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So THAT was 2023! 

Well well - looks like a year has passed with no visible comment. That's not to say nothing's happened! 

2023 - finally! - saw the advent of Mockingbird, a new band featuring Douglas Montgomery (violin, guitar), Andy Taylor (lead guitar), El Kevano (keyboards), Colin Drever (bass), Will Scott (drums, vocal) and myself (doing what I do). This line-up, minus Douglas, had lurked about for a few months in 2022 calling itself the Poplar Jake Band, pretty much playing straight ahead blues. There was some crossover with the Poplar Jake Trio repetoire, and a few folks were involved in a few other things, so I kind of let it lapse. But these guys are not the sort to let things lie! After some months of inactivity, all who had been involved showed interest it getting it going again, and thus encouraged, I agreed.

Only this time, I wanted some icing on the cake. Enter Douglas Montgomery, adding some real class and colour to a set that, this time out, would not be all woke up this morning. This would be something different. As well as drawing on country, rock, Americana and Brit R&B, the band began performing original material. In the latter half of 2023 we played out, to great reception. Keep an eye on, and don't forget to check back here while I try and balance the two sites! 


Had a surprise gig on Friday 23rd December 2022; was asked to sit in with Rocker, an Orcadian AC/DC tribute whose singer was sadly unavailable. Obviously, I'm not Bon Scott, so the big question was what were we going to play!? Well, I suggested about some blues? Just what we had in mind, replied messers Montgomery and Taylor (yep, THAT Mr Taylor!). Turns out the band, sans Laura Montgomery on vocals, comprised Andy Taylor, Will Scott and Colin Drever...of the Poplar Jake Band! Add the hugely talented Douglas Montgomery, who put down his Gretsch in favour of electric violin, and we had something going! Now, if we could only find Kevano...


Hello one and all...

Well, it's hit us all for six I think, losing the Mother of our Nation. Whatever your feelings about the monarchy, there's no denying Queen Elizabeth II gave a (very long) lifetime of service to the country and weathered a great many trials and significant changes. You will be missed, Ma'am.

Our scheduled gig with The Poplar Jake Trio at the Royal British Legion, Stromness, has been postponed to a later date as a mark of respect for Her Majesty. We hope to arrange a new date once the appropriate period of mourning has passed.


There's been a few developments since the last blog; after a couple of successful solo slots and a bit of getting to know folk, well...we have a band again!

There's an incredible amount of talent in Orkney, and I'm very pleased to be working with Colin Drever (bass), El Kevano (keys), Will Scott (drums) and Andy Taylor (guitar). These guys are well known and respected up here, and with good reason. It's been a while in the making but I'm pleased to say the band is beginning to gather momentum with two festival dates next month (September), punctuated by a spot at our usual stomping ground, The Auld Motorhoose. Check the shows page, as I'm hopeful more wil be added.

As if that wasn't enough, The Duchess and myself have got together with drummer David Stevenson to form a trio. This is a more traditional blues approach, and we will be debuting our new set at the Stromness Legion on 17 September. Looking forward to getting out there!

After a long lay-off, it's good to be working again.


OK, it's not the cup of Christ or the sacred vessel of Arthurian myth.

It's more like...well...a reverb pedal.

But it's vintage, it's huge, and it's just so gosh-darned funky!

Right or wrong, I still get a typically teenage rush out of stuff like this. At my time of life, you'd perhaps expect a post like "Yah, well I paid £400 for it*, you know, but it was worth it because it came with the original box..." Then it sits on the shelf, waiting for the opportunity to be shown off to a fellow 'afficionado', no doubt with the intention of instigating some sort of guitar players' penis envy.

Well BOLLOCKS TO THAT! These things were made to be played.

Can't wait to try it out! Oooh, mum, I wish I had a gig tonight!

It's the Holier Grail! But it's not a sacred relic.

*I didn't pay £400 for it. I'm not that daft.


