new power sharing government making history in Northern Ireland - so just a hint that peaceful methods might be the best way forward in all areas of the world. A lot of politicians seemed to want to take the plaudits for this historic event but wasn't it Mo Mowlam who set the ball rolling? You wouldn't have thought so if you'd heard the resignation speech from Tony Blair. 'Hand on heart' he still believes that the deaths of 100,000s (and counting) of people in Iraq has been a price worth paying...I'm lost for words. The blog's slightly earlier than usual as I'm off to perform to the wonderful people of the PCS at their annual conference in Brighton. Have a good week. Love Claire
It's not every day that I get told that a piece of music I've composed has been used in the national curriculum (part of the UK's education programme)! So it was lovely to be informed that the music for the dance (by 20 young people) that opened the Longfield Project in Bury, UK, a couple of years ago has been incorporated into a school's assessment procedures. Long may it remain an educational tool! On another note(!) it's been great to hear from some of you that you've got your tickets booked for the 'Good As You' tour gigs. One or two of you have asked if I'll play a couple of favourites from previous albums, which I'm more than happy to include in the set - so if you're coming to a gig and want to request a particular song of mine let me know via e-mail (email@example.com) and I'll try to oblige. Thanks to all of you for your continued support - gigs aren't the same without you! Have a good week. Love Claire
Happy May Day when it comes on Tuesday - workers of the world celebrate your brilliance. I was performing at International Workers' Memorial Day in Manchester yesterday and what an experience it was - heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. The 28th April remembers all those killed in accidents at work as well as fighting for the living to have better working conditions and to bring to book those who put profit before the welfare of their workers. Hilda Palmer, one of the organisers of the event, was a storming success - bringing all the strands together with compassion and sensitivity. Anyone who witnessed the naming of all those who had lost their lives couldn't fail to be moved. I had mentioned the event the night before when I was playing in Otley (thanks Gerry for playing guitar with me by the way - you were brilliant - must rehearse by text more often!). The gig was in the old Courthouse and a great venue it was too. Mind you I couldn't help but recall the time I was in court myself for non-payment of the Poll Tax! Times change (slightly!). Thanks to the group of people from the PCS Union (sorry I didn't get your names) who came along to the gig after seeing me in Brighton last year - good luck with the strike by the way....see you in a couple of weeks when I'm back peforming at your conference. Thanks to those of you who pre-ordered 'Good As You' this week - nice to hear from you. Have a good week ahead. Love, Claire
The Eclectic Mix gig at Fuel last week in Manchester was a top night of great acts and audience - thanks to all of you who turned up. Next Friday I'm performing at The Courthouse in Otley - 8pm start, hope to see you there! The following day, I'm singing a few tunes at the Peace Gardens in Manchester for International Workers' Memorial Day. This is to remember all those who have been killed needlessly at work, and to fight for better and safer working conditions. It starts at 11 in the morning, for an hour and a half. It would be brilliant if you could show support for such an important event. For more information, visit their website www.gmhazards.org.uk Also, thanks to all of you who've placed an advance order for 'Good As You' - as you know, there's a preferential price for all orders before the official release date. Hope your week is a good one. Love, Claire
The 'Stop the War' recording which was due to be broadcast this week was postponed as, I hear, it was deemed to be 'too political' in the light of the up and coming elections here in the UK. I have been told that it will have an airing later in May. Don't you just love freedom of speech?! The new album 'Good as You' (including 'Stop the War' - bet you can't wait to hear what all the fuss is about?) is recorded with the mixing and mastering on it's way. For all of you who have pre-booked your copy there's not long to go now. I'll be performing an acoustic set of some of the songs next Tuesday at Dave Puller's 'Eclectic' night at Fuel in Withington, Manchester. If you live further afield you can still book tickets for the Court in Session gig on 27th April in Otley...the last few gigs there have been sold out so get in quick. Details for bookings are on the front page of this website - thanks to Joel for his work on the site's redesign. This week I'm back in studio. I hope your week is a safe one. Love Claire
Channel M TV, the Manchester Evening News, Imagine FM, Revolution FM and the BBC all got involved in the recording session of 'Stop the War' one way and another last Tuesday. Massive thanks to everyone who came to the studio to sing your hearts out on the new album track. The following day Channel M had me performing the song live in their Urbis studio, after showing some of the footage from the previous night, (very impressive you all looked too!) on their night-time news show. Thanks to Robert, Gemma, Andy, Heather and all the crew you made it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A sample of the track with soon be available on this website ONLY before general release in June (my myspace page is still non-existent - see previous blogs to find out why!). Tickets are now available for the Court in Session gig in Otley, Yorkshire, on 27th April...click on this website's Live page for details and to check out another couple of gigs I'll be playing in the near future. Most of the week ahead has me back in the studio recording more tracks for the album. I hope your week ahead is a good one, Love Claire
What a tip-top week for meeting and working with ace characters! Special thanks goes to Simon from Tanante, who I'd never met before but who kindly jammed with me at an anti-deportation gig last Friday - he's a fantastic percussionist, and a really nice guy. Next week is all recording, and more recording. I'm particularly looking forward to Tuesday, when a massed 'anti-war choir' is coming in to the studio with me to record with me - should be a great night! Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
So here we are 200 years on after the 'abolition' of slavery and as ever it's the dignity and forebearance of the oppressed which rises high above the platitudes. But as we still live in a world where it hasn't been eradicated - child labour, sex trade, the list goes on it's best not to be complacent is it? Complacency is not a word I'd associate with some of the content of Dave Puller's show 'What the Papers Said' last week! As it was on the 4th anniversary of the start of the (present) war in Iraq we had to give ourselves a timely reminder (through poetry, satire and song) of the shocking waste it's been. Next Friday (30th) I'm playing a benefit for the anti-deportation campaign for Florence and Michael organised by the LCP in Manchester. Florence is seeking refuge in Britain as she faces an uncertain future in her country of origin because of her sexuality. Our present rights to freedom here have been hard fought and hard won - let's not be complacent about them. Have a safe week. Love Claire
Those who know me recognise that I detest injustice against anyone (if you check out the benefits on benefits that I perform at, you'll get the picture too!). I particularly hate it when it comes in my direction. One situation occurred this week, when I was charged with something I didn't do, in a most unpleasant manner. Why do some people seem to think that they can distort the truth, discredit your character with accusations of no substance and get away with it? Let it suffice to say this person really needs to listen to get a handle on what is actually being said, especially when the subject is so sensitive and important. Life's for learning, and there's no better way than debate. On that note, I've had an interesting response from Naomi, who I mentioned in last weeks blog. She's left an extended piece, extolling the virtues of 'MySpace' on my feedback page - she argues passionately about it, as you'll see... Should you ever meet her, you'll recognise the word 'accosted' is a term of endearment. This week I also met brilliant, ace people who recognise that I might be feisty (which feminist wouldn't be?!) but that I'm all heart! The women on the Time For Me projects were a complete joy to work with - thanks so much for your warmth and creativity. Next Tuesday (20th) I'm performing at Dave Puller's political, satirical show 'What The Papers Said' at The Fuel in Manchester. Have a good, kind week. Love, Claire
It's been all go with International Women's Week events - gigs and workshops - all different and all of them little gems. From the Manchester Town Hall launch, with it's amazing cultural mix, great tech and stage management support and good humour, to a 'Song in Seconds' workshop in Warrington for the local National Women's Register group (how brilliant were you crowd?! And thanks for taking over 'the buttons' Sue, you were made for a recording studio somewhere!). Then, in the dying embers of International Women's Day, I was on UnderThePavement, at ALL FM in Manchester - how laid back is that show?! Thanks David and Spike for having me on to sing a couple of tunes amid the anarchic-punk tracks - songs about the politics of the oppressed come in all different shapes and sizes, I reckon! You'll not find a show quite like this one - check it out on 96.9FM every other Thursday. And thanks for asking, David - I'll be happy to come back when 'Good As You' is released. By the way, thanks to all of you who've pre-ordered your 'Good As You' albums. There is a special deal, as you'll know, so the rest of you e-mail your order and we'll let you know what it is! You'll be please to know the recording's coming along really well... but I would say that, wouldn't I?! Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes - I was on UnderThePavement to promote the gig I was doing at the Working Class Movement Library yesterday, which was full of passionate speakers and feisty argument. Loved it! As I mentioned my one-woman boycott of 'myspace' (see previous blogs), Naomi - who is a 'myspace' nut - accosted me to say how marvellous it was. Hmmm, it seems not to matter a jot that it's owned by a man (Rupert Murdoch) who makes pots of money out of it, who is not 'a friend' of the people, who has caused misery to 1000s with his anti-union stance and who tries to change national government (and sometimes succeeds) by his newspaper's support. I'm constantly told that it's really the 'myspacers' who have put one over on him. Sorry, I fail to see how lining his pockets is in any way subversive, though I'm always happy to have the debate! It seems the only way to have the discussion, though, is to have a blog on 'myspace' to begin with! And look how much advertising I've given it for free here!! On a different tack, tomorrow Rochdale are launching their own series of IWW events. I'm playing at 10.30 am - I reckon it's one of the earliest gigs I'll have ever done! I hope you have a great week ahead - and remember to be vigilant about who's pulling the strings... Love, Claire
PS - let's hope the MP's in the UK wise up and opt not to replace Trident. Be safe
A midweek mini blog comes after two very different gigs this week. First off, I was in Stalybridge on Monday where I was accompanied during my set by the brilliant Robin Sunflower playing harmonica - his solos were superb. At the end of the gig 'Unhappy Tonight' got a sax and guitar solo as well and went on for nearly ten minutes! The audience was full of musicians who all did their bit - quite fantastic. Then, after arriving home after 1am, I was up at the crack of dawn to head off down to London to play at the TUC. The last time I played there was for the Nye Bevan (architect of the NHS) Centenary Celebration ten years ago, which was hosted by Ben Elton (how times have changed!!) and had the great and the good in attendance. The great and the good at Tuesday's event - Peter Purton's book launch of 'Sodom, Gomorrah and the New Jerusalem' - were a lovely bunch. Not only did they buy Pete's book, they also purchased a load of my albums too. Thanks to all of you but particularly to Amyn who has become the first person to buy the new album 'Good As You' 3 months BEFORE it's release! (If anyone else wants to join him and place an order early, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org) It was a great event and made me proud to be a trade unionist. Thanks John, for booking the hotel - great to see you as always, but sorry it was so short - you jet setter, meeting up with Ministers indeed! But as you left me in the safe hands of the wonderful Carl, all is forgiven! Thanks for asking me down, it really was an ace event. We also managed to squeeze in a bit of tourism, by visiting the British Museum, which was a lovely way to end the trip - although the journey back out of Central London was less enjoyable! This Sunday sees me playing at the Launch of International Women's Week at Manchester Town Hall, and later in the week I'm performing live on radio station All FM, on International Women's Day itself. Hope you have a good week - particularly all you women out there - celebrate in style! Love, Claire
One of the songs on the up and coming new album is called 'Kindness of Strangers' and it couldn't have been more apt than when I was gigging in Yorkshire last Sunday. I meet some lovely people on my travels at different venues - most are pleasant and accommodating, but some are outstanding. The most impressive in a long while were Carrie and Andrea at The Hunter's Inn, near Harrogate. Generous to a fault. Offering free drinks on arrival and even a bed for the night ... what can I say?! As I couldn't accept all the real ale they were bestowing on me, they poured a few pints into airtight bottles for me to bring home. They were truly delightful and the whole night had a massive buzz about it. Also performing that evening were duo Whittington Street who, it turns out, went to the same primary school as me... in recent weeks I've been constantly reminded that it's a small, small world. Last night's Briton's Protection gig had some highs to it too, but as a result of playing there I wasn't able to go to the Troops Out demo in London. But I did play 'Gunslinging' to show solidarity! Tomorrow I'm at the Q Inn in Stalybridge, and there's loads of opportunities for any singers, guitarists etc to have a play too, so come on down. Then I'm off to London on Tuesday for a gig at the TUC. After that it's head down and recording. Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
Thanks to all of you who got in touch to say how much you enjoyed the performance at the Unity Festival last week. Appreciate it. I also appreciate the fact that we've still got a 'free at the point of need' National Health Service and long may it remain. One of my sisters was in need of emergency treatment last Friday and was attended to by a clerk, nurses, a radiographer, a doctor, a senior registrar, a consultant and God knows how many 'back room staff' at the A and E Department (thank you all). Everyone of them rushed off their feet - so let's get our priorities sorted - stop the war and give more resources to the NHS...please! There's a demo in Manchester on 3rd March to show it needs proper funding (check out the Unison website for details) - but why we have to demonstrate for this valuable public resource under a Labour government, who seem to have forgotten who instigated it in the first place, is beyond me. Okay, rant over. I am grateful too to all of you who continue to ask me back to perform at your events. A few more have been added to the 'Dates' section on the Live page. Last Thursday I was over in Bradford to see the excellent Pete Morton. As it transpired, I ended up performing a clutch of songs myself, asked for by the organiser who had remembered me playing in Leeds many moons ago (small world)... Tonight I'm back in Yorkshire at The Hunter's Inn in Pool should you be around, and then back at Briton's Protection in Manchester for a mega acoustic bash next Saturday. Hope your week ahead is a safe and healthy one. Happy Chinese New Year. Love, Claire
Last night's Unity Festival at the City Art Gallery in Manchester was a top affair. I thoroughly enjoyed performing and hosting a stage with some fine acts on the bill. Well done to Kelly, Colette and the team - another brilliant success. The rest of my time this week has involved recording, mixing and editing (and more of the same next week) so if you see me out and about I'll probably be wearing a hat to hide my 'headphone hair'! Next Sunday sees me gigging in Yorkshire. Check out the Dates section on the Live Page for details. Have a great week ahead but don't get ripped off on Valentine's Day - love should be celebrated all the time (so we're off out on Tuesday!) Love, Claire
Some of us (hopefully millions worldwide) joined in the Citizens Against Global Warming action on 1st February. It involved turning the lights off for 5 minutes at 6.55pm GMT (different times for different countries of course) to highlight the report on climate change while illustrating that each of us can do little things to help keep the planet safe for future generations. Sitting in silence in a candlelit room for 10 minutes (I'm always early!) turned out to be not only a small protest but a hugely calming experience. My life is such that I rarely give myself 5 minutes rest for anything so it made a pleasant change. It was also good to be able to put the lights back on again afterwards - something that we won't be able to do if we don't alter our ways soon. Nor will we be able to use computers (unless someone comes up with a wind-up one....mmm must patent that idea!) from which I got the information about the protest in the first place and from which I get an enormous amount of traffic to my website. To be honest some does involve replica watches and getting a 'real unnniversssity degree in English in 3 weeks'(I kid you not - one week of the course must be on the excessive use of consonants). Amid the guff (a Lancashire term) there are some lovely messages - thank you. One from Steve ended up with me offering a Friends Reunited-type service (no charge though). He had seen from the website that I had worked with someone with a name familiar to him and wondered if it was the same person he knew from years back...indeed it was and I think they're sharing a glass as we speak! Also, after last week's rant about 'myspace' I have ended up getting a gig for not being on it! My views obviously struck a chord and I was booked on the strength of them! Nice one, John. Life - it constantly amazes me. I'm back gigging next Saturday at the wonderful Unity Festival at Manchester Art Gallery on Saturday. There's a number of stages (I'm on the music stage - surprise!)...it all starts at 6pm so come along and support an event that promotes diversity at its best. Hope you have a great week ahead and remember to turn those lights off when you get a chance...and I'll turn the computer off now! Love Claire
More than one person in the recent past has asked me if I'm on 'myspace'. For those of you not in the know, it is a community website where millions, it seems, have their own web page. Musicians appear to flock to it in their droves as it enables tons of people to access music they might never have heard without it and where once upon a time you'd have to gig and gig and gig to get anyone to hear your music - there it is resting with one eye open for someone to come in and have a butchers (a Lancashire term for checking you out!). It would take a lifetime and a half to listen to all the tunes I believe (but hey we are living longer!). And I know, I know, I know it all seems like a jolly good idea and great to be able to have your music heard without relying on a major label deciding what we should and shouldn't listen to...my problem is that the site was bought by media mogul Rupert Murdoch nearly 2 years ago in a deliberate ploy to get into online media (wasn't there another choice?!!) and as much as I'd like to believe it is the community for the community I just don't want to line his pockets with more advertising revenue. My loss perhaps...but there you go. If you want to hear my music (other than buying a CD) you have to come to this website, go to the discography page, click the listen icon, and the selected sampled tracks and turn your speakers on...well, you're here now you might as well! And hey, it's totally independent! Or better still come to a gig (see 'dates' on the Live page) - a whole flurry of them are on their way....a bit like the snow but much more heart-warming! Have a good week, Love Claire
PS - the website address for the Working Class Movement Library is www.wcml.org.uk - check it out!
