Thursday, 2 September 2010

Man wanted on prison recall

craig_wilde.jpg(Updated, 6 Spetmber: Craig Wilde was arrested by officers in Morecambe on Saturday 4th September - the story below is retained for archive purposes).

Police are appealing for information that will help them track down a man who is wanted on prison recall.

Craig Wilde was jailed in August 2008 at Preston Crown Court for offences of burglary and theft and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

He was released from jail in June 2010 but has since failed to keep to the conditions of his prison licence so was recalled to prison by his probation officer from Lancashire Probation Trust.

Wilde has recently resided in Morecambe but it is now believed he may be in the Lancaster area. He is known to have previously slept in a tent in the Lancaster area and may again have resorted to sleeping outside.

Wilde is 5' 10'' tall, green eyes, with extensive tattoos on both arms his chest and back.

Wilde’s photograph, and details of other people who are currently wanted by police, can be found at the "Wanted" section of www.lancashire.police.uk.

Inspector John Clucas, Lancashire Police, said: “I would ask the public to report any sightings to the police. I would also appeal directly Craig Wilde to come forward and contact us.”

• Information can be passed to the police on 0845 1 25 35 45, by using the email address that can be found in the ‘Wanted’ section on www.lancashire.police.uk/wanted, or details can be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Police appeal as hunt for missing Lancaster man steps up

Missing - Anthony Ramos from LancasterPolice are appealing for information as to the whereabouts of a Lancaster man who went missing earlier this month.

43-year-old Anthony Ramos, of Ambleside Road, Lancaster, was reported missing by his family on 9th August. He was last seen in Preston in April and is known to have been in London in April – May.

Anthony, who also uses the name Fred Redman, is 4ft tall and walks with the aid of two crutches. He has collar length black hair and a beard.

“Anthony has gone without making contact with his family for long periods in the past before, but on this occasion they are particularly worried about him," says Sgt Simon Twist of Lancashire Police.

“I would ask Anthony, or anyone who may know where he is, to get in touch so that we can put minds at rest. If he does not want to speak to his family directly, we can pass on a message to let them know that he is alright.

“Anthony can also attend any police station in the country, where officers can see he is safe and well, and they can pass on a message to us.”

• Anyone with information about Anthony is asked to contact Lancashire Police on 0845 1 25 35 45.

Borough comedy night expands to meet demand

Comedian Daliso ChapondaLancaster seems to be experiencing a comedy boom of late, with several new nights having opened. Never ones to lack behind, the good folk at The Borough in Dalton Square have increased the frequency of The Lancaster Comedy Club to twice a month with the first 'extra' show on Sunday 12th September with something of an eclectic line up covering comedians from three continents - Daliso Chaponda, Wes Zaharuk and Mickey Sharma.

A stand up comedian with raw Eddie Murphy confidence, Daliso Chaponda was born in 1979 and says he is very proud of this achievement. His earliest aspiration was to become a reverend but alas, he enjoys sinning too much. Stand-up comedy is the closest he has come to his initial dream of the pulpit.

Although born in Malawi, he began his comedy career in Canada with the acclaimed one man show ‘Feed This Black Man’. In 2004 Daliso Chaponda headlined the ‘Don’t Let Them Deport Me’ Comedy Show as a plea to officials to have his Canadian visa extended. The show was sold out, well reviewed, and frenzied letters were written to bureaucrats. He was forced to leave anyway after one final show, 2005’s “They’re Deporting Him Anyway.” Next, he worked as a comedy writer and performer in South Africa before moving to the UK.

"It takes a special kind of act to work on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as across Africa)," noted the News and Star of this comedian, "but it seems an easy transition as he compels the crowd with his socially insightful comedy.

Wes_Zaharuk.jpgManic physical Canadian comedian Wes Zaharuk credits his comic roots to his parents. They made ‘not listening’ an Olympic event. As a child, his parents dressed him in wool pants that were incredibly itchy. Complain as he would, his words fell on deaf ears. When he developed a skin condition that looked like a large, all-dressed pizza, he was tested for allergies. It was found that he was allergic to wool. Through it all, Wes developed his desire to be heard — if only to reduce rash.

About the use of props in his performance Wes quips “Show business sometimes lures people who didn't get enough love early in life. I feel as a child I didn't get enough unsupervised time with power tools but who has perfect parents?”

micky-sharma-2010-march.jpgAlso on the bill is London's beatboxing comic Mickey Sharma and, representing Lancashire, compere Rob Riley.

"Lancaster as a city is well suited to comedy," says Rob, the man behind the The Borough's event, who will also be compering on Sunday. "It's got a large student population and tourists in the Summer, which means good audiences throughout the year.

"The Borough is a great venue for comedy too. Shows sell out well in advance and excellent feedback indicates we have the same balance on quality and price at our comedy nights as we have in the bars and kitchen!"

