forward to 2013


The end of another year and once again Dave has fallen foul of the Denmark Street trap. Christmas shopping has a habit of going completely off course in the West End when faced with a beautiful instrument like this Gibson mandolin.

It turned out to be extremely old, although it was bought for its lovely warm tone (like most instruments made by Gibson). On looking up the serial number, it turned out to have been made exactly 100 years ago in 1912. Click the pic to have a closer look.

We can only hope that Dave and Boo don't end up sounding like McGuiness Flint!

click to enlarge


We're working hard on a not-so-secret-any-more project. Apart from finishing our album off we've been rehearsing with Liz Simcock and we'll be playing with her at most of her gigs in the future unless they clash with ours.
Most of you who know us will also know Liz as the writer of some truly exceptional material which we're very honoured to be playing on. She recently had to part company with her regular musicians; Warwick Jones and Ian Newman for logistical reasons (they lived too far away) and she asked us to help her with gigs and her next album.
The rehearsals have been going incredibly well with everyone working hard on parts, harmonies and having a lot of fun in the process. Liz's first proper gig with us as her band will be on Friday 14th December at Cambridge Folk Club - details on Liz's website - see you there!


The power of the internet!!!.. Dave here. When I was about 8, a monk called brother Ronald came to stay with my family (my Dad was a vicar). Brother Ronald was the first person I ever saw playing a stringed instrument (a banjolele) in our lounge one morning. This was the first musical instrument I had seen apart from a piano. He responded to my fascination by getting me my own banjolele from somewhere and teaching me a few tunes. He was a lovely man and the last time I saw him was when I did a gig in Liverpool at C.F.Mott college round about 1971 as a grown up folkie... I think I might have been supporting Jasper Carrot. He distinguished himself by arriving in full monk's garb (never saw him in anything else) and sinking several pints of Newcastle brown in swift succession in the SU bar before the gig. The students didn't believe he was the real article and thought he was someone dressed as a monk for rag week! I looked him up last night and the only reference I could find was this one from 1969, but it describes him and his 'work' exactly how I remember him. Click the article to read it.


The concertina got kicked into shape eventually and now plays an important part in Boo's 'Skerryvore Light' which is now finished. We now have 11 tracks completed for our new album but we still need one or two more to bring it up to our usual quota (as if you sell music by the yard!) We're currently praying for inspiration...


Very busy at the moment with lots of music going on in the Doghouse. Things have been held up a bit though after Dave decided that a real concertina (which we had lying about) would sound better than using a keyboard sample on one of the recordings.
His superhuman efforts to master this incomprehensible instrument so far have yielded only asthma impersonations with the right notes (but not necessarily in the right order!)


Eye On The Sky is in the can.. back to the lighthouse.. we did a rough version of Boo's song 'Skerryvore Light' a couple of weeks ago, which turned out to be not so rough as we thought at the time, so we'll be working on that later in the week. We also tried an acapella version of a recent tenor guitar song called 'The Last To Know' which was weird but interesting and... almost enjoyable!


We've been working on a new recording this week of 'Eye On The Sky'. A lot of people have asked about this song over the years and it will be remembered by some folk audiences we have played it to in our set recently, but more so by anyone who remembers us from the Reactors/Brave Lucy days when it used to be one of our main songs with a long guitar solo at the end.

It was written nearly 30 years ago but isn't the oldest song of ours that we've recorded lately. That honour belongs to 'Silly Me & Silly You' which was written about 40 years ago!

The other titles recorded so far for our new album are all more recent compositions, but 'Eye' has turned out to be a real joy to record with plenty of unsuspected avenues to explore for the modern us.


It got kind of chaotic today in our studio. Couldn't move without knocking something over. We were trying to record Boo's new song 'Skerryvore Light'. It started to sound good after the 17th run through!


Working on a new song from Boo today about the Skerryvore Light. I can't believe Boo's written a folk song and I can't believe I'm singing about a lighthouse!


You might have noticed that we're not doing any gigs until January. This will give us time to finish our next album which always takes a lot more time than we usually have to spare.
So we're sorry we won't see you until next year, but the good news is... we will have a new album to sell!
So far, the tracks we've more or less finished are...