Well, what a week! Here in the UK we've had major gales (probably nothing to wind speeds in other parts of the world though) but gable ends of houses were dropping all over the place. Amazingly the old sash windows on my house rattled and rattled in the gusts but still stayed put...a minor miracle! Then we had all the ramifications of the racist rows in the TV Big Brother house where so-called celebraties proved that the addage ignorance is bliss is quite plainly wrong. Ignorance and intolerance is mean and small-minded - the whole episode illustrated how important it is to challenge such notions. Why are people so afraid of diversity? On a different tack, for all of those who are constantly asking when am I coming to London, the good news is I'm doing a gig at The Trade Union Congress for the GMB Union for a book launch. The bad news is that it's only for invited guests. Sorry! A number of people/organisations have been in touch this week to ask me to perform at various events so check out the 'Live' page for details. One is the International Women's Day celebration at the Working Class Movement Library in March. I was at a meeting there last Friday - thanks to Michael and Aidan for the lively conversation - and what an inspirational place it is...full to bursting with banners, books, pamphlets, badges, etc etc etc of hugely important events some, sadly, often lost to history. The Library's hoping to get a grant to catalogue everything - if you want to support this aplication or the Library in any way go to their website. Believe me it's worth it. Hope you have a good week ahead. Love Claire
This week I was asked to perform at a Civil Ceremony later this year - sadly time commitments meant I had to refuse, which was a real shame. I could, however, agree to compere and perform at Manchester's International Women's Week launch at the Town Hall in March. Thanks to the events team for asking me again. I don't know the line-up yet, but this great event usually includes a lively cultural mix of acts and some very enthusiastic speakers - will keep you posted, but it's well worth putting in your diary now. And now back to arranging ... hope you enjoy your week. Love, Claire
As I was walking with my partner along the prom in Hoylake yesterday a woman shouted 'Are you the Bard from Shropshire'? I was rather taken aback as you can imagine. For those of you who have read some of the other pages on this website you'll be aware that I won an Arts Council Year of the Artist Award and became Shropshire's first Balladeer in Residence in 2001. It was an exhausting but fantastic time working with all sorts of people throughout the county and writing and recording songs for an EP to go with my exploits. To be honest I don't expect people to remember about it but great to meet you again Sara (and Rhona)! Talking of recording songs work progresses on the arrangements for tracks for the new album....and all sounding pretty good - though I would say that wouldn't I?! Hope you have a good week ahead. Love Claire
Happy New Year - if this is the calendar you live by. In the UK this is the time of year for the distribution of gongs, where people get rewarded for their good deeds by becoming Dames and Knights. I know it's the pantomime season but these do start to sound a bit ridiculous. Don't get me wrong -I'm all for people being recognised for first rate works but maybe something a bit more up to date wouldn't go amiss. And you're right - I didn't receive anything! On a global level recent times have seen the demise of a few former dictators - though the execution of Saddam in Iraq seemed as barbaric as some of his actions in life. If tyrants have to exist I'm all for them being being brought to account but is the death penalty the best method of dealing with them? On a personal level 2006 has been a good year. Thanks to all of you who have bought albums, booked me for gigs, workshops and creative consultancies. Much appreciation too to all of you who have sent positive feedback messages. Let's hope this year is a peaceful one. Love Claire
Seasons Greetings. Though I'm not too sure which season, as I look out of the kitchen window and see the fuscia in full bloom in December - and still some are sceptical about global warming! If Christmas is your time of celebration I hope it's been a good one - I've had a fine ol' time. I was on BBC Radio Leeds on Christmas day...I felt like Santa being all places at once! I got a late call to perform on Pure FM last week and enjoyed every minute. Thanks to the lovely Dean Bailey for having me on his show and then letting me be guest presenter as he played a tune of his own...it was a great buzz. Talking of which the young people at The Buzz in Manchester launched their own little CD at their end of term celebrations. I'd been working with them for a few weeks to create a couple of tracks from scratch. It was given the thumbs up by all those who attended. Thanks to Phil for his help during the process and to Natalie for the great presentation kit the young people received. Wherever you are, at this time of year, I hope you're having a peaceful time. Love, Claire
So Pinochet pops his clogs (a Lancashire term) without trial for all his evil works... no justice for the disappeared and tortured then. Shocking to think that some people get away with it. Margaret Thatcher was, of course, saddened by the death. It says much about her politics when she could freely support a murderous dictator and praise him for bringing 'democracy' to Chile and then relegate Nelson Mandela to that of a terrorist - I know, the mind boggles. Closer to home, the 'Song in Seconds' session at the Lowry earlier this week was brilliant. We were composing while Aladdin was being played to hundreds of school kids in the main house. Thanks to 'Girls Loud' (!) who composed and performed their song in double quick time, to rapturous applause I might add! My Lowden (guitar) is now back home - sounding and looking great. Thanks to Peter Barton for an excellent job. From his place near Ilkley I drove over to Otley to do a couple of songs at the folk club's Christmas party. And a stunning night it was too. With an added extra surprise that I can't mention until after Christmas! Then some good news and some bad news came towards the end of my week. The good news was PRS royalties coming from radio plays in areas I haven't been to - the bad news, like many self-employed in the UK, was the arrival of a letter from the Inland Revenue asking for an enormous amount of money from me ... although I have to say I am one of the few who don't mind paying taxes for the health service, education and like - I just wish that others with far more wealth paid more. Ah well, that's this government for you! The fabulous 'Our Days Out' CD is completed. I had the pleasure of recording a few days of outings for a group over the summer. The work has taken ages to edit but I have seen it as a labour of love, as the voices are such a complete delight to listen to ... tons of laughter and joy of life from a group of young at heart pensioners - I couldn't have asked for a nicer commission. Thanks to all of you for reminding me how special a simple life can be... stay wonderful. All the best, Claire
On a personal level the week started well...a work meeting turned into a great night out (thanks for the top company). I happened upon the ALL FM Christmas party...they are the community radio station in my locality and have been good enough to play tracks off my albums and had me in to perform 'live' from time to time. My Lowden guitar is re-fretted and ready for collection so I'm off to Otley (postponed from a couple of weeks back) to pick it up and play a few tunes en route. Then I got asked to run one of my 'Song in Seconds' workshops at an event at The Lowry next week...so thanks for getting in touch. On a more general level there was a tornado in London (did I see 4x4s scattered all over the road?..), floods 'up north', no snow on the Alps...makes sensible people wonder about the seriousness of climate change! And the on-going terror of Darfur is an international disgrace...governments seem to have no problem interfering in other areas - what's the difference? Oh yeah - poverty. Buck up! Rant over. Hope your week is safe and peaceful, Love Claire
On a 'marks out of 10' week I think I'd have to give the last one about a 2 - and maybe that's more than it deserves! Negativity seemed to be coming towards me from all angles and then I think I joined in ... which wasn't very clever for someone struggling to have a Pollyanna disposition! No matter, it's all in the past and I live to fight another day. On the plus side it's exciting to be asked to play at the Unity Festival next year, and I also got a call to play a gig in Stalybridge in the new year too. Thanks both. Repairs to my guitar weren't completed in time, so I missed out on the trip to Otley I had planned but I will be there in a couple of weeks to play some tunes at a Christmas bash. Meanwhile, thanks to the lovely (and very patient) Dee for hanging on for ages to take delivery of some albums she'd bought (a slight cyber hitch) and I appreciate her e-mail telling me how much she's enjoyed listening to them. Plus it was marvellous to receive a cheque for the gig I did in Huddersfield in October with a 'thanks for a great night' message from the treasurer ... always good when the person with the money likes what you've done, methinks! So on reflection, all of a sudden it seems like I've had a better week than I thought! Hope you have a nice positive week ahead. Love Claire
After the exploits of Keswick last weekend I found myself losing my voice mid-week so had to miss the Leicester gig. Sorry to any of you who might have turned up to see me but I'm sure you would have had a fab night with the high calibre of other acts who were on. I'm well on the way to recovery now. I had some lovely correspondence from the good folk of Stockport MIND about their fundraiser gig I performed at in October...very kind of you. I'm hoping my Lowden guitar, that has just been sent for re-freting - at long last - (thanks to Gerry and Ani for taking it), will be ready next week so I'm planning a short trip to Yorkshire, and maybe do a few tunes, en route to collecting it in Otley. Hope your week is a good one, Love Claire
************ STOP PRESS **************
www.fourdogsmusic.co.uk is now up and running and stocks some brilliant music for people who want to hear lyrics that mean something... check it out! Love Claire
Just had a few days away in Keswick in Cumbria. I was playing at the Theatre by the Lake last night and thought I'd mix work with pleasure. The 'work' became a bit more than I'd bargained for - I ended up being the compere as well as performing, as the guy who'd organised the gig phoned in the afternoon to say he couldn't make it and could I sort out the event on the night! Bless! As you can imagine, it was great to be met at the theatre by the bemused staff who had been given no tech spec, running order or anything! But between us - Dave, the techie and Kirsten's stage management, as well as the front of house staff (each and every one worth their weight in gold) we managed to pull off a great night ... despite a member of the audience collapsing during the second half, paramedics being called, the car park flooding ... the list is endless! Thanks to Mike, the singer from the band that was playing, for taking the trouble to phone and thank me for my efforts - shame the same can't be said for the 'organiser'. So I've come home for a rest - but I suspect there's no chance of that, with another full week ahead! Hope you have a great week. Love Claire
On the gig front I'm away in Keswick next weekend (Sunday 19th) to perform at the Theatre by the Lake with few others including my old mate Gerry McNeice. He's just booked me for a gig in Yorkshire next February - I'll put full details on the 'Live' page as soon as I know more. On 23rd November I'm back at The Musician in Leicester - it's just a short set as there are some other performers on the bill too - it looks to be a great night's entertainment. I'll be doing a full night in the city next year as plans are under way for a promotional tour for the new album due for release in June, 2007. On the songwriting workshops front many thanks to the good women of Widnes and Runcorn who set to writing and recording a 'Song in Seconds' last week - most impressive! Hope your week is a good one, Love Claire
The Bolton Octagon gig went well. Moore Marriot did a cracking set and Steve O'D was on form too. It was great to meet up again with Mark Babych, the Octagon's Artistic Director who I hadn't seen for years. Thanks for asking me back Mark - hopefully we can sort out another gig in the new year. Special thanks to all of you who bought my albums as well. The night before the gig I was facilitating a meeting for the Festival of Diversity (FoD) in Oldham. Unfortunately, there was no heating in the room so top marks to the 40 or so participants who stayed for 3 hours giving their wonderful ideas snuggled up in their coats. I was approached by one person who had been to a gig I performed at last year and was surprised to see it was the same 'Claire Mooney' running this event. I get about a bit!! Huge thanks to Susan at Oldham Gallery who had a healthy sense of humour (you really should get on the stand-up circuit!) as she helped me set up the room and 'props' for the event and emailed the following day to check the sky hadn't fallen down on me!!! Don't you just love postive, encouraging people! Next week I've been asked back to run some songwriting/recording sessions for Time for Me in Widnes and Runcorn. I haven't been able to work on the project for almost a year now because of other commitments so great to be back. World events leave me speechless so less said! Have a safe week, be kind. Love Claire
I have been in York for the best of last week, living in a hotel and having very little sleep however it's been an amazing experience. Thanks to so many of you for being such gorgeous women at YLAF - I was concert director for this festival that took place at York Racecourse/the City Centre. So many of the artists I booked were wonderful in every way and stuck to performance times for the good of the event (I can't tell you how important that is - especially when we're trying to bus 100's and 100's of you back afterwards). Thanks to singer-songwriter Horse, who generously cut two songs from her set to help the Unison-sponsored Celebration Concert on Friday to run to (something like) time. Massive thanks to Sue Perkins too for not only being a true pro and doing her set after she'd been stuck in traffic for six hours, but for being such a delightful person. Go see her show wherever she's on - I can't give her enough praise. Thanks too to all who bought my albums or who have bought them online since the Festival and for all your lovely comments either at the Festival or to the website ... it is all much appreciated. I'm sure there'll be plenty of detractors - sadly, there always are - but to get three concerts/nine hours of entertainment for less than £30 is a bargain in anyone's book! And finally my heartfelt thanks to 'The Lafettes' who came to my workshop and created a tremendous 'Song in Seconds'. 100's of people loved it as you sang your hearts out in York City Centre - well done indeed! I'd like to say that I'm going to rest up now but it's just not possible. After living out of a suitcase for six days, it's back to creative consultancy for Oldham's cultural Festival of Diversity and a performance at Bolton Octagon on Friday with the brilliant Moore Marriot - it's sold out, so I hope you got your tickets! Have a great week. Love, Claire
Busy, busy, busy. It's always a pleasure to be asked to perform at gigs especially as I do so little to get any organised myself (though that is to change!). So thanks to the organisers for asking me to play at the Women's Aid gig in Manchester on Friday (glad you made so much money!) and in Huddersfield last night. Friday was an 'interesting' gig as the venue had had a 'limiter' installed which turns all the electricity off if the sound goes over a certain level. I hadn't seen myself as a rock chick before but as the set continued to be disrupted by power cuts I started to think I was Tina Turner! The sound at the Out and About gig in Huddersfield last night was also a challenge but thanks to Claire and Dan for sorting it out. What a lovely crowd you were (thanks to so many of you who came over to say how much you'd enjoyed my set by the way)and the all-male conga leaving the building was something else! The gig was action-packed to say the least and fellow performers Helen and Rachel were fab. Well done Nel and co for organising it and, of course, you can ask me again Nel...can't wait to see which venue you come up with next!! Next week I'm doing an interview for BBC Radio Manchester (to be broadcast Weds 6.30pm), then off to Preston to host Comart's NW Arts Symposium and then flying (be helpful if I could!) over to York for YLAF. Meanwhile on the domestic front my partner has fallen on THE poorly knee. After 3 hours in casualty all is sorted if not sore. On the political front it's sad that the Labour Party has got so bad for MP Clare Short to decide to leave it and become an independent. I remember doing an International Women's Day gig with her many years ago in Birmingham where she was the compere. She sat in the dressing room in between acts answering letters from her constituents and was really delightful to work with. She came over as diligent, compassionate and caring - a bit like the Labour Party should be! Hope you have a great week. If you're in York come and say 'Hello'. Love, Claire
