I’ve been singing what might be called “Downton-era duets” with soprano Sarah Dacey, arranger and fixer and all-round clever gal and member of the Juice vocal ensemble. S&P1

We had a lot of fun with a couple of Edwardian-era duet books, and then got together with pianist Charles Economou in a 12th century church in Perivale, dressing up, taking photos, and recording to see what we sounded like. I think we sound all right! Do have a listen! And below, a change of clothing.

It’s been a while since I updated my ‘forthcoming gigs’ list because I have been sitting down and writing. More on that if I sell the result! A few months will tell, but I’ve done what amounts to a book. It is, (no surprise here), about singing.

On another Downton note, two musicians I work regularly with, Nicholas Ball and Jon Butterfield, will be featured in the jazz-club scene in the current series of that wildly-popular television programme.

And another project is taking my time: a CD of World War I songs, out next year!

In the meantime, if you like Sarah’s voice, and would like an unforgettable, fascinating evening, do attend her ensemble’s tenth anniversary bash. It will be unlike any you’ve ever experienced. Just don’t expect it to sound anything like what you hear here!

The 101 concerts in Canada were an absolute whirl of fascination and exhaustion: waking up at 5am to get the 5:45 Langdale bus, the 6:15 Horseshoe Bay ferry, the 7:10 Vancouver bus and Skytrain out to Abbotsford, Mission, Delta, Coquitlam, Ladner, Chilliwack and other outlying areas for 10am, 1:45 and 3pm concerts, back at 8:30 in the evening. Singing

I met a man who worked for Howard Hughes; a Chinese nonogenarian who led a band in the thirties that toured Brunei, London, Singapore, Buenos Aires; a Caribbean-born man who played bongos in an ensemble that was all the rage in 1940s Quebec; a tattooed lady who had played 2nd violin for the Vancouver Philharmonic in the 1950s; and so many other wonderful people. Yet more inspiration to write, which I am doing, like anything. Any gaps in the “Forthcoming Gigs” link are filled with writing.

Some interesting gigs when I got back to London in April: Singing at a vintage dining experience for London Vintage Kitchens, in this case 1913 Paris. Guests were dressed in 1913 finery while I sang and Julio Schwarz Andrade played ragtime piano. Fee VerteWe did a rip-snorting version of My Blue Heaven, in French. A little bit after 1913 but nobody seemed to mind too much. B&W photos by Hanson Leatherby.

And, on the subject of writing, do hie thee to the nearest good newsagent’s and get a copy of the June/July “Chap” magazine! Stocklists are HERE. Or else just order one from their site. I highly recommend back-issues, what an array of them, but the June/July one features an article I wrote on the subject of sheet music. And also, if you go to theChap.org, you can hear a track that Matt Redman arranged, and played, using classical guitar, acoustic bass guitar, steel-string guitar (with slide), 12-string guitar, mandoline, ukulele, and bouzouki! All at the same time! And I sing. Chap (1)We recorded it especially for the article, interpreting my first-ever piece of sheet music without hearing any other versions, in the true spirit of sheet-music explorations: get it from the paper, and not from the record! If you like it, do leave a comment in the comments box!

I must get back to Monteverdi now. After spending a childhood in thrall to the Nadia Boulanger recordings of Zefiro Torna and Chiome d’oro sung by Paul Derenne and Hughes Cuenod, I get a chance to sing them with lovely lovely Emily Atkinson and wonderful musicians this Sunday in the Lovekyn Chapel!

I’ve stopped blogging in favour of writing, moving house, researching more music, touring and generally having full days!
But there are a few highlights. In November I performed with the Ragtime Parlour Band in CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, and then again at the Zoomer Show in a vast, vast building on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Back in London, I was with Albert Ball’s Flying Aces as the headliners at Chap Magazine’s Grand Anarcho-Dandyist Ball. We came on after Mr B. the Gentleman Rhymer and a man who walked a tightrope while playing a violin. There was a flea-circus as well, but I never managed to see any fleas doing anything. I suspect they’re rather like Sea-Monkeys, a disappointment of my youth.
The Chap is great fun and I urge anyone who hasn’t read it to order a copy forthwith. Full of entertaining, quirky frivolity as well as extremely useful information, it is a very stylish way to buck the trends of our corporate-run, homogenized world. Also! They’re selling Our Lovely Day on their site! If you don’t want to support tax-dodging Amazon, please go and buy your copy HERE at the Chap, and also treat yourself to a magazine. The current issue is on Eccentrics.

In January, February and March I am embarking on a tour of one hundred concerts in Nursing Homes in and around Vancouver, BC. This will be through HealthArts and is something special. I hope to try out a lot of Canadian ragtime, and collect stories, and get together material for a CD!

