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2016

2016? I know, I know…but for me it’s been a great year.

Lots of festivals and UK tour with Neil Brophy Band, markets and pubs with Strong Ale, a couple of parties and events with Aliens, and a really busy year doing all sorts as a one man minstrel monkey…particularly helped by a whole bunch of newly launched and thoroughly brilliant “The Old Irish Pub”s all over Denmark.

Recording of the single “Fear of Fear” with Neil Brophy Band and preparation of the video project about to be launched on patreon.com.  Several trips to Britain and Norway and lots of great festivals, including the best Glastonbury ever.  And of course the big event – moving to Avalon, our new home in Denmark (and the beginning of Avalon Studios!)

Got to see some great bands: The Great Malarkey, John Grant, Afro Celt Sound System, Treacherous Orchestra, Christy Moore, Aurora, Blackbeards Tea Party and Of Monsters and Men among others.

We’ll take the consequences of Brexit and Trump next year…for me it will be challenging even if we don’t end up in world war 3…and we can feel sad at the loss of some of my great heroes (particularly Bowie – who left us with one of his best ever albums as a farewell…what a way to go!)  But I have food in my belly, a roof over my head, music all around, good health, an amazing wife and wonderful friends and family.  Lucky monkey.  Blessings to you all

Video a week on patreon.com

Hi and happy new year beloved folkies!

A new feature for 2017 is the Martin Dale patreon page at:

https://www.patreon.com/martindale

Here you can see live performances of songs, background info about the songs, thoughts about new songs and much more.  Better still, it’s an interactive experience – you can tell me what you think, ask me questions, make requests or say whatever you feel like to me!  I’ll reply to every post.

It’s launched today (1st January 2017) and there will be a new video (plus background info video) every Sunday come rain or shine, as well as bonus recordings, musings, song sketches etc.

Click the buttons and become part of it.  You know you want to!

Panama papers

My take on the Panama Papers.

Firstly, how refreshing it is to finally see people pointing the finger of blame for the economic disaster that has been the world economy since 2008 at the people who are actually responsible for it – the banks, high earners and corporations – instead of the innocent victims of the crisis (the poor and immigrants) who had nothing to do with it.

A relief too to see David Cameron squirming with discomfort for once in place of his usual “I can screw you over but you can’t touch me” stance.  At last something is making him feel the effects of his policies.

That said, and I’m not the first to point it out, there are many names missing off these leaks.  There are thousands of companies enabling the transfer of taxable income to tax havens, and a huge number of rich people benefitting – to the obvious (and deliberate) detriment of society.

We need laws in place NOW to stop this behaviour being possible.  We need the banks and lawyers who make it possible to be prosecuted and penalised so hard it isn’t worth their while to risk it.  We need full openness about the finances of the super-rich and their tax returns.

And most of all we need to stop aiming our anger at the sick, unemployed or muslim, when the real danger to society is greed-filled neoliberalism and deregulated capitalism.

For those lucky enough to have a vote

I will be able to vote in the upcoming referendum on whether the UK stays in the EU or not.  I am happy about this.  It does have a certain degree of relevance to my life:  as a British citizen living in a different EU country.

Brexit would mean renegotiation of all trade deals, a tremendous amount of work creating new laws to cover the many things that the EU currently deals with, and would potentially act as catalyst for others (like Denmark) who might be very tempted to leave.  We should remember that we currently live in the only period of history when there hasn’t been war in Europe.  The EU isn’t just about trade, human rights, environment and excessive bureaucracy (all of which it excels at) – it is mostly about natural enemies living together in peace.

But the EU is nearly as undemocratic as the British Parliament, and desperately needs reform.  Here I find myself – for literally the first time ever – in agreement with David Cameron.  How it should be reformed we, of course, differ.  But – for all its faults, of which there are many – The EU is better than no EU.  Especially for a country like the UK which is in the clutches of an otherwise un-checked dictatorship-in-the-making.

This, however, will be the last referendum I will be able to vote in.  And the last election was also my last.  The reason?  I have not lived in the UK for 15 years, and after that period of time – due to laws brought in by Tony Blair’s government in 2000 – ex-pats can’t vote.  I understand why they have this rule – even if I disagree with it.  However, as I am not a Danish citizen, I can’t vote here either.  This means that the only elections I am actually entitled to vote in are the EU elections.  And if there’s a Brexit, that right too will disappear.  As will my right to remain in Denmark under the terms of my residency permit.

Incidentally, at the last EU elections I didn’t receive a polling card (neither did most of the ex-pats I know).  It seems that they forgot to send out a post card to tell us that new rules would mean we would have to write to a certain address to register.  No-one I know received these.  Because we didn’t register, we were turned away at the polling stations.  Danish citizens didn’t have to register.  Nor did I at previous elections.  My story spent 10 minutes on the front page of TV2 news before being removed entirely.

So my voting days are over – I’ve voted at every election I have been able to (even though those I voted for have not won a single time!).  All of you who still have a vote, please remember how lucky you are and don’t waste it by not voting, or by voting for popularist hate-mongers.  Many people died to get you the vote.  You have a voice (albeit a very little one).  I don’t any more.  But I do have a blog.  And songs.  Muhahahaa!

An Easter Message

Good Friday.  That’s what we call this day in the UK.  Langfredag (Long Friday) in Denmark.  Both are appropriate for me as I have to cross the country to Roskilde to play a lovely gig and then face the motorway and splendid Storbælt bridge once more to get home.