What a great night at Stockport's Plaza yesterday (and into the early hours). A stunning venue and great to be part of a top night of entertainment. Thanks to the 100s and 100s of you who turned up to support the gig - a fundraiser for the mental health charity, MIND. It was a pleasure to work with such a lovely group of people - thanks for inviting me to perform. If you've not been to the Plaza before take a visit. It's a very old theatre and you can just imagine the 1000s of feet that must have trod the boards over the years. I couldn't believe it when the guy rose up out of the orchestra pit at the interval playing the organ - it was as if we were at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool! Next week I'm playing a benefit for Manchester Women's Aid in Chorlton and the following day I'm performing in Huddersfield (Check Live page for details) - come on down if you can make it. Have a great week, Love Claire
A royalty cheque came through to me this week kindly letting me know that one of my albums has been played on the radio in Japan recently. It is heart-warming to know that without the big bucks publicity machine you can still get heard around the globe. Closer to home, Rose from MIND has not only asked me back to run some songwriting workshops next year but also informs me that she included the last track I did with the group in her contribution to a Health Conference last week. She tells me she got some very positive feedback after her presentation - well done her. A timely reminder about the MIND gig in Stockport next Saturday which is part of a number of events during the week which highlight issues around mental health. Hope your week is a happy and safe one, Love Claire
Normal service resumed (on the blog editor in any case)! The Red Pepper Cabaret, I played at last Thursday was an amazing mix of performances...thanks to all of you who came over for a chat. It was a joy to meet Alift who had many a tale to tell about how you develop a strong sense of social justice - good to know it still matters. And it was particularly pleasing to get an email from Ethicalwares (speaks for itself) saying that they're setting up a music side to their business and could they sell some of my CDs - absolutely! I've also been asked to compere and perform at a Kirklees LBGT gig in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, later this month (details on the 'Live' page). I've played a number of these events in the past and they never fail to impress. The MIND benefit I'm performing at at The Plaza in the centre of Stockport is on 14th October with all proceeds going to the mental health charity. There will be a number of acts on the bill and loads of special guests. You can book your tickets from the venue - get a great night out and help a part of the health sector that needs decent advocacy. Hope your week ahead is a good one, Love Claire
To regular blog readers and to those I've met recently at gigs and promised a mention - apologies. We've made some changes to the website recently which has generated a couple of hic-ups. Firstly, the Chester Women's Aid 30th Birthday Party at Chester Town Hall last week was an inspirational event, as ever. I hear that the rendition of 'Unhappy Tonight' was filmed so may see you on YouTube, Graham! Thanks for asking me to perform - it's always a privilege. As was the gig at CohesionLive -last Saturday. This was one of Manchester biggest music festivals (and great to be a part of) with all proceeds going towards developing a Peace Park in Kosovo. As I was playing at this event I missed the anti-war demo in Manchester - sadly - so many good causes to support! Another one takes place tomorrow (thursday 28th) at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester. The red/green magazine Red Pepper have organised a Labout Party Conference Fringe Cabaret - I'll be performing along with poets, bands, etc. More info at www.redpepper.org. Hope to see you there. Thanks too to all the fabulous NHS staff who helped my partner through a new knee operation recently. Good luck with your national strikes - you're right health is not for profit! Also 'Rocking the Boat, my first album that got 8/10 in the NME at the time of its release and has only been available on vinyl, has been re-mixed and re-mastered and will soon be available on CD. Hope to get the regular blog back on track soon. Love Claire
Happy Annivesary to my partner - how lucky am I?
Having a few problems with the blog editor...normal service to be resumed soon I hope!!!..
I've been informed that the 'Five Films' I directed for the 100 Days Campaign earlier this year are to be shown to an audience at Wythenshawe Forum including Home Office Minister, Bev Hughes MP, and at various venues across the city as part of a 'back to school' initiative. Some very positive feedback about the content and accessiblity of the films came back from one of the organisers too - so well done all the great people who took part in the project. Some great people turned up in Swinton last Monday when I was guest at the folk club there. I did warn the audience that they would get a mention in the blog...Lynn after your stunning participation on the night I can only say that your infant class must have a whale of a time in your lessons and I daresay one of the songs Es performed may well work its way into the curriculum! Adam's poem, made up on the spot, about the evening was excellent and JP was on good form too. Thanks to all of you who came over at the end of the night for a chat and thanks for your lovely compliments. Away from work we drove along to Hoylake yesterday to be met by flocks of seabirds floating like confetti on the tide and then like magic they all took flight together. Fascinating to watch from the shell-strewn beach. Shells of a different kind keep falling all over the world not least in Afghanistan where we are informed that a poor harvest may see 1000s starving without financial aid - sadly there always seems to be money for bullets so perhaps some of it could be re-directed to a better cause. And good luck to my partner who is set to have a knee replacement operation this week - all will be well. Have a good week. Love Claire. PS Congrats to Bob Dylan who tops the album charts at 65. There's hope for us all!!
I have been asked to perform at the CohesionLive event due to be staged at Platt Fields in Manchester later in September. The concert, in aid of Kosovo, includes some top North West acts including Elbow, Doves, Badly Drawn Boy and I Am Kloot among others. Tickets are available at www.cohesionlive.com where you'll also find full details of the event. I'll be playing on the Doc Martin stage - this is a major treat for all those who know about my favourite footwear! Tomorrow I'm playing at Swinton Folk Club. I'm really looking forward to it...it's been a while since I performed at a folk club (every other sort of event but not a folk club!!). It all starts at 8.30pm - see 'Live' Page for further details. Most of the rest of next week I'll be recording new songs. On this point many thanks to those who came over to say how much they'd enjoyed one of the new album's tracks 'Kindness of Strangers' after its first outing at Dave's 'News Night' last week. Much appreciated. Hope you have a safe week ahead. Love Claire
I met a lovely bunch of women (and Chris - I couldn't forget you!) at a domestic violence seminar I played at last Monday ... it always amazes me that there are so many committed to changing the world for the better - starting with small actions that go on to make a massive difference. Very impressive, very humbling. Thank you for the kind comments about 'Hitting Home' as well. Yesterday I played at the Women's Space at Manchester Pride - I was performing and compering. It was, as ever, a wonderful event. All the backstage staff are volunteers and a complete joy to work with. And doing the livelink to BBC Manchester on the corner of a busy thoroughfare, with music blasting out from all over the place, was a different but interesting experience! Thanks, Emma, for making it seem effortless! The coming week sees me performing in Chorlton with Dave Puller, Gordon Zola and Steve O'Donoghue amongst others. This is Dave's 'News Show', which he kindly invites me to play at on a regular basis. I've had to miss some of the recent ones, due to the FilmFest and other commitments, but I'm really looking forward to singing some of the new tunes from the next album ... there's so many performers, there will definitely be something you'll like - so come to the Boardroom at the Lloyds in Manchester if you can. Speaking of 'News', I couldn't help but like the news item (maybe Dave will mention it) about cows in the UK having regional accents. In this life of uniformity and globalisation I really liked the idea! Hope your week is a good one. Love, Claire
The week started quite bizarrely. I was walking along Hoylake prom with my partner when we came across a huge dead seal lying on the beach. It had been swept ashore by the recent high tides, we were later told. We did our civic duty, and asked a handily placed council worker if he knew who we should contact. He sped into action himself - a part-time lifeboatman, he was clearly 'in the know' and promptly put a call in to a man with a tractor... It was a little disconcerting, however, when he told us that a goat (?!) had also been washed up on the beach and we then happened across a dead heron and an enormous jelly fish as we finished our short walk - nice sleepy town, Hoylake! Is there something we're not being told?! On the work front, I've been asked to play a number of gigs, some of which highlight domestic violence - one at a conference, and a couple for Women's Aid. Sad but true that we're still having to fight against it. Then I was asked to make a return visit to Bolton to create a massive community song at a 'Love Your Environment' event...it's usually interesting, to say the least. I wonder if they want me to do one in Hoylake? Hope you have a great week. Love, Claire
The UK is on the highest 'state of alert' this week after police thwarted alleged suicide bomb plots. News programmes are fit to burst with 'security experts' who now seem to outnumber the legions of estate agents and fitness trainers who fill the UK's employment market. With all these experts though how come we are in such a state of insecurity? I only ask. Next week (16th August) sees the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre that took place in Manchester in 1819. On that day 60,000 people gathered on St Peter's Fields in what is now the city centre to protest about the Corn Laws and demand the vote. There's a plaque to commemorate it on the side of a hotel that now stands on the site. Scores of people were wounded and many died when the militia ploughed through the masses. These days people sit in the plush hotel surroundings, sip their Chardonnay and don't think twice about it. How times change. Changes too are coming soon to the website (I know it's a shocking link!). I had a lovely meeting with website designer, Joel Goodman last Friday. He is keen for me to make a video for the new album's title track...I am less so but you never know! Hope your week ahead is a peaceful one, Love Claire
I had an unexpected invitation to Washington, USA this week. The internet can sometimes be a fine way of contacting people, however this was for a school reunion and sadly, I was the 'wrong' Claire Mooney so had to decline their request! Computers can be equally marvellous and horrendous at the same time. I have no idea why my dedicated audio pc has decided to stay in 'sleep' mode for the last few days... No matter how much I tap it, it just won't wake up. You may think that's a rather pathetic method of trying to fix it but it beats the supposed 24/7 technical support hands down, believe me. I had a break from it, at least, when I was up in York during the week working at the racecourse for the YLAF concerts. Always a pleasure to meet up with the YLAF team, and breakfast at Betty's was a particular treat! Back home, I've now completed all the songs for the new album - some of the arrangements have been done, and it's down to getting everything recorded. Look forward to the computer getting back on it's feet! Have a good week. Love, Claire
I've been keeping my head down, working on new songs this week only to come out and work on the audio project with the fabulous people of Chapel, in Derbyshire. A couple of new projects are in the pipeline too, with more meetings planned. All of this seems a little trivial when war still rages elsewhere in the world. It's a crying shame - when will we learn? Hope you have a peaceful week. Love, Claire
Yo, readers. Thanks for all the sweaters you've sent me this week, especially those you've knitted yourselves. OK, I didn't get any but we did all get an insight at the G8 dinner as to how some world leaders conduct their affairs - one minute talking about the unimportant, the next discussing serious conflicts in what appears to be a glib way. It beggars belief, when so many civilians are dying needlessly in the Middle East for the want of a bit of diplomacy. A sweater has not been the order of the day in the UK this week, as it's been sweltering. I'm presently in Hoylake, where the sleepy town has been transformed into a hive of activity as The Open has come to the seaside. There's a river of people streaming to and from the golf-course - and how many helicopters do golfers need to transport them around?! I'm a regular visitor to these parts as my partner lives just up the road, and it's a bit disconcerting to see the cows ushered off the farmland to make way for car parks! We've been flying kites on the beach this morning and getting occasional glimpses of visors and baseball caps as the golfers tee off from the 11th - hard to distinguish between them and the crowd. But it's cheaper than paying the extortionate £50 to get in! I've allowed myself this break as earlier in the week I was re-recording a track from 'Rocking The Boat' with the original engineer, Mick Routledge. Mick's recently been doing the sound on the Scritti Polliti tour - well done to the latter for getting a Mercury nomination. I also got a call from Lynn Hardman, asking me to play at a folk festival next year. She and her husband Barry are brilliant performers on the folk circuit and well worth catching - they have sound politics to boot. As they've booked well in advance, I'm available! Have a great week. Love, Claire
I was really disappointed this week when I got an e-mail to say that the Squeezy Lemon Women's Music Festival I was booked to perform at in August has had to be cancelled, because some 'locals' have been opposing it - what's so scary about a few women singing I'd like to know?! Makes me mad - as does all the business about payment for peerages. The House of Lords (see last weeks blog) came under scrutiny again, as it was reported that a Labour Party donor (or do I mean 'loaner'?!) had been mentioned in a 'money for honours' article. It's not surprising one Lord was arrested as police make enquiries. Can it get much worse? Scrap the place and put us all out of our misery... give us an elected second chamber, please! As you'll see on the 'Live' page, the Boardroom gig has been put back to August. Hope to see you then. Have a great week. Stay cool. Love, Claire
I read in the news this week that the House of Lords, that 'bastion of democracy', elected it's own Speaker to illustrate how it's modernising itself. It never ceases to amaze me that we still have a non-elected, class-ridden, second chamber - and we wonder why some sections of our society feel alienated. Mmmm... For me, it's been a week of writing and arranging songs. Some of which I may try out at a gig in Chorlton I've been asked to play at on the 27th July with Dave Puller (see Live page for details) - come along and let me know what you think! It was also great to see the women again, who performed in one of the short films ('Stll Life..') I directed earlier in the year. I popped by to drop off another DVD of the films for them - many thanks to all of them for their comments and lovely thank-you card. Hope you all have a great week ahead. Love, Claire
Earlier this week I bought a new pair of trainers. Not very exciting, I know, but for those who know me ... well, I'll send you the smelling salts! No, I do myself a disservice. I go to the gym regularly .... as the cappuccino's gorgeous! Anyway, as I was handing over my cash I was told that, as I had spent over £5, I had to have an England flag! 'Had to..', mind - I asked if there was a choice, but sadly not! Anyone would think there was a World Cup on ... Off the sporting theme - exciting news came in about the Stockport MIND gig in October, with tech details of the 1000+ seater auditorium in which it's going to be held. One of the organisers was thanking me for agreeing to perform at the event - no problem, the pleasure's all mine! My professional life continues to be as varied as ever. There are times, when asked, that I try to describe some of the work I do to people and some of them say (usually before I've finished) 'Oh, that's what I do!', without having a clue about what I'm going to say next. This always leaves me somewhat flummoxed - I'm amazed anyone else would take on such an array of different projects! All I can say is the audio CD project that I started last Friday was a completely new one on me - I'm archiving reminiscenses and present day thoughts of older people, as I join them on a number of day trips throughout the summer. What a joy to work with such lovely people and be paid for it. I was even invited to one of the group's 90th birthday party! How interesting to have been born in the year that included the Battle of the Somme. And as we commemorate the anniversary it's a time to remember, lest we should ever forget, how useless war can be. Have a peaceful and great week ahead. Love, Claire
