Plainsong | The Folk Fairport Concert

On 25th April 1972, Plainsong played an intimate, after-hours gig at the opening night of new cafe in Amsterdam called Folk Fairport. They played without a PA, and generated percussion from the clogs they were wearing. The recording of this very special gig has remained unreleased for 50 years.

Iain Matthews: The Folk Fairport show came from a visit we had at the Paradiso. The guy who ran it came to the show and asked us if we’d consider playing for his opening night and we agreed. We were all night owls at that time and it seemed like a good idea.

Andy Roberts: After the gig at the Paradiso we were invited to a cafe on Prinsengracht called Folk Fairport. It wasn’t a booked gig but we played there after our main evening show as a favour to the club owner who, as the name suggests, was a big fan of Fairport Convention. It didn’t have a PA, and we played purely acoustically, but it turned out to be a great little gig. I clearly remember David singing the lead on ‘The Poor Ditching Boy’. We were all wearing clogs. We were obsessed with clogs that we bought in shoe shops over there.

Iain Matthews: It’s a really good little club, a rectangular room with breeze-block walls and benches. We played without a PA, just two mics and a bass.

David Richards: We did the same kind of thing at Les Cousins in the early days of the band. It’s really, really good and I think all of us would like to do it all the time but it’s not possible in terms of economics.

The Folk Fairport Concert is part of the Deluxe Edition of the book In Search of Plainsong by Ian Clayton. Advance copies will be signed and numbered. Click here to order.

In Search of Plainsong

In Search of Plainsong
Ian Clayton

In the autumn of 1972, Plainsong released their beautiful debut album In Search of Amelia Earhart. It was the height of the golden era of English folk rock. The record received universal critical acclaim for its musicianship and sublime singing, but just three months after its release the group disbanded in acrimony. How could a group capable of such exquisite harmonies disguise such disharmony within themselves?

In the fifty years that have followed the album’s release, what we know about the original incarnation of Plainsong has been shrouded in myth and misinformation. In Search of Plainsong tells the true story of the group and their classic album for the first time. It is a cautionary tale told through the voices of the key protagonists and those who were lucky enough to see Plainsong in full flight or bought the album first time round.

In Search of Amelia Earhart remains a folk-rock classic. For those who don’t know it, it might just be the greatest debut album you never heard.

‘A group that doesn’t come up and sock you in the eye, all decibels blaring, but kind of sneaks up and insinuates itself into your psyche almost before you have begun to notice it. By that time you are hooked by its gentle genius.’ – Karl Dallas, Melody Maker

In Search of Amelia Earhart is, and let us not mince words, the finest display of gentle, sometimes liltingly so, English folkiness and rockabilly to surface in a long while.’ Cameron Crowe, San Diego Door

‘A startlingly fine album.’ Charles Shaar Murray, NME

This book will go on general release in Autumn 2022, but we will be releasing advanced copies of special signed and numbered Deluxe Edition in Spring 2022 exclusively from this website. The Deluxe Edition comes with a CD of a previously unheard Plainsong concert, recorded at the Folk Fariport cafe in Amsterdam in April 1972.

This book will go on general release in Autumn 2022, but advanced copies of special signed and numbered Deluxe Edition in Spring 2022 exclusively from Route. The Deluxe Edition comes with a CD of a previously unheard Plainsong concert, recorded at the Folk Fariport cafe in Amsterdam in April 1972.

Click here for more details

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton Words & Music Tour | The CAT Club | Southern Wind

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton recorded on their Words & Music Tour at The CAT Club, Pontefract. Ian reads a short extract from Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes about the time he learned to finger pick in Texas, followed by a performance of ‘Southern Wind’ by Iain.

Thro’ My Eyes is now available in paperback and deluxe editions. Click here for more details.

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton Words & Music Tour | The Red Shed | Woodstock

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton caught in the Devil’s bargain on their Words & Music Tour at The Red Shed, Wakefield. Ian reads a short extract from Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes followed by a stripped-down performance of ‘Woodstock’ by Iain. Recorded on 27th September 2019.

It was the perfect moment at iconic Red Shed, Wakefield’s Labour Club. The story shows that it was because of the Union that we got the Matthews Southern Comfort ‘Woodstock’ in the first place. It’s a song that strives for a new utopia, but it’s this version that spread the ideal beyond the hippies and dreamers to the kitchens, bedrooms, youth clubs, factories and paint shops of the masses. And this is a beautiful performance by Iain. At one point, he’s singing the notice board (Toulouse / To lose)

Click here for more on Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir.

The Strange Brew Podcast with Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton join Jason Barnard to talk about Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes for The Strange Brew Podcast, illustrated by 13 songs drawn from across Iain’s career. Running time 1hr 41 mins. Click play above to listen.

Jason at The Strange Brew has a fine collection of podcasts. You can find them on the website or subscribe to The Strange Brew Podcast on iTunes or your favourite podcast provider.

Click here for more in Iain Matthews memoir Thro’ My Eyes

Thro My Eyes | Words and Music Tour

Thro’ My Eyes Words and Music Tour

25th September Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley (Tickets)
26th September Grateful Fred House Concert, Birkdale (Email for tickets)
27th September The Red Shed, Wakefield (Tickets)
29th September Tap & Barrel, Pontefract (Tickets)
30th September The Doublet, Glasgow (Tickets)
1st October Borderlines Festival, Carlisle (Tickets)
2nd October Backstage @ Green Hotel, Kinross (Tickets)
6th October The Courthouse, Otley (Tickets)
8th October The Greys, Brighton (Tickets)
9th October Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath (Tickets)
10th October Black Swan Folk Club, York (Tickets)
11th October Malvern Cube, Malvern (Cancelled)

Iain Matthews’s critically acclaimed memoir Thro’ My Eyes was written in collaboration with author Ian Clayton. The book is structured around a series of Matthews’s songs and illustrated by the stories that inspired them. This words and music show brings the book to life: Ian Clayton will read stories from the book interspersed with live songs from Iain Matthews, presenting an intimate and highly entertaining evening that tells the story of an artistic life through the eyes of one of our most enduring singer-songwriters.

The show will follow the story of Iain’s life, from a Scunthorpe childhood obsessed with football and music, to thrusting himself into the heart of Carnaby Street in the swinging-sixties. In 1967, he was recruited as lead vocalist for folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention before embarking on a hugely successful and prolific career as a solo artist and in the groups Matthews Southern Comfort and Plainsong, including a No. 1 ht single with ‘Woodstock’. In 1973, when an invitation was extended to record in LA with ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith, Iain took it with open arms. The opportunity to work with musicians and songwriters he had admired from afar led him to stay; he lived and worked in the USA for the next 27 years, through highs and lows, with extended stints in Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin. In 2000, in an an act of personal and professional renewal, he moved to the Netherlands, where he still lives and works to this day. Throughout those fifty years, Iain has never stopped working, with music driving him forward every step of the way. The show will be a highly entertaining and intimate occasion, rich in stories and wonderful live music, presenting the story of an artistic life through the eyes of one of our most enduring singer-songwriters.

‘If there was an award for the role of Godfather of Americana in the UK, serious consideration would have to go to Iain Matthews. It’s all there in his excellent autobiography.’ Americana UK

‘Thro’ My Eyes is the best music read I’ve come across in a very long time.’ fRoots

‘Highly recommended both for its historical value and as a quick-paced, absorbing reading experience.’ Richie Unterberger’s Top Twenty Rock Books of 2018

Click here for more on Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir