August/September Q&A, Part I
10/6/2008 (updated 10/5/2008)

Richard, Were you inspired by the book Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (which was voted best Scottish book of all time by the public) when writing Sunset Song for Sweet Warrior? Thanks, Mike McCarthy

In rather cavalier fashion, I requisitioned the title, but the song and the book are unconnected – even I don’t get that dour…and because of its temperament, I’m very surprised it would top the tartan charts, over John Buchan or Walter Scott, or something deserving like Robin Jenkins (which would make Jo Dexter very happy, and I’m a big Cone-Gatherers fan myself) or Neill Gunn (Blood Hunt?). But if you take the whole Scots Quair (good Scrabble word) trilogy, it’s pretty impressive stuff.

Hi there .... do you know if there are any plans to release a DVD of the Liege and Lief set from 2007? Ian Denness

I’m hoping someone had a video running – this is really Fairport’s department, and perhaps you could aim your question at their website.

Given your and June Tabor's mutual admiration for each other's craft and your common interest in war-related songs, what is the likelihood of the two of you putting together a show of military musical might at some point (preferably soon, and in Glasgow)? Belated thanks for the best gig of 2007 by a long chalk with the band at the Fruitmarket last October, by the way. All the best, Phil Mason (Glasgow, UK)

My collaborations with June tend to be a song or two here and there, but it would always be fun to do more, as she is a National Living Treasure. Glasgow, you say? War songs? And soon? I’ll get right on it.

Any chance of you encouraging Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson to work with you (you with them) in some form leading to a recording? Say, isn't your house pink??? Looking forward to catching your bay area concerts over the next several months. Bruce Young, Santa Cruz, CA

Not So Big Pink, we call it. More of an earth tone, really. Getting Robertson together with the rest seems to be the main hitch before your scheme even gets out of the blocks – reading Levon’s book may give insight into the reasons why. At one point I was asked to be guitarist in an 80s incarnation of The Band, but I felt I was culturally ill-equipped.

I notice you have some sort of rosin bag on stage with you that you use from time to time. When I get on stage I get a bit nervous and clammy, so I was wanting to find out what that is and what helps you with that. Thanks, Robert Steel

You need seats nearer the front, or a new prescription for the bifocals. What I have, dear Robert, is a small container of Johnson and Johnson baby powder. This helps, if it’s hot or humid, to dry up the moisture or stickiness on the fingers and fretboard.

As I scour your present schedule, I see that you won’t be coming through the southern states, and as I look at the past schedules on line, I see your southern dates are few and far between. Do you think you will come south again? We are waiting to hear you. Thank you, Deb Chasteen, Athens, GA

We are planning a run in the South Eastern US in Spring 09.

Here's one of those annoying quick-fire, either/or type quizzes, the trick being to either pick your favourite of the two options, or the lesser of two evils.

Phone or email?

Email – I hate phones.

Martin O'Neill or Gordon Strachan?

O’Neill is a much better all-round manager, Gordon is just a motivator.

Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?

Bob for his influence on contemporary music, but they are different animals, and should not be compared, neither should football managers, or fruit.

Apples or oranges?

Love that pectin, but I’m very partial to large navel oranges. Nice pear you got there, love. Sorry, one-word answers….

Cycle or walk?

Cycle by a nose – I recently fell off my bike and landed on my nose, which miraculously failed to break.

Tea or coffee?

I currently don’t do the caffeine, but of the two, I crave coffee more.

Rhythm or lead?


Clapton or Hendrix?

Jimi embodied something those Brit guys could only hint at.

Airports or train stations?

Loathe airports, love train stations.

Catherine the Great or Marie-Antoinette?

Big C every time.

Bush Snr or Bush Jnr?

Scylla or Charybdis? Snr if I must. The Grandad was a piece of work…

Summer or winter?

Both have their compensations – am I allowed to say Spring? I think I only got one right…

Thanks! Stephen. ps - please come back to Ireland soon. And please put up some more News From Home!