• The show starts at 8pm prompt and advance tickets at £6 are available from www.wegottickets.com, The Borough or you can pay £8 on the door if there are seats left. The show is strictly adults only.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Future plans for developing Lancaster Market

Despite its concerns about the costs of keeping Lancaster Market open, and the huge amount of research and feedback Lancaster City Council has already undertaken in their efforts to keep it going, the Council has decided it still needs to employ even more expert advisors to recommend ways in which the future of Lancaster Market can be secured.

Let's just hope these advisors have a bit more to them than the ones that recommended the sell-off of the building to the now moribund supermarket chain, ASCO - a plan which Full Council sensibly rejected.

Following the council’s decision earlier this year to keep the market open, prospective advisors are being asked to bid for a contract to put together a comprehensive report on the market.

Areas the successful bidder will be expected to cover in their final report include:

• The viability of providing a predominantly (specialist) food retail market, in the context of Lancaster’s developing role as a heritage city

• Whether the current structure and layout of the market is fit for purpose and to identify any changes, that might be necessary

• What appropriate lease arrangements should be in place between the council and the market traders, including the viability of a tenants’ charter

• Advise to what extent, if any, other complementary, non-physical works are required, e.g. marketing, to ensure a viable market.

• Advise how the indoor and charter markets can be linked

Although the idea of yet more talking and consulting will surely rankle with market traders, the Council's move has been welcomed by one of the major opponents to the proposed ASCO sell-off.

"I have been impressed by the commitment of councillors from all political groups to make the market a success," Coun Jon Barry, chair of the Lancaster Market Cabinet Liaison Group, and one of only two councillor to oppose the Cabinet-backed sell-off plan back in February, said. "We have seen how markets in other towns in the north-west can be the hub of their town centres.

“I am convinced that we can make this happen in Lancaster. Employing proven market experts to draw together all of the ideas about how we can improve our market is the first step towards achieving this.

“I am optimistic about the future of the market and about the city council and market traders working together to make Lancaster market a success."

The deadline for bids for the contract is 24th September. The successful bidder will be chosen by members of the Lancaster Market Cabinet Liaison Group.

It is anticipated that the final report will be presented to the liaison group by the end of the year - almost 12 months since proposals to sell off the Market were first discussed.

Date set for Harbour ward council by-election

The date for a by-election to elect a new councillor for the Harbour ward of Lancaster City Council has been announced as Thursday 7th October.

Anyone who is interested in standing as a candidate should telephone the elections office on 01524 582905.

The closing date for nominations is noon on Friday 10th September.

The vacancy has arisen following the recent sad death of Coun John Barnes.

New applications to vote by post must be made by 5.00pm on 22nd September to vote in the election. For details of how to apply for a postal vote contact the elections office on 01524 582905.

Appeal after Lancaster clubber pulled into car

Local police are appealing for information after a young woman was pulled into a car outside a Lancaster nightclub.

The 20-year-old woman, who was wearing a black top and white shorts, left Elements nightclub at around 3.30am on Monday 30th August when a small white car pulled up alongside her. The front seat passenger got out of the vehicle and grabbed her from behind, before pulling her into the car, driven by another man, with another man sitting in the back.

Luckily, the woman was able to struggle free and jumped out of the car at the traffic lights on Dalton Square. The victim fell, grazing her knee, before making her way to the Borough pub, where she told a man outside what had happened.

All of the men in the car were described as being white and in their early to mid twenties. One had short dark brown or ginger hair with a dark tracksuit top; another had short dark brown hair that was longer on top and was wearing a bright blue top and the third was a slightly larger build with short brown hair and was wearing navy track suit bottoms.

Police are now reviewing CCTV from the town centre, which they hope may have captured the incident or further details of the vehicle involved.

"There were potentially a number of people in the area who may have witnessed what has happened," notes Detective Glen Oldham, "especially the man that the victim spoke to outside the Borough pub.

"We would like to speak to anyone who has information."

• Contact police on 01524 63333 quoting log ref LC-20100830-0991

Motoerway safety goes high-tech at Galgate junction

State-of-the-art motorway message signs have been switched on by the Highways Agency along the M6 in Cumbria and are being installed near Lancaster this week, providing earlier warning of incidents and bad weather to drivers using the motorway.

The eight large, distinctive square overhead signs in Cumbria are the first motorway signs anywhere in the North West that display pictures and symbols as well as words.

The signs which have been installed between Kendal and Penrith (junctions 37 to 40) as well as near Carlisle (junctions 42 and 43), have also been linked to roadside weather monitors and automatically display adverse weather warnings, using internationally recognised symbols.

Four of these signs are also being installed on the M6 and M65 in Lancashire. This week, signs will be installed in each direction on the M6, between junctions 32 and 33 (Broughton to Galgate), with a third being installed on the eastbound M65 between Junctions 2 and 3.

The fourth, between Junctions 4 and 6 of the westbound M65 south east of Blackburn, is expected to be delivered in November.

