News

June 2022

The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
Written and Directed by Stephen Banham

This wonderfully atmospheric little movie, features my old friends Johnny Collins (RIP) and Jim Mageean, on the opening of the sound track, and my own 'Marching Inland' as the video draws to a close. A salutory tale indeed!

January 2022

Here I am again – remember me – Tom Lewis? Of a surety: no one can accuse me of inundating you with bothersome amounts of internet communications. I could make the claim that such reticence is an example of my wish to avoid being a pest: but – in reality – I have to admit that my lack of interaction is proof only of my innate indolence.

I am such an unreliable communicator, that I cannot be confident of when we were last in contact, at what stage of the never-ending saga we last parted company; nor yet your degree of interest … if any! I note, from my last posting to Watery Peregrinations, that – ‘way back in September - Lyn and I had lately returned to Ireland and brought Vent-du-Nord to her new home in Tara Marina. Since then, over a two-month period: we have made some fairly major refurbishments to VDN’s interior (with the invaluable assistance of Paul Croley, of www.boatfiteurope.com): making our latest home a more reasonably comfortable habitat. With the onset of winter, we shall see exactly how comfortable. We do miss the heartening radiance of Moonstone’s solid-fuel stove, but the large, fully-equipped, modern kitchen: complete with dish-washer; is a definite ‘plus’. The next stage will involve some dry-land renovations to the exterior paintwork, and a few minor, underwater, items: such as renewal of the sacrificial anodes. Our target for completion of all of this work is (nebulously) Spring/early Summer. We make no predictions as to what might be the state of the world, by the Summer of 2022: but we are hoping it will be such that we can continue our ‘peregrinations’.

As for getting back ‘on the road’ – in the folk music sense – a short (very short) burst of activity on the U.K. folk club scene, will transpire around the end of March/early April and a jaunt to Vlissingen - in the Netherlands - for a concert with the Scheldt River Pilot's Choir, is on the calendar for August. Understandably: any glimpse of a more detailed future is clouded by the vagaries of Covid. However: I shall do my best to keep my Touring Schedule page updated.

Meanwhile: keep well and stay cheerful ... and sing whenever you can!

April 2021

This is A SHANTY FOR SINGING.ASFS

As stated on my Welcome page, to celebrate my latest birthday I’m pleased to announce a new ‘shanty’, specifically designed to encourage and proliferate communal singing … so do, please, sing along! This is A SHANTY FOR SINGING. Downloads of this song may be purchased from Bandcamp for $3.00 US. All monies raised by purchases of this song will be donated to the charity: GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; which helps vaccinate almost half the world’s children against serious diseases. If you purchase this (or any other recordings) from Bandcamp on the first Friday of the month, Bandcamp waives all artist fees.

You can watch a you-tube video of me singing it, accompanied by the amazing Seadogs, HERE.

September 2020
All of us are displaying - to a greater or lesser degree - symptoms of Covid-19; though very few, in real terms have caught the actual disease. Nearly all of us are, in some wise, bereft of the physical company of our friends. Many are limited in the freedom to move around.  Of course; attending any sort of actual ‘live gig’ is just an impossibility. The simple offer of an outstretched hand to a person with whom one wishes to make a connection is, in these days, regarded as somewhere on the spectrum between a death-defying act and a grave social faux-pas.

For myself; the coronavirus symptom most hard to bear, is the prohibition from performing for an audience. Many other entertainers, in a myriad of disciplines, are doing sterling work in various internet formats … for which I salute their dedication and ingenuity. I; however; feel quite crippled in this regard. One technical excuse is that I have no recourse to a land-line, nor any sort of high-speed internet connection. Inevitably, this engenders multiple buffering hiatuses/freezes/skips/drop-outs and the like; on my attempts to ‘play for the camera’. Of much heavier impact - on a personal and professional level - is my seeming inability to ‘turn on’ in the absence of an audience. Sad but true: without the two-way flow … the inimitable audience feedback … I have difficulty locating both the essential spark and the sparkle! (That's not to say that I won't be doing anything at all. Good friends, with the technical expertise I lack, have offered assistance. There could be a couple of video-experiments in my future!!!)

Not that I am suffering a complete lack of performing opportunities. Having become, over the decades, happily familiar - though not, I assure you, blasé - with a position in the spotlight, I am finding that role usurped by our boat: Moonstone. The fairly recent gorgeous paint-job (thank you BBC Films and Elan Eshkeri) is evidently greatly appreciated by multifarious Irish observers. At practically every lock and dock, we field glowing comments along the lines of: “That’s a luvly berge, y’ve got there!” (For the Irish, evidently, a ‘boat’ is made of white fiber-glass; whilst anything visually unalike and constructed of steel, is a barge … ‘berge’!) Often these encounters lead to conversations, not rarely encompassing some singing and story-telling. The youngsters amongst the admiring throngs (small throngs!), are particularly impressionable. Performances such as these hardly compensate for the lack of an evening in a folk club, but they do serve to ‘keep the aspidistra flying’. (George Orwell. © 1936).

