2018 brings a healthy mix of new endeavours and some injections of fresh energy into ongoing ones. The UFQ have plenty of exciting plans afoot, with the preparations for our next album (studio album number four and our seventh in total!) and plans for touring at home and abroad over the next couple of years coming along really promisingly. 2019 will be our tenth year - without saying too much, I'm very much looking forward to some huge new ventures to celebrate that - keep your eyes peeled as we have some surprises for you!
My sideman work continues with BBC Folk Award winners Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar and I'm looking forward to more of that this year. I'm also very pleased to have been invited to join Jacqui McShee for an exciting new Pentangle focused acoustic lineup, opening for Steeleye Span at a few gigs in October. Recent recording work has seen me appearing on two very different albums, Dan Walsh's latest solo offering and a long awaited jazz release from Chris Bowden.
Since taking up lindy hop dancing a couple of years ago I've found myself back behind the drum set more than ever as first-call drummer for Jim Wynn's Swing Orchestra, Swingtet and small groups as well as Martyn Nelson's Rhythm Remedies. My passion for jazz drumming has been entirely reignited by the swing scene and I'm loving delving into the old recordings of some of my biggest inspirations. Alongside this, I'm venturing into a little swing DJing and I recently gave my first interactive musicality workshop for dancers, with a live band, which was a huge success and I'm keen to repeat and develop this strand of my teaching over the coming months. The swing scene is exploding worldwide and Birmingham's local scene is a beautiful place to be right now!
I'm playing percussion for Ray Prince's Gospel Revisited Project which is a delight. There is something singularly electrifying about playing percussion alongside a drummer with such deep pocket and musicality and I'm in my absolute element.
I continue to be a music mentor for Music For Youth and it's heartening to get out there and see the amazing things that young performers are up to. Other education work includes some visiting lecturing at The University Of Chester, touching on ethnomusicological responses to various non-western forms of music and culture. UFQ are also running a summer school in Devon which is set to be a lot of fun.
Outside of music, I've recently founded an art and design studio with my friend, illustrator Ning-ning Li. Chapman-Li is a new home for our work together and individually, creating album artwork and print campaigns for musicians, promoters and labels. We've also recently branched out into bespoke wedding stationery, which is a surprising but very rewarding new direction! We're moving into new premises soon, shared with Stoney Lane Records and have a number of promising new artwork commissions to sink our teeth into.