Like other electronic signs across the region’s motorway network, the signs are controlled by Highways Agency Traffic Officers in the North West Regional Control Centre at Newton-le-Willows.

"Pictograms are more conspicuous to drivers at greater distances than text," explained Highways Agency project sponsor Stephen Brown, "providing earlier warning of hazards ahead and the internationally recognised symbols can be understood by non-English-speaking drivers.

"Keeping drivers informed is a top priority for the Highways Agency and providing real-time traffic information about road conditions and incidents will allow drivers to make informed choices during their journeys.

“These signs along with other roadside technology are connected to our National Traffic Control Centre which provides websites and the media, including 250 radio stations, with traffic information so drivers can also plan their journeys before setting off.”

County Council leader plays down evidence on CO2 emissions

County Councillor Geoff DriverPlans to reduce CO2 emissions in Lancashire appear to have disappeared into thin air, if the approach of Geoff Driver, the man charged with implementing the Climate Change Act in the County is anything to go by.

Despite global concern on climate change, Lancashire County Council leader Geoff Driver has been writing to county residents opposed to the building of the £140 million Heysham M6 Link road playing down the emissions threat.

His letters reveal a worrying attitude, and campaigners for a different approach to Lancaster and Morecambe's traffic problems argue his claims flies in the face of the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence from around the world.

The County's own figures estimate the CO2 emissions from the proposed Link Road - currently on hold as the national government has delayed all new road projects that have not already begun construction - to be as high as 23,500 tonnes/year. But in letters to local taxpayers, Councillor Driver claims "The CO2 emissions for England in 2007 were 419 million tonnes/year of which 113 million tonnes/year were from transport. The increase due to the Link Road is one five thousandth of England's transport emissions in 2007."

However, using the 2007 figures from County’s own website, the CO2 emissions from transport in the Lancaster district were 346,000 tonnes/year -- which means the increase due to the Link Road would actually be as high as 6.8% of the Lancaster district total.

What’s more, government figures for emissions from local and regional roads (excluding motorways) in the Lancaster district – which are the County Council’s responsibility – were 191,000 tonnes/year.

In other words, the increase due to the Link Road would be 12.3% - a massive one eighth of the Lancaster District total.

It's generally accepted that CO2 is a “greenhouse gas”, and causes global warming and climate change. The Climate Change Act 2008 gives the Government a legally binding commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

"It is not acceptable to say ‘It’s only a little increase’," argues David Gate, chair of transport campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, who are promoting more sustainable alternatives to the lorry traffic-generating Link road.

"Lancashire County Council will have to reverse these increases in CO2 emissions, and then put in place policies to achieve the reductions required by law," he explains.

"Council decisions on transport, planning and housing can have a significant impact on emissions, but it looks unlikely that Lancashire will meet its legal targets given the mindset of its leader."

Despite the huge cost and the loss of 173 acres of the North Lancashire Green Belt, Lancashire County Council, backed by both local Conservative MPs, is still pressing hard to build the massive new road, in the face of massive opposition.

Incredibly, at a time when government is urging for careful spending plans, the Council also paid for technical consultants to prepare cheaper and more sustainable integrated transport plans for the district, but these are not being progressed, even though the road plan may well be axed in the government spending review.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond recently revealed that one of the Government’s “three key priorities” is to contribute to reduced carbon emissions from transport.

“This HGV road plan runs directly against a top aim of the new Coalition Government”, said Mr Gate. “It’s time for the County Council to stop fighting against Government policy and ditch this polluting scheme.”

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe web site - find out how you could ease traffic problems without blowing over £100 million of taxpayers money

County Councillor Geoff Driver's web page on the Lancashire County Council web site

Monday, 30 August 2010

13th place for McGuinness at Cadwell

John McGuinness at the Metzeler
National 1000cc Superstock
Championship.
Picture: Glynne Lewis
Morecambe motorbike star John McGuinness' run of points-scoring finishes in the Metzeler National 1000cc Superstock Championship continued on Bank Holiday Monday when the Morecambe star finished in 13th place in the latest round at Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire, Phil Wain reports.

The Padgetts Honda rider fought his way through from a sluggish start to pick up three more Championship points, although the result did drop him back to 9th place overall in the Championship table.

A solid start to the weekend saw John take 11th place in Saturday's free practice sessions and a few improvements to the bike enabled him to improve by almost a second in the afternoon's opening qualifying session, despite it being affected by the rain, to move up to tenth overall.

Sunday saw more inclement weather and although it was dry for the second and final qualifying session, strong winds meant it was very difficult for riders to improve their times. John was one of those who couldn't improve and his time from Saturday remained meaning that he lined up in 13th place on the grid.

Conditions were dry for Sunday's 14-lap race but a languid start saw John down in 17th place at the completion of the first lap and with a lot of work to do just to get in to the points. He was up to 16th on lap 2 and then moved up to 15th and in to the points on the sixth lap having overhauled former champion Lee Jackson.

