A  L E T T E R   F R O M
 M a d d y   P r i o r

September 2000

Hello Friends,

        I don't know how it is where you are, but here in the wild and woolly wastes of Bewcastle the world is turning to Autumn. Rose-hips shine a luscious, vitamin C red from the hedges and the rather mean blackberries that we get up here are desperately trying to ripen. We have a goodly crop of plums this year, showing that we had no late frosts early this year. I'm hoping to get some plum liqueur made, which is so delicious. Like drinking plums at Christmas. But I doubt that I'll get time since we have such a busy back-end coming up.

        Actually, Rick's life has taken, perhaps, the most interesting turn. There has been some seat moving on the Steeleye bus and Bob has decided, after a considerable tour of duty, to get off. And as is the way with the band, they have asked Rick back on. He joins them for a short American jaunt and a longer tour of the UK in October. As I understand, he is to play bass and Tim Harries moves on to guitar. I didn't even know he played. It will make for a unique band, and having worked with Peter and Rick a couple of times recently and realizing the strange understanding that one gets from many years playing together, I look forward to seeing the tour. I'm also privy to the new Steeleye album, and I don't know if it's the result of brain-washing or not (Rick has been working on his parts), but I find it a very strong CD with some splendid songs.

        Rose did her first full solo (with band) gig at "Brampton Live". She held it very well, being the first time she has had to sing for so long (45 mins with encore) on her own stage. She really enjoyed herself and got a bigger photo in the local press and I've ever had. Spit, spit. She has GCSEs next year, so we're hopeful that she will focus on those for most of the time, whilst making a tape and pursuing the singing and writing in her spare (?) moments.

        And so to my news. We decided, on reflection, to release a CD of concerts we performed last Christmas for my 35th year / album. The tapes sounded so good and we played such a few dates that, rather than keep them back and put out the odd track on compilations etc. we thought it should be celebrated as a complete experience. Seems a good time to release an album too, with so much work coming up.

        So… Nick, Troy and I are out touring, possibly round your way, throughout September. We are playing some more firsts: Hunstanton, a seaside town on the Northfolk coast, and Pocklington, a small town that is Troy's local shopping centre. Should be a good night. We are working on a new material and a super-duper new project, but I'm not sure how far we'll get with it for this time. We're aiming at a CD for next Spring, so watch this space.

        Also there's a big MP & The Carnival Band tour in December. That combination seems to go quietly from strength. Sadly Bill Badley will not be joining us since he has got a proper job, but Steve Banks is coming out to play instead. It looks like we may be doing something slightly different from the pan to this year, which it is felt is losing its joie de vivre, but I personally shall miss the cat.

        Nick, Troy and I had a manic jaunt to Australia in June, which was made possible by Richard James, not only because he promoted it, but he held us together though jet-lag crazies and the Excess-Baggage Wars. We have also played various one-off gigs this summer, notably in sunny Portugal, where we finally met the stalwart Eduardo who puts so much energy into the Web on my behalf. He turns out to be a man of so many parts. He's just starting a magazine of culture for northern Portugal, based around his ancient home-town of Gouveia, with its Baroque churches and ecstatic love of fireworks. It's a splendid place to visit at Festa time, especially if you like marching bands, street processions and mortar-like bangs.

        Well, hope to see you out there somewhere.

        All the best,

 November 2000 Letter      December 97 Letter