When I will next be entertaining in a folk setting, I do not know … I’ve recently had the last confirmation of the cancellation/postponement of the whole of my Autumn tour. Hard-working and under-appreciated folk club organizers are being gracious and cooperative; so nearly every date is ‘postponed until one year hence’. I thank all of them, most sincerely.

Hope springs eternal; so Lyn and I have our fingers firmly crossed for Ontario, next May. We can only maintain an optimism that; in one form or another; festivals and clubs will resurrect themselves, in 2021.

Of recent time, signing off with a wish for the recipient’s health and safety, has fallen into disfavour; so I shall close with … Wassail! (Wha’s hale?) Tom.

April 2020
Update re. "DEMAND PERFORMANCE", Tom's new double CD.
We now have a stock of physical CDs in both the UK and the USA. Downloads are available from Bandcamp

March 2020

Currently, (March 28th. 2020) in our world, nearly all news is about Novel Coronavirus/Covid-19; so here's some news which isn't ...
The long-promised 'new' album: DEMAND PERFORMANCE; is completed, and delivered to the manufacturer. This is - thanks to the tireless work of Barrie (and Ingrid) Temple - only a week or so out with the expected time-line.
Now we must all be patient, and cheerfully accept whatever delay is occasioned by a mere 'world-wide pandemic' ... all in the spirit of 'life goes on'.
Elsewhere, in these pages, are track-lists, commentaries on the songs, and links to downloadable audio samples of each track. (Sincere thanks are due to my web maintenance fairy: Lyn, for her extensive labours in the htm/html department!)
This is not intended to be an announcement of the release of the album; merely news of its progress, and the inception of the relevant web page. An actual: 'Album Release Announcement' date, is impossible to predict or promise.

Following e-mail consultation with people such as your good selves; DEMAND PERFORMANCE will - eventually - be for sale in Compact Disc format, and as Audio Downloads from Bandcamp

Whilst clubs, festivals, and venues of all kinds are; perforce; cancelling and indefinitely postponing live audience-interactive performances; one of the discs of this venture are comprised of over seventy minutes of stage recordings ... mostly from Mystic Seaport ... over a span of more than twenty years! I'm hopeful that portion might be acceptable as 'a concert', in the current circumstances. The second disc encompasses eleven songs, which have been within the compass of my 'less-sung repertoire' for yonks, but have never made it to the recording studio. Now they have!
Stay healthy folks! More news 'as and when'.

February 2020

CYRIL SAID IT ALL BEFORE  (a new workshop)

 

For many years I was greatly aware of Cyril Tawney, the man and his songs … but did not see him ‘in concert’ until my early 30’s. Whilst he was, vaguely, aware of me; the opportunity for us to get to know each other did not occur until my early 40’s. However; from that time onwards, he was most welcoming, open and informative. On a memorable occasion, (circa 1989) when Cyril and Rosemary were still residing in Leeds; Lyn and I came down to breakfast one morning to find that Cyril, himself, was cooking, then serving us, actual Chicken on a Raft! His version was much superior to my experiences in R.N. submarines; though still dreadfully unhealthy!

Anyway; as with nearly all writings … and particularly with folk songs … things become dated, and terminology subject to becoming arcane. Even more so in matters of technology and closed social societies. Like submarines and submariners!!! Much of the wording, in Cyril’s wonderful songs, suffers from the ravages of time. Likewise; renditions of those songs are easily prey to mis-hearing and mis-interpretation.

As a youngster, not long after WW11, there were very few civilians who did not have a service-person as a relative or neighbour. Their ‘lingo’ and life-style (as we would now put it) was fairly familiar to the majority of the population. Prior to the 1960’s, almost anyone would have no problem understanding that a ‘matelot’ was a sailor. Service personnel in uniform were an unremarkable commonplace on our streets; and their jargon loosely understood. As a young lad I, myself, needed no explanation for ‘No names, no pack-drill’; nor for ‘Batten down the hatches’. Yet ours was not a service family. With the passing of time, much of the terminology of Cyril’s songs is sorely in need of clarification and explanation. Thusly; I have devised a workshop, or show; featuring some of Cyril’s - now - anachronistic language.

It is entitled: CYRIL SAID IT ALL BEFORE. Sub-titled: (but what did he mean?) I'm offering it to festival organizers and other presenters. It is musical, interactive, audience responsive, informative and - I hope - entertaining. If you see it advertised (not that likely, I’ll admit) come and be part of it.

 
August 2019

 It is always a pleasure – though a pleasure all too rare - to perform with my Polish friends: QFTRY; so four days in Brittany, at Paimpol's Festival du Chant du Marin, was pleasurable indeed. On the Saturday evening /night we were allotted the midnight slot … and it swiftly became obvious to us that somewhere in the audience on the quayside, was a person (perhaps even two or three?) who was not intoxicated.
Of course, we would like to think that the crowd was intoxicated by the music; but that’s just wishful thinking. However; as you can see; the folks on the stage were, likewise, having a great time!