The next two laps saw him climb up to 13th as first he overtook Sam Warren and then Luke Quigley crashed out. He promptly pulled away from the group he was dicing with and by lap 12 was almost four seconds clear. However, he was also five seconds adrift of 12th placed Steve Plater and he had to settle for a somewhat lonely 13th place at the chequered flag.

"It was another tough race and I left myself an awful lot to do after firstly a so-so qualifying performance and then a distinctly average start," a frustrated John said after the race.

"I managed to battle my way by a few of the boys but the front group had already gone by then and it's quite disheartening when you see them away in the distance and know you can't get any higher up.

I haven't been 100 per cent happy with the handling of the bike these last few rounds and the set-up I've been running is something that hasn't quite worked for me," he added. "I was following what my team-mates Glen and Hutchy have been running but I haven't been able to replicate the times I set 12 months ago so we're going to go back to the fork set-up we had a year ago for the next round. I won at Croft 12 months ago and I'm just going to set up the bike exactly like that for practice and qualifying and get back to the feeling I'm comfortable with.

"The team have been doing a mega job again this weekend and I just want to repay their faith and hard work with a good result."

Flying with the New Hawks: an interview with local musician Dan Haywood

new_hawksw.jpg Last job I could walk the length of a country'
- Dan Haywood on the release of Dan Haywood's New Hawks


Five years in the making, Dan Haywood's New Hawks is a 32-song triple album taking folk rock and popular music in exciting new directions. This weekend, the band played a one off event to celebrate the launch of this Timbreland Records release with live performances for the full Dan Haywood New Hawks ensemble in addition to multi-media installation and an illustrated talk.

In the run up to the event, Dan and Tom Bramhall discussed his preparing for the release; the origins of the project in its native Scotland, writing and recording the songs and exploring some of their context both personal and in the wider field of popular music...


Tom Bramhall: Dan, the release date is a fortnight away - what's been happening?

Dan Haywood: Hi - the unofficial/local release date is at the end of this month, but the PR-set UK release date is much later in the year.

As things stand this week, I don't know whether either will be met. In recent weeks, it's been a blur of defective vinyl test pressings, jury service, live shows, sleeplessness and even conjunctivitis.

Tom: I'd hoped to set us up there for debating whether or not things were drawing to a close ... It sounds like new challenges have been presenting themselves?

Dan: Well that's life. And I wouldn't like to guess whether life's drawing to a close.

Do you mean the vinyl release or the New Hawks campaign in general?

Tom: I meant more the New Hawks campaign as it gears up for the album release. What's it like to be on-the-brink of putting this thing out there?

Dan: When I delivered the final mixes to Timbreland back in February I felt satisfied - like I had won. Because that had been my goal for a long time. But now I feel excitable and tense, because I feel like we need to win again.


The Electric New Hawks Band, August 2010., near Playfest site, Warton, North Lancashire.
Photo Richard Davis.

Tom: What's the goal this time?

Dan: To win hearts and minds, like Lyndon B Johnson would have wanted! I want people to take to the album and to get the most out of it, which I believe is a lot. We're gonna have to tread carefully with the PR, features like this and so on.

Tom: With that in mind, I was hoping you could give a brief summary of what Dan Haywood' New Hawks is, as if I were completely new to it...

Dan: To be prosaic (which I believe is acceptable in prose) Dan Haywood's New Hawks is a group of 32 songs. I could have called it Dan Haywood's New Songs or New Bag or Neu Roses at the time they appeared, which are all prosaic too. But since then there's been understandable confusion because it sounds like a band name and I don't always disabuse people of that notion. It works that way too.

When the songs get an airing in concert it's the name of the act, regardless of whether it's a solo, twenty-piece band or a fleet of laptops. It doesn't have to be me performing either, which is an idea I'd like to try. The 32 songs (New Hawks!) were written in a short space of time and reflect each other (like the jewels on Indra's net) and were my grand vision at the time. They live together. And the plan was for all of them to be recorded well and presented together.

Recording session for Dan Haywood's
New Hawks, July 2009.
Tom: - which I guess is what's going to happen with this triple vinyl release? To my ears they sound very well recorded...

Dan: Thanks - most of the tracks have been recorded very well indeed. Largely small groups with vocals in a room with overdubbing in the same space. Mick [Armistead] used some great microphone techniques and placements, especially when we recorded in the church. Like an auditory holograph of where we were spatially. Easy to get into. But the recording period was almost five years because not every take or session was successful. Hundreds of hours of versions, filtered down to this set.

Tom: It comes across like a sprawling - though by no means incomplete arc of songs, and much anticipated over a long stretch of time.

Without wanting to skirt over the effort and investment - which we could probably devote a whole interview to, I wonder if there's any risk that some of the project's subtleties could be dwarfed by the scale - in the writing say?