It is the day set aside by one of the major monotheistic religions (the one who by various means converted the most people in what we now call “The West”) to remember the fate of a working class dissident in Israel a couple of thousand years ago during the Roman occupation.  Nearby the site of the barbarous brutality that (according to certain, though maybe not entirely reliable sources) was fortunately only temporarily terminal, there is – even today – murder, torture, hatred and intolerence.  In the name of different versions of the same religion to which he belonged.   Christianity, Islam and Judaism are, remember, basically the same faith sharing most of the same scripture and divided only on interpretation and implementation. They share the same God.

I don’t think that Jesus would be terribly proud of his legacy.

The current followers of the revised and edited books that describe the bits of what Jesus said that people could remember a half century later are spilt into many factions, who agree on a few things, but disagree on as many.  These factions can be collected into two main groups:  those christians who base their doctrine on the NT:  Love your neighbour as thyself/ do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and those who take random texts from the laws of the Hebrews around 3500 years ago and base their values on those – ignoring the bits that don’t fit their views. eg. Leviticus 18:22 but not Leviticus 19:28 (tattoos??? Nooooo!) or 19:33 (be nice to foreigners!).  This stuff is clearly for eyes that have not opened in 2 millenia. I say keep the historical bits, though with a pinch of salt (Lot has lots) and chuck the rest where it belongs – in a museum for long lost cultures.  But don’t take any of it as gospel.  The first group I have more time for, simply because the message is clearer (only the unfortunate addition of the stories of the apostles and the bizarre coded bad trip that is Revelation confuse the issue).  The gospels, though they contradict in story, pretty much give the same – and rather refreshingly positive – message:

Be nice to people.

The first group mentioned above tend to have a good grasp of this.  It’s pretty much the same message as in all other religions, if you take out the pretty poetry, swashbuckling stories and laws on personal hygiene.  It’s so simple – chuck your ancient parchments away – you don’t need them.  People are still being executed daily for spreading the message of being nice to people in societies based on outdated rules from bygone desert subcultures. I’m not saying chuck your beliefs (unless they tell you to harm other people or destroy our planet – in which case I am, cos there ain’t no god silly enough to think that’s a good idea), I’m saying stick to the essence of them and don’t get wrapped up in the frequently mistranslated details.  There’s one message from the Easter story we can all take with us, whether we believe in magical mystical carpenters or not – it’s beautiful and it’s not the dubious resurrection.  And I think that despite all the misuse of Christianity in waging wars and persecuting people, Jesus would be proud of those who remember only this:

It’s that it’s better to die spreading love than to live in hate and fear.

St Patrick’s

So it’s St. Patrick’s Day and a joyous day it is for folk like me who like Irish pubs, Irish folk music, Irish whisky and Guinness.  The marketing department of Guinness is, of course, the reason it is celebrated in the style it is in so many countries with otherwise minimal ties to The Emerald Isle.

I keep wondering when St. Austell brewery is going to do the same marketing trick for St. Piran’s Day (I have all the Cornish songs ready!).  Or if Banks’s could do the same for Wolverhampton…no idea who the patron saint of the Black Country is.  St. Bully?

If you are going green for the day and joining in the Craic – a very happy Paddy’s Day to you.  Hope you have a great party wherever you are.  A big “Sláinte” to all the Irish out there.  I’ll be at The Irish Rover in Copenhagen playing lots and lots of Irish songs and tunes with Strong Ale.  Come down and make mine a Guinness!

The Great Danes get greater

The other day I was sitting in a quaint little coffee place in Odense, drinking really good coffee and listening to someone ordering a vegetarian sandwich, when I realised suddenly how much Denmark has changed since I arrived back in 2001.

While it’s unavoidable that we notice the horrendous rise in xenophobia, racism, inequality and poverty, and the less obvious but equally odious tendency to prioritise the individual over the collective, and the disdain for paying taxes (of which the Danes were formerly so proud), we must acknowledge the good changes.

Like good coffee and vegetarian food.

I’d add to that supermarkets that are open til 10pm, better service in the service industries (more smiles and hellos), improved animal welfare (outside of conventional farming) and a huge increase in organic produce (despite the current government’s opposition to it).  And availability of real Cheddar cheese!

So well done Denmark for changing these things for the better.  Or am I just wallowing in my own culture’s infiltration?

Cornish pasties next please 😉

Weekend roundup

As the weekend comes around again – with a trip to the Old Irish Pub in Vejle for the first time (though the 6th venue I’ve played in Vejle!) tonight and a welcome return to Fru Mathies in Ribe on Saturday – here’s a little look back at last weekend.

Friday daytime was rehearsal day for Neil Brophy Band in Copenhagen where we arranged and rehearsed 2 new songs, which will be in the set for the summer’s festivals.  Then Brian and I headed up to Helsingør, and after a fab pizza at Casa Tua (best pizza in town), we set up for the evening’s gig at The Old Irish Pub in Søstræde.  Brian played solo from 9pm, then we played as a duo (Strong Ale) from 11pm, and I played solo from 1am til 3…and then had a few pints while the party died down.

Saturday, after watching Wolves beat Derby on the pub’s telly (happy days) and having coffee with friends, I returned to the stage to do the same procedure in reverse – me starting, so that I could take the 2 1/2 hour drive home at 1am after the Strong Ale sets.  The audiences were, as ever, fantastic – particularly on the Saturday, which was a pretty wild experience.  Great to be gigging with Brian again, and getting into the flow… we’re booked to do the same next week (11th and 12th March in Helsingør) and then will be doing St. Patrick’s Day at The Irish Rover in Copenhagen.  That was a riot (in a good way!) last year, so expectations are high.

Talking of patron saints and their feast days, tomorrow is St. Piran’s Day (patron saint of Cornwall).  I couldn’t get swede, so won’t be making pasties, and can’t get clotted cream, so that screws the Cream Tea, but I’ll get hold of some cider and raise a glass to Kernow!