Songwriting in the wilderness

I got back home 15 days ago, having been away for 8 days for the Knoydart Songwriting Retreat. It’s taken me this long to get around to forming some words in this way because I’m still processing what was a perception-changing, mind-blowing, life-enhancing experience.

I spotted this retreat back in late 2020, went through the application process and was very excited to be accepted. It was originally supposed to happen in June, but got postponed like a lot of things. This postponement turned out to be a good thing as it gave my best friend and closest music collaborator Kelly chance to apply too. She was also accepted and suddely we had a road trip, with a difference (the last bit is by boat for a starters!) in the diary for late September.

I would be writing for ever if I tried to convey just what an impact this trip has had on not just Kelly and I, but also the nine other songwriters attending the retreat. Suffice to say we have all come home feeling independently creatively fired up, but also determined to stay in touch and support each other.

Our mentors were Shelly Poole and Paul Statham (with the added bonus of Shelly’s husband, Texas guitarist Ally McErlaine, who has to be one of the nicest guys on planet Earth). You only have to do a quick search to discover just how many famous names Shelly & Paul have written hit songs with, so we knew they’d have gems of wisdom to offer. What we didn’t know was just how open they would be with sharing their insights, ideas, experiences. We couldn’t have wished for more generous guides.


I did this trip for a lot of reasons: To learn from the mentors, and from the other songwriters (I did); To see if I could get up, be given a songwriting task, get on with it in the manner of just getting on with doing any job, and have a decent song, or part of, by the end of the day (I did); To see if I could succesfully & enjoyably collaborate with a different ‘stranger’ (actually we all got to know each other pretty quick), with a different background and different approaches to music, every day (I did/could); Fairly low on the list was the hope that I might come home with some new songs to put on the album I’ve started making. Two new David Edward Booth songs (Following Tracks and As I Have Always Done) did indeed appear while I was there. Time will tell if they appear on the album.

I already knew I loved the Scottish Highlands & Islands. This trip just made that feeling stronger, and I hope to spend more time up there in the not-too-distant future. And if you’re a songwriter looking for some space, geographically and emotionally, I can’t recommend this part of the world and these retreats highly enough.


So, back to reality, and to making music in my new studio in rural Suffolk. But before I go, I must say a huge thank you, in true awards ceremony style, to the bunch of people who made Knoydart so special…

My little family, who support me endlessly.

The other songwriters (& new friends) – Lauren, Ian, Susie, Joe, Danielle, Emma, Anita, Emily, Nigel.

The mentors – Shelly (and Ally!) and Paul.

The Knoydart Songwriting Retreat founders – Janey de Nordwall and Duncan Lewis.

Belinda & Pete, who looked after us so well!

And finally, I will be eternally grateful to Kelly, who was brave/daft enough to join me on this 8-day adventure into the unknown, and to Mat Bayfield, who did so much to set Kelly and I off on this new musical journey. We will miss him always.

Dx

Folk East, Maverick and beyond…

It’s been a delightfiul late summer of music. 20th August saw me up on the main stage at Folk East with Kelly Bayfield & the band (photo above). Aside from playing, getting to introduce Kris Drever, and watching the amazing Afro Celt Sound System from right next to the stage were just two of many highlights.
Then just last weekend it was over to Maverick Festival for six shows in three days – three with Kelly, two drumming for Jon Langford and a brief appearance on the Travelling Medicine Stage to see if I could remember some of my own songs!

These two festivals are such wonderful events, and highly thought of in the national Folk & Americana scenes… the fact that they are both just 20 mins drive from Booth HQ is a bonus!

There are three gigs coming up in the next few weeks (fingers crossed):

9th October – Laxfield Village Hall, Suffolk (trio – Kelly and I playing a mix of our songs with cellist Jonathan Evans)

30th October – Little Rabbit Barn, near Colchester, Essex (trio – supporting Sean Taylor, playing songs from Kelly’s forthcoming album with cellist Jonathan Evans)

13th November – Green Man Gallery, Buxton, Derbyshire (duo – Kelly and I playing a mix of our songs)

And then a winter of recording ūüėČ
DEB

Blackbird – out on 26th March

New song – Blackbird– is out now on all good digital download & streaming platforms.
It started life in √Ėrebro, Sweden as a poem, written by my friend¬†Tomas Dahlberg.¬†Since then it has steadily grown into an epic collaboration with¬†Andy Trill¬†(bass),¬†Jonathan Evans¬†(cello)¬†Kelly Bayfield¬†(voice),¬†Kevin Walford¬†(guitar),¬†Roisin O’Hagan¬†(voice – she also wrote the part she sings),¬†Mats H√•rd¬†(flugel). Joe Vegna mastered it. And finally¬†Lucy Hart¬†created the wonderful bird you now see.
Go to the music page to have a listen and if you like it, perhaps you could buy it? But I’ll leave that up to you.
DEB 26/3/21