Dan: There's that risk. I mean, it's not important to me that there are 32 tracks. If the thing said it all just eight, then good! But I kept writing and writing until the circle closed, and it happened to be that way. If you take one song out it collapses. And it's correct to be true to the initial inspiration, to stand up for your instinct. I trust it in this case.

But you're right. It seems like a gimmick, which is not the case. It's the writing and the playing and the recording, which isn't a novelty.

Tom: Well I wouldn't have called it a gimmick. I'm just conscious as a listener and fan that when the scale of the project seems so vast, the risk would have been to lose a sense that there's a rich crop of things going on under the 32 track, triple disc banner.

I'm appropriating you for myself a bit here, but I reckon this is what makes it a complete piece of work: all parts seems to reflect the whole?


Dan: It only seems vast because of the norms of medium. Hi Norm! But the running time of two hours ten is pretty standard for cinema. And because rock music is superior to cinema it packs a lot more in. In terms of marketing the album you can't wilfully neglect the fact that it's a long piece. And that's often the initial point of interest. But it's only the surface. It's complete, not over-complete.

If everyone has the perfection they need (Hubert Selby?) then this is mine. I managed it, after almost fifteen years of writing songs and daydreaming.

The New Hawks lien-up, June 2010. Photo: Darren Andrews.

Tom: At what point did you feel ready to begin working up the songs and sharing them with others?

Dan: The moment that I saw that they were finished. Or as the dust settled ... after 50 re-drafts in the space of a month. It was making a sculpture out of a big, mysterious block of ice ... chipping and carving away, night after night. I wasn't sure how it would look, but I knew I would recognise when it was complete. One morning a sculpture was there staring at me instead of vice versa, with a plaque built in saying 'play to people'! And I obeyed!

It ended a horribly reclusive period, because I knew I'd need help to play them, that I couldn't do them justice. For most of the writing I hadn't touched an instrument. It was all in my head. So I took up the guitar again, sought out some friends and got in touch with the outside world

Tom: I like that you describe it as a sculpture. There's a monumental quality about the whole project.

You mentioned a writing period of 15 years bringing you to the point where you were able to write Dan Haywood's New Hawks. I'm curious to know how you'd describe the differences - if any, between this material and the things you'd written previously?


Dan: My writing didn't really bring me to New Hawks, it was living that did it. I had been bringing songs to bands for years, and the clue's in there - there was often a part of me which asked 'will Bill and Richard like to play this? Will they humour me this time?' So some of my older stuff was perhaps more self-conscious in that way. And often written for a certain arrangement. Also, my earlier songs are more emo-centric, me-me-me, emotive ... because I was a brat and a cad and a less-travelled younger man. And later life and events and places stepped in and blew my mind and de-railed me and I found myself writing outside of myself. On another track. About other people and places, and animals and plants.

Also, I was so thoroughly suffused with nature and rain and sun from 18 months outdoors in Caithness, Sutherland and some of the islands that my new 'country songs' finally seemed more authentic than the old ones. I was finally able to name-check place-names and exalt overlooked fauna without looking too stupid.

The place reinvigorated and rebuilt me and made more room for folk and country concerns in my repertoire. The use acoustic guitar became more valid, which maybe altered the writing a little.

Tom: This 'writing outside of myself' seems really apt, I think. It brought me in as a listener, made me care about the experiences, interests and obsessions - if you like, that were reflected in the songs.

It sounds like you became a migrant of sorts, and in doing so you were able to move from a particular ('emo-centric') to more universal subjects?


It's something I really admire in Dan Haywood's New Hawks - this sense of other: 'other people places ... animals and plants'.

Dan: A migrant would fit. The album's full of migrants. In 'Family Tree' we have a vagrant American bird accidentally blasted across the Atlantic which is transplanted to an apple tree in Britain. A migrant which becomes a vagrant.

And parts of the album consider the Highland Clearances, the disgrace which forced locals to either migrate or starve. And some fled to America, and took their music with them, which fed American folk and later country music and rock and roll. Musically, New Hawks examines those links. Elvis was a Scot! And there's also our songs like 'Superquarry' which are partly about modern American investment and naval and military presence in Highland Scotland.

I had a friend in Caithness whose indigenous family was making a living from 'Texan' oil from The North Sea oilfields, and they lived on a Thurso street called John Kennedy Walk.

And in the Clearances, some Northerners ended up on boats headed for Australia, and it turns out that we have an Outback song on the album called 'Jackaroos', which is a term which means Australian cowboys, (as well as the stow-away Sailor in folk songs like Jack-a-Roe).

'Jackaroos' describes a very isolated community in the desert there -- some of them originally from Scotland- ' ...This town has one Macadamed Street..'. Of course, I don't know much about that outside of Flying Doctors, but I felt it strongly! Because in a small way, I was a migrant for a time.

Mr Haywood, also an ornithologist, outwardly
wrestles with his inner Raven,
Sutherland 2009
I took a job which required me to up-sticks and re-locate in a foreign culture five-hundred miles away. Away from my old life -- had less than two weeks to think about it. I'd finally been chucked off the dole and I was desperate and I migrated to Caithness! Where the flows are paved with gold.

