Follow me on Twitter


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Two In The Margins

This track, in two different versions, can be found on both The Beautiful And Cruel and Resolute Love. (Buy at

This is the Trio's take on it.

Two in the margins where natures are fused
Endings, beginnings, we're moved, we're bemused
The past and the future are merged where we stand
And Janus is watching between sea and land

Time, sea, land, love
Two in the margins we're blessed from above
Love, land, sea, time
Two in the margins will you remain mine?

The sea-spray encroaches and fortunes collide
The nebulous pathway between track and tide
Untested by foot-fall, protecting a gate
Begging the question 'Will this bear our weight?'

Time, sea, land, love...

Over the sand in the sand in the spray and rain
She offers assurance, he welcomes the same
Parallel footsteps of friendship and care
Meld in the margins where destinies blur

Time, sea, land, love...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Long Time Gone, Joke, Dandelion Seeds

Some more videos from our house concert in the summer. Long Time Gone is a song requested by my lady (and the party's hostess with the mostest), Angelika. Joke and Dandelion Seeds are played as a segue. My thinking was that the harshness of the first needed tempering by the (relative) lightness of the second. Tell me what you think.

Monday, 17 October 2011


One abiding phenomenon of playing music is that while doing so good people continually appear who help in the enterprise. I have been assisted over the years many times by kind, willing, unselfish friends (some of them unknown to me before their generosity) who have come forward and contributed.

Two examples: when we travelled to the Stuttgart area of Germany recently (see posts below) we were helped - well above the call of duty - by Norma Huss who arranged a gig for us (not just suggested a venue, but actually arranged a gig!) in An Sibin, an atmospheric bar in Backnang, simply because I asked for help. It made sense out of what would have been a long way to go for one concert - both logistically and financially.

When we played the sister gig in Lauffen at the Phoenix pub (lovely people, lovely place) Stefan Staudenmaier was there with his camera and quietly asked if we minded him taking some photographs. He added that we could have copies.

Here are three taken by him which rank as some of the best shots I've seen of yours truly and the trio members in a live situation.

Thanks Norma, thanks Stefan.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


It's rare these days that the adjective is correctly used, but it is here. Now he's gone I'm strangely comforted by the fact that I appreciated him when I was young. I was 16 when I bought my first Bert Jansch album - a 12" vinyl sampler. A 'Long Player', the one with the picture of Bert in front of a windmill.You can see it here; I still haven't really recovered from that first encounter.

This is a video of him playing 'One For Jo', a song offering advice to a lady about her man. It's from the album 'L. A. Turnaround', a country-flavoured collection produced by ex-Monkee's man Mike Nesmith and Danny Thompson. It's lovely in every way; the singing, the song... but the playing is effortlessly brilliant. Awesome, in fact.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bert Jansch is Dead

He has been my hero since I first heard him play when I was 16. I've considered giving up guitar because I couldn't play like him - and I still can't.

I've watched him perform many times, always rapt, and was thrilled to play support to him once or twice. The first time I found myself unable to speak in his presence, so much did I want to say. The second time, determined not to miss the chance I blurted out that I'd been a fan all my life - and who knows what else - and Bert, shy man that he was and embarrassed at my outburst, slowly turned and walked away. I still loved him, though.

As great in his way as Hendrix, Dylan, Lennon, he set a standard for folk guitar and commnunication in song that I've never heard matched.

I've got most of his recordings. As someone once said of another great; he's gone, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Ballad of the Suffolk Five

Here another of the songs that I'll be posting on YouTube over the coming weeks.

This was the first of my songs to recieve national radio airplay.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Do you speak German?

I love Germany.

I played a couple of gigs there last weekend. It was a stupidly long way to go for two gigs, but that was the situation I'd managed to manufacture.

Andee and Leigh were on board and a newly refreshed set had been polished up including some old favourites (Bodies in the Way / Backwards Man) and some brand new songs (No Going Back / Skill and Chance).

We played in the Stuttgart area in Backnang (it's an odd name for a German town apparently, no-one knows where it came from) and Lauffen am Neckar in the heart of the Neckar Valley wine-producing region.

