This Place I Found, Upcoming Gigs, Album

Since I came back from Italy, I've been reforming my band (!) and preparing to record an album, which I am going to do in early June, on a reel-to-reel machine that I recently bought with my pals Dan and Liam, the other two-thirds of The Ninetree Stumblers. It is a 2 track reel-to-reel with an illustrious history, having been used in the Mancunian studios where Dangermouse and Count Duckula were once made. So, a lot to live up to.


It's great having a band again. At the moment, we are Double Bass (Rory McCleod-Smith), Drums (Gary Rendle) Violin (Anna Kissell) and Sousaphone (Tom Fox). I love these folks, they are excellent humans and great fun to play with.

I have a few shows coming up. The first is a solo slot on 12th May at Yurt Lush, next to Temple Meads station, in Bristol. Then there will be a house concert on the 15th May, also in Bristol.

Next, I'll be performing a mini-set at the Orkney fundraiser night on the 21st May at the Old Malt House. This is going to be really fun, with lots of performers, and Dila Vardar and the Oddbeats headlining (wonderful Turkish-delight flavoured band). I'll also be doing my VERY FIRST DJ set on the night! In preparation, I've been rummaging around on the internet finding some great old tunes from Trinidad, Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa and the Congo. Come please, and bring your pals. It all goes to support the marvellous magical DIY solstice gathering in Orkney that a group of us are helping to arrange.


You can keep up with other upcoming shows of mine here. I also recently went on the radio to talk to Nuala Honan of the World is Listening about my music. You can listen to this here by finding the entry that says 12.00 12/04/2016.

I have been so busy that I haven't been doing much song-making lately but I did recently do a fun piece of writing for the website This Place I Found. The idea is that you go to a place, write about it without judging it, and then submit it to the site with a snap. It's really fun. Do it!


I arrived in Rome on Wednesday and played last night in Fanfulla, a little club in the East of Rome. It's very hidden, in a residential street, and you'd never know it was there if you walked past. It's a really special place- run by a group of friends who love music. I really enjoyed playing- they were a really receptive audience. I also loved Miss True's set (kind of lofi punk-folk) and a guy called Stefano dj-ing Turkish 70s funk afterwards!

As far as I can figure out, I think Stefano is the brains behind Selvaelettrica, who are a netlabel releasing all sorts of independent music online. I love their description:

Since 2005 we promotes the best weirdos ever, directly from the deep void of music and noise.

We don't care about quality beats, ethics, mix, genres, style, saturation, space and time...we only care about ourselves...


You can listen to a load of great music here:

If you ever go to Rome, check out Fanfulla. You'll find some new friends there!

I didn't get any photos of the night, but here are a few of my wanderings around Rome.


Cut-up Poem

So I've been here in the Tuscan wilds for about 5 days now, and I have another 5 before I go to Rome for the next concert. After Rome, I go to play in Verona, Venice, and Bergamo, and then I'll be coming home. The first few days here, it rained non-stop, which was quite fun. It looks a lot like Wales here so the rain really added to that.

 View from my bedroom window

View from my bedroom window

Not fancying getting too soggy outside, I stayed in and recorded the rain and the chickens. There is a donkey here too that makes some great creaky-gate noises but I haven't managed to capture him yet as he is quite unpredictable!

I had made up a banjo thing but was having trouble with the lyrics, so I did some cut-up poetry (free-writing cut up and rearranged). It was really fun, I haven't done it in ages. Especially as I did it to a mega-dramatic soundtrack of Leonid Kogan playing violin. That was a tip-off from Dan (thanks Dan!). I'd never heard of him before. If you are looking for some beautiful classical violin playing, Leonid is your man. I think most of his recordings were made in the 50s–70s so they sound nice and old-fashioned.


Here is the poem I made whilst the above was playing:

I was imagining I'd turn it into a song over the banjo thing I'd made up but it didn't quite want to somehow, so I decided to just read the words. For some reason, this feels much more scary than singing. I don't know why!

Here is what I made in the end. The field recording I posted the other day of chickens is there in the background:


Eventually, it stopped raining, and I was able to get out a bit more and explore. Here are some snaps of the hereabouts:

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Detour to Pisa!

So, tonight was supposed to be the first night of my little tour. However, the bar I was going to play in had some problem with it's live music licence and had to cancel the show last minute, which was a bit of a shame. I'd already bought my train ticket so I looked where it was headed and saw that it was due to stop at Pisa a couple of stops before, which was a great excuse to visit for a day and be a tourist. I left Pisticci on Friday morning, said goodbye to Artu...


...and set off on my way.

Anne, who hosted me in Pisticci, is a lovely person and talented artist. If you are ever looking for a place for a retreat or holiday, I highly recommend her little house. It's on Airbnb. And here is her website.

I arrived in Pisa late last night, to the house of a friendly German vet who has two big dogs and, yes, another fluffy cat! (Might christen this the Fluffy Cat Tour).


