Answers April 2010, Part I
5/5/2010 (updated 5/5/2010)

I’m sure all of us old enough to remember going to concerts by Richard & Linda in the mid-70s were delighted by the release of the 1975 ‘In Concert’ CD a couple of years back. 2 years later they performed some exceptional concerts featuring a lot of new material, much of which was never recorded, notably a performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London on 1st May 1977. At least some of this was recorded and broadcast by Capital Radio at the time and some radio and audience recordings of rather poor sound quality have gone the rounds ever since. A good deal of the unrecorded material is excellent (if unlikely to top the charts) and documents some very significant musical and religious developments of the time. Is there any chance any of this might ever "officially" see the light of day? Andrew Mounstephen

There are complete tapes of that show (somewhere). I'm not convinced that it was very good, and personally would be happy to see it disappear.

Early last month (March 2010) was the birthday of Dr. Suess. I attended a reading of some of his works with my children. One work featured was "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." There is a line that jumped out at me regarding a "Sergeant Mulvaney." Is it possible that this is where you got the name for the gentleman narrating "Cooksferry Queen?" This also begs the question: is the narrator of "Cooksferry Queen" possibly a shady police officer and not a Guy Ritchie-esque gangster as I'd imagined? Don Spade - Homer City, PA

There are a lot of Mulvaneys, and there is no connection between Dr. Seuss and my song.

1. "Back in the day" as it were, what did you think of Peter Green's playing. At his peak, he for my money was the best of the British Blues school of the 60's, and still gives me chills. Any chance to see him, do gigs with etc? Apologies for the test of your memory, but as I was born in the '60s, I missed his prime.

I agree that he was the best of the British blues players. Great touch, great tone. We did a lot of shows with Fleetwood Mac, usually colleges, I think we did a Hyde Park with them too. I don't think I ever spoke to him much. I think I saw him once with John Mayall as well.

2. I know you use 008s on your electrics... as a bassist who learned guitar as a second instrument I pull them out of tune simply fretting a chord... but: because I've spent lots of time listening to the likes of you and Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch, I decided to add in CGDGBE to my tuning repertoire. Aside from the usual learning curve, it's working well for me. Still, on my guitars (primarily a well maintained 1982 57 reissue strat), a set of standard 010s or 011 is more than a little flabby on the C and the G... even with the suggested additional windings on the peg. Playing with a thumb pick, as I do, has had me venture into heavier strings for the low end... which has helped. My question simply is: how do you do it? (is your touch really that light? 'cos when I watch you play, it doesn't seem so)... and have you experimented with heavier gauges on the 5th and 6h string?

Brilliant band shows of late, BTW. Great new material, the kind of floating time tune at the earlier part of the set being my standout fave. Very much looking forward to hearing the recordings. Love the fact you walk that wire out there. Regards, VK Victor Krummenacher

I use 008s, 009s and 010s on electric, and 012s on Jazz guitars. It depends on the instrument and what you want to do with it. I like to do whole tone double stop bends, which require something lighter, but you do need a light touch with both hands to keep it all in tune. Coming from the bass, you've probably got arms like a blacksmith, so 010s will feel very thin. You have to be careful not to go too light on top and heavy on the bottom, or you upset the volume balance of the instrument.

You grew up a short distance from The Favourite pub (off Holloway Road) when it was one of the premier venues for traditional Irish music in the world. Did you pay a visit around then,sparking an interest in Irish tunes-or did it happen later via Dave Swarbrick when he joined Fairport? Max Cuthbert, Portland, Oregon

By the time I was 16, and old enough to get away with being in pubs, we moved from Archway to Whetstone, where I did enjoy the local folk club at the Black Bull. A little later, I suppose starting around the mid-sixties, there was a fine Irish music scene in Camden Town, where one could see the likes of the great Bobby Casey. Kilburn was another good centre of Irish music.

You said in your last Q & A than you don’t do caffeine. I’d read previously that you love coffee. Is this a recent purge? Are you now just high on life? Jamie

Yes, I love coffee. No I don't drink it. My body started to react badly to caffeine, so I went cold turkey. I can tolerate a tiny bit of chocolate, but I'm clean, doc, honest. I deeply miss it and the rituals around it, but I do have more energy without it, no question.

What is the tuning on "Hope You Like The New Me"? So far I've tried tuning the A string up to a B (to make the bass pattern simpler to play), but I'm not sure that's all there is to it yet.. Thanks!! PS- finally saw Richard (and Loudon) for the first time ever at Goucher college in Baltimore this past Oct 13th...definitely one of the best guitar / singing performances I've ever witnessed! Ha! Nevermind... I think i just figured it out! In addition to tuning the A string up, I also tuned the D string up to an E (which makes it EBEGBE) and it worked for the entire song! Thanks anyway, but please let me know if this isn't the same tuning.. it's working for me, though... Thanks, Alex

I play it in drop D, capo 2. In this tuning, it's comfortable to play the harmonics and reach the fretted notes.