Two Irish bars (An Sibin and The Phoenix Pub), two pairs of lovely bar patrons (Claudia & Thanasi, Birgit & Klaus), two great pubs and two great gigs.

We're going back next year to open for the Lauffen festival on 14th July. How lovely.

We got reviewed. Can you tranlate this? Tell me what it says (I think it's kind).

The headline is Frostige Träume, magische Höhlen und erbärmliche Lieder. The rest of the text is in the link.

(Btw, I'm blessed with great travelling (and playing) companions. Good on you A & L.)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

House Concert Montage

How does a singer-songwriter who is less than famous sell himself in these straightened times? Well, he prevails upon willing friends, gets them to make a video of a concert and then hits on the idea of making a 'best bits' montage of it to give promoters a taste of his live performance in the optimistic hope that this will improve his chances of filling his gigs diary.

You have to have faith.

Here it is. Tell me what you think of the video and of the general idea. And send it on to friends. Spread the word!


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hoppersongs: YouTube Channel

You may like to have a look at the first of a series of videos of songs I performed with the Trio in June. It was at the house concert we gave in north-east London. It was at my lady, Angelika's, home. It was a great evening. This is Solid Ground and is the first of a series of videos that will appear from that evening. As well as recording the performance, it's a jolly good representation of the atmosphere of a successful house concert.

Many thanks and congrats to Caroline Iandoli and Jasmine Hetherington-Wilkes who made the films.

Hope you like it. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Who are my singer-songwriting heroes and why?

In no particular order:

Loudon Wainwright III Your Mother And I

Boo Hewerdine Footsteps Fall

Jackson C Frank Blues Run The Game

Bert Jansch Blackwaterside

Tim Hardin Black Sheep Boy

Leonard Cohen Famous Blue Raincoat

Harry Nilsson Without Her

Bob Dylan Desolation Row

John Renbourn and Dorris Henderson Winter Is Gone

Joni Mitchell A Case Of You

Van Morrison Ballerina

Chris Wood Hollow Point

Steve Earle John Walker's Blues

Neil Young Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Tell me if you'd like more...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

How self-absorbed is too much?

Like many writers, I have a small group of trusted friends that I use as a sounding-board. They're people whose opinions I value, who I know will tell me the truth about my work but who are sufficiently sympathetic not to be too blunt. (He's a sensitive soul, the artist.) You could describe them as critical supporters.

Here is an extract from an email I sent to them recently along with the lyrics to a new song, asking for their thoughts; 'No-one who writes in the hope or expectation of having an audience applaud them is without self-regard/absorption. What's uncomfortable is when that self-regard/absorption becomes too apparent.'

In much of my writing I'm a singer-songwriter in the 1970's sense of 'confessional, self-analysing, self-reflecting'. What I and those like me hope is that there's enough in our solipsistic musings that's universal and will have meaning for our audience, perhaps acting as a window through which they can look anew on their own life or experiences (many singers have affected me on that level). There's a sense in which all artists function this way, but of this particular group of songwriters it is especially so. The epitome of this is the early work of Joni Mitchell.

The song in question wonders about whether it's OK to draw on the grief of others as subject matter for a song and tries to offer a justification for doing so. I wondered whether it's OK to write about the process of writing as a form of self-confirmation. Then there are the questions of whether these wonderings will be in any way interesting to an audience and if they're too, well, self absorbed.

The song is called No Going Back. In the end, it got the all-clear. If you like, you can form your own opinion. (See lyrics below.) You may even come across it in performance at some point.

What this discussion reminds me is what I've always known: to practise as an artist is an act of saying 'Hey, look at me, I'm interesting!' It's not the most comfortable place to be. We walk out on thin ice each time we put pen to paper and when we record or perform. And, because we are always seeking your approval, our self-worth is in your hands.

One of those I asked replied, saying 'Even solipsists need love'. It's true.

