Hello all,

I’ve had a busy start to the year, preparing and finalising the new album ‘Impasse’, which will be released in May. The album was recorded in two sessions, in Crichton Church, Crichton (I discovered its beautiful acoustics when performing there at my sister’s wedding!) and All Soul’s Church in Invergowrie, a church close to my family home which I’d used for recording in the past and had always been pleased with the results. The first session features Tom Merritt-Smith on cello and the second Fiona Cuthill on fiddle with Steven Carey at the production helm. They were all fantastic throughout and I can’t thank them enough – keep your eyes on this space for details of a launch night!

Earlier this month I had the privilege of peforming a short tour in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam upon the famous Mulligans stage before heading up to Zwolle to perform a couple of dates there. I was lucky enough to be staying with Patrick of the In de Kringloop sessions in Zwolle (www.indekringloop.nl), both him and his wife were excellent hosts and the whole experience in Zwolle was great. The house concert I performed in featured another two talented acts, The Information and Port of Call (Pieter van Vliet) and was a certain highlight (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAD5JVcZ73Y for my performance of ‘To The Wilderness’). Another great highlight were the In de Kringloop sessions themselves, for those of you unfamiliar with Dutch Culture, a ‘Kringloop’ is essentially a cavernous charity shop where one can purchase second hand goods of any type. As part of the In de Kringloop sessions acts select an area of the shop they like and perform a couple of their songs which are then edited into a video – so keep watching Patrick’s youtube channel for the latest updates!

I’m currently organising a return tour to Holland/Germany in May, as well as Slovakia in June, Ireland in July, Holland/Germany in September and a full European tour in October/November. There will be a host of Scottish and English dates too, so hopefully I’ll be performing somewhere near you – the gig listings change all the time so keep checking back.

All the best,

SK x

Yes, it has indeed been some time since my last post, and how time flies. Updates will be more frequent from now on, fear not. I personallly blame Sky who having originally promised to wire up the internet in the new flat in July failed to do so, finally managing to last week!

It has been a fantastic year for me, and I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to come and see me play, speak to me personally on the night of a gig & buy my CDs, the support means so much to me and is always appreciated, never taken for granted. The last few months have seen fantastic dates at the Cropredy Festival, Liverpool’s Mathew Street Festival, Sligo Live Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (sell out!) amongst many more wonderful dates across the UK & Eire. Belated thanks also to Roddy Hart, Mary Ann Kennedy, Iain Anderson & Archie Fisher for playing tracks from ‘Carefree Prisoner’ on BBC Radio Scotland.

The second album is nearly finished and is scheduled for release in February 2011 – I am very excited about it & can’t wait to get the songs out there and out touring and performing in support of it. I’m in the process of arranging many dates for 2011 presently, please check here & on my myspace for latest details, and I really hope to see you all at a gig soon.

Have a great Christmas when it comes and all the best for 2011.

SK x

Well, here it is- summer at last. And it is going to be a busy one for me, starting with a performance in the UK’s most mainland location – Knoydart; followed by performances in Keswick, the Rowchester Music Festival, the Maryport Blues Festival, Chesham, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Cropredy Festival and DylanFest. I also have a few dates pending, including a return trip to Northern Ireland/Eire and to Tuscany.

Another great review for ‘Carefree Prisoner’ in fROOTS magazine, which we’re all thrilled about – here it is:

‘Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter, Simon’s poignant melodies and intense, poetic lyrics dramatically describe political and historical events and places he’s travelled. His plaintive vocals are accompanied by mesmerising acoustic guitar and exquisitely beautiful chamber orchestra arrangements. Intelligent, passionate and highly original.

I am also at work with Steven Carey in the studio, and we anticipate a second album, which features much of the material I’m currently playing live, should be ready for the autumn. The songs were recorded in the stuning Collegiate Church in Crichton, which has given the recordings a beautiful natural sound. We’re very excited about it and can’t wait to release it and take it out on the road.

Hope to see all of you very soon.

SK x

This is just a short note to say I’ll be performing live on BBC Radio on the Sue Marchant show tomorrow night from 1900. I think I’ll be on from around 1915ish, the show goes out live on the following stations in the East of England:

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire; BBC Radio Norfolk; BBC Radio Three Counties; BBC Radio Suffolk; BBC Radio Northampton & BBC Radio Essex.

You can also listen live online here –http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/playlive/bbc_radio_cambridge/ (or any of the corresponding links for the stations listed above).

I really can’t wait, and hope a few of you can tune in!

More to follow.

SK x

April has been incredibly hectic and enjoyable, and has seen me grace stages in Edinburgh, Glasgow (twice), Perth, Dundee, Glossop, Birmingham, Newcastle (twice), Livingston, Belfast (twice), Sligo & Derry.

Everyone I have met wherever I have been has been really welcoming, but I have to save a special mention for the people of Northern Ireland/Eire – I had a phenomenal time and met some amazing people & musicians, and I hope to keep in touch with them all. Belfast, what a city, I can’t wait to come back, & the crowd in Sligo were first rate. Special thanks also to Cherrie McIlwaine who gave ‘To the Wilderness’ and ‘Galway’ a spin and mentioned all the Northern Irish/Irish shows on her BBC Radio Ulster show. The gigs in Glossop (Red Rooms), Glasgow (Star Folk Club with Rallion) and Birmingham were also personal highlights.