What a birthday! Thanks to everyone who joined in the celebrations - the 'Birthday 12-bar Blues' that was ringing out at the party was almost good enough to put on the next album! Much appreciation to family and friends for all their kind gifts including my very own This Is Your Life album! And also, for recording messages for my brother's birthday CD - he seemed chuffed to bits with it! Speaking of albums, we're still trying to get Rocking The Boat re-mixed and re-released. Sadly, it's proving a little more difficult than we'd hoped, but we won't be deterred. (If anyone out there has a Tascam 8-track in pristine condition, pleeease let me know! Yes, I've been a professional songwriter that long! Right through the half inch analogue tape era to the hard drive computer age!) On the recording front, I'm off out to glorious Derbyshire this week on a sound recording project, which will hopefully lead not only to an audio CD but a commissioned song too. Have a great week. Love, Claire
A scintillating and sad old week all at the same time. A lovely compliment came back to me from Liverpool. One of the gigs in Brighton was mentioned in despatches, to a friend of a friend who kindly passed on the positive comments about my performance. Word of mouth - though today a seemingly old-fashioned method of communication - is a very good messaging service - thank you kind people! On the work front I have to send my apologies to a number of you who've asked me to run songwriting workshops over the summer. Really sorry I can't do them, but I've committed myself to a load of recording sessions and needs must. On a different note, my partner's cat Oliver passed away - very unexpected and as all you cat lovers will know, completely upsetting for the carer. Among other things (because cats have their 'ways', don't they?) he used to have a very unique way of sitting on your head while watching the telly. RIP, Little Dorritt. Yesterday I performed at Rescue/Francis House Garden Party in Didsbury, Manchester and thoroughly enjoyed it. Two new members of The Moving House Band played as well. Thanks to John (flute) and Christopher (electric guitar) for playing the gig. Christopher is 13 and must be the next Mark Knopfler - as he's a fan of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers he probably won't see this as a compliment, but his talent blew me away. And finally, happy birthday to my twin brother - look forward to sharing it with you! Have a great week. Love, Claire
Thanks to all of you who came to the Brighton gigs last week AND bought my albums - you were wonderful. It was good to see some familiar faces particularly Ez and Christine from Rochdale Labour Party days and meet up with some great new characters. I promise to do my Cher encore when you organise the Northern Ireland leg of my tour Karen and you can provide the strings Barney! Hope the Conference went well. And congrats to my sister Doreen, who won her Union's election!! Next week sees me playing in Didsbury, Manchester at the Rescue garden party...this gig came about after doing a set on Alan Keegan's show at the BBC earlier in the year...my gigs are nothing if not varied! I'm recording most of the rest of the week - some new songs for the next album. Enjoy the sunshine and have a good week. Love, Claire
I'm off doing a couple of gigs in Brighton and then taking a trip to the Cotswolds for a well deserved mini-break after the hard slog of recent filming schedules so I'm getting the blog in early. Had a fine ol' time at Flockton Court in Bolton at their Songbook launch last Thursday. It had a great celebratory atmosphere and it was lovely to see you all again. I worked with some of the group last year when we recorded a CD and that song got a rendition too - what a great little tune. They should put it on 'myspace' - everyone else seems to! The rest of the week has been spent rehearsing as well as writing some new tunes...my promised forthcoming album has been on the back-burner for far too long. Now must pack! have a good week, Love Claire......PS Next Thursday there's a gig at M19 in Levenshulme, Manchester with Attila the Stockbroker and radical songwriter David Rovics. I've performed with Attila in the past at a Raise Your Banners Festival - get on down if you can.
So, the Film Festival came and went this week as over 500 people gathered in Manchester Town Hall to watch the five short films as the place was turned into a cinema for the night - very impressive. The speech I was asked to make seemed to go down well, though it was all a bit of a rush as time was tight. Well done to all you 'film stars' - thanks for coming over to say how much you enjoyed the final films. It was lovely to see how proud of yourselves you were, and so you should be. I'm reliably informed that as the film's are of such a high quality, about respect and the best bits of human nature, Prime Minister Tony Blair will be watching them shortly. And hopefully learning from them too. So thanks to all of you who took part - as I've said in previous blogs, this was not an easy project to complete but so many of you made it worthwhile. During the process I worked with a group of young Mums and, as they recorded some vocals for the title track of their film, we were OFSTED'd. I'm happy to say we all passed with flying colours - this is the second OFSTED in six months for me, so I've been well and truly tested! I returned to singing ways at the Sound Women event at Chorlton Arts Festival on Thursday. It was a great night .... no, it was better than that! Thanks to all of you who came and to the lovely German couple who bought albums to take back to Hamburg - safe journey. Thanks for asking if I'm touring your neck of the woods but nothing planned at the minute... happy to come over if asked! I'd also been asked to judge the Festival's Poetry Competition - a very high standard of entries. Well done to the winner, whoever you are (it was all judged anonymously). The 'Long Poem' I facilitated at the Beech Road Park Festival yesterday was quite something else, and again thanks to all of you who joined in. Today, I'm resting up and have just spent the morning with my partner sauntering over the course at Hoylake Golf Club - there's a public right of way over it to get to the beach, we didn't just trek over the greens! I'm a great believer in the right to roam philosophy but I have a feeling the path may be closed when the Open arrives in a few weeks. Even now, everyone's hard at work putting up the gantries and galleries - if this is what it's like now, goodness knows what it's going to be like when the competition's on! Hope your week is a good one. Love, Claire
Well, 18 hour days for the past few weeks, editing the films for the upcoming short film festival, has paid off! They passed the censors (funders) with flying colours and are set to be 'released' on 24th May when Manchester Town Hall becomes it's own Multiplex Cinema for the night. Well done to all the up and coming stars! This has been a roller-coaster ride of a project if ever there was one - highs and lows of equal magnitude. To have completed the films in such a timescale with what seemed like every challenge under the sun has been something else. One of those experiences that you just can't understand unless you're carrying the can for everything and everyone - an enormous learning curve. I'm pleased that I insisted on the highest production standards possible, when it might have seemed easier to let things slide a bit. Massive thanks to Dave, who put up with me insisting on this shot or that shot during the edit and for all the SFX I wanted, and then for pulling out all the stops to get the films completed on time. So what next? I've still got some outstanding mixing to do for recording projects and have one or two other jobs in the pipeline, but mainly I'm giving myself time to get back to gigging (next week Chorlton Arts Festival, on the 25th, and then off to sunny Brighton) after which I'm recording new songs for the next album. Have a great week - see you in Chorlton if you're around. Love, Claire
Life is increasingly busy - as Joni Mitchell put it once 'there's always somebody calling you up for favours, always someone's future to decide', or something like that ... I seem to have an endless stream of requests to help out with a gig here or there, or this workshop or that and honestly, I don't mind - people have been generous enough to me in the past - it just seems a bit endless at the moment and time is running out quickly on the film project, so I'm just a bit over-faced! I reckon it'll settle down at some point and, hey, I'm always happy to be offered a gig or two whenever! (look at the Live page - I'm doing an extra gig in Brighton in June so I could be at a venue near you soon!) Publicity will be out shortly for the 'SOUND WOMEN' event I'm doing with Bernie Murphy and Kate Gilbert as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival on 25th May. COME ON DOWN - we need you! It starts at 7.30 pm and we would love to see you there. In the meantime, it's back to recording film scores! Have a great week. Love, Claire
I was asked to sing at Ted Rowlands' funeral (see previous blog) during the week. It was completely nerve-wracking. Not only was I concerned I'd blubber throughout the song that had been requested but that I'd not do it justice. Luckily it all went well and the acoustics in the church were fabulous so I sounded like I was carrying my own PA system in my lungs! It was a wonderful send off. RIP Ted. Funerals, for all their sadness, have a magical way of putting the rest of life in context...so I'm desperately trying to retain my sense of humour as the film project continues to set all sorts of challenges. I found myself having to pick on some unsuspecting girl and her dad at Sports City last Friday as the crew we were expecting to film cancelled, and the time we have left for this project is very limited to say the least. Sophie and her dad Tony were absolutely fantastic though and put up with us filming take on take on take. Thanks to both of you (hey, this could be the start of a whole new career!) and thanks too to the Sports City staff who gave us access to the the outdoor track despite it being used for the para games this weekend. I just love people who have that 'can do' attitude and help you to make things happen (wish it could happen all the time on this project but hey!). Happy Birthday to my partner for tomorrow. Have a great week ahead, Love Claire
Thanks to everyone who came to the Last Tuesday event at The Nursery, in Stockport last week. Cheers for the encore and for buying the albums. After I'd finished the set I was asked by one member of the audience if I'd play at her wake! Massively complimentary to be included in your big farewell, Margaret, but be great if you could put your funeral off for a bit! The Nursery have this Last Tuesday event every month, with a different special guest, so check it out if you can. The rest of the week has been taken up with filming, editing and writing musical scores for the shorts film festival. This project is certainly setting some amazing challenges. The outdoor location shoot we did in a particular part of Manchester really did feel like we were doing a scene from 'Shameless' (non-UK readers should check this TV programme out for details!) - what was particularly brilliant was the amount of attention we got... I think the residents thought we were from 'Despatches' or the Nine O'Clock News! Very interesting, for me at least - I learnt a whole new vocabulary! Happy May Day for tomorrow. Have a great week. Love, Claire
Another full on week with the film project - still filming, but we've at last started the edit as well. To make five films, start to finish, in less than 100 days is pretty incredible and it really is proving to be a massive challenge for loads of reasons and difficulties seem to come from unexpected sources. You live and learn. By chance, I was in New Brighton yesterday, where there was trailer upon trailer taking over the seafront as a film crew had come to town. They were filming 'Sparkle', due for release in May 2007 and starring Bob Hoskins and Stockard Channing. It was interesting to be told by one of the crew that they had been shooting for twelve hours and would be lucky to have got 30 seconds footage at best. I know the feeling! Earlier in the week, PRS (Performing Rights Society - an organisation that collects royalties in the UK on behalf of composers and songwriters who have had their work played on radio, tv and at venues etc) contributed substantially to my bank balance. PRS sometimes gets a lot of criticism, however I'm happy that they collect and distribute royalties for me, rather than me having to chase monies up myself. Talking of songs, it was sad to hear of the death of Ted Rowlands, a poet and songwriter himself. A few years ago, he let me put one of his poems to music - his words were lovely. Sadly, I didn't get chance to play the song at the gig I did this week but he was in my thoughts. I did the gig with Pete Morton (and JP). Thanks to everyone who came over for a chat after my set, and for your kind comments. Catch Pete if you can - he's ace. Next Tuesday sees me playing a set at The Nursery, in Stockport. Would be great to see you there. Love, Claire
It was shocking to get the news this week that a friend of mine had been mugged in her own home (it seems to be an epidemic, after my sister's experience the other week). Sadly, the regional news told us that my mate was the 7th victim of a vicious coward who's preyed on lone women in a spate of attacks in the area. The burglary was bad enough, but to push her to the ground and stand on her head during the affray was callous in the extreme. Luckily she's on the road to recovery. Workwise, I've been asked to record a series of interviews for a CD project which will also include a song commission. This starts in June, after the film project is completed. More rushes came through from Dave the cameraman - some better than others - and I feel like I'm attached to a DVD player at the moment, in an effort to get a rough edit of the best cuts. Thanks for my partner's patience! I've managed to mix some of the music for two of the films but there's still loads to do. I'm playing in Staffordshire next Thursday, with Pete Morton and J P Slidewell - if you're around, be great to see you. Have a safe week. Love, Claire
Most of my week has been spent directing short films at breakneck speed for the Film Fest at Manchester Town Hall on the 24th May. Dave the cameraman is a complete star - not only does he work his cotton socks off but he's always ready with helpful hints of how a shot might work for the better... Some of the rushes have come through and look fabulous. Thanks also to sound guy Tom, who must be thinking 'What have I let myself in for?' as we have to stop filming because we get the sound of someone mowing the grass, or helicopters overhead or sirens in the background... But heh, it's an adventure! On the performing front I've been offered a number of gigs around the country including Brighton, Yorkshire and Manchester Pride to name but a few... So you might see me in an area near you later in the year. The usual lovely bunch turned up at a gig I was playing at at Briton's Protection last night - really enjoyed it. Enjoy the break if you're getting one. Love, Claire
A remarkable group turned up to a meeting I facilitated this week. Well done, all of you, for joining in with my creative methods. People in the arts can be lovely to work with. And thanks to all of you who sent such lovely messages to say you'd enjoyed the session. Other good news was that I got confirmation that I'll be playing at an International Women's Music Festival in Shropshire in the summer - more details as and when. Then I got offered another gig a bit closer to home, in Stockport next month. Check out the Live Page for details. The Film Festival gathers apace. The story boarding is over for some, and the filming has begun. Looking great, but deadlines are very tight! Sounding great (though I say so myself) is 'Rocking The Boat', my first album that got 8/10 from NME and is in the process of being re-mixed and re-mastered. There'll be a few gigs to launch it's re-release and, who knows, we might even get some of the original band members to play! I tend to write this blog as the week progresses and then BANG!... literally, sadly, I witnessed a road traffic accident and found myself calling the emergency services on my mobile and watching the best of human nature come forward to lend a hand - first aiders and nurses stopping their cars to help, locals finding the young victim's mother and so on. Luckily, I'm informed that the girl will be alright but how wonderful to see the best of people in times of adversity - there, right in front of my eyes. Thank you one and all - anonymous and remarkable all at the same time. And another miracle happened when I saw my first rainbow of the year. That, together with the swathes of daffodil and crocus on the verges, makes me think that Spring really is on the way. Be safe. See you at Britons Protection in Manchester on Saturday if you're around. Love, Claire
Work wise, it's been full on with the Film Festival during the past week - exhausting, especially as I'm still recovering from my killer cold, but exciting all the same. Then, my sister got mugged in the city centre - what are some people about?! So spent an afternoon at Police HQ with her while she gave her statement. But as my brother said, most people are decent and she's had loads of support from all sorts of quarters - so goodness will out. On a brighter note, my partner and I have received our first invitation to a civil partnership celebration - so I'm off to buy a hat! Other good news was that peace activist Norman Kember and his Canadian colleagues were freed from captivity in Iraq. Peace seems to be such a hard thing to achieve but I guess the more who desire it, the more it will become a reality. Hope you have a peaceful week. Love, Claire
