Caught On The Hop

And how has '95 been for you, gentle reader? For us, it's been pretty darn good.....135 gigs, so far, some of which have been among the greatest we've ever done. The best of this year (and maybe any other) was playing to 12000 totally mental people at the huge Dranouter Festival in Belgium. We had them all to ourselves and for one and a half hours they went totally berserk and gave the crush barriers some severe stick. Afterwards, they besieged us for every piece of merchandise we had and when that was all gone, they pressed us to sign money, bankbooks, programmes, posters, passports and parts of their sweaty bodies. Fun.

Returning to the UK, we played for the Manchester United first team squad at a private party. we discovered a great many things such as Peter Schmeicel is so HUGE that you can't see round him; that Roy Keane is a very charming man and that Eric Cantona can't dance for toffee but is even more charming than Mr. Keane. More fun.

An ambition was achieved when John Peel (bless him) gave us a play on his BBC Radio One show. We shared stages with one of our all time heroes, Ry Cooder and with Roy Harper, Tom Robinson, Elvis Costello and Kate & Anna McGarrigle. We were told in Sheffield that we were the best band they'd had since The Clash (it was meant as a compliment we think) and Taplas, the Welsh Folk magazine, said we were far too loud and rocky and that even Wolfstone and The Oysters weren't as bad as us ( it was meant as an insult but we take it as a compliment). The fabled Tin Biro of Tibet Award goes this year to Liverpool Scene Magazine who called us "...a cross between the gothic sturm und drang of the Velvet Underground and the wild intensity that was Talking Heads, topped off with a sprinkling of Yardbirds guitar, keyboards reminiscent of The Shamen and a stone folk vocal". Hmmmmmmm.

We intend going into the studios in November to see if any of the new stuff is worthy of putting before you and then despite all the distractions (Mick moving house, Terri looking for a new one after her flat was burnt to the ground and she escaped by the skin of her teeth - but not her right foot which was burnt quite badly though she played that night's gig on crutches - what a trouper! and Mike expanding his pipes and reeds business) it'll be back to the circuit.

Thanks a bunch to all the people who write to us and who write about us.....We'd still do it without you, but it wouldn't be half as much fun. Watch this space for more inconsequential ramblings.

Lotsa love, Bernie

The new album, A Nation Of Hop Keepers, is available on Harbourtown Records. A short sample of "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill" is available here. (270K .wav file)