It was wind-farm work impacting on birds, and so these lonely transplanted English birdwatchers spend their time searching for migrant birds up there. Some native migrants, some alien.

As well as the wildlife that should have been there, like the worldwide Golden Eagle and the Black-throated Diver, we came across individuals that 'shouldn't'.

I was lucky enough to come face to face with a rare falcon in Sutherland which had very much over-shot from its target in south eastern Europe. A male Red-footed Falcon, so far from home. Making sorties to seize and devour Highland Darter dragonflies. Mind-blowing. Seen by me and one other one morning. What became of him? What was going through it's mind? Nothing.

And I also found an American Wader up there, a Pectoral Sandpiper, in the course of work. August 2003, it was. It had either just been blown 3000 miles off-course after heading to Central America, or was the progeny of an undetected pair which had.

I was in my element up there. I felt alive in that wilderness. But I also felt a real outsider in those isolated communities. Nobody knew what I was all about and I wasn't so sure anymore. A thrill at times, crushing at others.  The last song on the album is called 'Peatshack McKay' --  'I coulda been a Peatshack McKay' ... or anyone as opposed to what I was born into. So there are these foggy notions of transmigration of souls. Personal transformations. Am I the same person that I was as a child? Or ten years ago? All that kind of shit. Terrifying and or liberating. So I was liberated and was a migrant writing outside of myself, and all the threads joined up.

Does this make any sense? More selfless. Now I'm almost back to square one but the album documents that transformation.

Tom: Again, all the above is why I tend to think of it as monumental, big catch work. Musically, the sonic landscape seems to draw on as many different elements as they subject matter. I wondered if you could talk a bit more about the choice of instruments and how they could be seen to reflect the territory?

Dan: As I mentioned, I felt legitimised to use country and folk instrumentation, rather than just fancying it. So, it's great to have the pedal steel of Gary GT Thwaite, who used to work out of Nashville, all over the record. It works so well. And it's something that Caithnesians would like about the record, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers being very popular in Thurso, even among the teenagers.

The fundament is the acoustic guitar because it runs on natural power. Something you could make sound with in a power cut! What little electric guitar there is on the album tends to represent supernatural agency now I come to think about it!

I remember one Spring day we'd been out on Yellow Bog in Sutherland mapping wader territories, with all these exquisite display flights and reeling songs of Golden Plovers, Greenshanks and Dunlins. And in the evening we went for a drink in Thurso and there was a folk session there, and those repetitions and variations and patterns in the Celtic tunes were so similar to the wader song. I remember remarking upon it to my workmate and I remember him mockingly saying 'deep!'.

The Celtic areas of Britain are the only places where you get these birds breeding and the bird songs and the tunes mirror each other. We were sat there in the pub and it sounded like we were still out on the moors. So it became important to find a band-member or two who knew Celtic folk music. And Mikey (Kenney's) fiddling is so wild and free and perfect for the material.

He grew up going to Irish sessions in Liverpool. So there's the knowledge and the technique along with his natural power! Early on I talked to him about birdsong and he mentioned Messiaen's experiments with bird noise and we came up with a Messiaen-like arrangement for 'Killer of Men'.

It's important to have musicians who have a deeper connection with other musics and other instruments - because I'm more or less limited to guitar and rock music. It's a rock-orientated album, but with a highland/ rural element woven in.

Tom: I wonder whether you see any comparison here between Dan Haywood's New Hawks and the 'new Caledonian' folk music popularised by the likes of Alasdair Roberts, Trembling Bells etc.?

Dan: Well, I wish I was in Trembling Bells. I offered to fill in for Lavinia [Blackwall]'s vocals if she became unwell and they managed to keep a straight face. I have a similar range!

Is it called 'Caledonian'? I think of it as English music primarily. The bass player has got a funky soul. He's from Inverness. Alex [Neilson] is very clever. He knows what he wants and he makes it so ... and I wish I had his direct approach. [Record producer] Joe Boyd is a fan of theirs, but I doubt he'd dig us. Perhaps we'll see.

Alasdair is cool and sly with what he does. 'Spoils' is a very good record.

I'm not sure there is a comparison with the New Hawks and either of the acts you mention, but I'd be happy to be mentioned alongside them.

Tom: Rob Young called it 'Caledonian' I think. I mention these acts since the critical response will often read in their records a similar tact to the one you've described above - mainly musicians connecting with other musics and instruments - Celt et al. They've been credited with invigorating English folk tradition with their nods to lineage and history - an odd sort of heritage trip.

How would you prefer Dan Haywood's New Hawks to be received, critically?


Dan: I'd be happy for our album just to be received critically -- never mind guessing how... because after several years of moderate endeavour we're still under the radar.