Hello again, and welcome to the second vid!

Presenting some classics this time. The primal blues vibe and element of darkness especially present in Howlin' Wolf's work are among the things that influence our original material. "Carol" is the other side of the coin - it's classic Chuck (from "Chuck Berry Is On Top" - NOT "Rockin' At The Hops"), upbeat and breezy, guaranteed every time!

Shake For Me (W. Dixon)
Smokestack Lightnin' (C. Burnett) /Spoonful (W. Dixon)
Carol (C. Berry)

If you detect a certain amount of nervous energy, well, that's the caffeine rush. I'd been up since the small hours and downed a good few cups! Until next time.


As promised, here's our set from the 2021 OBOD Midsummer Gathering. 

It was a great pleasure to be a part of the Solstice celebrations, and the set was very well received - thanks to our friends old and new. An honour to be working alongside Barry Paterson, Liv Torc, ZZ Birmingham, Damh The Bard and Spiral Dance. Shout out to Shaun Hayes for keeping it all together.

Songs performed (click 'read more' for lyrics):

King Of The May
Soul Quest
Dark Narcotic

We hope to continue with regular videos fusing Pagan elements with our Blues roots. ZZ Birmingham and myself have talked often about melding the two traditions - it's a work in progress. Take a walk with me, honey where the wild things are.

Read more


Well, they tell me the end of Lockdown is just around the corner, but...we ain't there yet. So the Midsummer celebration and Eisteddfod of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids takes place in the virtual universe this year.

In December of 2020 I took part in the Midwinter Eisteddfod, performing a new song called 'Black Shuck'. I'd been extremely wary of 'virtual gigs'; it seemed a poor substitute for the real thing, and a very impersonal one at that (though throughout the Lockdown period many of my fellow musicians had made the very best of it and kept their careers afloat by embracing it. Typical that, as Lockdown appears to be drawing to an end, I'm only just getting on board...), but at Midwinter, reuniting with the Tribe and seeing faces old and new, there was a genuine sense of fellowship and of sharing the moment. Not for the first time, I realised I'd dismissed an idea without actually trying it. We live, we learn. We hope. Many thanks to Hilde Leisens and Liv Torc for saying "get off your arse, Poplar. People wanna hear you".

Long story short (I know I rabbit on but, hey, it's been three years) when the invitation came to contribute a set for the Midsummer gathering I was...slighty more amenable. Many thanks to Damh The Bard for saying...yeah, you've guessed.

So The Duchess and I recorded a twenty-minute set, to be broadcast on June 19, 2021. The video will afterward be added to this site, along with lyrics to the songs. It was an invigorating and healing journey, and I am grateful for the love and good will that made it happen.


Phil Tait joins Poplar Jake Band 

At the close of 2017, drummer Dave Sims decided it was time to leave the Electric Delta Review. Dave's water-tight, swinging blues-infused grooves had been the backbone of the band from Day One, and it was this, as much as anything, that set the band apart. But The Guv'nor's always been a family man, and he'd reached a stage in life where that had to take precedence. He'd taught us a lot, he'd shared the laughs and he'd made us swing like f*ck, but All Things Must Pass, as somebody once said somewhere.

So how do you replace The Guv'nor?

With Mr Phil Tait, that's how.

Phil came along for a rehearsal in January 2018 and impressed us all by laying down that Mud-style Chicago groove in a fearsome fashion. That was his ticket in. Our first release, No More Signifyin' was steeped in that vibe, and it's been crucial to the band's sound ever since. But Phil also brought a splash of colour, and a bit of spice, and a whole shitload of enthusiasm. After we publicly announced Phil's appointment, we were beset by the good folk of the Wiltshire blues scene complimenting us on our choice and looking forward to seeing the new line-up. This man has his own following. Can't be bad.

To mark the transition, we renamed ourselves The Poplar Jake Band. The new band makes its debut with Phil at the Prescott Bike Festival, April 14 2018.

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