New Lyric – The Dreaming

I first went to Australia in 2009 just before the launch of Tales from the Crow Man. I went to play music at a concert/festival called The Druids Dreaming near Adelaide and I fell in love with the country immediately. I’ve been back twice since to tour with Spiral Dance and each time I have brought a little more of Australia home in my heart (or maybe I’ve left a little bit of me in the land). Australia is alive and infectious. The Spirit of the Land and the people get under your skin. The history and spirit of the native stories still sing from the land, from The Dreaming.

The seed for this song was planted back in 2009, when I saw my first Roo, when I met Old Gum Tree, and walked in the warm waters of the ocean. The shoots and leaves unfurled on my next two visits when I learned more of the land and its stories, and now the flower has taken full bloom.

So this song is dedicated to all of my Australian friends, to that glorious land, to anyone who has been there and knows what I’m singing about, and to anyone who dreams of the long trek down under.

The Dreaming – Damh the Bard

Verse 1:

Welcome now a visitor to your shore,

Following a dream I can’t ignore,

From a distant land you may never know,

Of sun and rain and snow.

Here where the endless skies reach for the sun,

The Gum trees stand like the Oaks of Albion,

And the land sings in lines of ancient song,

For the soul to sing along.

Chorus:

And the Southern Cross shines down on where I stand,

And I hear the voices from the Singing Land.

Verse 2:

Here where the land still is king,

Beneath red sand the Ancestors are dreaming,

And a Mother knows which song will be sung,

When a new life has begun.

A serpent made a path across the land,

Formed the rivers and mountains where they stand,

These songs are in the kookaburra’s call,

But she’s laughing at us all.

Chorus:

And the Southern Cross shines down on where I stand,

And I hear the voices from the Singing Land.

Bridge:

Oh I can feel you dreaming,

Oh I can feel you dreaming,

Oh I can feel you dreaming, Oh.

Verse 3:

Familiar stars now shine from up above,

I’ve returned to the land that I love,

But my heart must try to understand,

It’s now shared by another land.

Beneath the Plough I look to the setting sun,

As I stand once more on the land of Albion,

But the Southern Cross will guide me to your shore,

To hear you sing once more.

Chorus:

And the Southern Cross will shine down on where I stand,

And I’ll hear the voices from the Singing Land.

Oh, can you feel me dreaming?

Oh, can you feel me dreaming?

Oh, can you feel me dreaming, oh.

Advertisements

Australia Tour 2012 Part 2

“I don’t want to worry you Damh but I’ve got a scratchy throat,” Adrienne said, peering over the bar in the Kitchen. I was sitting at their table and had just thought the same thing about mine. I looked up.

“I think I’m going down with something too…”

It was Monday morning and me and Cerri were due to run our Sacred Poetry workshop that night. As the day moved on both me and Adrienne started to feel worse. The evening went beautifully as I said in the previous blog post, but when Tuesday morning arrived Adrienne was close to losing her voice. I was not as bad, but with me colds often move onto my chest and cause my asthma to come on.

I think I spent that Tuesday in denial as I was due to play the concert for all of the sponsors who had clubbed together to raise the money to fly me and Cerri all the way our here. There was no way I was not going to play that gig. It was being recorded for a live CD to be given to the sponsors at a later date. Now I was a little concerned about that to be honest. I knew I could play and sing well enough to entertain these lovely people, but I wasn’t sure how that CD would come out. In the end we all had a great evening at the wonderful Wheatsheaf Hotel (The Wheatie) and I think, apart from a couple of places where my voice croaked, the CD will be fine.

However, when the next morning came I could feel that familiar feeling that told me the cold was on the move and irritating my lungs. With the three-cities tour approaching there was no way I could risk it, so I managed to get an appointment with a local Doctor and went straight on the antibiotics. It was the right thing to do. That night me and Cerri were due to go to the Pagan in the Pizza bar moot, but neither Adrienne nor myself thought it would be a good idea for us to go, so Cerri went on her own. I was sad to have missed the night, particularly when I saw the video of William’s poem and the gift of P.Uke (the Pagan Ukelele group) who had practiced a version of my song Noon of the Solstice.

The next morning we were off to Melbourne for the concert at Bar 303. I loved this gig last year. The venue is a back room, painted black, with sofas all around the edge, and amazing modern art posters everywhere. It’s the kind of venue you would find in Brighton to be honest. Bohemian, and, well, groovy. Sadly Adrienne had still problems with her voice so Spiral Dance had to do a tune set for this gig. But they did brilliantly, and everyone had a great time dancing to their music. For me, this year had the same vibe as last year and it was another wonderful night. In fact, during my song The Wheel I invited the audience to add some harmonies to their singing, and what I heard gave me goose bumps. You can hear it in this video from the night, a wonderful moment. After the show I was introduced to Kebabs Aussie style. I made the mistake of opening mine up, a lesson learned for another night… Sleep, then up to get to the airport to fly to Sydney.

