On the anniversary of my birth, it is truly my pleasure to share with you all my brand new album ‘Hand On My Heart’, a collection of 13 songs penned during the spring and summer of 2020 during the period of time when Scottish citizens were in lockdown or isolation.

The album can be purchased here so please click to be amongst the first to hear the new album and give yourself the best chance of being able to sing along when concerts do finally return. It’s a huge shame not to be bringing you these songs in person at this time but God willing, I’ll be able to perform on a stage near you soon, and all 2021 tours which do occur will be in support of this record.

For those who do not use PayPal but wish to purchase a copy please contact me directly to arrange transfer of funds.

Please spread far and wide, this is certainly one of the finest albums I’ve made to date, and I really hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing and making it. There shall be a follow-up blog about the writing and recording of this album in due course so please do keep tuned in order to learn more about it. And if you want to remind yourself of the title track watch the video here.

Slàinte Mhath!

SK x

Hello again lovely readers,

First of all, thank you so much to all those who have watched the new video for ‘Hand On My Heart’, you have certainly given me a lot of encouragement and motivation in these lean times for all of us who work in the music industry. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you can watch it here – please do like and share it, in these strange times where musicians can’t travel, tour and perform, we become very much dependent upon social media for exposure. I was naturally very pleased to have amassed 1000 views in under a month, not bad for this housebound humble Scottish troubadour (who to date has been almost entirely dependent upon touring to build momentum). Please do take the next step and subscribe to my channel here, it helps me create more content and would be very much appreciated.

The uncertainty with regards to touring in these strange, disturbing times we must sadly all endure is beyond comprehension. It is an exceptionally turbulent time for the whole industry, who knew that this would continue for so long? I could wax lyrical at length upon this topic but perhaps the main question I would have of Boris Johnson is (and believe me, I would have many) – why are you forgetting the arts in amongst all this?

On a personal note, I intend to travel out to Germany late next month but organising a tour, stressful at the best of times, at the moment is complete and utter mayhem.  Every time I miraculously manage to pick up a show I then lose two from cancellations as fear and financial ruin strikes at the heart of the music industry.

So, I keep my fingers crossed, and remain ever hopeful that the ever deteriorating situation does not affect my travel or touring plans too much. Yet I know that should I do tour, it is going to be a radically different experience from any I have previously encountered.

So please stay tuned, the first concert is due to happen on October the 24th, but before that there will be a significant announcement as I opt for the commercially suicidal decision of releasing an album during the midst of a global pandemic (after releasing a previous one just before the pandemic started!). Though should this continue indefinitely, you shall, of course, be needing new music to discover!

Stay safe and healthy folks, and I very much hope to see some of you in a socially distanced venue soon. Please pay close attention here for details of the release date of the forthcoming album.

Love to you all, and thanks very much for reading.

SK x

Hello again lovely readers.

Welcome back to my monthly updates. As I alluded to in previous updates, lockdown has been a productive time for me creatively, and I’m delighted to premiere a brand new song and video ‘Hand On My Heart’ from my forthcoming album on YouTube here

Once safely permitted to do so, I met on a freezing Glasgow summer evening with the talented filmmaker Martin Forry (some of you will recall our previous collaboration for the Bert Jansch 80 Plays project which you can view here) and we recorded live performances on location for two tracks from my next release.

I am very, very excited to share with you all the first of those songs and hope you enjoy the fruits of my lockdown labour. Please like and share far and wide if you do and subscribe to my YouTube Channel here

Stay safe and healthy folks, and I very much hope to see you all soon. Please stay tuned for details of the release date, the accompanying tour (fingers crossed), the next video and of the project itself.

Love to you all, and thanks very much for reading.

SK x

Dear Readers,

The days pass a little quicker now as the world slowly returns back to the ‘new normal’. To meet with friends, family, to visit bars and restaurants again, all the elements of a fulfilled life we have taken for granted for so long, are now possible once more in Scotland albeit in a very different fashion than before, which has been later than most in returning (and rightfully so, in this humble songwriter’s view), . Live music is still not possible, but as it is now possible in mainland Europe and in England, Scottish musicians can now look forward to this with much more hope than before, as we patiently await this date to be confirmed.

Many you have kindly asked how you can support independent music in this time when musicians cannot tour, and more specifically my good self, for which I am highly appreciative. The best way to do so is to keep the wheels of the independent music economy turning by purchasing an album (or why not two – ;-)) from my shop here, the latest release which I’ve been unable to tour is available here.