The album also received the following review in Acoustic Magazine, much to our delight:

‘A battered, ancient woodland of rhythms, accompany weeping strings and softly spoken acoustic guitars, producing something Nick Drake would surely approve of. Songs can be fiercely independent and so have no trouble being separated from their fellows. The rousing, blood-pumping ‘Barricade’, marching melancholy that is ‘The Bleeding Mile’ and confidently beautiful ‘Sternest of Frowns’ are all memorable moments, making Carefree Prisoner a shimmering release which captures part of the Celtic and traditional rock genres and instantly personalises them. Scottish routes poke through, creating a beautifully sparse landscape which the listener can continually use to reflect and brood upon.’
Gary Munday, Acoustic Magazine

This month is a little quieter, a stag weekend in Bristol not exactly the welcome tonic for a life on the road…though I’m appearing live on the Sue Marchant Show which goes out on BBC Radio in the East of England on the 13th of May (available on iPlayer if you’re not in the area), as well as performances in Suffolk, Norwich, Edinburgh & my native and beloved Dundee.

Thanks to everyone who came to a show, bought a CD, offered me support in any way – it is much appreciated, as always.

All the best,

SK x

Introducing ‘The Loss of an Unknown’, a series of guitar instrumentals steeped in the traditions of the classical and instrumental folk acoustic guitar styles, with which I grew up. I composed the pieces during the course of 2009, grabbing moments here and there in amongst the hectic recording, rehearsing and performing schedule we had set ourselves and recorded them in one evening session in the autumn. I have tried to stay true to the composers and guitarists who inspired me first, and have sought space, atmosphere and melody over technical perfection in my performances – only you can judge whether I have succeeded in this.

The talented Steven Carey(http://stevencarey.tumblr.com/) oversaw the mixing and mastering of the recordings and Graeme Hogge (www.nexus24.co.uk) once again produced the artwork. I will be posting a couple of the pieces on my myspace shortly, but in the meantime copies are available to purchase from http://www.simonkempston.co.uk/shop/. And in a stunning display of generosity, because as you know I am a very generous person anyone who puchases the album ‘Carefree Prisoner’ through the website shop will receive a copy of ‘The Loss of an Unknown’ absolutely free!

I shall post more news with regards to recent gigs and upcoming gigs as well as more news on ‘Carefree Prisoner’ (now available on iTunes) shortly, but in the meantime thanks again to anyone who takes the time to support me.

All the best, and I hope to see you at a show soon.

SK x

Well, January is now over and it has been a great month, with excellent gigs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dunfermline, Aberdeen and Inverness – we met a lot of wonderful people and are very grateful to all those who came along to our performances.

We are delighted that ‘Carefree Prisoner’ is continuing to pick up good reviews in the press such as this one below from Rick Fulton in the Daily Record:

‘Simon Kempston – Carefree Prisoner

THE Edinburgh singer/songwriter can track his musical DNA straight to Nick Drake’s door. From the cello to the well picked acoustic guitar and clipped vocal style it’s all there. While the cover of Drake’s “best of” Way To Blue has him drapped in an old colourful blanket , Simon’s album cover for Carefree Prisoner has a man pointing a gun at a kneeling man. It’s an arresting sight and despite the delicacy of the music there are bullets in the lyrics. He has a pop at Sectarian Marches on The Bleeding Mile as he asks “does Christian sentiment fuel this angry crowd”. Then on To See The Light Simon hopes once again to see “the cranes that tower so high and the ships of imperial might” as an ode to Rosyth. On All I Can Offer You he goes deeper still admitting: “dark and grey, these prison walls, are all I can offer you”. Thought provoking lyrics coupled with beautifully crafted songs make this a beguiling album.

Carefree Prisoner is out now’

There was also a featured article in the Inverness Courier to coincide with our date at Hootananny which can be read in full here – www.inverness-courier.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/11521/Solo_act_is_right_choice.html. The album is continuing to pick up airplay on BBC Radio Scotland and was also played on the fantastic BBC Radio Leeds show The Durbervilles.

Next stop, North West England & Wales, for a few live performances at the end of the month. Can’t wait!

Hope to see you all at a show soon.

All my best,

SK x

Happy New Year to you all! Hoping 2010 will be even more musically inspiring.

Well, so far, we’ve been really pleased with how the album has been received and long may this continue. Since I last posted, the album has received further airplay on BBC Radio Scotland (the Iain Anderson Show & Travelling Folk) and on BBC Radio Leicestershire (Celtic Fringe) and thanks to Martell Maxwell who also mentioned the album in her column in the Scottish Sun.

There’s a host of January dates coming up starting tonight in Glasgow, but also taking in Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Aberdeen (twice) and Inverness so hopefully I/we’ll see some of you at one of them. I’m in the process of organising some dates further afield for later in the year so will of course let you know, as and when dates are confirmed.

The album is now for sale from Coda Records on the Mound in Edinburgh and can also be downloaded from iTunes, Napster & Amazon .mp3, as well as www.simonkempston.co.uk and of course, directly from me, at all upcoming gigs. Further distribution channels will also be confirmed in due course.

Not one for being idle, work on the second album is well underway…

All the best.

SK x

Simon Kempston – Carefree Prisoner (Self-Portrait Records)

There’s a lightness of touch to this vocal delivery that instantly brings Nick Drake to mind – but that’s where any easy comparisons begin and end. This collection of 12 songs penned by the classically trained Dundonian – delicately beautiful melodies, strikingly politicised lyrics – is transformed by Adam Nash’s arrangements which set Kempston’s voice and intricately picked guitar against finely woven backdrops of violin and cello. Sometimes the strings push the songs in the direction of Celtic folk music (the luscious ..Galway..); sometimes they have the driving force of a small chamber group tackling the work of Steve Reich or Philip Glass (Ladies’ Lookout, Mad Dog). Percussion remains minimal, only really coming to the fore to provide a heartbeat for the rousing Barricade and the military tautness of The Bleeding Mile. The result is so unique, so consistent, so complete that Carefree Prisoner sounds more like a unified song cycle than what normally passes for a singer-songwriter’s latest album.

Alan Morrison