No Going Back

It got too much for Luke, he wanted off the hook
So he found himself a railway track
He didn't have a voice so he made himself a choice
Now there really is no going back
No going back
No going back

I'm lying here in bed and what's running through my head
Is, what's giving me the right to write?
Is the story mine to use just to satisfy my muse
Irrespective of the poor boy's plight?
The poor boy's plight
The poor boy's plight

I do it to insist, to prove that I exist
Evidence I otherwise would lack
So I give this one to him, whose evidence was thin
Because there is no going back
No going back
No going back

See, watch my fingers move
There's something I have to prove
These words scan, make some sense
Not past, future, but present tense
There's rhythm, rhyme and harmony
It's a monument to me being me
I may be a solipsist
But for the while I'm doing this
I'm absorbed, devoid of fear
And pretty sure I'm really here

No going back
No going back
No going back
No going back

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Why our house concert on 18th June was a success

I played a house concert recently (Saturday, 18th June, 2011) with my trio (me, Leigh Trowbridge [guitar/vocals] and Andee Price [double-bass/vocals]). It was a great evening, succeeding on many levels. It’s interesting to reflect on what the elements were that made it so.

House concerts are a small but significant part of our gigging round. We've played them in various parts of the country – and as far afield as Gothenburg. They are gigs in someone’s home, usually a fan or a friend. This one was in my girlfriend, Angelika's house. It's quite an undertaking so the suggestion to do it had to come from her and I had to make sure she knew what was involved. We talked long and hard before she decided she wanted to take it on. She likes having guests, and that's one of the elements that is required for a good house concert; a host/ess who likes the music who also likes entertaining. Angelika is a great hostess and most who came knew it and arrived expecting something special. (Most house concert guests are friends and acquaintances of the organiser, although we always get a few that come from our email list.)

It's important, too, that the people coming know that what is happening is a formal concert, not a party with music, otherwise their expectations will be thwarted resulting in disappointment on both sides of the footlights. Angelika decided that there would be an entry charge. Some host/esses prefer that there be a collection and I would always defer to them on this. Either way, audiences are usually generous at these events.

And, yes, there are footlights. The room must look as though a concert is about to happen. Years ago I promoted a concert for Tom Robinson (of 2, 4, 6, 8, Motorway and Sing If You're Glad To Be Gay fame). He arrived in our hall and, very pleasantly but assertively, set about rearranging the stage. He explained that he'd worked as a stage manager in a theatre and had learned how important the presentation of the performing area is if the audience is to respond to it in the right way.* This is true for any concert, including a house concert. It communicates, amongst other things, that the normal rules of concert-going apply, giving the music a chance and the audience the environment to best enjoy it. It creates an expectation, an air of 'something is happening' that primes the audience for the performance. Of course, the room must also be able to accommodate the desired audience-size.

Lastly, the band must treat the gig with as much professionalism as they would any other. The contract between the musicians and the audience is the same as if the gig were played in any large concert-hall. The preparation, the thought given to the set-list, the on-stage presentation, the interaction with the listeners, should all be exactly the same as in any other setting. The increased intimacy of the setting is great for any artist who loves interacting with their audience, but the 'sheen' of a properly prepared and polished performance should not be allowed to be compromised by a more relaxed attitude.

So: the right host/ess who knows what they're taking on, the right room properly prepared and presented, the right expectations created in the audience and a polished performance; the ingredients of a successful house concert.

We had a great night and the audience feedback, though many were not familiar with music such as mine or concerts such as the one they had just experienced, was that they thoroughly enjoyed the gig, found the songs intriguing and were pleased to have been part of the event. How fulfilling for us all. One audience member has subsequently offered to host her own house concert for us.

Try it, you might like it. If you'd like to have us play for you, we'd be happy. Let me know.

(Keep an eye on this blog – there'll be footage of this concert available soon.)

(*I learned another lesson from Tom that night. The gig was not a sell-out and he absolutely refused to start playing until the audience had all moved to the front of the room. Proximity between audience and performer and within the audience itself is important to create intimacy and atmosphere. I always do the same when faced with similar situations.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Booking gigs proves I really mean it

When I worked in sales I came to understand that the part of the job that mattered most was not sales skill, product knowledge or 'positive thinking'. It was graft. That meant the part of the job that everyone disliked most: booking sales appointments. If you had lots of people to talk to you'd make sales. Talented sales people would make more, the not so talented ones would make fewer, but if you had people to see you'd make sales. If you didn't, you wouldn't.