We arrived at the Bald Faced Stag Hotel with plenty of time. This was another venue we played last year. Adrienne was feeling a little better this night and took the stage to sing with the band, and it was great to see and hear them all together again. It seemed that over the year a lot of people had heard my music in Sydney, and the response from the audience here was simply magical. I took the stage with Spiral Dance again to sing their version of my song Spirit of Albion (at the two Adelaide gigs I had broken a string when I played Spirit of Albion during my set. I started to think that maybe I should leave this song for Spiral Dance, as this land and this audience knew their version, not mine. So I didn’t play it at Melbourne or Sydney, and I didn’t break a string…) and I really wanted to have a beer to celebrate, but I was still feeling a bit grim, and was on the antibiotics with another gig to play, so I just stuck to the water.

Another kebab, bed, then up to catch a plane to Brisbane.

It had been raining most of the trip. It had been raining when we left the UK (although while we were away Britain had its Summer…apparently) but Brisbane was gorgeous. We were met at the airport and taken to the hotel which was just a short walk from the venue. This was the Brisbane Witches Ball. The venue was a large bar with a good sized dance floor. It was quite a rush to set up the gear and sound check and then pretty much straight away people were arriving. Now on the whole my music isn’t background music. I do play some songs that people can dance to, but for me it’s more about engaging and entertaining an audience, going on a sacred journey together. As people arrived for the Witches Ball I could feel that we might have a mismatch. This event was a social event where people were going to to catch up, talk to each other, have a social drink, and party. I took the stage and although I had the attention of a good number of people, to be honest, most didn’t really take much notice of what was happening on the stage and carried on with their conversations. So I turned my attention to those who had come to sit and listen and we had a lovely evening together. In the future I’d love to return to the Brisbane Pagan community and play a concert for them to enjoy as a concert. Hopefully next year!

The next day the weather was lovely. We took a walk along the river and stopped at a bar for a little drink. We thought we’d only be there for a little while. There were no more concerts, so I decided to have a beer, or a number of beers. I was introduced to the Fat Yak, a lovely Aussie beer, while others were drinking Dirty Grannies (a lovely Aussie cider). Well, we sat down for a drink, the Nick ordered more drinks, I bought a jug of drink, the we all sat down and had a drink… A band turned up and played some classic tunes. We all sang along. And had another drink. It was sunny, warm, with good friends, and good music. The perfect way to end a great tour.

We had a couple of days free before we had to leave to return to the UK, so on the Monday we met up with Louise and little Maddy so I could take Maddie’s cuddly duck D. D Rock on the road with me and pass him, and his travel diary, on to other Pagan musicians in the USA to help raise money for Doctors without Borders (see the video below) .

Then on the Tuesday we went on another tour of some of the South Australian vineyards. Yum.

As I write this I’m returning in my mind to the goodbyes at the airport. I love Australia, and I love the Aussie people. They are a breath of fresh air to this Brit who has a hard time with all of the UK’s health and safety laws, and the way that political correctness has taken some of the soul out of our character. With that Aussies that edginess is still there. Each time I go to Australia I get reminded to chill out, relax and don’t take stuff so personally.

As they say – “No worries, it’s all good!”

I really hope we are back again sometime in 2013.

Tales from the Road: Sydney and the Three Sisters


I’m writing this on the plane to Los Angeles just after taking off from Sydney. So much to think about, so many memories, so many new friends. The day after the gig in Sydney we all gathered at the Five Dragons for our last Yum Cha – a new vice that I’ve been introduced to here in Australia. Although there was much laughter, the atmosphere was tinged with sadness as we all knew that the tour was over and soon Spiral Dance would be leaving and heading back to Adelaide. But that didn’t stop us from thoroughly enjoying the moment while we could. But in the end it came time to say farewell. There were tears and hugs, I felt torn as I saw them all drive away and missed everyone the moment we parted, but we then had the opportunity to spend some time with our hosts here in Sydney, David and Kelly Garland, facilitators of PAN (the Pagan Awareness Network).

We had two days in Sydney and I just had to see the Opera House and


Sydney Harbour bridge – two places I never thought I’d see. So the next day we headed into the city and there they were. The Opera House is an amazing building, completely crazy, and I didn’t know until I saw it up close that the iconic white roof was made out of what look like bathroom tiles. But


it’s a breathtaking sight and that, along with the harbour and bridge, make it well worth the visit.

That night we polished off a bottle of The Devil, the Tawny Port we bought in Mclaren Vale, and the next day drove into the Blue Mountains to visit the home of the artist Norman Lindsay (if you’ve seen the film


Sirens, that was set at the house and was about his life). Apart from being the author and artist of the children’s story The Magic Pudding, he was also a really controversial artist who portrayed naked women happily


engaging with Satyrs, and his most controversial work was the Crucifixion of Venus. An amazingly magical place, and an amazing life.

After that we went to see The Three Sisters. The legend is that three children were being chased by a Banyip, the equivalent of an Australian Yeti, and to save them their father turned them to stone. This reminded me of our British legends that some stone circles were dancers turned to stone


for dancing on the Sabbath Day, so I was expecting a row of three standing stones. What I actually saw took my breath away it was so beautiful. A photo can never capture the majesty of the place but here I really felt the scale of the Australian Bush as it lay endless before me.

