On the day I should have returned home triumphant and joyful from having completed a wonderful seven week European tour showcasing my new album ‘Hand On My Heart‘ I am instead going to perform the album in its entirety in my first livestream event on Facebook, though please note the event is available to view for those off Facebook too.

This year has been a particularly tough year for me, as it has for all musicians everywhere, so please pay whatever you can afford to for the concert, with a recommended donation of £10 per ticket – you can pay via PayPal here. And of course, to purchase the new album to sing along in advance, or afterwards, please visit here.

I really hope all the people who I’ve missed this autumn, and indeed this year, will be able to join me and share a virtual dram together in my first, and hopefully last, Christmas Extravaganza Online Show.

Hope to see you then folks.

SK x 

Hello all,

And a happy St Andrew’s Day to one and all, wherever you are reading this in the world be sure to raise a dram to the Auld Country. And as the first Sunday of Advent was yesterday, then may I also wish you the very best for the coming Festive Season.

As you are reading this, you will hopfefully be interested to know that the Simon Kempston shop is fully stocked for Christmas, and what better gift to give this year than the gift of music, whilst simultaneously supporting independent artists in the process.

What’s more the shop is stocked with Christmas wrapping paper too, if you specify when ordering that it is a Christmas gift then yours truly will gift wrap the music, and include a personalised message of your choosing, as you wish.

Please visit here  to order my brand new album, though, of course, bear in mind many other titles are available also. I’ve been delighted with the response from you, my lovely audience, many of whom have been clamouring for me to make an album like this for over a decade, who would have thought it would have taken a global pandemic for me to make a solo acoustic record?

Huge thanks to Jim Gellatly and Amazing Radio for playing the lead-off single and title track ‘Hand On My Heart’ 28 times in the past few weeks, and also for Auntie Liz Clark for playing both ‘Hand On My Heart’ and ‘All For The Love Of You’ on her Celtic Music Radio show, listen again here scroll down to Travels with my Auntie, my songs are about 16 minutes in). Thanks also to Horse McDonald and the team at the Iain Anderson show on BBC Radio Scotland for also playing ‘Hand On My Heart’, I’m around 1.51.40 in here.

Spread the word if you can, there’s no touring for the foreseeable future unfortunately, so if you’re reading this, why not tell a friend, introduce them to my music, or better still give them the gift of music this Christmas?

I like going to the Post Office these days, it makes me happy – so make me happy and send me to the Post Office!!

All the very best, as always.

SK x

As lockdown descended on the city of Edinburgh in late March, the morning ritual of opening my laptop had become very much an ordeal, incoming emails were no longer about booking in concert dates or tours nor were they from enthusiastic fellow guitarists or concert goers but for the first time in my career, largely about cancellations, postponements or rearrangements.  Everything of course, has to be seen in the wider context of what was happening across the globe, but on a personal level, I found it dispiriting, to say the least.  Coming to terms with the loss of all this work whilst simultaneously receiving next to no financial support from the calamity that masquerades as a government in Westminster (for overseas readers the UK chancellor recently advised with more than a little condescension that all musicians and artists should retrain as their jobs were no longer ‘viable’) had created the most challenging circumstances in my career to date.

Those of you who know me personally know I am optimistic by nature, and I decided I had to find a way to overcome this unprecedented adversity and put my newfound spare time to the best use I could.  After a decade of solid touring intermittently across the globe, the opportunity to write in a concentrated and focussed fashion rarely availed itself, and I would often have to steal a few days here or there, the album ‘Broken Before’, for example was fleshed out in a few inspirational days off from my autumn 2017 tour in the stunning environs of Romainmôtier Abbey.

As I gazed out from my front window in Edinburgh, the once bustling and thriving street upon which I live had been reduced to a shadow of its former self, the tranquillity was eerie, scarcely a person or vehicle in sight.  One random April afternoon I picked up my gorgeous Taran guitar, set to a new tuning which to date I had only used in the writing of one song.  Within minutes, I stumbled upon a little hammer-on hammer-off sequence which seemed to me to have an immediacy to it, one of those rare moments where I think – yes!!  These are the magical moments a songwriter lives for, completely inexplicable – as the great Guy Clark once opined – ‘Some days you write the song, some days the song writes you’.  This instance was definitely one of the latter, and very quickly I had assembled both the music and the lyrics for the song ‘Hand On My Heart’, which was to ultimately become the title track for the album.

I realised then that here in my own home, I had the perfect conditions to write.  Conditions I had long sought and craved, along with giving me, as no doubt many close to me would argue, a much-needed break from the road (I have a somewhat indefatigable and unwavering commitment to the performance of my chosen art form, longstanding readers will have noticed).  Solitude, tranquility, peace, quiet, pen, paper and an array of beautiful guitars spearheaded by my custom-made Taran, I embarked upon a deliberately solitary and reclusive lifestyle, entirely in keeping with the conditions the authorities had forced upon us all.

And so this became my routine through all of April and May, writing every afternoon and evening for hours at a time, until I’d amassed almost fifty songs upon a wide variety of disparate topics.  As signs of the rare Scottish summer started to appear, I decided to then reapply my focus, sift back through the songs and select the ones which I felt had most promise, were the most honest, authentic and original, resulting in around twenty which I would then redraft and rework again.

This process alone was intensive and exhaustive, but absolutely necessary.  Was this song original?  Was I in danger of repeating myself, or worse still someone else?  Can I stand behind this song on stage with complete and absolute authority and authenticity?  Were the music and lyrics up to the high standards I expected of myself, and more importantly still, what my audiences expect from me?

These questions haunted me for much of the summer, I procrastinated, ruminated, reworked, discarded and dismissed various songs, before finally settling on the thirteen songs that make up the album.

I shall in due course, write more on the recording, mixing and release of the album – a Part Two if you will, and in the meantime click here to purchase the album.

Thanks, as always for reading.

SK x

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