Any Month of Any Year
Fun Before We Die
Traffic Jam
It's Only Me
Me & Angie
On My Side
Moonlight Optimist
Silly Me & Silly You

We think this collection is a cracker and we've left out some songs that didn't work so well on the recording. We still need more though and that's what we'll be working on.
All but two of these tunes are in our current set and we hope we'll still be doing them by the time we have the CD and not moved on to the next lot like we usually do!


We thought it would be a good idea to take photos of our audiences, so here is the first one.. of Cambridge Folk Club last night:
As you can see - we had a small but very appreciative and very happy audience. Thanks for having us Cambridge. We hope we'll see you again soon and thanks to everyone there for helping to make a quiet night into a memorable one.


Back from hols, birthdays almost out of the way (both Boo and Dave have September birthdays), back in the saddle for Orpington FC tomorrow night.

After 2 weeks of total inactivity it's nice to be playing again and yesterday we rehearsed for our gig.

Not up to speed yet but we will be by Thursday I hope... guitar playing is very painful when your fingers have been in the sea for a fortnight - not to mention the partial deafness brought on by same.

However, we shall be up to full fabness for our 14th(!) visit to Orpington, which we're looking forward to after the summer lay off. See you there if you're in the area. Should be fun!!


I had a lot of fun sticking traffic noises, car horns (I even recorded my own van!), fire engines and buses on a recording of our instrumental 'Traffic Jam' (which Boo and I did this week).
In case you don't know - it's a demented and frantic minute and a half of banjo and guitar (also known as 'Rush Hour' at gigs sometimes), and it took two hot days to practice it and finally capture it.
I emailed an mp3 of my mix to Boo last night and she wrote back: 'Sounds fantastic. Had me smiling then laughing out loud. I bet your neighbours are very glad you're going away on holiday. It's bad enough playing it but listening to it all week.....'

I won't put an mp3 here as a sample length would be almost the whole track(!) but it should be on the next album sometime round the end of the year.


With Boo on hols in Scotland this week, I've been getting down to some mixing. As promised here is a bit of 'Moonlight Optimist'. Even Boo hasn't heard some of the things on this track yet, so you're honoured!

'Moonlight Optimist'


This is us setting up at Cambridge folk festival last Sunday. It's not a very good photo but we were lucky to get this picture as the photographer was slowly disappearing into the mud at the time! The heavens opened for most of the afternoon and evening leaving the club tent looking like the battle of the Somme with a few intrepid folkies standing in the middle of a lake in their wellies determined to keep listening and enjoying themselves!..

We've dried out now and we were working on 'Moonlight Optimist' yesterday. The new track is sounding good and Dave's beautiful new 330 has made a debut appearance on the recording. Clip to follow soon...


Very nice gig at Readifolk in Reading last night. This was a new venue for us and it was nice to play to some new faces in such a welcoming atmosphere. Thanks Una and Colin for inviting us and we hope we'll see you again.


Got some nice reviews from our little tour of northern clubs last May. They're at the top of the reviews page if you want to have a look.

Meanwhile the recording continues. Yesterday we were editing 'Fun Before We Die' for our new CD as we've changed the ending since recording the original track. The new ending is like the end of 'A Day In The Life' but using guitar, concertina and banjo instead of an orchestra... honest! (no mp3, I'll leave it to your imagination!) Also started work on 'Moonlight Optimist'.


Back for a rare visit to our favourite club, the Ram Club last night.

We never fail to be impressed by the way this place is run by Bob and Maggie Wood and their many helpers - a real joy to play there.

Nice to see so many of our old friends too but very difficult to get to talk to everyone! See you down there again in a couple of years time we hope...


We've been recording again this week. This time we attempted to record a very old song written by Dave in the seventies called 'Silly You & Silly Me'. It was originally a jokey dig at an old show tune style and Dave used to sing it in a Marilyn Monroe breathy type of voice(!)
The words were for a girl to sing so are tailor-made for Boo, but they were also a little too silly. A partial rewrite was therefore necessary and in the sample opposite the lyrics have been changed a bit to make the song a little less silly. Everyone seems to take this as a serious song!
We expected difficult technical problems recording this tune and were not looking forward to it. We were pleasantly surprised by what came out. This was the only take necessary - all done in one go except for the string part which was added later. This is a work in progress...