At long last I've bought a new guitar. I love my old one, but it needs a little TLC, re-fretting and time out. The new guitar has cost more than my car, so I hope it goes as far! (Was that a poem?!) Strangely enough, this week I've been asked to judge a poetry competition. Although I've got tons on, I was pleased to say yes. The gig in Leicester on Tuesday was fab - it was great to see Steve and Christine again, and to have 'little bean' dancing to one of my tunes was a miracle! Their mate, Hemi, was a top addition to any audience - heh, and remember, Hemi, there's 21 beds! In my book, audiences make gigs. So it was particularly lovely to have one member of this one shout out for 'Down On Your Luck' (a song from my first album) towards the end of the set. No-one was more surprised than me and you WILL get a copy of it, Charlie! It's been a week of getting great ideas for the Film Festival too. Thanks to Dave for getting the authentic clapperboard - I'm still reeling at the cost! Mid-week I lost my voice and it's only slowly returning now. This made for a very interesting gig yesterday at the International Conference Centre, when Manchester anthem winners (see previous blogs) performed their song to an audience of hundreds. My introductory speech was just a little croaky, but luckily everyone was on terrific form and many thanks to the lovely cast members of Coronation St (Alan, Samia and Bill aka Tyrone, Maria and Jack) and Bev for their marvellous percussion impro. Events like this always depend on teamwork so thanks to everyone who gave more than... too many to mention, as ever. Special thanks, though, to Natalie for the after show chillout. Right I'm off to rest the vocals. Have a safe and healthy week ahead. Love, Claire
The launch of International Women's Week at Manchester Town Hall last Sunday was again a spirited event. There were some marvellous women speakers - the content ranged from escaping the Sudan to find refuge in Britain, to the influence of Elizabeth Gaskell, to Baroness May Blood's inspirational speech 'Women Waging Peace'. Cllr. Mary Murphy was on form as usual and there was a lovely culturally diverse mix of acts - a pleasure to be part of it. So it was a bit weird afterwards to be bombarded on every news channel with all things Hollywood. I understand they ran out of Botox just before the Oscars and this was perceived to be a major disaster. I'm all for a party, but the glitz is just a wee bit tarnished when the top news item of the day was that 15 million people might die in Africa because of drought if we don't do something to help and on the other side of the world the most important thing is how thin you can look in a million dollar dress with the help of cosmetic surgery. Mmmmmm..... though I can't help but be pleased that Wallace & Grommit won a gong! I know, I'm just one big contradiction! Part of International Women's Day itself was spent at an enjoyable evening in Liverpool - an event promoting women in music ... still so much to do, it seems, to put and keep women music makers at the forefront of an industry still dominated by men who don't appear to want to loosen their grip. Come on, guys - music's for everyone! And to prove it, the community CD launches in Gorton and at the marvellous TLM Centre were lively, celebratory affairs. It was particularly pleasing, when I was running another recording session last Friday, to hear a participant I'd never met before sing the chorus of one of the tracks off a community CD we'd launched in January. It obviously had a great hook line, but the best bit was to be told that everyone still talked about recording it. The power of music, eh? On another note (musically speaking) it's been good to be asked again to rehearse the young people to perform the Manchester Anthem for an event at the International Conference Centre in the City next Saturday. I'm informed that some of the cast of Coronation St will be joining us for a rendition - looking forward to it. Have a great week. Love, Claire
I mentioned the other week that I've been asked to be artistic director for a shortz film festival... sounds a bit swanky, I know, but there you go. This week has been meetings with various folk to see if we can make it all happen for a glitzy night on 24th May. Aren't deadlines marvellous?! The gig this week in Heswall was lovely - I thoroughly enjoyed myself and thought it was an inspirational evening. So thanks to Chas, the organisers and all of you who donned your winter coats to come to it - you were all dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead good! Great news too this week that I'll be performing again at this years Chorlton Festival - I'm looking forward to it. I'm off to play at Manchester's launch of International Women's Week this afternoon at the Town Hall, as well as introducing acts and speakers. It's usually a great affair - pop along if you can. Happy IWD to everyone for next week. Enjoy. Love, Claire
In the 1990's I was fortunate enough to get gigs through the Sheffield based 'Popular Productions' run by Warren Lakin. On the books at the time were fabulous artists like Henry Normal, Kevin Seisay, Betty Spittle, The Chuffenelles and, of course, the wonderful Linda Smith. So I was truly saddened to hear about her death this week. She was, without doubt, one of the wittiest people you could ever wish to meet, incredibly warm, politically tuned and very generous. She even gave me a photo of herself to put on the cover of 'Slow Riot'. She was always a pleasure to work with and I have to say I learnt loads from doing gigs with her. She and Warren would turn up at gigs of mine in London when they could and be as supportive as you like - both just wonderful. A very, very sad loss. She'll be hugely missed.
I have recently received an e-mail from someone (I know who, but you don't need to!) mocking me about the juxta-position of my blogs ie the text is all over the place... jumping from one subject to the next. Of course that's how it is - it's the way I think! But thank you, kind correspondent, for recognising the importance of some of the content. And just to prove the point, immense thanks to John for driving to Uppermill and back, with me as a passenger, taking him miles out of his way for a gig in the hills on Wednesday. Very much appreciated. While I was there I seem to have upset one of my fellow performers by mentioning the soon-to-come-into force (in England) smoking ban in bars and clubs. He was a tad dismissive, should I say, as he puffed away at the bar. Personally, I can't wait for a bit of smoke-freeness - it helps the vocals no end! Dave Puller's 'What's the News' night (well I think that's what he calls it!) was really enjoyable last Thursday. Dave was on form, Gordon Zola too, Steve Waling was great and Steve O'D played some new tunes as well. I got a chance to try out some new songs that I hoped fitted in with the theme of the night. Nice one, Dave. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all is very busy. A billion and one arts projects on the go - I'd like to think I was exaggerating but I'm not sure that I am! Many thanks to Gaynor from Halton Children's Fund, for thanking me for my contribution at a recent event in Widnes - really sorry I'm not able to do a return songwriting workshop for your celebrations in March, sadly I'm double booked. But please thank the young people for asking me. News is the Manchester Anthem's going to the North West Sound Archive - no more than it deserves, well done to everyone involved. Next week I'm playing in Heswall on the Wirral. Come on down if you're in the area. Be safe and sound one and all. Love, Claire
How exhausting can a week and a bit be?! Firstly, thanks to Joe and the team at ALL FM for a really enjoyable session on their Irish programme the Sunday before last. It was a really good laugh. Having experienced being on the BBC many times, I know there's an unwritten law that says you have guests in and then out again in the blink of an eye. So it made a wonderful change to stay from start to the finish of BBC GMR's Irish programme 'The Parlour' last week. Massive thanks to the delightful Alan Keegan (thanks too for the feedback) and the team. A great giggle and thanks for letting me plug my gigs! Last week I was also invited to an event where the guest speaker was the former athlete and now TV presenter, Kriss Akabusi. He gave a motivational speech to gee up the audience for the start of the 100 Days Campaign in Manchester. I have to say that afterwards I was completely exhausted - I'm not sure this was quite what was intended! Nevertheless, it was a very interesting presentation. Some of the keynote speakers at the launch were regaling tales about the instruments they'd played at last year's final event, when the Manchester Anthem got its major airing (see previous blogs) - seems the cymbals went down particularly well! Thanks to everyone who came to the sell out gig at the M19 Bar in Levenshulme last Friday. What a fab bunch you are - it was an excellent night. Jonny, Ian and Adam were great and thanks too for all your kind comments about my set - and cheers for the encores! Then it was off to little ol' London town, for the Borderline gig last night. It was really wonderful to play my set with the brilliant blues guitarist Gareth Butcher .. he added his own technical brilliance to my little songs and came all the way from Norwich to do it!! What a guy! And, of course, many thanks to all of you who came out of your way to support me. It was a great evening, and lovely to meet up again with the fabulous singer-songwriter Pete Morton. This week I'm back playing in Uppermill, for the first time in ages, thanks to Jonny Poole who's organised it. And Dave Puller's back at the Hare & Hounds on Thursday so do go and support his event if you can. I'm hoping to do a couple of tunes there myself. Enjoy, whatever you're doing this week, and stay safe. Love, Claire
Thanks to the BBC and ALL FM for inviting me on to their respective radio stations to promote next week's M19 gig. I'm on ALL FM this afternoon, just after 4 pm, and on BBC GMR tomorrow (Monday) sometime between 7 and 8 pm. I'll be playing live on both shows and having a chat too, so if you can listen in please do. It's been a busy old week running songwriting sessions. I'm indebted to Sharon and Rose, from two different venues, who helped to organise the sessions and were wonderfully accommodating. It never ceases to amaze me just how generous people can be on behalf of others. So now it's headphones on as I set to mix everything to CD - so that's more headphone-hair for me! I'm sure it'll catch on as a fashion statement at some point! Off to London next weekend for a gig at the Borderline on the 20th, so the blog won't get it's usual Sunday outing ... I know, I bet you're gutted! Hope to see you before I go, at M19 Bar on Friday, or if you're around central London, see you on the night. Oh, and happy Valentines Day for Tuesday - hope you're as lucky in love as I am! Have a great week. Love, Claire
I've been asked if one of my songs ('Hitting Home') can be included on a 'Save the Children' benefit album, to be released later in the year. And of course I said "yes". I'll let you know details as and when. Poetry for a Pound last week had its finale. It was a wonderful night to end on, but both Adam and I, who have run it for the past few months, feel we've done our job and that it's time to move on and a mass of other commitments has meant my time is limited. Some great times have been had, though. It was lovely to be told by one member of the audience that she would never have listened to poetry if it hadn't been for this event and it was special that a poem had been written specifically for the night by someone who had come as part of the audience and had then set to writing herself. Both these stories illustrate what PFP was all about - to get poetry to a new and wider audience and to encourage new writers and performers. I think it did it's job. Of course, this isn't to say that other events won't be promoted, just not on a regular basis. Thanks to everyone who came and supported the night - we couldn't have done it without you. Tickets are selling well for the M19 Bar gig on 17th February. Drop me a line if you want to buy some, as we've only a limited number available. Have a good week. Stay safe. Love, Claire
Life has many twists and turns. Sad to think that if the poor whale that died last week hadn't done a right, it would be happily avoiding the harpoons of some ship in the Atlantic right now. You never know what life's going to throw at you, do you? All sorts of disappointments and all sorts of little triumphs. Fabulous creativity again from various community groups I've worked with - thanks everyone for taking that leap of faith that, from an uncertain start, we can create something special from nothing. Following the success of the Manchester Anthem Project last year, I've been asked to be Creative Director, to produce a number of short films due to be screened in May. It's very early days but looks to be a very exciting project - watch this space! It was also lovely to receive an e-mail from a correspondent in Ireland this week (thank you Margaret), asking when I'm playing over there. Sadly, no plans at the moment but you never know, later in the year may be a possibility. Happy Chinese New Year - let's hope the Year of the Dog is a good one for all of us! Have a great week. Love, Claire
It's been a week of good news, mainly (the bad news being the plumber!). The board of YLAF have asked me to perform again at the Festival in York in October, which is very complimentary. Good news that Ian and Adam from Moore Marriott are going to play at the M19 bar gig in February (the bad news is the venue double-booked and the gig is now on the 17th). The music theatre performance in Derbyshire went really well and everbody seemed to enjoy it - the bad news was we were only given an hour to rehearse. But it worked really well depite this. The CD launch in Miles Platting was fantastic, and exhausting all at the same time - over sixty people packed into the space, joined in and applauded each other as their track was played. Aren't people incredibly generous? It was great fun. I had a smile on my face, too, when my mate the brilliant blues guitarist Gareth Butcher, who's played on some of my albums, offered to come to the Borderline gig in London and perform with me there. Looking forward to playing with him again. And then, via the website, a mate got in touch - I haven't heard from her for a couple of decades - and expressed an interest in coming to the London gig too. Full marks to the worldwide web for allowing access for most of us to keep/get in touch. Talking of London, what a shame about the whale in the Thames. It was touching to see so many take an interest in the natural world and environment - let's hope we can translate this interest into our daily lives by considering the wider issues that affect our planet. A busy week ahead - hope you have a good one. Love, Claire
Finalised plans this week for an acoustic gig in February at the M19 bar in Manchester, with myself and Jonny Poole. It's a one-off - be great to see you if you can make it. Have a look at the Live Page for details. It was nice to receive an invitation to next week's Chorlton Arts Festival Launch. Last year's party was quite a buzzin' event as I recall. Some of the best gigs I've been involved in in the past have been promoted by the marvellous Mandy Farrar. I received an email from her this week to find she's now living in Cornwall. She's a top character and included me in some wonderful gigs in Saltaire, in Bradford with artists such as Julie Felix, June Tabor, Isla Sinclair, Maggie Boyle and so on, which were always brilliant. She is also a stunning artist. Now living in Cornwall she's keen for as many people as possible to know about AND purchase her work. You can check her out at www.farrarbrack.co.uk. The music/drama performance that I've been working on - the one postponed just before Christmas - takes place in Derbyshire next week. Fingers crossed the snow stays away and the rehearsal goes well! Then we're having the CD launch at Miles Platting Library in Manchester with all the different groups from the community who contributed to it coming together for the first time. There's some cracking tunes on it, with excellent sentiments too and the people I worked with to produce it were a fabulous mix of characters! Everyone's welcome, if you're around on Thursday afternoon. Hope you have a lovely week ahead. Love, Claire
I've been recording most of this week trying to get arrangements under way for some of the new songs for the next album. As I'm doing this, I hear on the radio that albums are now 'dead'. I'm not deterred, though, as I seem to have been behind the times since birth, and I see no reason to try to catch up just yet! I guess I've never been one to follow trends - until they become unfashionable! We set off the year with a heady mix of words at Poetry for a Pound last Thursday. This coming week sees me back writing songs and recording with a group at MIND in Stockport. And then, to archive voices at Minshull St Day Centre. The Centre's set to close, which is a shame as it's been a safe city-centre refuge for the homeless for many years. The staff there are fantastic and they'd like a creative record of people's experiences and their best memories... I'm looking forward to it. I hope you have a great week ahead. Love, Claire
Happy New Year! I trust last night's celebrations went well - my night was full of laughter and sparkly wine - thanks everyone! I hope the new year will be a healthy, happy, safe and peaceful one for you. For me, there's already loads of things planned and it's a time of year to move forward and on. The first Poetry for a Pound in 2006 is on Thursday. Come on down and show what a very creative year it's going to be! All good things. Love, Claire