Now I find that if I have gigs I'm a musician, if I don't, I'm just pretending. And guess what? Producing them is the bit that we all most dislike. It's a chore. It means contacting people and asking them to promote you; it means facing rejection; it means accepting that there are those out there who fail to see 'one's artistic value', 'one's unique contribution to the canon'.

Of course, there are 100 artists for every hour of stage time and it's a buyer's market. I promoted concerts myself for a while in the form of The Bromley Acoustic Music Club. Along with a group of friends in the early 2000's (mostly met through the club itself), I staged monthly concerts with guests that included Bert Jansch (the first gig), Ron Sexsmith, John Renbourn and Jacqui McShee, Iain Matthews, Boo Hewerdine and Davy Graham. What always surprised me was how easy it was to get these great players to play at my modest event. Often they'd offer words of encouragement, telling me how important it was that venues like mine continued to thrive. John Renbourn, memorably, seeing that the room was less than full, told me that I didn't need to pay him the full fee if it would put me out of pocket. He valued the existence of the gig in the long run more than making his money that night.

The point is that in the chain of factors that combines to make a music event happen (promoter, artist, venue, audience), it's not the artist that is in the shortest supply. On the contrary, good promoters are like hen's teeth and audiences aren't easily coaxed into parting with their money in the face of all the competing distractions available to them.

So, I have to keep making the phone calls if I want to call myself a musician. It's the bit I like the least – but it's the bit that proves that I am what I like to imagine myself to be. It's the bit that proves I really mean it.

Anyone got a gig?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Gig sought in Stuttgart area

In September I'm taking the trio to the Stuttgart area in Germany for a gig in the Phoenix Pub at Lauffen.

SUNDAY 25th September - THE PHOENIX - 8.00 p.m.
Trio with Andee & Leigh
Heiulbronner str. 38, 74348 Lauffen, Germany
Entry: tbc

Can anyone recommend a bar or club we could do a freebie-pass-the-hat-round gig on the Saturday night?

Any suggestions gratefully recieved.

07968 500 161

June Gigs

I'm playing two gigs this week:

WEDNESDAY 15th – THE MAN OF KENT – 8.30 p.m.
Trio with Leigh and Andee
The Man of Kent, 6-8 John Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1
Entry: free
The Man of Kent

SATURDAY 18th – HOUSE CONCERT – 6.30 p.m.
Trio with Leigh and Andee
South Woodford, London
Entry: £8.00
To attend, email info(at)simonhopper(dot)co(dot)uk

You know you'll be welcome. We've a bevy of new or rarely played songs for you - as well as numbers from the two most recent albums, The Beautiful and Cruel and Resolute Love.

The house concert is an early one followed by a house party! Come and join us!


Monday, 7 March 2011

a hero: ron sexsmith

amongst my favourite songwriters, one of my influences - and a member of the select and wonderful array of canadian writers (joni mitchell, neil young, leonard cohen, gordon lightfoot) - ron sexsmith is being featured on bbc i-player for a short while.

check him out if you don't already know him.

fans' gig - and a photo - and a gallery

thanks to: those who came to the fourth annual fans' gig on saturday in bromley; ian mcfarlane who performed the anchor role and opened the evening; andee, leigh and kevin for their musicianship and artistry.

musicians to play and an audience to partake, stories to tell and willing listeners. it was good.

here's to 2012.

check out the photo gallery -

andee, simon, kevin, leigh

Sunday, 20 February 2011

contribute to democracy protesters' communication

the ability to communicate and organise through the net and digital formats generally has been crucial to the upsurge in democracy movements in the middle east - and elsewhere. corrupt regimes try to shut downs these channels of communications. avaaz, the campaigning organisation, is raising money to help strengthen and maintain them. learn more and contribute -

Thursday, 17 February 2011

setlist for fans' gig - sat 5th march

here's the probable setlist for the fans' gig and the gig on the following tuesday at the good intent in rochester (see or earlier blog for details).

it's a mixture of old favourites and new work - some tracks from 'resolute love' the newest cd, and unrecorded material. it may be changed, tweaked, amended or otherwise tampered with, however, as the songwriter's mood shifts and changes between now and the gig date.

