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So - Billy Bragg is coming to the Mariposa Folk Festival this year... a festival I have attended faithfully for the last number of years. When I read the announcement about Billy Bragg being added to the lineup I was launched on a wave of nostalgia.

The first time I saw Billy Bragg was back in the summer of 1985 at the Kingswood Theatre at Canada’s Wonderland. He opened for the Smith’s (an amazing concert that made me a lifelong fan of that band). I was trying to recall the first Billy Bragg song I heard. I think it was “A New England” - but I think I first heard the Kristy MacColl version of that (I believe it came out in 1984)... I think it probably led me to look into who this Billy Bragg guy was who wrote it. I’m fairly certain I was aware of who he was when I saw him... I remember some people in the crowd thought he was a roadie who just picked up a guitar and started singing... I had to set’em straight.

It was around that time that I was developing as a singer/songwriter. I played acoustic guitar exclusively... and was actually adamant about the fact that I did not want to play electric guitar... But the reverse is sort of true now (well I’m not really adamantly opposed to playing an acoustic guitar... I just gravitate to the electric and write songs starting with ideas on the electric... I used to exclusively use my acoustic guitar and try to emulate sounds I heard that were obviously produced by someone on electric... anyway... )... The point of this is that back then Billy Bragg was this lone guy who sang and played electric... I think there was some influence for me when I started doing a similar thing.

Anyway... I sort of hate doing straight cover songs... don’t like to sound like the original song... there’s no point... might as well listen to that.

I recorded myself playing this song “live” (on tape... as they used to say... or something like that)... I recorded it last week and after about twenty takes... and buggering up lyrics or guitar or something else... I was pretty much tired of the whole thing and thought it sounded like crap. Then yesterday I listend to the recording again and thought... “hmmm... actually I kind of like it....”. It’s a bit of a meld of Billy’s and Kristy MacColl’s version (without the additional lyrics)... with some Smiths-ish guitar influence (love that Johnny Marr...)

While I was hating it I sort of moved on and used some of the percussive/rhythmic guitar loop technique I was using here - to inspire a new song... which I will present here at some point... soonish...

Anyway... enjoy my cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England”. Incidentally... if you are also a Billy Bragg / Morrissey fan you will probably enjoy THIS.

Oh and... just a mention... I am leaving, on the weekend, on an exciting trip with my friend/father-in-law... I am joining him on his annual BLUES TRIP... I will be filling in details right here as we go along... first stop will be Atlanta...