'Silly You & Silly Me'


A new addition to the fold... see kit page...
Dave brings home a friend for his J45.


Continuing our recording this week, we finished a song called 'It's Only Me' which we started some time ago, but weren't too happy with the end product. So after some rearrangment, a partial rewrite of the lyrics and some re-recording of some bits and bobs, the man from Delmonte said YES!
This could qualify as the most chordy song that we've ever done. I blame it on the tenor guitar which seems to suggest all sorts of harmonies...

'It's Only Me'


We had a great time at Chester Folk Festival a couple of days ago, where we were lucky enough to avoid the downpour of the day before. The slightly soggy festival goers were very appreciative and the whole thing ended with us meeting a very healthy line of people who wanted to buy a CD or two after we'd played. We hope we might be invited back next year...


Just when we said we wanted to keep playing after our northern gigs last week, we've got an extra date next bank holiday weekend! We've been asked to stand in for an artist cancellation at the Chester Festival on Monday 4th June. We're very pleased to be going back up north again so soon after our tour in the area a week ago.
We will be doing 2 shows at the festival. The first is a 20m set in a 'mini concert' at 4.00pm. The second is a 35m set in the main concert at 8.00pm. We'll be on at 8.30pm. Hope you can make it if you saw us last week and can't get enough of Dave and Boo!
The following night (on Tues 5th June) we're at Dartford FC, so see you there if you're down in the south east.
More details on our shows page.


We're back from our week of northern gigs. We just wanted to keep playing and didn't want to come home much as the next gig's not for a couple of weeks... on Tuesday 5th June at Dartford FC.

We started on the Saturday at Acousticity in Colchester...

...then up to Southport to look at the statues on the beach (they weren't there, they're in Crosby!) before a gig at the Bothy Folk Club in Southport on the Sunday. This club started in the sixties and is run by Clive Pownceby who wrote us a great review last time we were there.

This is us setting up for the Monday gig at the Prospect Folk Club in Runcorn, which was compact to say the least, but with a very appreciative local crowd who were almost sitting on our laps!

Tuesday evening we did a folk show with Jamie Blatchley on Chorley FM, then Wednesday we went to Port Sunlight and the wonderful Bromborough Folk Club.

Thursday and it's over to Bradford and the oldest folk club in Britain - the Topic which is currently in the Irish Centre and has been around since the 50's.

Friday we played in the Barlow Institute at Bromley Cross FC near Bolton - a beautiful setting with great acoustics.

We did this pub gig on the Saturday at the Bull in Belmont just outside Bolton in their new music room. They are hoping this will turn into a proper music venue with some major folkies booked to appear.

Our final gig on the tour was at the lovely Raven Folk Club in Chester which was the crowning glory of our week where we got a fantastic reception. A great way to finish and a magic night. Thanks Nick and Chris!


Our tour of the north of England starts on Sunday with a date at Acousticity in Colchester on the way up...

Sat 12th May Acousticity, Colchester
Sun 13th May Bothy, Southport
Mon 14th May - Folk at the Prospect, Runcorn
Tues 15th May - Chorley FM Folk Show 8pm
Wed 16th May - Bromborough Folk Club, Port Sunlight
Thurs 17th May - The Topic, Bradford
Fri 18th May - Bromley Cross Folk Club, Bolton
Sat 19th May - Belmont Bull, Bolton
Sun 20th May - Raven Folk Club, Chester

More details are on our shows page. Hope to see you up there!


We really enjoyed doing some recording last week (see below) and here are some mp3s of what we did. We now have maybe 5 tracks in the can for a new CD...

Monitor mixes of:
'Fun Before We Die'

'On My Side'

Here's another slightly more dated recording. Thanks to Dave Toye for sending this live cassette version of 'Something Wrong' recorded at Horsham folk club sometime in the 70's. This is how the song used to sound before Gordon Giltrap played it with Dave on his 1973 album.
'Something Wrong' (live)


Working on 2 new tracks this week for the next album: 'On My Side' and 'Fun Before We Die'. Both of them were written within the last few weeks and we're very pleased with how they're coming along. At the moment we're doing some overdubs and we'll put some mp3's up here shortly when we're a bit further along the line. It's nice to have caught them fresh!
There's always a juggling act with recording new songs... do you wait until you really know them and risk a mundane performance, or do you do them while they're still new and maybe underdeveloped?