Why not listen on Spotify, I hear some of you ask (though hopefully not too many)? This article by fellow singer-songwriter and troubadour Luka Bloom sums up why not perfectly. I only intend to use Spotify for releases which are now sold out OR no longer form part of my set, if you really wish to support my music and especially the new music I am releasing and intend to release in the future, then please always buy the hard copies online, or directly from me in a concert (once they can resume again, of course).

And at such a time when touring can no longer take place, one way to keep the momentum going is of course online. Earlier this month I performed online for the Bert Jansch Foundation on behalf of the intrinsic Save Our Venues campaign, you can view the whole performance featuring three other fantastic acts here, whilst my latest Fireplace Session can be viewed here.

I can also exclusively announce that the video previewing my next album release will be released next month on YouTube, please subscribe here to be amongst the first to view it. Your support would also be fantastic in helping to increase my subscriber base, something which I’ve sadly neglected as for the past ten years I’ve been too busy touring hard in 35 countries and counting. The same would also apply to Instagram, a relative latecomer (I’ve only been on there a year) to this, I’m aiming to post much different content from Facebook (keeps it more interesting for all of us!), so please do follow me here if you do not already.

Much as I would love to be on tour before the autumn, my Portuguese tour for September was cancelled yesterday, whilst the likelihood of Canada opening its borders in time for my tour there in late August/September given the catastrophic situation in the neighbouring U.S. is very, very slim. It is unfortunate, as I write, some of my contemporaries are embarking on or are enjoying long tours in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, countries which have handled the pandemic well. But unfortunately, when structuring my 2020 touring calendar, I, like everyone else, had no idea of what was to befall the globe. The tours I had booked of Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, a total of five tours, all fell within the period when performing was not allowed. Now live performance is permitted in these countries once again but not in the ones I am scheduled to perform in, and I am not due to travel to mainland Europe again until the autumn.

So, I’ll be here in beautiful Scotland, working hard on the next album, my beloved readers, you can be very sure of that. Please stay tuned for the new video, on YouTube, and here.

Love to you all, I hope to see you all as soon as practically possible.

SK x

Dear readers,

Here we are, at the halfway point of perhaps the most bizarre year of my life thus far. I do not intend to dwell on that much here, for there are plenty of others who will do so, and for those who wish to discuss the most pressing issues of our time there are a multitude of resources and forums to do so, and I shall keep this particular troubadour’s forum clear of this, for now.

Writing has continued apace, and with signs that both recording audio and video will be possible in the near future, you can expect me to be very active on both fronts, my friends. The record I have been working on is unlikely to materialise in physical form this year, but I shall endeavour to release something, as I have every year since 2008. It would be a shame to allow my prolific output to drop just now, given the irony is that the pandemic has given me much more time to write. So, watch this space, and if you wish to facilitate this or support me in any way, please take the time to visit my shop here and start adding or completing your collection or even give to others the gift of music.

I took the unusual step for me, at least, of debuting a classical guitar piece, my first in 15 years, called ‘Moonrise Over Mostar, on social media – it can be viewed on Facebook here and on Instagram here. A little momentum and belief can be very powerful indeed, and the reaction to the piece has led to my possibly making my debut performance in this beautiful city later in the year. Having longed to return to the city since my only visit there two years ago, please do keep your fingers crossed for me.

Other works on the classical guitar are being prepared and I am enjoying the challenge the instrument is posing me. The guitar as an instrument offers such a cornucopia of possibilities, that even after three decades of picking one, it never stops amazing me.

Here’s hoping the second half of the year brings more cheer than the first half, and that the slow and cautious return to normality can continue.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be allowed to grace a venue near you soon.

SK x

The Fireplace Sessions return, with a brand new composition, my friends, entitled ‘Moonrise over Mostar’, which you can view on Facebook here. I’m still learning the piece myself, even though I wrote it, so please appreciate the performance is by no means perfect!

Please like and share if you wish to see the piece one day in a recorded format, it would be very much appreciated. For a little context to the composition, please read on.