Merry Christmas! Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I hope your day is happy and safe. And to all those couples in the UK who enjoyed their Civil Partnership ceremonies this week - many congratulations. There's a few lovely people missing this Christmas, so we'll be raising a glass to absent friends and not forgetting them. Here's to peaceful times ahead. Love, Claire
What a year! I feel I'm just starting to wind down after a sizzling assortment of new experiences in 2005 and even though it's still mid-December, it seems as good a time as any to do some 'thank you's'. I feel I've done a million and one new things this year. Thanks to everyone who contacted, and then contracted me to work with or for them. The gigs have been brilliant. It's been a huge A-Z, literally - from Ashton's Festival of Light to the Zion Centre. Thanks to all of you who've booked me for your venues, festivals, conferences, radio shows ... so much variety! The Lowry was brilliant, York was a joy, Middlesbrough happily bonkers, Chepstow something else, Otley lovely, International Women's Week events top, Pride ace, Poetry for a Pound a revelation ... the list goes on and on. Loads of times this year I've been asked when I'm going to go on tour. As you'll see from my Live Page, I tend to gig all the time but maybe this coming year I'll make an effort to put one together. Watch this space! Appreciation also to all of you who've been part of the music, songwriting and recording workshops and projects I've run - what a wonderfully creative bunch you've been. The Manchester Anthems were fantastic and the 'big event' with Aled Jones joining in on tiny cymbals was something else! I thought he picked up a Manchest..ter accent, too. Hey, and what a top night out with the 'team' on the Christmas do - all that Prosecco and no hangover... I think it's now my tipple of choice! Thanks also to everyone who's visited the website as well - the number of hits and visits have trebled over the year. This week I'm playing a fund-raiser for the LCP in Manchester on Thursday - they need support so all you women out there, come on down! Hope you have a great week. Enjoy the celebrations if you're partying, and stay safe. Love, Claire
CDs, CDs, CDs! It's been a week for flogging some of my own albums (always a pleasure, and a special deal on for Christmas - drop a line via e-mail for more details..), launching CD compilations that I've recorded with other people, writing a 'Christmas Number One' with the good folk of MIND in Stockport and dropping off various CDs I've mixed to libraries and the like. I felt like Santa - great fun. Following on from my involvement in Culture Market earlier in the year (see previous blogs) I was invited this week to the Open University, to what turned out to be a very interesting meeting about creative industries and the way they're employed to encourage a greater understanding of diversity. I learnt tons about various media projects taking place including a new BBC writing initiative, which aims to work with all sections of the community. On a different tack, about three years ago I was asked to perform a gig in Broadmoor Hospital. This was a WISH (Women In Secure Hospitals) event and was designed to promote the well-being of the women there. It was an amazing experience for loads of reasons, not least the intense and vigorous security we all went through.. This time of year WISH request funds for future events. It's a brilliant, if not sometimes neglected, cause. If you're interested in making a donation please contact me and I'll give you more info. Some gigs that had been arranged for next year by 5LiveMk2 have been changed to different dates, so if you were coming to any of them please check out the Live page on the website for new details. If you're around Manchester on Thursday evening (15th) support Dave Puller's satirical Christmas show - I'll be playing two or three songs and there's usually a fine array of other performers. The rest of the week sees me in the studio recording new songs (and writing the odd card or two). Have a fine festive time. Love, Claire
Great to hear that integrated band The Heroes, who I was lucky enough to support at The Lowry, Salford this year, have won a prestigious Dada (Deaf and Disability Arts) Award - well done, no more than you deserve! Sadly, the weather this week prevented the performance of the Derbyshire Music/Theatre production. UK readers will know that a few flakes of snow here calls everything to a halt - although I have to say that Derbyshire does often get a fair dusting of the stuff and my co-worker's car had had to be abandoned somewhere in the county on Monday night. Poetry for a Pound this week was, as ever, an incredible mix of poems and personalities. It never ceases to amaze me how we get a different audience and a variety of poets every month (when will people book a slot though?!!) and how extremely positive people are about the night. The content was an interesting blend of the serious, the humourous, the sad and the defiant. Thanks to everyone who braved a winters night to come. As we held it on World Aids Day, the door money is going to an Aids charity, so well done one and all for supporting a needy cause. Those who know me well will be familiar with the fact that I don't believe charities are the answer to international problems and that governments, through taxes, should take responsibility, but needs must. You've all done slightly more than George Bush who I understand this week suggested the disease can disappear by the world taking the 'safe sex' option. I'm sure this approach helps all the under fives who've contracted the disease and are unlikely to even reach puberty! Give some money to help the healing process! I hear that Manchester's cultural magazine, City Life, is under threat of closure with the subsequent loss of jobs - protest and support them. And to all those who took to the streets across the world this week, to show world leaders that they need to protect the planet for future generations, BIG THANKS. There you go, a little rant... must be coming up to Christmas! Next week sees the launch and celebration for the Comic Relief funded CD, 'Let's Be Mates On Our Estate', that I've produced. The CD sounds wonderful and the photographic exhibition that goes with it looks marvellous. Look forward to celebrating with the local community who took part. Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
I've spent most of the week in Yorkshire, on my tiny tour of tykedom and immensely enjoyable it was too. Huge thanks to Gerry McNeice for taking the time and trouble to set it up. Gerry played all the gigs with me and is a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and all round talented guy - and a very nice bloke to boot! You can check him out on his website at www.gerrymcneice.co.uk. His and Ani's ukulele version of Ebony Eyes is a treat! Thanks you two for looking after me. Thanks also to all those who came to the gigs in the freezing weather - especially those who came twice or trekked over from Leeds when an early night would have been the order of the day (cheers Nigel and Alan by the way). What a lovely bunch of people I met over the week - your lovely comments after gigs were much appreciated. Next week sees the performance of the music theatre project in Derbyshire. A lot of hard work's been put in and the CD soundtrack is fab - fingers crossed for a great performance. Poetry for a Pound is coming up on Thursday and there's some excellent poets booked in already - hope to see you there. The rest of the time I'm in the studio mixing and editing so if you see me out and about and you notice something different, it'll probably be the 'headphone hair' - I'm sure it'll become trendy before too long! Have a great week. Love, Claire
My feet haven't touched the ground this week. My speech at the City's Town Hall about the Manchester Anthem, and how I worked with young people to write the five songs, was an interesting experience to say the least. Feedback tells me it was well received and it was very heartening to have so many of you come over to speak to me - your comments were very much appreciated and it was good to know that my positive message about young people was taken in the manner in which it was intended. They can be brilliant - given the chance! Talking of which, I was contacted by a young man, now 15, who I've known for years but been out of touch with. He's recently won a nationwide poetry competition and was asking about performing at the Poetry for a Pound nights. During our catch-up, he mentioned how he'd played my album Slow Riot to some of his friends and how much they liked it. He's also asked me to play at his 16th birthday party next year! It's really lovely to hear that young people connect with my songs. It's also brilliant that a budding wordsmith is plying his trade - I look forward to hearing his work. The Creative Consultancies this week with young people and 'young at heart' library staff have been nice and challenging. The evaluations always inform me how little participants really want to be involved with these projects at the start. But then, by the end of the sessions, the only negative comment is invariably 'wish we'd had more time!' Maybe people don't always recognise just how creative they are. Some marvellous stuff was recorded this week - when I get a minute, CDs will be completed. The compilation CD launch on Friday at Britons Protection in Manchester was a great night and packed to the gills. The CD contains tracks from some of Manchester's best singer-songwriters and it was wonderful to hear some old friends performing again. Class will out! There's plenty of songwriters out there at the minute it seems and, maybe it's just me, but the class of '95 had some exceptional talent in it! Next week I'm on my tiny tour of Yorkshire - check out the Live Page for venues and come on down if you're in the area. Enjoy your week. Love, Claire
This week's been a mix of gigs, workshops, studio mixing and reuniting with old friends. It was really good to meet up with Mick, who produced my first two albums and who I haven't seen in years. He's offered to re-master Rocking the Boat (see Discography) so, especially for all of you who've enquired, it may well be available again before too long! I managed to run a consultancy session on Friday, despite a bout of food poisoning - the joys of self-employment mean you just have to get on with it. But they were a fabulous group to work with - and even in the short time available they still managed to take time to mark the 2 minute silence at 11 o'clock on the 11th. The fact that they were such a nice group of people (with some credit to the adrenalin factor!) pushed me through. It was straight back to bed afterwards, though, and I'm still laid low - which means I'm on a bit of a mission to catch up with all things work-related. I did manage to drag myself out of bed to briefly attend the Unity event at Manchester Art Gallery, and fab it was too. Nice one Colette, nice one Liz (where's the speech?!) - sorry I couldn't stay longer! Did find time to sign up to the very worthy Oxfam/Amnesty arms control campaign. This is a photographic petition that will be exhibited around the UK in 2006. It's so important to reflect on this at this time of year - nice if we could do our bit to make this world a more peaceful place. I've been asked to speak this coming week at a Conference in Manchester Town Hall about the Anthem - how it came about, how young people came together ... regular blog readers will remember that this took up a huge chunk of the early part of the year. Hope I can do it justice in the time allocated. Hope you have a healthy week ahead. Love, Claire
Thanks to all of you who've sent such lovely feedback to my website following the York gigs. I've respected your wishes, where asked, and not included your many compliments in the Guest Book (as much as I may have wanted to!). I got back to Manchester in time to do a gig on Monday night, only to be stopped by the police on the way there for a faulty tail-light (if you're a regular blog reader, you'll recognise how unlucky I am with cars...!). This led to a morning delivering my documents to the police station - is this a good way to spend time? I think not. But at least I got a poem out of it, which I performed at Poetry for a Pound on Thursday night. The night, at last, ran to time - despite juggling a programme of 12 poets, many of whom had turned up on spec. I say every month we'll put on a maximum of 5, but what can you do when they come along all keen to have their say?! There was a lovely audience, as ever - you do have to say it's value for money. Adam, my co-conspirator, was on sparkling form as usual reciting some excellent work. If you've not managed to catch the night yet, the next one is the 1st December. I was in a school earlier this week that turned out to be having an OFSTED inspection. I'm there working on an integrated music theatre project, so my drama co-worker and I turned out to be under scrutiny too! The Inspector's feedback was that we got 'top marks' but this was a new and strange experience to me. I sympathise with all you teachers out there who have to put up with this on a regular basis. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a CD I recorded at break neck speed with community groups in a library last month was to be played at a Town Hall conference. I was delighted to hear that this went ahead this week and was considered to be 'a hit'. Well done to everyone involved with it - what stars you are. The memorial service for the 7/7 victims was a sad affair for many reasons. It was interesting to hear that many boycotted it because of Tony Blair's presence. It appears they considered he was indirectly to blame for the tragedy by sending us to an unjust war in Iraq. It never ceases to amaze me how many innocent lives are lost on a daily basis worldwide - it seems the powerful have a way of distancing themselves from the injustice they perpetrate. A song (A Little Peace) from my next album relates to this subject and I gave it an outing this week - thanks for the fabulous response. It has a line '...condemnation from those who've shaped a world, scarred and numb', which was in part quoted back to me as being particularly poignant by a poet I know. It's always gratifying to have other wordsmiths connect with what I'm trying to convey. Hope you have a safe and peaceful week. Love, Claire
Wow, what a week! Just back from the Arts Festival in York - exhausting but enjoyable (for most of the time!). Thanks to all who came to the gigs and to the scores of you who bought my albums. It was fabulous to meet so many of you from different parts of the globe and, as a performer, it was a joy to have you sing out loud and proud with me - and the umbrella chorus in the middle of York City Centre was something to behold! Apologies for running out of CD's - if you were ones of those who missed out, drop me a line via the Feedback page and we'll make sure the special 'festival rates' are extended a bit longer. Thanks, too, to all of you who came over to speak to me to say how much you were enjoying the Festival. Events like this are, by definition, difficult to pull together and there will invariably be a few glitches, but it's nice to know that overall you had a positive and uplifting weekend. Huge, huge thanks to EVERYONE who worked so hard to make the Festival happen, especially the YLAF Committee - you're all stars! I've come back home to find that there have been problems with my phone line - possibly something to do with the explosion last week. If you have been trying to contact me by phone, and haven't heard from me, that's why! (Please get in touch by e-mail for the time being) Now I'm away to lie down in a darkened room for a short while... Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
I break with the tradition of a weekly blog to let you know that there's been a huge gas explosion a few doors down from me - leaving at least one house demolished, roads cordoned off, police and fire brigade everywhere ... and neighbours talking to each other at last! I couldn't get into my house for five hours yesterday, and then the power went off - so not much work done on what had been planned as a busy day. We hear that no-one was seriously injured, which is a relief (and looking at the place, something of a miracle!) but things like this have a way of bringing all sorts into perspective, don't they? It's certainly an interersting way to start a busy week - the concert I've organised in York this coming Friday is now sold out, so high fives all round. Now it's a big rush to try and get ready for a week away. Wherever you are - BE SAFE! Love, Claire
The gig at Middleton Civic Hall was a truly lovely experience. It was a special event for the Women's Network and everybody was just so friendly. Made me feel like moving there and joining up! Thanks to all of you who bought CD's. My mini set at the Zion Arts Centre conference last Thursday was special as well - cheers, Caroline, for asking me - always a pleasure to work with you. I haven't mentioned this before on my blog but for nearly a year now I have been Concert Director for an Arts Festival due to take place in York next week (YLAF). It's been run by a voluntary committee with a paid Festival Director and moi. The amount of work everyone's put in to get this year's Festival on track has been immense - above and beyond what any of us may have expected. Programming the concerts has been a revelation. I could have booked them six times over and still not managed to include everyone (it's great to know there's so much talent out there!). I'd like to think that I've taken a fair-handed approach to this work - considering funders needs, a diverse audience and a strict budget, to boot. Huge thanks to those who have not made the pogramme this year and who've had the grace to accept it with a fair deal of dignity. I've been in this business a good number of years now and this has been one of the most challenging and demanding pieces of work I've ever done. Fingers crossed it will be a safe, happy and enjoyable festival. Come up and say hello if you're going to be there. Have a great week. Love, Claire
