The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
An Old Methodist chapel high in the Yorkshire Pennines isn't the cosiest of places to be on a cold, autumnal afternoon.
But the fact that recently formed trio Red Hippo were playing there make it more than worthwhile.
The band comprise three remarkable musicians playing a striking array of instruments which they use to produce a fusion of Celtic folk music heavily influenced by jazz.
Peader Long, the heart of the band, hails originally from Ireland where he was brought up in the Celtic tradition but he's long since developed his own style of folk-jazz.
Long is familiar with an extraordinary range of wind instruments and on this occasion he plays whistle, flute, two saxophones, clarinet and on one musical masterpiece the pibroch, a smaller version of Scottish bagpipes.
He's joined on violin by Simon Chantler and Daz Jones on the sousaphone, the largest of all the brass instruments and seemingly taller than Jones himself.
The audience at Wainsgate Methodist Chapel, a historic building in the hills above the former textile town of Hebden Bridge in the Upper Calder Valley, is greatly appreciative as the classic Irish tune Si Bheag, Si Mhor is transformed into a duel between Long's flute and Daz's sousaphone.
It echoes the legend on which O'Carolan wrote the tune - the rivalry between a big hill and a little hill, between warring tribes of fairies.
It ends with peace breaking out between the two sides but Red Hippo then switch into a fast-moving jazz version which Long admits might have blind man O'Carolan spinning in his grave.
The line-up's expertly complemented later on by the addition of Dave Nelson on keyboards, a respected musician of significant influence in the north, whose commitment includes coaching young musicians along their journeys.
Red Hippo formed only a year ago but the band are already gathering a following and gig bookings. They're well worth looking out for and their first CD - working title Onward And Upward - will soon be released on the Fat Maggot label.
For more information on Red Hippo, visit www.redhippomusic.com.