Two years ago I stood upon the banks of the Neretva River in Mostar, Bosnia, with a stunning view of the Stari Most (Old Bridge), constructed in the 16th Century by the Ottomans. It was a truly remarkable, idyllic setting, and as the moon rose above the Old City, my imagination ran into overdrive. Earlier that day I had shed tears on numerous occasions whilst visiting the Museum of War and Genocide Victims 1992 – 1995, learning in detail of the killing fields, the concentration camps, the mass graves, the harrowing consequences of the campaigns of ethnic genocide against Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian War. The horrific images haunted me continuously, guilt set in upon me for enjoying this nocturnal view – this juxtaposition felt uneasy, and I knew I would have to respond to these feelings in the only way I know how, through music. On occasion, it takes much longer to articulate some feelings musically than others, though the images were never far from my mind, plaguing me perpetually as I travelled across the globe, as those from Auschwitz had when I visited ten years before. I finally expressed this uncomfortable juxtaposition through my latest composition written last month and entitled ‘Moonrise Over Mostar’- it seemed better to allow music to paint this troubled history in the picturesque setting rather than song.

Humankind never seems to learn the lessons from history. We are all living in the same world and we should all strive for peace, reconciliation, social and economic justice for every person across the globe regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexuality or gender.

I hope you all enjoy this composition, and I make no apologies for the more serious tone of the message, which seems entirely appropriate at this gravely unsettling moment in world history.

SK x

Dear Readers,

I hope this finds you all well. Here in Scotland, we have just completed our second full month in lockdown though hope is on the horizon that these measures are to be slowly lifted over the coming months. Whisper it, but it may be permitted to meet with people outwith your own household soon!

As I’ve alluded to before, and elsewhere on social media, this time has given me ample opportunity to write music and songs. Solitary confinement has worked exceptionally well for this particular troubadour, isolation creations have been fruitful, and a wealth of new songs have been accumulated and lie patiently on my desk to be chiselled into shape. A new adventure has started on the classical guitar as well, which has also seen me working a little on my playing and composing on that front.

International travel may be forbidden for now, but signs are that the borders are slowly opening up in many of the countries which I tour. In the best case scenario I may make it over to Denmark in mid-July and the worst case scenario would see me back out in my old stomping ground of Central Europe in October. Plans to tour Canada and Russia in the interim are very much in the balance and subject to the daily changing of international travelling regulations and quarantine requirements. This Scottish troubadour can only hope.

Although I have no live stream performances set up yet, I have decided to reprise the Fireplace Sessions, a series of instrumental guitar videos which I am releasing on social media – these can be viewed on Facebook here and on Instagram here. The first was an arrangement of Steve Hackett’s wonderful composition ‘Horizons’ whilst the second was my own composition, first appearing on the now sold out ‘Estranged’ from late 2015 and has become a concert favourite – ‘There is a (very) Hot Lady in My Bedroom and I Shall be Needing a (Very) Strong Whisky. ( for anyone interested in hearing how the piece has developed, the Spotify link is here) The third will follow shortly – please stay tuned.

Many of you kind readers have kindly supported my career in these times of great hardship and from the bottom of my wee heart, it is really appreciated. My last album of songs, ‘Broken Before’ was released in Autumn 2018, and I had intended to follow this with a brand new album this summer. The pandemic has made these timescales an impossibility, but perhaps late 2020 might still be possible. That said, even though it may be practically possible in terms of being able to complete the work, finances may well dictate otherwise and delay the release until 2021.

In the meantime, in these troubled times where touring and concerts are forbidden, please know every purchase from my website helps to keep my creative output flowing. Here is the link to my shop – https://simonkempston.co.uk/albums/ – why not take the opportunity to complete your collection?

And please do take the time to follow or subscribe to me on the many social media platforms out there, that costs nothing and all the relevant links are at the footer of this page.

Thank you again for reading, and above all, please stay safe and healthy.

I’ll see you all down the road wherever.

SK x

Dear Readers,

With great sadness, I must report that my April/May tour of Germany and Switzerland has been cancelled in its entirety.  Looking further ahead, it is highly likely that the June tour of the Netherlands and Northern Germany will be a further casualty to this wicked virus.  For those of you planning to attend shows which were on either tour, please check this website, we are working hard to reschedule all dates where possible, these will be announced here in the first instance.

When world-renowned epidemiologists and political leaders cannot predict the future, this humble troubadour most certainly cannot.  I remain hopeful that my July and August commitments will take place as scheduled, though for overseas dates if there is a requirement to go into quarantine on arrival this will render them impossible to fulfil.

In the meantime, I am trying to take advantage of the opportunities that this lockdown has given, not least to write.  In the hectic world of the globetrotting troubadour, finding a concentrated time to focus, reflect and write has proved immensely difficult, often resulting in an inspired day or two in disparate locations whilst on tour.  By its very nature, it can be interruptive and not conducive to allowing a continual stream of thought, so in many ways this additional time has been a much sought blessing.  The quiet, ghostly streets and forbidden social life combine to create the atmosphere for writing I’ve long sought for at home.