What a busy old week! Loads of great songs and raps coming out of the songwriting workshops I've been doing. I just love people's creativity - there's a world of songwriters out there, and they don't just write the pap you might hear in the charts, bless 'em! The rest of my week seems to have been spent with headphones on, mixing CD's ... it's not such a hard life I guess. I was thinking lately that I'm very lucky to be in the enviable position where people ask me to perform at events, or to act as a creative consultant for this and that. I guess if I had to hawk around for work, I wouldn't have time to do it at all! So thanks to everyone who keeps contacting me to see if I'm available for their excellent events - it's always a thrill to be asked. Talking of which, I've been invited to play at the Women's Network Launch, so catch me this lunchtime gigging in Middleton Civic Hall, near Rochdale - I'm looking forward to it. Next week I've been called on to perform 'Hitting Home', a song originally commissioned by Salford City Council, at a Conference in Manchester - it's great to get specific requests. Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
The feedback from my gig in Middlesbrough has been lovely, so thanks one and all. During my performance at Lymm last Sunday I mentioned my blog page and the fact the audience might get a mention. One of them spoke to me afterwards and asked what a 'blog' was, and whether it was just for 'sad people'? (Maybe he's got a point ... but I'll carry on regardless!) We went on to discuss the fact that, in certain areas of the world, blogs perform a vital function of being an important method of resistance. I managed to rush to the Moore Marriott gig after Lymm - it was a really good night and their CD's well worth checking out. It's been a busy old week workshop-wise and I think I've nearly recovered from writing and recording three songs with three groups in two hours in a library in Manchester! (Cheers, Natalie - you slave-driver you!) The library manager has asked if she can use the CD's, and their positive messages, at a conference in early-November, which is great news - now it's working flat out in my studio to get them mixed in time. Also, thanks to everyone who came to the Poetry for a Pound night on Thursday. It was, as always, an eclectic mix. Apologies to the bar staff, though, for the evening going over time. Although poets are great with words, some aren't so good with numbers, it seems - you ask them to do just two poems, and then five come out! It's clearly becoming a popular part of the evening - I think we're going to have to move to 'pre-booking' the open mic slots in advance. Next Sunday lunchtime (16th) I'm performing at the launch of the Women's Network at Middleton Civic Hall - I understand it's 'all women welcome' so see you there if you're in the area. Hope you have a good week. Love, Claire
Last night I was performing in Middlesbrough - I'd been asked back after a gig I did there last year. A fabulously raucous chorus of women made it all very enjoyable...what a friendly bunch they are. I caught a bit of Waking the Witch, who were also playing, but sadly I couldn't stay for all of their set as I had to trek back to Manchester - they're worth catching, though, if you get the chance. I'm performing in Lymm tonight, then diving back to Manchester to see my mate Ian and his band Moore Marriott launch their first album. Check out their website at www.mooremarriott.co.uk. Good luck Ian! The Derbyshire music/theatre project is well and truly up and running now. This week we worked with the young people who are involved in the show - what a spirited group they are! The week also saw the start of a series of songwriting sessions at Minshull Street Day Centre Women's Group. They came up with some fabulous ideas and set about recording their CD. We had a great laugh, too. I've loads on this coming week, including the third Poetry for a Pound gig on Thursday - if it's anything like the other two it should be really good fun. Pop in if you're around. Have a lovely week, love Claire
I met up with some old singer-songwriter mates at the gig in Altrincham last night. Well done Jonny, for setting it up! There was an amazing musical mix, to say the least. I really enjoyed myself - sorry there wasn't enough time to do the encore, folks (but thanks for asking!). It was great to meet Nic and Agnes, and the Madison crew - all of whom are promising to come to the CD launch in November (see Live page) - probably won't be as much dancing, though, as the toilets are downstairs (you had to be there!). A new music theatre project started up during the week, with a trip out through the glorious Derbyshire hills in autumnal sunshine. The weather was as good as the group, who set off at a brisk pace with ideas for the production. Devising is a wonderful concept and I just love it when a group with varying opinions come together and start to create a song for the show from scratch. More next week. I'm starting a short songwriting project with a day centre for the homeless next week. I've worked there before and it's great that they asked me back... and you never quite know who's going to turn up from one week to the next, which makes it all the more challenging. I'm gigging in Middlesbro' next Saturday, so if you're around that neck of the woods check it out. Happy Anniversary to my partner...what a fantastic life you've let me share. Have a great week, love Claire
The 'Late in L8' CD launch is being planned in Liverpool for December. This is a collection of new and traditional lullabies. I worked on this project last year with my mate, the multi-talented Sally Tonge, and finished the recording in my studio in early January. Looking forward to the CD's release. With the help of my patient partner, I've set up a new computer system - but have spent the best part of the week trying to get it to do as it's told. The promised technical support from the manufacturer seems to have been lost in cyber-space - I live in hope though! More gigs are coming in for next year. It's good that they're in different parts of the UK - I love travelling around, as it gives me a chance to meet up with new audiences and often catch up with old friends. I'm starting work on the integrated music theatre project in Derbyshire this coming week. It's always exciting to see how initial ideas unfold into the finished production. Hope your week is good. Love, Claire
It's been a week for getting great mail in the post. Malcolm McClean, author of 'The Bear Hunt' - an inspirational book about making a living doing what you love - wrote a lovely and affirming letter to me. Then the Healthy Living Team in Halton very kindly sent me an abridged version of the report they'd commissioned from researchers at Chester University about their Time for Me Project that I, and other artists, worked on. It was really wonderful to read how the music sessions I'd run had been so well received by participants and how the report has recommended that the Project adopt the interactive approach that I use in workshops. The sessions had been enormous fun. I've been asked back twice to deliver more, but have had such a busy schedule that it hasn't been possible to book them in. Hopefully, in time.... And as it's the anniversary of September 11th, let us spare a thought for all those thousands of innocent people who needlessly died on this day in 1973, when a bloody military coup overthrew the democratic Allende government of Chile... this day is sad for many reasons. On the plus front, I've been taken with the generosity of all the countries that have offered help to America after the New Orleans catastrophe; doctors and medical assistance from Cuba, one million barrels of oil from Venezuela - not rich countries in currency terms but open-handed and compassionate. Let's hope it rubs off on all of us. Enjoy your week. Love, Claire
Today is the 16th anniversary of me taking the plunge to live off my wits as a songwriter. Releasing an album and being co-musical director for a music theatre production was how it all started. And what a fabulous ride it's been! Of course, it's had it's ups and downs but on the whole it's been a wonderful journey - thanks to everyone I've met and worked with. Last week was a particularly cracking one - gig wise, at least. The gig at Pride in Manchester was fabulous and the chill-out in the VIP marquee was excellent, with top company. The gig at the Lowry was also wonderful - no, it was better than that! What a fantastic venue. The Heroes went down a storm, and it was one of the most enjoyable gigs I've done in ages. More please! Our second Poetry for a Pound night went really well, with an even bigger audience than last month. Hopefully it's catching on. The subject matter of the poems ranged from the mini version of The Complete Works of Shakespeare's Colouring Book to wolves (not the football team). Sadly, the Hob-Nob poem has not materialised yet (see earlier blog!). Yesterday, I was in sunny Bolton creating a song from scratch with scores of lyricists - another great day. Thanks to everyone who keeps visiting the website. Joel, my web-designer, informed me that the traffic to it had increased so much the site nearly crashed earlier in the week! Luckily, he's applied his technical know-how and now no-one will miss out! On the world front, Mr Bush has shown his true colours with his handling (or lack of it) of the destruction of New Orleans. One of these days he might open his eyes and recognise we all have to play a part in protecting the planet and each other. There are scores of other disasters that sadly continue to take place around the world. Whilst we're informed of these via radio - BBC World Service in particular - they're not always covered on TV. The danger is, then, that we forget they're happening. We shouldn't, should we? Hope you have a safe week. Love Claire
This week was supposed to have been a bit of a break from all things work-related, but as my sister said "You're self-employed, you never quite get away from work." How right she was! I only managed half the week before my inbox and voicemail were fit to burst! And there's always a song to finish or a poem to write (not like work at all, really!) and I did manage a great rehearsal with my mate Ian for the gig at The Lowry - so enjoyable it didn't feel like work either. This coming week is gig heavy - today at Pride in Manchester; Tuesday at The Lowry; Poetry for a Pound on Thursday and what promises to be an interesting trip to Bolton, to make music on the run! Maybe see you at one of them. Have a great week. Love Claire
Gigs are coming in for the Fivelive Mk2 events. Some still have to be confirmed, but check out the Live page and all will be revealed over the next few months. Had a wonderful time conducting a creative team-building exercise with workers of the Groundwork Trust this week. I have to say their creativity and the song they produced was something to behold - very impressive! The weather was kind to us at the 'Spirit of the Streets' festival in Ashton-u-Lyne yesterday. I was asked to compere the main stage and the acts were quite stunning: dancers, musicians, acrobats, drummers... The Tameside Council Events Team were fab to work with again and the audience was warm and appreciative. It was also lovely to have so many people come over to the stage area to say 'hello'. On a sad note, I'm sure there were more people than the group of mates I was with who raised a glass to Mo Mowlem after her death was announced on Friday. How refreshing to find a politician who broke the mould by being fun-loving, yet serious in what she hoped to achieve. Sad to think she's gone - that spirit will be missed. Meanwhile, I'm taking a few days off to recharge the batteries, ready for gigs during and after the Bank Holiday weekend. Would be great to see you at any of them, if you're around. Have a good week. Love, Claire
I've only had a blog page for five months or so, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people tell me they read it. For me, it's simply a way to vocalise what's going on so I'm really glad you enjoy it! The other wonderful thing about having a website is how many people who have seen me at gigs all over the place in the past and have bought albums, have remembered them and then got back in touch. It was really lovely to receive a feedback message from Maria this week who had seen me seven years ago (!), when I played a gig at the Havant Arts Centre. I remember the night very well, and it's a lovely surprise that others do too, so thanks Maria - your note was a little gem ... really cheered me up! And then Brett Hornby, who played sax on my first album, was in touch this week to let me know what he's doing now. Again, nice to catch up. The West Yorkshire gigs are now confirmed for late November and more Fivelive Mk2 events are on track for 2006 - keep an eye on the Live page for details. I've been creating and recording songs with young people for most of this week, which has been fun and mildly (!) challenging all at the same time. I just love their enthusiasm, though. And then I was poorly ... feeling like I'm on the mend now hopefully. I hope you have a healthy week ahead. Love Claire
This week, the Poetry For A Pound nights kicked off successfully with a great crowd, and a rich mix of poems. The subject matter was diverse to say the least - from French windows to the antics of lawyers in court! I look forward to the next event, on the 1st September, to see if the promised poem about Hob Nobs gets an airing... you'll only find out if you're there! I've mentioned Jon Poole previously; he's been in touch again this week, checking my availability for a series of gigs he's arranging. The idea is to record the events with a view to releasing a 'live' compilation CD in 2006. Looking forward to it, and I'll let you know the dates when they're confirmed. I've also been asked to play a few gigs in West Yorkshire later this year, with Gerry McNiece. Since his recent visit to the Cambridge Folk Festival, he tells me he's enthusiastic to promote live acoustic music and it's a pleasure to be included in his plans. On a completely different tack, what a shame to hear of the death of anti-war MP Robin Cook - like him, or loath him, you couldn't fail to be impressed by his impassioned resignation speech in the Commons two years ago. He died on the same day as the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. This anniversary has emphasised again the horror and pain of nuclear war. It's sad but true, that we need to support CND more than ever. Be safe. Love Claire.
I have to thank the Midweek Group, for inviting me back to run a couple of songwriting and recording workshops. Quite brilliant! Plus, when I was rushing to a meeting after one of the sessions, and decided to attempt to drive my car over a 9" wall (don't ask!) they were good enough to band together and help me change the resulting flat tyre in true roadie fashion. This rushing from A to B has been a major factor in my life over the past few months. Maybe I shouldn't complain (but do!) as it means I'm exceptionally busy. Have spent a good chunk of the week in meetings and at events for the next phase of the Creative Consultancy with Manchester City Council... always staggered by how much seems to be going on in the City. Anyway, it's been very fruitful and the post-meeting coffee bar chats very illuminating (enjoy the weekend, Natalie!!). On the gig front, it was a pleasure to be asked to play a few songs at Turning Point this week, and good to give one of the next album's new songs an airing. I've also been asked to perform at Dave Puller's revived 'How Many Days 'til Christmas?' satirical show in September - a show at the cutting edge of what goes on in the world! Talking of which, tornadoes in Birmingham, over a metre of rain in 24 hours in Mumbai, catastrophe in Niger, police cordons all over the place and hope of peace and power-sharing in Ireland. Life goes on - for some of us at least. Don't forget, we're setting off on the new monthly poetry nights next week, so come on down if you can (check out the Live page for details). Have a great week, love Claire
In the freelancing world which I inhabit, they say that you're only as good as your last job. So I was thrilled to start the week with a bundle of lovely letters from the young people of a school I ran a songwriting and recording workshop with a couple of weeks ago. Very heartening and complimentary - and great that they took the time to make the effort. It was good too, to hear from my old singer songwriter mate Jon Poole, who asked me to do a gig in September with him and a few other acoustic tunesmiths (check Live page for details). I also got an e-mail from Gerry, who'd seen me perform at Chard Women's Music Festival half a decade ago and was interested in what I was doing these days - it's always really lovely when people take the time to keep in touch, especially after so long! On the back of a performance I did at the Reebok Stadium earlier this year, I've been asked to perform at a Groundwork Trust conference in August. It's nice when the success of one event leads on to another. Most of my time this week, though, has been spent looking after my partner who's had another knee operation. All a bit worrying at the time, but there's light at the end of the tunnel now. Isn't the NHS a wonderful institution? Let's make sure we keep it this way. Keep safe, have a great week, love Nurse Claire(!)
