11/14/2007 (updated 11/14/2007)

Two questions:
[a] What's happened to News from Home? Too many other projects, or have you just decided to save it all for that Dickensian novel you're going to someday write? [I miss looking forward to the next installment!]

[b] Despite the spectacular musical fireworks and non-stop energy of the sets from this latest band tour, I noticed that after both shows I saw, you seemed not only NOT exhausted but quite peppy and ready to run, if not a marathon, at least a good sprint. In contrast, after solo acoustic shows over the past few years, you've seemed far more drained. Does acoustic playing take more energy than electric? Or is the difference I think I'm noting a result of playing with a band rather than solo, play all songs though you do?
from Jo in CT

I wasnít sure anyone was reading NFH Ė I have the next ready to roll, and Iíll put it up in a few days.

Band shows run to about 2 h 15m, and in that time, I get to step back occasionally while someone else takes a solo. Acoustic shows run to about 1 h 45m, but thatís flat-out concentration, and itís always more tiring. Iíd say both formats are energizing in the short term, but 2 hours after the curtain comes down, Iíll usually eschew the disco, and the company of starlets and bunnies, for cocoa and slippers.

Richard, what type of pick do you use? I am interested to know what your preferred shape and thickness is. Does it change when you switch from acoustic to the lighter gauge electric strings?
Thanks. John Hatton, Nashville, TN.

I use Gibson teardrop medium gauge, what used to be the ĎLes Paulí pick. These are harder to get now, but Fender make an equivalent. I truly prefer a heavy gauge pick, and sometimes use Fender heavies in the studio Ė I find that the tone is better, but playing with that for a whole show tires my arm out. I sometimes use a thin on mandolin, but the tonal trade-off is rarely worth it. I donít change picks going from acoustic to electric.

Andy Pay wrote:
In c.1967 I turned up at The Place at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent to see Fairport - on their weekly "Underground Night" - to be told that the band had refused to take the stage because the management had declined entry to someone (presumably a male!) with long hair. Was this correct? I think most of the crowd were behind you, by the way!

This is correct. It was to do with hair code, at a time when the bands had long hair, and the crowd sometimes didnít! It used to be fatal to leave the building in í67-í68, if we were playing a dance hall, like a Mecca or a Locarno, because the bouncers wouldnít let us back in! ďI donít care who you are, youíre not coming in here without a tieĒ was the usual line.

Moving forward somewhat, thanks so much for undertaking the great trek down the A30 to play for us in Falmouth, Cornwall. Terrific set. Did you get to the beach? And how long is it since you appeared in the county - if ever??

There are not a million gigs available in Cornwall for the likes of me, but Iíve done a few over the years, most recently a WOMAD. I did not get to the beach.