I have no idea when these new compositions will see the light of day, we are approximately halfway through recording work on the next album yet here in Scotland all non-essential businesses are closed (sadly for me, this includes the studio) therefore this project is on hiatus.  But I am strongly of the belief that one can never have too many songs or ideas, and it is far better to have a surplus of songs than a deficit.

The knock-on effect of the virus will mean a delay to all future projects, inevitably, from both a practical and an economic perspective (the substantial number of cancelled shows and tours has deprived me of my income stream for the foreseeable future).  Hopefully this is understandable, if one cannot tour then the money is not there to pay for the recordings.  And if musicians cannot physically go into the studio to record, then no progress can be tangibly made – all work essentially being on hold.

I know, of course, that lives are far more important than livelihoods, and that this is a global public health emergency we are facing as a global community.  And above all, we must all follow the government guidance to keep us safe and well in these unprecedented times.

However, from a personal note, not to have the opportunity to tour ‘In Gratitude of Solitude’ is a bitter disappointment.  I will, of course, investigate the possibility of live streaming a performance, but as we all know, this really just isn’t the same – the whole idea of live performance is a combined effort between the audience and performer in one space, where the interaction and involvement on both parts is completely unique to that moment, to that one event.  It is what we as performers live for – it’s the ultimate expression of our chosen art form.

In the meantime, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all those who have supported me at this incredibly hard time for us all, every single purchase has helped me greatly right now. And if you haven’t already done so, please consider purchasing my latest album, which sadly I can’t tour for the foreseeable future, here.  Lockdown is the perfect time to discover new music, so why not gift someone you love the gift of music, eight of the thirteen titles from my recording career are still available here?

Or if you’re also suffering greatly from loss of income and still wish to show your support, then why not follow me on Twitter ; Instagram (featuring many pictures from my travels)  or subscribe to my YouTube channel here?

Many thanks again to all friends, fans and followers, thank you for listening and reading, and above all, stay safe and healthy please.

See you all down the road wherever, I hope.

SK x

My latest release is available here, In Gratitude of Solitude, a four part suite for solo guitar, my most ambitious instrumental work to date.  It has been a challenge to restrict myself to excerpts within the confines of a typical singer-songwriter performance, to that end I would welcome any opportunities to present the suite in its entirety.  Please direct all enquires to me here.

In other news, the all-consuming and rampaging beast of global capitalism leaves no corner of the earth unturned as it wages war upon the Arts, it seems. I wish my wonderful friends in Uzbekistan well as they battle to preserve this vital cultural institution, the plight of which was recently highlighted in this recent Guardian article.  As I’ve testified in this blog and on my various social media outlets, my own concert there was an incredible experience, and I very much hope to grace the stage there again in the future.

Further catastrophic news for the arts emerged from Downing Street yesterday, with this announcement.  A trepidatious wait now ensues for this particular Scottish musician, as well as many others from the island, for the announcement of the reciprocal arrangements for Scottish and UK artists wishing to tour the EU.

In more personal news, work on my latest album of songs is continuing apace, I have finished all my parts and now await time and sessions with the other musicians who will feature.  You can chart our progress on all social media sites, I am a fairly inexperienced user on both Twitter and Instagram so please follow me and say hello on both – I blame the guitar myself, I spend far too much time picking it and not enough time on social media!

Hope to see you all on the road somewhere soon, many thanks for reading, as always.

SK x

Hello All,

A new decade, a new year, a new tour and a new album.  I’m delighted to announce that my brand new instrumental guitar suite for solo acoustic guitar ‘In Gratitude of Solitude’ is released today.  It is my most ambitious instrumental work to date, and I would be delighted if you wonderful visitors to my website would join me on this musical journey.

Copies of the album will now be available at my all upcoming shows, and of course, from my website here.  There are no plans to release this in digital form, whether on Spotify or otherwise in the near future, this shall be a strictly hard copy release only.

The liner notes read as follows, I do not wish to reveal too much more as I would very much hope that the music will speak for itself, as it should:

‘This suite for solo guitar is a culmination of a lifetime’s obsession with and devotion to the acoustic guitar, and was written in isolation in various locations during the course of 2018. Musically, and conceptually, it aims to expand upon and explore further the themes of ‘Onwards She Travels’, albeit with a more reflective and introspective focus.’

Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope to meet you further on up the road.

SK x