Mega mixing sessions in the studio have dominated my week... so as the sun has shone I've been in a darkened studio with headphones on. I did allow some quality time, though, to write some new poetry. I met up with Adam, who's running the poetry nights with me, and he always seems to have a good tale to tell! I've been asked this week to make a public service jingle for Wire FM, based on a creative health project I've recently recorded with a school in Runcorn. I haven't done a jingle for a few years, since I did some for a community radio station - should be fun. I got my PRS royalties this week, which included those I did for a gig at Bury Met last year. I discovered that one of my songs is now partly owned by publishers Warner Chappell. It never ceases to amaze me about the journey of ownership that songs take... you sit at home strumming away and the next minute a multi-national publisher has you on their books. Interesting! Hope you have a good week, love Claire
I started the week spending a good part of my time writing songs - inspired by a Nigel Stonier workshop at the SWAP Festival in Manchester (thanks to DP for the invitation) and possible because an enormously busy period of creative consultancy work had slowed down, giving me a bit of breathing space. It's also concentrated my mind on working to the release of a new album next year - the majority of songs have been written, now it's about knuckling down and recording them. I put my 'Music in Minutes' technique well and truly to the test this week, when I worked with eight groups of young people to write and record 8 original songs in 2 days - so you'd think recording an album would be child's play, wouldn't you?!! I've a feeling I'll make it a bit harder for myself though. The age range was 2 to 82, when I asked sparky lyricists to add their line to a community song this week at the Manchester Dig (an archeological event in Wythenshawe). This was another 'Song With The Most Lyricists', a technique I've developed and which has worked well previously. This week's was no exception - contributions from those attending the event were 'red carpeted' and rightly so. Listen out for the live version that's been recorded for Wythenshawe FM. And then, to put so many things into perspective, bombs go off in London's rush hour. One of my sisters was on a train that was just in front of one that blew up in the Tube. Thankfully, she's safe but I know that siblings elsewhere won't be so lucky. It's all the personal stories that get to you rather than the rhetoric. It brings it home hard - the horror and terror of death and destruction. Some people in different parts of the world live with this fear on a daily basis - none of it is right, is it? As I said last week, before the bombs went off, here's to living with peace; between us and within us. I know it might not change the world but I can't help but feel a song coming on ... Be safe, love Claire
The Chester Women's Aid event was inspiring - well done to everyone at Women's Aid and Alexander's Jazz Club for a fantastic night. To have two women in the audience stand up and say how they'd started a women's refuge so many years ago was amazing... and for them still to be campaigning to prevent teenage deaths in prison was both heartening and sad all at the same time - sad because such tragedy still takes place. But it does re-emphasise that by campaigning for justice, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. On a personal note, it was lovely that Dai and Margaret came over for a chat at the end of the gig, to buy a CD for their mate Tez in Bristol who had, by all accounts (a few moons ago) come to Manchester in search of one of my early albums on vinyl! I was totally flabbergasted and pleased all in the same moment... Thanks to all of them for the effort and also for stating it - I don't often hear these stories. Good of you to send such positive feedback too - much appreciated. Sadly, I couldn't get to Edinburgh for the 'Make Poverty History' march (committed to a workshop) but while we're at it, shouldn't we make violence against women and children history too? Millionaire pop stars took to stages all over the world to highlight the poverty of a continent with no sense of irony, it seems - maybe it's just me... When will we recognise that enough is enough? Listen up G8! On a different tack, thanks to Penny Smith from GMTV for her witty e-mail saying how she'd enjoyed our Women's Hour discussion. Hope you have a good week, love Claire
Got the venue sorted out this week for a series of poetry nights that I'm promoting in Manchester - the idea came from the success of the poetry gig I was part of for the Chorlton Arts Festival. The first night is scheduled for August 4th and they'll run on the first Thursday of every month. I'll be doing a set, and there'll be an opportunity for local poets to perform their own work. We'll be publicising the event formally, soon (thanks to Adam) but if you want more information now, you can e-mail me (see Live page for contact details). Drama at the beginning of the week, when the exhaust fell off my car some 50 miles away from home. I was on a tight schedule, needing to be in Manchester for a mixing deadline. Thankfully, after some speedy repairs, I was on my way quite quickly, and I managed to deliver the mixed CD in time! Phew! Celebrated my birthday this week (on the same day as my good mate Ian Bamford) - big thanks to the restaurant for the complimentary bottle of Moet Chandon! Ian's agreed (with not even a whiff of the champers!) to perform with me at the Lowry gig in August. Nice one! Off this evening to perform at Alexander's Jazz Club in Chester for a Politika event for Women's Aid. Try and support the evening, if you're around. Have a good week, love Claire
I was in Chepstow last Sunday for a gig (thanks to Steve O'D for the contact). Got a little lost on the way into town and ended up asking for directions at the ambulance station ... bless Alan, the ambulanceman, for giving us an escort to the venue - it's a first for me, to have an ambulance lead the way to a gig! We were warned, of course, that if he got a call we'd end up in Monmouth! Thanks also to Ali, at the Five Alls, for the hospitality and for playing bass with me during the gig. And to the wonderful Jeff ('with a J'). I've been invited back later in the year - nice one. Really enjoyed the gigs I've played recently, so thanks to everyone who's been so lovely. Last Thursday I had to address a Council Meeting in Manchester, about the creative consultancies and anthem project I've been doing in the City, and to discuss the latest project that'll start shortly. The Councillors were very positive and complimentary about what had been achieved so far. In my hurry to keep my presentation brief, though, I forgot to thank Natalie, Andrea and Maureen, who've all been so supportive - so here it is ... THANK YOU!.. better late than never, but not minuted, I'm afraid. The Cultural Fusion event I compered at the Portland Basin in Ashton, Lancs this afternoon was exhilarating - a mixture of exciting performing art, a good crowd and nice weather. Thanks to the Dhol Academy for a brilliant set - hope it wasn't ruined by my dancing (bet you regret getting me up now, don't you?!) Have a good week, love Claire
I was at the BBC again this week. En route to the Woman's Hour studios I met GMR's Breakfast Show producer, who asked how the big anthem event had gone - bless him! So I go in the studio and read my poem 'Tidy Houses' on air and spar with Penny Smith from GMTV about the merits (?!) of housework... well, that was the gist. Presenter Jenni Murray was a fine referee and at the end of the debate said off-air 'That was fun!' And indeed it was! I hold the argument that feminists have fought for women to be freed from household chores, so why we should celebrate cleaning all the time is a bit beyond me. Anyway, it's caused an interesting discussion on the Woman's Hour on-line message board! Thanks to everyone in the studio (shame I missed out on a biscuit!) and thanks to those who've been in touch through the website to say how much they enjoyed the piece. I'm indebted to Michael Herbert from the Working Class Movement Library, who kindly referred me to Paul Lafargue's pamphlet 'The Right to be Lazy' - published in 1883. Paraphrasing (poorly) it basically argues that we are pushed into working as part of a capitalist idea to keep us from thinking too much about our position - resting is good for us. Absolutely - but it doesn't seem to have stopped me from taking on a load more songwriting and creative consultancy work this week! The Rochdale Labour Club Silentnight Strike reunion last night was fantastic. To meet up with so many fabulous people again who'd come from all over the country was great. It's so easy, isn't it, to forget the courage of ordinary working people? What a celebration! Nice one, Tom. Right, off to gig in Wales... Have a good week, love Claire
I've been asked to appear on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour on the 9th June. This has come out of the blue, following the poetry gig I did the other week as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. My poem 'Tidy Houses' seems to have a struck a chord and I understand I'll be championing busy women who live in busy houses - can't wait! I enjoyed compering the Salford Health Expo event - some top poets there, too. And great to meet up with mates from the community arts world. The Manchester Executive have asked me to speak to a Council Meeting about the Manchester Anthem - it seems to have been so popular they want to hear more about how it was achieved and where we go next. One suggestion has been to deliver the CD to every house in Manchester (should go platinum then!!!) and that it gets sent to every other 'Manchester' in the world - we'll see. Got details about the forthcoming Politika gig I've been asked to play at in Chester on 26th June. It's a fundraiser for Chester Women's Aid, so please support it if you can. A couple of gigs this week: the Rochdale Labour Club and then a trip down to Chepstow - be great to see you if you can come along (see Live page for details). Make Poverty History is high on the news agenda this week, in the UK at least, as it should be. Politicians need to get their act together - so should I. Looking round my busy house, I really should make more of an effort to be ethically sound in my spending habits! Have a good week, love Claire
Wow, another great week! The book launch for Gatehouse at the Zion Centre was wonderful. I compered the event and was lucky enough to meet three lovely new writers with spark and humility - they were a joy. To introduce The Heroes to do their set was a blast as well! And the feedback has been brilliant. From that great event, I dashed straight into the City Centre to perform the Manchester Anthem. Readers of the blog page will know that this project has only lasted a hundred days but has seemed so much longer!! The young people shone and it was great to see the film of all five groups performing their songs on the huge outdoor screen. Their faces, as they watched themselves, were something else and it was a joy to see their delight as the enthusiastic audience congratulated them with applause. Aled Jones entered into the spirit of things, playing the little cymbals in the VIP percussion band I encouraged up on stage. The band also included Louise Casey, from the Home Office, shining on the larger cymbals (!) and Cllr. Paul Murphy - a natural on the triangle (and also very generous with his praise about the project - thanks Paul!). Bev and the team from the City Council were also a dream to work with and it was good to meet up with Fred Talbot from Granada TV who were filming the event live. I look forward to seeing it again - the BBC were also filming for broadcast later this year. It was a great night of celebration and I was proud to be a part of it - albeit that they did force me to wear yellow!! At the Chorlton Arts Festival gig later in the week I met up with another wonderful bunch of people - a top audience. And to be trusted with the keys to the bar by Fr. Mac was fabulous! People were so enthusiastic about the evening, we hope to continue with a regular 'live' event in Chorlton in the future. I'll keep you posted on this. Hope your week was as enjoyable as mine. Have a great time - love, Claire
Phew, what a week! It started with the Anthem winner being announced on Monday with a BBC OB and TV crew filming the whole thing. It's a great song! On Friday, all the other students came together to rehearse it; what a generous spirited gang they are - to listen to 100 young people lift the ceiling with their voices was fantastic. The Culture Market event in St Ann's Square in Manchester yesterday afternoon was a highlight of the week too! Enlisting forty never-before lyricists to create the closing song was fabulous, and it was great to work with Julia Brosnan again. Then I had to dash from there to play last night at Gigg Lane, Bury - home of Bury FC and location for the event of the season! A brilliant night, some people are just a joy to work for... Anyway, I'm off now for a lie down in a darkened room... Hope you have a good week - love, Claire
Have spent most of this week filming excerpts for the Manchester Anthem - voting has finished - hurray! The winner will be announced by the BBC tomorrow (Monday) and I'll be at the winning school first thing! The main event is on 24th May (see my Live page for details). What a hectic day that's going to be - I've also been asked to MC the launch of three new Gatehouse Publishing books at the Zion Art Centre in Manchester on the same day! But what a treat to be asked to this event; it's a fabulous community publisher and has it's heart in the right place. You can check out their website on www.gatehousebooks.org.uk I also got information this week about the Working Class Movement Library, which is based in Salford (UK). I was asked to become a 'Friend of..' and promptly did so. The Library holds a remarkable history of working class struggle and deserves all the support it can get. I'd recommend everyone to join if they can, so that it can remain the treasure it is. Their website is www.wcml.org.uk. Have a great week - love, Claire
So, the General Election has been and gone and New Labour has won it's third term. Although I noticed their candidate in my constituency was representing The Labour Party on the ballot paper - funny how it changes from ballot box to Government... Voting's not finished, though - I'm at the BBC tomorrow for the Anthem For Manchester vote (a seamless link?... mmm, you decide!) Anyway, they're all fabulous songs - go on, support the young people, check it out online (see my Live page for link).
Today is the 60th anniversary of VE Day and it seems right and important to celebrate freedom from fascism, and to thank all those who fought for it. What a pity, so many years on, we're still at war. When will politicians learn? Hope all's peaceful where you are.
And last but not least, happy birthday to my partner! Love, Claire
Happy May Day! Hope the workers of the world are celebrating in style!
I was asked to play some of my political songs at a birthday party the other night. By way of introduction - after wishing the host Happy Birthday, and before I sang 'Voice and the power to use it' - I said it was important for all of us to vote on the 5th May, in the UK's General Election. I think people thought this was a strange thing to say at a party. But, on this day of celebration, I think we really have to remember what working class people have struggled to achieve over the generations. To get the right to vote was hard fought, and hard won. It's our duty to use it, and use it wisely.
On a vote of another kind, I've been meeting with the BBC regarding the anthem for Manchester. They were happily suprised with the standard of the songs. The vote will commence on 9th May and the winner will be announced on the 16th. I'm spending most of this coming week filming rehearsal's with the schools. I have to say, when I watch groups of young people singing their hearts out about the spirit, celebration and cultural diversity of Manchester, it really lifts the soul.
Have a good week - and let's hope a right wing Government doesn't get in!! Love, Claire
I mentioned last time that I'd been working with a number of groups from schools in Manchester, as part of the City Council's 100 Days Campaign. This has been ongoing since February, when I was commissioned as songwriter/community musician by the Council to encourage young people from five schools in the City to create an anthem for Manchester. The anthems have now been written and recorded and I'm now in the studio, mixing them. This is a job in itself, as they've been recorded in a variety of non-studio settings! Nontheless, every one of the songs is wonderful! To have watched a hundred young people develop their early ideas into such brilliant pieces has been fabulous. There's so much talk at the moment (especially pre-election babble) about young people and anti-social behaviour but my experience on this project is that when young people work together, as a team, the results are magical. There will be a public vote in May, I believe, (BBC GMR are keen to play the anthems daily, and they'll also be online)so that there's one winning anthem for the year ahead. In my eyes, though, they're all winners and I wouldn't want to choose between them.
Hope all's well with you - I'm back to my mixing desk.... Love, Claire
It's all been so busy since I last blogged - a Pope dies, a prince marries, a general election is called ... and Man Utd get beaten by Norwich! Too much to take in..
Meanwhile, I've been busy working with young people from a number of Manchester schools taking part in a competition to compose an anthem for the city. The winning anthem will be recorded for use at a host of high-profile events in Manchester over the coming year. Exhausting work, but rewarding to see what these young people are capable of, if given encouragement and shown enthusiasm.
Catch up again soon.
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