More pics from the Hitchin gig last Sunday from Pat Jones

Here we are joined by Liz Simcock who sang some beautiful harmonies with us on 'Living on Light'.
This was followed by a final number with Liz and her band (Warwick Jones and Ian Newman) to finish off the evening.
(more pics)


Doing our thing at Hitchin Folk Club last night at what has become an annual event for us - every Easter Sunday for the last four years we have done a double gig with Liz Simcock and her band at this award winning club.

We have had a good turnout there every year on what can be a bit of a dodgy night for the club in the past because of the bank holiday. However it was nice to see lots of old friends there... with club organizer Maureen back to full health and positively bouncing with vitality!

(more pics)


The birth of a new song today. Very fast... written yesterday, arranged for live today, intended first performance on Sunday at Hitchin. Here's a demo of the operative bits. We played it all day cos we liked it so much!

You're On My Side (demo)


We've been working on some recording this week and having a lot of fun doing it. The track is 'Any Month of Any Year' which is a newish song which Roger (in our guestbook) was asking about, which he heard at a gig last week.

It's a tenor guitar song and has become our live finishing song of choice at the moment and always seems to go down well. It's pretty much finished now, but it may be some time before you can hear it in full as it's the first track we've put down in ernest for a new album. Here's a sample...

Any Month of Any Year mp3


Had a great time at Lechlade River Folk Club near Swindon last night. Thanks to Jay and Ray and everyone there. A very musical well run club in a gorgeous location. Hope to see you all again sometime.


We were experiencing slightly different temperatures this weekend on the Isle of Wight compared to the ones last week in India (see below). Here we are out and about by Tennyson's cross in between a couple of gigs.

The Quay Arts Centre on the island is a lovely venue. Here Boo does her sound check (new pic on pictures page) and thanks to Jack Jones for inviting us to his 60th. Happy birthday Jack!


Just back from our hols in Indian country where five went wild in Goa.

left top - Dave and Boo recreate their idiotic red shades 'Stuff' pose at the top of an old fort.

above - Agnetha Howard and Frida Simcock recreate Dancing Queen on a steamy wild night of dancing.

left bottom - All friends together (l-r) Boo Howard, Boo's husband Paul, our old friend Phil Yorke, Liz Simcock and Dave Ellis.

Back just 24 hours and we've already done a gig at a friend's 60th birthday party. Just about managed to stay awake whilst coping with sea softened fingers. It's been tough I can tell you!

Next stop for D&B is a couple of dates in the Isle of Wight next weekend. See you there if you're down that way. Details on the 'shows' page.


The joint was positively heaving last night at Fourth Friday in the Poetry Cafe. Never seen it so full in all the 44 times we've been there previously. I know it only holds about 50 or so, but it was great to play to a front row that was almost sitting on our laps!


Some nice photos from Peter Hrebien at the Milkmaid in Bury St Edmunds last Wednesday.
Have a closer look on Peter's website.

photo copyright Peter Hrebien


We're not used to doing so many dates so close together, but we've really enjoyed this last week ending with Horsham Folk Club last night which was the culmination of a week of playing and feeling more and more at home with each gig. Thanks Horsham!


Thanks Faversham Folk Club! We really enjoyed ourselves last night. We hope we'll see you again next year. We were made to feel really welcome with a good turnout for the start of your new program.

Our next gig is tomorrow (Friday) at the Milkmaid Folk Club in Bury St Edmunds. Details are here.


A fab time was definitely had last night on our 13th visit to Twickenham Folk Club... one of the first clubs we ever played at (on 28th Feb '98). Thanks Gerry, Paul and Sue and all the Cabbage Patch operatives!

More gigs coming up this month... see below.


Happy New Year!! to everyone. We've got some gigs coming up in January, so we hope we'll get the chance to warm you up one of these cold winter evenings...

Sun, Jan 15th - Twickenham Folk Club
Wed, Jan 18th - Faversham Folk Club
Fri, Jan 20th - Milkmaid Folk Club, Bury St Edmunds

Sun, Jan 22nd - Horsham Folk Club
Fri, Jan 27th - Fourth Friday, Covent Garden

See you soon we hope! Details are on the shows page.

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