I set out this morning to see the sights, or at least lots of people taking pictures of the sights:


OK, I did take some pictures of the sights too, just to prove I'd been there:

I particularly enjoyed the Cathedral, which had lots of very old paintings, including this one, which illustrates the famous Biblical tale of when Mary and Jesus posed for a photo and Mary dropped her hat:


I then went to the Museo de Sinopie, which has lots of 13th and 14th century sketches, which were studies for frescoes. They were alongside some modern sculptures, which I was very taken with. They are by a sculptor called Arnaldo Pomodoro (that's Arnold Tomato to you):


Finally, this evening, I wandered about in the rain, vaguely thinking of visiting the free museum, but there was an enormous queue, so instead I wandered on, and heard some music coming from a covered piazza. I suppose it is Chinese New Year, as they were announcing all the acts in Chinese as well as Italian. Then, this happened (watch to the end for the amazing high note finale):

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And, just when I thought it couldn't get any better, this happened:

After this, we were informed that the spectacle was finished, so I went to get some pizza.

Tomorrow morning I take the train to Bologna, where I will play at a house concert. I'm looking forward to this as it looks set to be amazing. There'll be a maximum of 20 people, dinner for all, and I'm supporting a wonderful artist called Marta Dell'Anno who uses a violin, voice, and loop station. Exciting!

some time in

Whoops! It's been a while. I've been here 20 days now!?

I think?

So. I've been playing banjo a lot, playing clarinet a little, practising my Italian, and learning to refuse the many kind offers from the neighbour to marry me off.

Last night I went to see a very highbrow rendition of the Iliad. I didn't understand a lot of it but it seemed to focus on the three muses, who were dressed in burkhas with their faces half painted red. They wailed a lot about Achilles and covered themselves in ash and waved see-through bin bags around. It was great.

Because the thing I didn't totally realise before coming here is that this used to be Ancient Greece. Isn't that nuts? I also went to Metaponto last week, which is supposed to be where Pythagoras' tomb is hidden.

Tomorrow I am going to Matera with some of my new pals here. Matera is a town which has been there for about 9000 years, and there are lots of caves, called sassi, that people used to live in. According to Google, it looks like this, but I suppose I will find out tomorrow:


Here are some recent things I recorded:

this is a weird song I made up:


and this is an old Italian folk song that I remembered whilst being here:

Photos of Pisticci

Here are some photos from my first week in Pisticci.

And hey, why not listen to some novelty Hawaiian steel guitar while you look? It's my new favourite album


And here is my new pal Artu (R2?) the next door neighbour's cat. He lets me laugh at him in exchange for bowls of cream and stroking his scraggy dribbly fur:


image Here is my new home for the next month! Pisticci is a little Italian town with about a thousand years history. It's very quiet and friendly. The old lady next door has already taken me under her wing and brought me a tupperware full of boiled cabbage. My Italian is not very good but I believe she told me it would protect me from brain tumours. The house is warm and cosy and feels like a perfect writing retreat space. Here is Jane warming up by the fire:



Adventuring begins! I'm going to a little house in the South of Italy for a month of isolated music making. First stop London, and then a train or three to Italy tomorrow.

It's been a while since I've done any song writing so I'm not sure what I'll discover in there but I'm looking forward to blowing the cobwebs off and finding out!

After that I'll be touring in Europe for a few weeks with Jane the banjo.



On the Radio Today!

messy church tent

I very much enjoyed playing for the lovely folks of Seal, in Kent yesterday at their village festival (my mum is the vicar there). It was a real treat to see a community coming together like that. After my set were the Primary school choir, who were totally magnificent. I also enjoyed helping my mum out at the messy church tent (pictured above) making jellyfish out of plastic bags and sticking everyone to everything with glue.

Now I have washed the sequins off my legs, I am looking forward to heading up to the great city of London to play on the Relatively Good Radio Show, run by all-round good eggs The Relatives.

The show goes out on Resonance FM from 3-4pm every Sunday. You can listen online or, if you are in London, play it off an actual radio on 104.4 FM.

Hay, Wales, and Manchester

I'm currently in the hills of Herefordshire, having a restful stop with friends after the Howthelightgetsin festival in Hay-on-Wye. Highlights were listening to pals Jet Mcdonald and George Morgan playing, hanging out at the Anima Rising shop in the High Street, and causing an old-time ruckus with Molly Carroll and new friends the Most Ugly Child (that's a band, not a person) in the street. Next I'm travelling onwards to Fire in the Mountain in Wales. I'll be playing with the Ninetree Stumblers there.

After that Dan and I are up to Manchester on the 7th June to play at the Secret Folk club at Band on the Wall.

See you somewhere on the way!

@jessedressy @secretfolkclub @mostuglychild @FireIntMountain @jetmcdonald

Roll for the Soul- Friday 24th April

mike and solvieg I'm very happy to be playing at Roll for the Soul Bike cafe in Bristol this coming Friday:

Alongside the wonderful Gosa Vadd, Mouse Deer and all the way from Norway: Mike and Solveig:

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