1 Resolute Love G/4
2 Dandelion Seeds Cm/4
3 Long Time Gone G/4
4 Bodies In The Way D/4
5 Solid Ground D/4
6 Orange Room Ab/4
7 The Ballad Of The Suffolk Five Eb/4
8 Jeffrey And Robert And I D/3
9 The Grain Is In The Wood Em/4
10 I Fell By The River G#m/3

1 Two In The Margins Dm/3
2 Everything Em/4
3 And I Have A/4
4 Three Promises D/4
5 What You Do C/4
6 Lord Mancroft's Reply C#m/4
7 Warp And Weft Bb/4
8 A Body Needs A Body To Hold C/3
9 Forgive The Child E/4
10 Move Gracefully G/3

E Oh Sally Ann G/4

Friday, 11 February 2011

gigs in march

Saturday, March 5 - 7:30pm

Annual Fans' Gig
Sundridge Park Lawn Tennis & Squash Rackets Club Lawn Close, off Garden Road, Bromley, Kent BR1 3NA / 020 8464 9106
Entry free with collection
British Rail to Sundridge Park or Bromley South / Buses 261, 314

Tuesday, March 8 - 7:30pm

The Good Intent
John Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1YL / 0871 223 8000
Entry tbc

resolute love reviewed #2

After their 2010 summer tour, Simon Hopper and Andee Price locked themselves in Quantum Leap Studios, Kent for a few days in order to capture the songs and the essence of the live performance energy they enjoyed on tour. They wanted to give their album the spontaneity and 'raw' edges of a live album with the minimum of edits.

It's true that the vocals and instruments sound as if they are actually 'live', with Simon playing mandolin and mandola, and Andee on double bass. Both their voices complement each other, each with their own space, alternating whenever necessary... Just listen to 'Solid Ground' and 'Oh Sally Ann', or the magical 'What You Do'.

The 'live' recording gives this album a warm sensation, an emotional feel, too, in spite of the rather playful rhythms found in most tracks. Simon Hopper's voice is warm and deep, bringing you close to him and wrapping you up tight. In tracks such as 'Two In The Margins', it becomes even surreal, unearthly, when accompanied by the sound of the double bass.

There are only eight tracks in this album; unfortunately only eight because we would have liked the journey to continue for ever and ever. The only thing to do is press 'Play' and you can go on your travels again together with Simon and Andee in a world where everything, absolutely everything, is love. This is the kind of musical journey we would like to never end.

Buy at;

Thursday, 20 January 2011

'resolute love' reviewed

The sparse arrangements allow Simon’s thought-provoking and literate lyrics to really make an impact with the listener.

Simon Hopper with Andee Price RESOLUTE LOVE Control-Shift Music ***1/2

This Irish-born but English-raised singer-songwriter has self-released five previous albums, but this latest effort is a little different. In the past he has recorded with a full band, this time though it is just Simon (vocals, mandolin, mandola) and Andee Price (vocals, double bass). They toured as a duo throughout 2010 and they’ve recreated the vibe of their gigs by recording live in the studio with the minimum of edits or overdubs. The sparse arrangements allow Simon’s thought-provoking and literate lyrics to really make an impact with the listener. Though stripped-bare, this pair create a full rhythmic sound especially on the vibrant love song Oh, Sally Ann and Solid Ground. There’s a softer, more delicate feel to The Cherry Blossom Song with wonderful harmonies. In fact Andee’s harmonies throughout add so much to this album, and her bass work is very inventive. British folk music with a slight American twist that brings a fresh contemporary edge to the genre.

To purchase;

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

german gigs sought - any suggestions?

i'm taking the trio to germany in september - to lauffen, heilbronn near stuttgart.

looking for gigs - any suggestions?