Come one come all to Ragtime Parlour in Notting Hill! Wednesday the 25th of July! This is going to be one of the best concerts ever…THREE sets of songs including
Moonlight Bay
Oh Johnny
the Honeysuckle and the Bee
Tango des Roses
Don’t Bring Lulu
That Old Feeling
Button Up Your overcoat
Put Your Arms Around Me
If You Were the Only Girl in the World
and more…
Plus songs from Albert Ball’s Flying Aces band, plus The Lucky Dog Picturehouse! Buster Keaton’s “Cops” and Felix the Cat, accompanied live by Jon Butterfield. Popcorn, wine (included in ticket price) and Ginger and Greene, London’s best vintage hair and makeup team. There will be Matt Redman on banjo and guitars, Nick Ball on vintage drums and spoons and effects (including voice!), Simon Marsh on clarinet, Dickie Evans on Sousaphone, and the aforementioned Jon Butterfield on piano. And Emily O’Hara’s famous Lucky Dog experience.
All this in the venue that saw the world premiere of Oscar Wilde’s scandalous “Salome” in 1905, and also a teenaged Laurence Olivier’s acting debut twenty years later. Historic boxing matches, Marie Lloyd, Margaret Rutherford, Rex Harrison and many others have featured on its boards.
Anyway, step right up and please buy a ticket:
I promise you won’t regret it.

Meanwhile, the other blog continues on its merry way for those who like more chattiness:

See you on Wednesday the 25th at the 20th Century Theatre!

Singing in Canada

Just got back from a tour for Health Arts Society in Vancouver, and a showcase in Toronto for Our Lovely Day. Copies of the CD were handed round and I sang in a red velvet dress to an interesting crowd: writers for the National Post, Toronto Life, Hello! Canada…and both classical and jazz booking agents, and also the producer for Murdoch’s Mysteries, as well as Eve Egoyan who called the music I sing “generous”. Which is a brilliant description. It is! These songs go OUT to the audience, giving a damn about them.
Steve Hunter played for me and did an excellent Ragtime solo in the Honeysuckle and the Bee. Tea and cake were had by all and everyone sang the chorus of Always.
So! I go back and sing at the legendary Hugh’s Room on the 19th of June!
I knew Canadians would like what I sing!
Back in England, I did some Handel and some more ragtime. I performed at Epsom College, The Idler Academy and the Gilbert Scott at St Pancras Renaissance. For details and a more chatty account, please see
my Canadian Nightingale blog!
Before Hugh’s Room I have a few things coming up this side of the Atlantic. A Bach Vespers at St Anne’s on Sunday the 27th of May, and some more activity round the Gilbert Scott for the Jubilee weekend, and a special Jubilee concert at the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond, with Peter Jacobs on the piano! This is a great occasion for me; I know Peter because I sent him fan-mail when I was a student. I loved his CDs for Hyperion, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Life can be fascinating.

At the Gilbert Scott with Emily O'Hara, John Baker and Simon Marsh

The gigs have been fascinating lately. A Silent Film evening in an old Candy factory in Limehouse; a Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle in Chateau d’Oex’s hilltop church, slippery with ice; Passing Clouds in Dalston; the Experimental Cocktail Club in Soho; the British Library with A. S. Byatt, a Magicienne named Romany, and Tweedy the Clown; and an even more wonderful Ragtime Parlour than the last one, in Notting Hill. You can read more details on the other blog, HERE.

And now I’m in the Sunday Times, and a goodly few paragraphs of me at that! Terribly gratifying. But this month’s vintage-style gigs are almost all in private venues, so all these wonderful new people will be clamouring to hear the Parlour Band and they won’t be let in! All I can say to that is


And we’re jolly good, we are. We look good and sound good, and can operate in a duo (me and a piano), a trio (me and a piano plus a clarinet or violin) or me PLUS trio (The Lovely Parlour Trio: guitar/banjo, piano, specialist percussion), or Ragtime Parlour four (not requiring piano: banjo, clarinet, percussion, sousaphone) Or the full-on Lovely Parlour Band (violin, clarinet, percussion, banjo, bass, piano).

We can work with or without a PA. And nobody else sounds anything like us.

Our Lovely Day was also featured in the rather sweet magazine “Yours”. It was on their “Don’t Miss” page under “Must Listen”. They paraphrased what Sir Michael Parkinson said about the disc. He said a music-box of vintage treasures. They said a musical box of vintage treasures. Well, Jenny Agutter was on the front cover of the magazine. That ain’t any bad thing at all.

Very excited that BBC Radio York is playing the disc every night this week! This is all thanks to Sandie Dunleavey, who hosts a four-hour programme starting at 6pm, every weekday. She received a copy of Our Lovely Day and listened to the whole thing, and immediately rang me up.
“Loved your CD, and I’ll be playing it every night this week.”
I said that I tour Yorkshire for the Lost Chord Foundation, and that the arranger/guitar/banjo/ukulele/bouzouki player on the disc, Matt Redman, was born in Yorkshire and went to Chethams, and that Michael Brough, pianist for “Smilin’ Through”, “Love’s Old Sweet Song” and “My Own”, is also Yorkshire.
“Well I don’t have to have a Yorkshire connection, just good singer, good song,” she said, jauntily.
We need more Sandies in this world.
She’s also a fan of films.
She played “Lovely Weekend” last night and you can hear it HERE until this time next week. At 1:09:50.
I do remember going through York on a tour and hearing her distinctive, relaxing voice, and loving her selections. People in that region must really look forward to their evening commute because of her.

