Festival Time

I thought it would be worthwhile to update you all on my various travels this past month or so. We have entered festival season so my days have been filled in country fields, avoiding the sun and eating world cuisine from the back of trailers.

Up first was a repeat performance at Wallingford’s Rugfest. I have played the festival once before with The Lucky Strikes and we were excited to be playing it again. The festival is set in the grounds of the Rugby club and once you have swung off the M25 and the other motorways you enter a labyrinth of country lanes where chocolate box villages nestle at various crossroads. We arrived late in the day which meant we didn’t suffer the tedium that sometimes settles in to festival shows; just hanging around waiting to go on.

We are on second to last and when our time comes we set up and play out. Last year we managed to get everybody waltzing in the rain but this year it’s hot and the sun is still shining, even though it is heading west for the day. It’s a good gig and afterwards we stand side stage as a man in leather trousers sets off a firework behind a truck for the last band’s entrance. We drink beer and watch the blooms of red and gold. Backstage there is a sofa and there’s graffiti on the arm proclaiming ‘Jackie Leven sat here- Legend’.  I played with Jackie only once in a pub in Leytonstone. He was a warm man and I’d like to think that he could see those fireworks from up above.


29th June welcomed my local festival, the Leigh Folk Festival and I was honoured to be part of it again this year. On that Friday I joined Michael Chapman and Jason Steel, both lovely, lovely men to play a special night of music. The venue was the Leigh Methodist Church which stands almost on the marsh itself. I have known the church for so long but had never been inside. What first took me when I entered was the stain glass window of a cockle fisherman untangling his nets on the beach. It was glorious. It was truly a special gig and an attentive audience. 

The rest of the weekend was a manic itinerary of seeing some good friends and new acquaintances play. In no particular order I saw great sets from Micky Denny, Crafting for Foes, Oli Howard, Bob Collum and the Welfare Mothers, the Delta Jacks, Troubadour Rose, The Reverend Casey and Alisdair Roberts. It makes you feel truly alive to know so many great musicians and to call them friends. I took to the stage at 7.30pm on the Sunday with The Strikes. A good few technical difficulties but when you’re playing with brothers, it’s not that bad a deal. Long live the Leigh Folk Festival!


Me and The Strikes’ piano player, Dave, drove up to North Wales last weekend to play the Ymuno Festival. A small festival of five hundred, it was one of the best festival gigs we have played. Well worth the nine hours driving! It was a sublime drive, talking about life and music and moving on. The band are due back in the studio in early August and we’re excited to be working on new material.

We eventually hit Colwyn Bay around lunch time and are in awe of the beautiful sea. We head up through the mountains and past a spooky village populated by scarecrow cyclists and hangmen. We keep driving. We meet the rest of the boys at the festival and our erstwhile fiddler Simon who has travelled from Halifax. Simon is a legend and a master brewer. Our good friend Neil McSweeney played the previous night and he is wearing his hangover well when we meet up. We do the gig, pack away and then me, Dave and Neil film an impromptu interview for the festival organisers before we part ways, heading back home tired and hungry for bed.



I have been asked by the Essex based Arts companies, Old Trunk Theatre and Sundown Arts, to contribute a story to their night 'Ales and Tales', which is being held at the Alex in Southend on 7th July 2013. I thought I would share my contribution here...

The Knock


There was a knock on the door. I was trying to write. I’ve been trying to write all my life and never has one single word found its way off the page and into someone’s heart. I go to answer it but something stops me, something deep inside at the root of my soul says that to open that door is to invite a whole world of trouble into my life. What should I care? My life is one continuous intoxication of sense and smell gone deaf and blind with the dull drudgery of the days. The sky is leaden outside my window; at the door there is a knock again.

I pause. I’ve never paused before, never felt the need not to open the door wide and let in the world. But these are barbarian times, or so I’m told. We must keep insular and protected from the outsiders, the ones that try to take from you. My door is solid. It will take a lot for whatever is on the outside to come in.

I go back to my desk and my typewriter. I try to ignore the fact that the knocks occurred. I was busy, I didn’t hear it, maybe I was under the desk retrieving a pencil and never really heard it seeing as the pressure was building up in my ears. But I cannot fool myself. The knock knows too and resonates for a third time. My room is quiet and swallows up the sound, leaving the clock ticking on the wall, a second hand marching to meet the hour.

There it is again, the knock. Number four. It is even once again- balanced like the world, full of its odds and evens but balanced just the same. I take a tissue from my pocket, tear it and place two compact pieces in my ears. The fifth knock comes rapid and it pierces my tatty defences so I double up the tissue. I start to type again but with the hammering of the keys I swear another knock is sounded. I carry on typing, forget the knock at all costs! But I can hear it. I stop typing. Silence. Another knock on the door. Whoever it is will not go away, they are patient. They are persistent. I type more to block it out but it is no use.

I cover my ears after the ninth or tenth knock. I place my hands tight over the ear drum and the lobe. I block out the sound and look out to the leaden sky. It begins to rain. Light at first but then heavy, steady and unrelenting on the pane. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK. I fall to my knees pushing the chair away and over onto its back, the legs sticking sideways, rigid like a dead man.


Boult from the blue! / The Roots Music Authority

Boult from the blue! An interview with UK lap steel impresario M.G. Boulter - No Depression, The Roots Music Authority

"Southend on Sea's Matthew (M.G.) Boulter talks about 'Americana', Essex, cabin fever, Bob Brozman and the perils of playing lap steel guitar for Simone Felice. He looks a little like Ray LaMontagne, dapper in a smart waistcoat, bright white shirt and heavily bearded, just prior to a gig at the Shakespeare in Sheffield. Smiling, gentle and polite, he's an engaging figure, as he talks enthusiastically about a musical journey that has taken him from Essex to the Catskill Mountains and beyond via the medium of lap steel guitar. Perhaps not a name familiar to many, he has spent many a year plying his trade out of the spotlight, as a lynchpin backing come session musician and vocalist for acts like Deer Park and Simone Felice. But behind his gentle facade, there's a determined, talented front man, bursting to get out. As lead singer for Essex's very own Lucky Strikes and with an emerging career as a solo singer as the Whispering Pines and more recently M.G. Boulter, this is performer with a distinctive voice that you are sure to hear more of."..... Click here to read more