You mention nods to lineage and history -- and one of the main themes in New Hawks is broken lineage. And also what happens when cultures start anew from a blank and grim canvas.

To go back to that pub folk session in Caithness - I was perplexed that each time I went, there was a dearth of local tunes. The session players were playing Shetland tunes, and Northumbrian tunes and a couple of Irish ones so there was a giant gap, geographically, and we were in the middle of it. And that's the way that the far North of the mainland seemed to me when I lived there - criminally overlooked and forgotten. A cultural vacuum despite being a fascinating area.

And I thought about lineage and what might been lost musically and spiritually because communities up there bore the brunt of the Clearances. Maybe that was why I wasn't hearing local tunes. And also 'the brain drain' that occurs that affects rural areas like that to this day. And the effect of Dounreay experimental site, the biggest employer on the North coast for decades had and what effects its de-commissioning would have. Further depopulation?

So that was my angle on lineage and history, and the songs seem to part fill the cultural vacuum, whether it's imagined or not! There needed to be a song about Castletown and a song mentioning Dunnet and Strathy, and here they are. Terribly presumptuous, but I felt overwhelmingly inspired and it just happened. It's not all as calculated as it sounds on paper. And I built them from the ground up, to reflect the landscapes and the weather and the fauna. I really think they do -- honest, Tom.

One of the few chord sketches I did when I was living there was based on the shape of the coast from Strathy Point to Dunnet Head. The chords were to a song called Middle Nowhere. That shape (of the coastline) was ingrained in me and still is. But I remember designing the chords while looking at that view from the bedroom window, with Orkney off in the distance. 'Yes, that fits and that doesn't ... an A minor works for Sandside Bay...!'

So it's a kind of country music without much human history to go on, made from studying what remains. And examines the severed links rather than perpetuating traditions like folk tries to. Just because information is scant, doesn't mean you shouldn't try.





In Family Tree', we're looking at significant moments in family lineage - forks, dead-ends, tragedies, downwards spirals. 'There'll be a song new to the family tree'. There's a lost vagrant songbird singing to deaf ears at the top of that tree. The song was valid in the New World. It's still beautiful but now a bloodline has ended. The Proclaimers sang about 'all the blood that flowed away' in 'Letter from America'... I was just reminded of it.

F'amily Tree' lingers in the moment when a family's fortunes (with Les Dennis) change. It's a lament. The moment when the black sheep of the flock is born, if you forgive my mixed animal metaphors. Everything turns around and there's suddenly no immediate precedent. Bad things happen and history is no longer keeping you out of danger.

Your babies are tainted and continue in your image, or you might feel inclined to eat them. The album is full of genetics and heredity: 'I'm sewing a Smiley Patch into my daughter's jeans' when ecstacy comes to town via California, Glasgow, and filters through the umbilicus. That's 'Smiley Patch', and there's also 'Muscle Beach' with sea-life evolving in the wake of that Tsunami. From enzymes up. A churn of plankton. Stunned sharks coming to with a glut of food floating around them. A lazy lady by a Thai swimming pool with a dog that's 'bad and bred for it'. Traditions of change. The ecology of disaster.




Tom -- you're a health professional by night -- do you think I'm mad and sick? I sound it and I worry about that. Anyway, that's lineage and tradition and folk in New Hawks. I don't know whether I'm reinvigorating folk tradition, but I'm trying to do my best for Northern Highland tourism and making the best of what I know.

Tom: Sounds more like ethnography to me say, than tourism. I wanted to ask whether you've ran into many conundrums, ethically - supplanting yourself so completely in this territory and creating/dedicating a monument to it  and how have folk in Caithness/Sutherland reacted to Dan Haywood's New Hawks?

Dan: I was living and working in Caithness and Sutherland (and making brief work sorties to the Western Isles) for a while, but I had to leave there in a hurry and didn't keep in touch with any of the locals. Most of the writing was done after the fact, back in England. So with one or two exceptions, it's probably safe to say that no Cattichs or Gollichs or Hebrideans are aware of our project. For a start, it's a tiny population, so the chances are slim on account of that.

I happened to meet a Caithnesian in Lancashire (very rare!) a few months ago, and I got onto New Hawks and he seemed staggered and pleased by the subject matter -- and the small world syndrome - 'do I know the house? I used to live in it!'... that kind of thing. So that was a confidence booster for me, although he didn't actually hear the material. I do worry a little about what the locals would make of it, but I'd like to think there could be few serious objections. Maybe on grounds of my singing pitch ... but I think they'd recognise at least something of themselves and their environment in the songs and enjoy that.

I don't want this album to be like a Wicksploitation Movie. And since the whole inception of the material was un-self-conscious and spontaneous, I can step back - 'the muse did it, not me!'. I've erected a small monument to a time and a place and how the time and the place interacted with me. It's all true, but it's art too! And that exempts me from being too even-handed.

The album does poke fun at the game-keeping industry. I doubt many keepers would be fans.