That night we watched Sirens and then went to bed as we had to be up at 5.50am for our flight to the USA. Once more we found ourselves saying goodbye to two new friends with whom we had made a deep and lasting bond. So as I look out of the window of this aircraft, I say a very fond farewell to Australia, and to everyone we met who helped to make this trip so wonderful. You all touched our hearts, and I know that we will be back again soon to see you all once more. To play music, laugh, and eat more Yum Cha!! Blessed be!

Tales from the Road: The Vicar and the Devil


After the English Ale we chilled out then the next day we went for a trip around some of South Australia’s wine region. We did that last time I was here and I have to say that trip gave me the taste for South Australian wines, particularly those from the McLaren Vale region. So with Adrienne and Nick from Spiral Dance we headed into McLaren Vale!

The first vineyard we stopped at was Maxwells, a vineyard famous for its


Mead. Yes, I was delighted! I can safely and happily report that Maxwells mead is light and delicate reminding me of Lurgashall Mead or Lindisfarne Mead. Delicious! Then we made our way through some of the most tasty whites and reds until we returned to the mead, this time the spiced mead and the mead liquor. Oh my. If the mead liquor was available in the UK I’d always have a bottle in the house!


After that we met our friend Carolyn and went to Coriolle and Chapel Hill vineyards and I have to say that by the time I tried an award winning red called The Vicar I was more than a little squiffy, but then they brought out a Tawny Port called The Devil – well for a balance I had to try that too!

The mead, mead liquor and The Devil came back with us. Might crack them open tonight!

Two more live videos from Australia

This one is the final song of the Spiral Dance set – the classic Burning Times. We had no rehearsal for this song, but I reckon it still rocks.

And another view of their version of Spirit of Albion.

It’s good to be back in the UK, but man I miss Australia!

Some videos of my Australian concerts

From the Druid’s Dreaming

From The Singing Gallery with Spiral Dance

Pipes of Pan from The Singing Gallery

Wild Mountain Thyme from The Singing Gallery

The Ransom Video, but I escaped…

Spiral Dancing at the Singing Gallery


About a year ago I was contacted by an Australian Pagan folk band called Spiral Dance who wanted to cover my song Spirit of Albion. I was very touched that they’d even asked and of course said yes and asked if they’d send me a copy if they ever recorded it. A year later I’m near Adelaide in Mclaren Vale at a venue called the Singing Gallery, a converted church, playing at a concert organised by the band.


We arrived at 5pm ready for a soundcheck and the band were there setting up. I love playing in churches – the acoustics are always amazing. The owners had done a really great job converting it into a music venue. The place was set out with reserved tables where people were going to bring along their picnics and bottles of wine (the venue charged a ‘corkage fee’ but you could bring all your own booze and food).

Spiral Dance are a great band. They remind me of early Steeleye Span. During the


soundcheck they played some of their version of Spirit of Albion so I could hear it. The idea was that I join them onstage during their set when they played it.

People started to arrive around 7.30 and the place was packed and buzzing by 8 when I was due to take the stage. I’ve noticed at each of the gigs I’ve played here that, before anything else happens, there is an aknowledgement that this concert is taking place on the land of the original tribal peoples of Australia – a small but heartfelt ancestral honouring. Adrienne then took the stage to introduce me. I was a little bit nervous to be honest, but I needn’t have been. We were all together from the opening chord of Song of Awen. The band’s sound engineer was great and there was a fabulous sound front stage. I noticed a few people videoing the gig so I hope they’ll end up on


YouTube sometime (there are a few there already!). The balance of the sound on stage was perfect and I could also hear the audience singing along over the sound of my guitar and voice. I played for an hour, mostly songs from my first four albums (it’s getting harder and harder to play for an hour and still fit in all of the songs I want to play!) but ended the set with Wild Mountain Thyme from Tales from the Crow Man which even here everyone seemed to know. The standing ovation at the end of the concert was wonderful – another wonderful evening with lovely people!

After a short break Spiral Dance took the stage. They are a great live band with a lot of energy – they are like an Aussie The Dolmen but more folky. They did a great version of Span’s classic Bedlam Boys and two of the


band even burst through the doors backstage and did some Morris Dancing! Great stuff. Adrienne then told the story of how she’d first heard Spirit of Albion whilst at a Pagan festival in the USA. She asked the people who had been playing it who wrote the song and then found me through the Internet, posting me that first email. It was amazing to join them on stage to play the song (this is one of the vids on YouTube). They have added a very different rhythm to it and then have a ‘diddly’ folk burst halfway through. I loved singing with them.

At the end of their set I was invited up onstage again to singing The Burning Times with them. It’s not a song I usually like but they’d done some very spiritual work on the arrangement and the audience did a spiral dance and ended in a beautiful oval of people. Man it’s so good to be a part if this global Pagan community!

After Spiral Dance’s set I was invited to play a few more tunes. So as they’d already been dancing I thought I’d keep that vibe going with Lughnasadh, Lughnasadh Dance and Hal an Tow. Much hugging and chat followed until gradually people began to wend their way back home. Me? Well, I was buzzing and to be honest everytime I think of that concert I still am!