                Midnight in
                    Paimpol. (François Bensignor)

                                                    Photo: François Bensignor (Used with permission)

May 2019

THE WORTH THE SINGIN’ SONGBOOK....... 

  .........is now available in a limited print 10th anniversary edition. This final print run of 100 copies has been somewhat tweaked, with one additional song and a few edits here and there. All copies sold will now be this limited edition, with each copy numbered and signed. Even as I type, a batch is on its way to North America to service sales there.


May 2018

I normally update this page on a very unreliable and indecently intermittent schedule, and at unconscionable long intervals. But now I must have too much time on my hands; or perhaps I'm a little overwhelmed, because I've just been sent a review of my gig at Tigerfolk, at The Stumble Inn, Long Eaton, Derbyshire. All the best 'folk-music Degree Courses' include seminars on how to choose the best Promotions/Public Relations company, to blow your trumpet for you. Even were I able to afford such, I am philosophically opposed to such 'show-biz' shenanigans (dictionary definition: ‘secret or dishonest activity or manoeuvring’); so here goes me:  blowing my own trumpet, with some snippets from this review. The article can be read in full on my reviews page.

Sunday 8th April 2018

    ..... it is indeed a delight to have experienced, and now to write about, a tour of matters maritime with submariner-singer Tom Lewis....................
    This was a distinctive and very enjoyable evening, and I’ll finish by just adding that Tom’s performance included a good infusion of singable choruses alongside the body of more reflective material. All told, damned good stuff.

Paul Mansfield

Thank you, Paul. As an old-time sailor might expostulate: "Well; blow me down!"

All for now, Tom.



February 2018

If ‘no news is good news’, then ‘good news’ MUST be ‘no news’ … so that’s good news!

I’m dreadful at this modern ‘media’ stuff … that’s why I’m not on Tweetter, Wha’s’at?, Blinder, Snappychat, Intelegram, and other like platforms. I do have a b-log going (that’s the one after ‘a-log’, I suppose) but I’m hardly the world’s most assiduous ‘blogger’. I sometimes leave so long between one post and the next, that I need a refresher-course before I can bring pen to paper … so to speak! If you’re interested – or terminally bored – you can click onto: WATERY PEREGRINATIONS and find out where Lyn and I have been on our 3-year exploration of the English and Welsh waterways.

We’re now ashore (‘on the bank’ as the old-time canal people would say), in the People’s republic of West Yorkshire; with Moonstone moored behind the house, on the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

Touring is carrying on apace; with a show especially for folk clubs, entitled:
‘SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS IN SEVENTY-FIVE MINUTES (that’s just about two sets!)’
It has to be seen to be appreciated … or believed.

This year has shaped up to be one with plenty of foreign travel. I’ll be gigging in Poland, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Spain; and mayhap a couple more of them ‘abroad’ places! That’s in addition to quite a few bookings at folk clubs and festivals, in the U.K. That’s not a complaint … more bookings are always welcome. ‘Use it, or lose it!’

So that’s it for now … no news is good news. Tom.


September 2016

I t has been a year (and a bit) since last I updated this page. Where does the time go? However; there is stuff which can definitely be classified as 'NEWS'!

COMPOSER ILAN ESHKERI BORROWS FOLK MUSICIAN'S MELODY AS THEME IN EXCITING FILM SCORE FOR SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS

When award winning composer Ilan Eshkeri created the music for the latest film adaptation for Arthur Ransom’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS, he incorporated the melody SAILOR’S PRAYER as one of the signature themes (All Aboard - click here). Although originally convinced that this beautiful melody was traditional, he was very upset to discover subsequently that it is the in-copyright work of the established musician and songwriter TOM LEWIS. Although Tom is hugely complimented that his music has been melded into a beautifully evocative orchestration, the revelation came 2 months after the film’s release and therefore too late for Tom’s work to receive an on-screen credit or official acknowledgement. Hopefully this notice will go some way to putting the record straight.

Ilan Eshkeri wishes to express his apology to Tom for what has happened and is very grateful to Tom for his gracious handling of the situation.

Whilst hoping for great audience response to the film, and for blockbuster sales of the DVD, Tom says that Tinseltown fame will not impede him from his normal gigging, far and wide. Tom, and his wife Lyn, have now decided that their return from a 30 year sojourn in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia will be permanent, and he’s looking forward to bringing his songs and stories back to the British folk club and festival scene.

(This was first drawn to my attention by Hilary Waitt; for which I am eternally grateful. Thanks Hilary.)

As a nice little ego-boost (for me), part of the promotion for the movie involved a conversation between Ilan Eshkeri and the film's director: Philippa Lowthorpe; whilst the London Symphony Orchestra were actually recording the sound-track ... in Abbey Road Studios!!!

Personally ... I'm thrilled to hear my music - so beautifully rendered - in such a context. Cheers folks. Tom.