Cloud-base permitting, all tourists notice the giant monument looming over Golspie, on the side of Ben Bhraggie. And as you probably know it's a posthumous tribute to the glory of the Duke Of Sutherland, paid for by his descendents. I think they had the locals quarry all those tons of stone near Brora, cart it up on the hill and so on. To pay tribute to a thief and a killer. At least an eagle shits on his head from time to time.

Anyway, by contrast my little monument is harmless and discreet and isn't looking down on you.

Tom: Am I right in thinking the record is dedicated to the people of Caithness and Sutherland?

Dan: Yes, that's right. It's the inside back cover of the booklet. I believe 'The Very Best of Dr. Hook' has the same dedication.

Tom: Will you be touring the record up there?

Dan: I was talking with a friend today about the possibility of New Hawks: The Movie! A documentary/musical that would involve us retracing my steps in the North seven years on. And to film a New Hawks gig in Skinandi's (AKA Skins), Thurso's nightclub, where me and my pardners spent many a refreshing night, would be a key scene.

It'd be testing for my nerves, but I hope that can happen one day. Me in tears of joy thru a barrage of bottles. A kind of closure for me, maybe.

I was never a musical animal up there. A hiatus as a performer. Kept my urges well hidden. So it would be ace for me to do this in those fantastic places. And a general tour of Scotland too.

Tom: I'd love to see that. I hope it happens. Where will the 'tour' be taking you during the next few months?

Dan: The dates are scattered as yet. We are hoping to have a more concentrated run at the end of the year when the PR and the booking agent have created a fearsome machine.

Ones I'm looking forward to as they stand are Shambala Festival somewhere in deepest Northants [also this weekend - Ed], the Union Chapel in Islington, London which is a beautiful venue, and this  New Hawks event at the Dukes.

Tom: Is there space here d'you think to speak about the other people been involved in the project since its beginnings?

Dan
: I'd like to do an on-screen shout-out to my main man Bill Myall who was involved right at the start and has now re-joined. He's a graduate of the 1980s/90s Lancashire bands scene, in Krill and Carrot On The Floor, but in more recent years his main job seems to be encouraging and spurring and sparring and prompting Dan Haywood, musician. In fact there are a coupla lines on the album that are just for him.

Jenny McCabe has been greatly helping the visual side of Dan Haywood's New Hawks from day one -- for instance, she put together the lovely big booklet that goes in the box.

There have been over 20 players who have been kind enough to play with me over the last few years, and sometimes I wonder what I've done to deserve their time. I'm very lucky. But there are too many of these funny little commoners to detail them all.

Theresa Standish joined me early on and her wild cello and viola prowess and melodic instinct are a crux of our live shows. And she's all over the record.

As I've mentioned, finding Mikey Kenney was a big step forward for us too. He's a real fan of what we do.

Richard Turner has been invaluable to the project too. As well as being the perfect foil to my wayward guitar he's a guiding hand in our web presence, and introduced my songs to Pete at Manchester's Timbreland Recordings, who released our old EP and take a gamble on this triple album.

Tom: Dan, thanks for taking the time Dan and best wishes.

Dan: Thanks for taking an interest Tom. You are the 'freak press' round here! You the man. Or one of them.

• The New Hawks next local gig is at the Mad Ferret in Preston on 24th September. Check out the next Dan Haywood New Hawks project at www.myspace.com/newhawks

Dan Haywood's New Hawks You Tube Channel

• Tom Bramhall writes and plays for Ponies (www.zography.blogspot.com). A selection of Ponies recordings can be heard at www.myspace.com/poniesetec


Sunday, 29 August 2010

Heritage Open Days return to Lancaster

Have you ever wanted to go inside the unused offices in Lancaster Railway Station or maybe had a desire to see Lancaster city centre from the clock tower at Lancaster Town Hall?

Perhaps you would like to go on a guided walk to learn all about Lancaster’s fine buildings and the city’s industrial past or take a look inside the Winter Gardens theatre, one of Morecambe’s most impressive buildings.

All these and many more will be available as part of the local contribution to Heritage Open Days, the country’s annual celebration of its rich architectural and cultural heritage, which takes place this year over the four days - Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th September 2010.

The promotion aims to give visitors free access to interesting properties, that are either not normally open to the public, or which usually charge for admission.

Every year, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors, ranging from castles to factories, town halls to tithe barns, parish churches to cathedrals, and this is a once a year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture.

All openings and events in the Lancaster area are free of charge and disabled access is available to at least parts of many of the included properties. 
 
• A leaflet containing details of property openings and special events in and around Lancaster and Morecambe is available from Lancaster and Morecambe Visitor Information Centres (telephone 01524 582394 or 01524 582808) and also from Lancaster City Council’s Customer Service Centres and participating properties.  It can be downloaded from www.lancaster.gov.uk/heritageopendays (click here to download direct, PDF forat)

• More information about nationwide events can be obtained from www.heritageopendays.org