We’ve also been reviewed by the-rocker in Zeitgeist.
I particularly love his memories of his grandmother.

And again, the CD is available on Amazon, and now on Spotify.

Now that the CD is available (did I mention it? Not just digitally anymore, but a physical fact, and with my google-free guaranteed booklet notes) it is starting to get a little airplay.

I had a day in a studio just off Oxford Street talking to a series of radio stations that were so obscure they didn’t have websites, though the gents who took the time to interview me were all extremely knowledgeable.

Then broadcasting legend Desmond Carrington opened his complimentary copy and decided to play “A Nice Cup of Tea” on his show The Music Goes Round on the 18th of November. Then two days ago he played “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls”. You can hear it HERE, at exactly 16 minutes in.

Classic FM has yet to play any of it.

I’m very excited that the Lovely Parlour Trio and I are going to play live on BBC Radio London, the Breakfast Show with JoAnne Good and Simon Lederman on Saturday the 17th of December, as the last time I was there, talking of my experiences in Nursing Homes, they said to come back soon! And they also operate out of one of the very few studios still in possession of an upright piano. We believe that such respect for heritage ought to be rewarded. I might not sit on top of it, as all footage of the Lovely Parlour Band would indicate…Do see our clips on YouTube if you’re interested…

Please remember that if these updates are unecessary, or if, for any reason, you’d rather seek out information than be sought out, you can unsubscribe! I will not be in any way hurt.

But many thanks for your interest, and please spread the word about the album. We had a budget to produce it, pay for the research, the arrangements, the fine musicians, the wonderful studio and the booklet and photography, but we don’t have any for advertising. We need a very, very strong grapevine.

Hear ye, hear ye! Our Lovely Day is available, WITH the two bonus tracks included after all (those being A Nice Cup of Tea and Let Him Go Let Him Tarry), on the 14th of November! This year! In time for Christmas.
Dare I say it, this would make an excellent present.
And we’ve been given a quote from Sir Michael Parkinson, who listened to an advance copy. To wit:
“A music-box of vintage treasures, beautifully sung by a remarkable woman.”
In any case, it’s a beautiful CD to behold, especially in these days when CDs are undervalued and booklets can be sparse, and budget-saving.
Well, enough shameless self-promoting.
The Lovely Parlour Band has been performing in various places…
I have blogged about our appearance at the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair, with copious pictures, at thecanadiannightingale.blogspot.com, and it was even filmed a bit:
Yours, at the Vintage Fashion Fair in Clerkenwell
Not sure yet about CD release dates for North America, but there are four tracks that are available as a sort of online EP, on these sites:
HMV Digital
and 7 Digital.
These ought to work no matter what part of the world you’re in.
And I hope they bring a smile to your face!


Just a few things…
I’ve been writing a lot of blather about this and that at www.thecanadiannightingale.blogspot.com and if you like vintage cars, do have a look. I was lucky enough to be at Goodwood for four whole days.

But most importantly, there is a sort of taster for the album available online on Amazon, my website and iTunes on the 23rd of October. It’s going to be called “A Nice Cup of Tea” and the artwork (though digital only, you can print one out) was created by none other than Nick Ball, one of the arrangers, and the fellow who plays not only the spoons and the glockenspiel, but also the kazoo solo. Along with Matt Redman (who plays ukulele on the track), he also arranged it. It is the song you always knew but never heard a recording of. Aren’t you lucky? Now you’ll have the recording. It’s the sort of ditty you want to whistle, and with that in mind, there is even a whistling chorus in it.

Also available – and like this one, online only – will be We’ll Gather Lilacs, in an almost chamber-ensemble arrangement (all of these by Matt and Nick); the Honeysuckle and the Bee from 1901 with a lovely ragtime feel complete with banjo; and Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry, a spirited Irish singalong which was featured in the classic film “The Way to the Stars”. So that’s four tracks, available on the 23rd of October.

Two performances will celebrate it: one on the 23rd itself, at the Clerkenwell Vintage Fair near the tea-shop, and one on the 3rd of November at a special evening devoted to poetry readings…poems about tea! In a Notting Hill tea-shop. Details on the website when you click on the “gigs” link.

AAAAND most importantly, you can HAVE a track for free. It’s my most-requested number, the Honeysuckle and the Bee. If you go to my blog, there is a widget to the left of the text and all you do is click, and follow the instructions. I want this to go around the world and for people like Stephen Fry to notice it. So forward it to as many people as you can, and maybe it’ll end up there!

Lastly, there was a nice feature at THE VINTAGE GUIDE TO LONDON recently, which, if you’re not a regular reader of said e-zine, you may have missed.

A Remarkably Good™ website.