A.J. Walker


Does This Train Stop?

Not One Thing, Another

After a strange night last Thursday mixing a tiring week, not sure I was going to go to the open mic, and then difficult travel, this week I was always going to play. It was again affected by none running buses but I got there about 8:30pm this week. It ended with me playing and going up to play straight AFTER we'd been given four songs by Ian Prowse. Yes, people. The local legend that is Mr Prowse opened for me. Who'd have thunk it??


John was hosting as usual and then a few newbies arrived to the evening including Ian. Flippin' heck. Obviously I'd have preferred to get on and off the stage early doors to relax, but I had to wait until our new arrivals played. There was a lot of "
this is from my new album," and "this was off my first album," going on from several of the players this week. I am not worthy.

Meanwhile in the conservatory there was a
Ladies That Beer event hosted by a couple of my colleagues. Beers were being drunk, and beers were being talked about. It was a busy night in the Key'.

Liam Sweeney

Ian Prowse

The Procrastinator
Your's Truly, aka The Procrastinator

John Lindsay playing a new song

Soft and cool, Ike

After far too long wondering when (or, at one stage, if) I was going to get on, I'd ummed and ahhd about whether to play some stuff I don't normally play, but as the evening lengthened I decided my only real option was to play the ones I know best - and not worry about peering through the gloom at written lyrics. As it was the nerves got to me a little (yes, I got nerves - even if the MS seems to hate them) and I misplayed some chord changes and played through a few times when I had a bit of a lyrical mind melt. Still, I got through it in the end and was happy to have played the same night as Ian and the others - even if I didn't entirely do myself justice.

John was happy to see my Procrastinator T-shirt again. He says he likes my T-shirts, which is odd as other than the two times I've worn this I've pretty much been lumberjack shirts all the way. It's like going back to glasses from wearing contacts, people soon forget you ever did anything else. Meanwhile I just forget whether the next chord is an A minor or an F. Or maybe a C.

The next time I play on the same stage as Ian I hope it will be at the Cavern where he hosts an Open Mic - but for none covers only. I better get writing a hit then. Meanwhile here is a classic from the gentleman, '
Does This Train Stop on Merseyside?'

Onwards and Upwards.


Balinese Dancer

A Last Minute Call to the Balinese Dancr

After a strange and a bit of a tough day at work I was undecided whether to go to the regular Open Mic at the Keystone. I ended up home later than usual and a bit knackered. I hadn't seen anything saying the open mic was on for sure (even though it is pretty much always on) and contemplated staying in. When I looked on Instagram there was a message saying the open mic was on and hosted by John Witherspoon as usual. But there was a second photo - and when I looked at it, it was me playing last week with my Procrastinators T-shirt on. And to top it off they name checked me with; '
Guest appearance from our very very regular who DEFINITELY knows we are using his photo.' Well, no I didn't and at the time on the sofa I wasn't sure I was even leaving the house. But the message… I mean how could I not turn up?

So I got changed and went for the bus. It never came and so I had to wait for the next one which was over half an hour later. It was definitely not the best of days. In the end I was there about 9pm - and it was packed.




I'd been playing some songs over the last week or so that I hadn't played before and had thought I may give them a go. When I went up to play I decided to give them both a go, but needed the reassurance of having the words in front go me. And so it was that I played one regular song and two new ones (if new means new to me playing live). And so my mini set list was:

Oh My Sweet Carolina' - Ryan Adams
110 in the Shade' - Chuck Prophet
Something You Ain't Got' - Cracker

I needed to play a regular song first to get into the swing of it. But I was very happy to have played some different stuff; albeit my usual favourite artists from albums recorded back in the day. It's always nice hearing some people saying they enjoy the words and to think that maybe I've introduced even a single person to the wonderful songwriting (and then when they hear the originals: the Guitar!) of Chuck Prophet (and Cracker). I've actually played three Chuck Prophet songs of the same album now; '
Somewhere Down the Road,' 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn,' and now '110 in the Shade.' There's loads of Chuck's albums on Spotify, which I can thoroughly recommend, however this particular album, 'Balinese Dancer,' is not on Spotify. So if you wanna check out the tracks then maybe buy the album (I know, a bit old school) or just have a look/listen on YouTube.




I was definitely glad I made the effort in the end.

But don't ask me about getting home (yes, it was that kind of day again).


A Family Link to Donbas

Was looking at a little information I have on my great grandfather, Peter Rigby from Wigan, the father of my grandmother Kathleen. He was a mining engineer who went out and lived in Ukraine in the first and second decade of the 20th Century. My grandma mentioned living there a few times in her later years (she lived to 98) and reminisced about escaping there before the Russian Revolution. She always mentioned Odessa when she talked about it (and said she only remembered the words for snow and sled from her time there - there was no mention of 'Rosebud' though), so I always thought they'd lived there. But reading an article about Peter it was actually Donestk (then called Hughesoffka). Maybe they had trips over to Odessa or my gran remembered traveling through it. The city was an industrial one and had several mining operations where Peter worked, ironically for a Mr J.H. Walker. Of course many years later his granddaughter would marry a Walker (aka dad). I assume there were no links (J.H. Walker was from Wigan, whilst all our Walker relations are from western Scotland).


The haulage engines used in the mines were supplied from Messrs Walker Brothers, Wigan.


Peter was born in 1874 and died in 1952. He was in Ukraine for some eleven years working for the colliery company ‘New Russia Co.’ He’d have been approximately 32 when he moved there and 43 on his return. According to an article about it, he actually tried to go back to Ukraine after returning with the family to Lancashire. I thought at first that perhaps he liked working there. But then I noticed his wife (Alice Jane Rigby) died that year so maybe he was running away from that? There is no-one to ask. At some point I may have to do some more work on the family tree and maybe some answers will be obvious - or at least there my be some clues. In any case he only made it as far as Newcastle though as in view of what was going on the ship was ordered not to sail.


There must have been a lot of British and other Europeans there before the Revolution. The town was split between a ‘workers’ and a ‘European’ area. And the town was called Hughesoffka after a Merthyr born engineer and entrepreneur
John Hughes who founded the city after setting out there with ‘100 workers and their families’ mostly from the Welsh valleys in eight boats in 1870. They built an iron works there and collieries under the New Russia Company Ltd. The European workers, including Hughes’ brothers who ran the ironworks, left the city when the plant fell under the control of the Bolsheviks in 1917. Maybe Peter, with his wife and children left with the Hughes’? The city was to become Stalino in 1924 and then Donetsk in 1961.

Marion and Kathleen

It is strange to think that my grandmother spent some of her childhood in the capital of Donbas - the scene of so much death and destruction for years before even the current war; She would have been about 14 when she left and her sister, Marion, even younger. Donbas has been split into areas controlled by Ukraine and Pro-Russian Separatists after civil war supported by Russia since 2014. Incidentally in a nod to the reason my great grandfather and his family were over there, just over 105 years ago, the regional name Donbas is a portmanteau word from the ‘Donets Coal Basin’.

Still Strummin'

Played at the open mics in the Keystone and Angus over the last couple of weeks. Great to carry on with it. But I do wonder whether I should do fewer and in the intervening weeks practice more - and maybe write some songs too. We shall see. It'll be a hard drug to give up.

Strumming' at the Keystone a couple of weeks ago.


Good to see Barry playing for the first time and the return of Sam Lee too. A nice evening all round.

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Cold weather on Wednesday night meant a smaller group of players than usual Meant the players who did turn up did a lot more than the usual three or four songs.I ended up playing eight songs. Eek!

One of my favourite pics of me playing - the Angus.

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Another fab open mic at the Keystone