Musical indiscretions

I've been playing drums and percussion since childhood and in many rock, jazz and folk bands in the decades since. Between 1994 and 2008 I performed many times with Huddersfield's alt.folk band Bar the Shouting in halls, pubs and festivals throughout Britain, often supporting various environmental, peace or social justice campaigns.  Since then I've drummed on a number of albums and annoyed people singing my own songs at open mic nights in the Huddersfield area. 


Lyrics and music to

Rocketship Days * Just a Little Time * Inheritance

Your Greatest Day


My hitchhiking & road trip songs
Although I've played these live plenty of times, recording these is still work in progress ( but they probably work as a performance poem or something!) 

Canadian Shield (2013)


Stroking the air in Canada, a freedom and beauty to share

Hitching the north road from Jasper, a hint of grey in her hair

Many years of dreaming through windows

Trying to connect the times of her life

She left her husband and kids for the summer

To find herself in the wild


On a big rig out to Peace River, she says: “I’m Lorna, you must be Jack

I’m taking a tour of the north lands, maybe even Alaska and back;

Where I can sleep out under the Aurora

And the Elias Range cuts the sky

I’ve got a natural kind of politics

But it’s not one for compromise”



  • She said: “I can feel this land in my heart

  • I can feel this land in my heart

  • I can feel this land … my Canadian shield.”


Big Jack talked of oil in the forests, clear cut dividends for the land

He said “There’ll be a hole the size of a country

when they’ve taken the tar from the sand.

But I’m driving straight through to McMurray,

the day shift need these gurneys and reels,

so you’ll have to talk to me all night dear, or take a turn at the wheel.”



  • He said “I can feel a strength in your heart

  • I can feel a strength in your heart

  • I can feel that strength … my Canadian shield”.


Morning broke down Cold Lake Canyon

Where she’d camped in the dark long ago

The glacial blue of that memory

Now choking in ashen plumes

Jack said “Young Mitch is heading for Dawson, but you might

want to stick around because the Indians will be making their protest,

from gutters and prison cell pounds.”

But Lorna and Mitch headed northwards, singing songs of unions and rights

She said “I want my son to be a doctor, to heal these new neuroses and blights”

Three thousand miles she hitchhiked that summer

Teslin, Haines, Fairbanks at a price

She said “What a marvellous thing is solitude even though these meetings excite”



  • She said: “I can feel their strength in my heart

  • I can feel their strength in my heart

  • I can feel their strength in my heart … my Canadian shields.”


Now Big Jack took one too many chances, keeping awake with the loads of our lives

Mitch put his heart in the union, worried less about the time from his wife

And Lorna spread her natural wisdom, seeding hope in fertile young minds

Wrote herself into the road lore of Canada, a traveller ahead of her time.



  • And I can feel their land in my heart

  • I can feel their strength in my heart

  • I can feel her strength … my Canadian shield.

By Cairnsmore

(A Solway song)

C There’s light from the spiral arm tonight

F On the old wharf by the Fleet

C We’re both late for the party

F The cargo of our age

Am Has gone with oak and coal and empire

C Gems for the diplomats

F I was looking for a place in history

C Not a memory captured under glass.

Am For those who had loved

C Dug and drank this way

Made their bids for liberty

F You could wish that

Rabbie Burns was here tonight. C

Beneath the hunch of Cairnsmore mountain

The scythe of the seventy five

Recalling red light fever

When I last hitched in these climes

A tenner in the pot at Stranraer

Race their comrades out of sight

All empty trailers swaying to be

Unwed in Gretna

For the night sky lifts a primal lens

To hope and hold and share

As strangers in the thousand star hotel.

Am Cos we’re always on the edge of something C always on the edge of something F always on the edge of something more C

It feels good to recall the prime of the

Old Portpatrick line

A morning’s brief encounters

The steps of the thirty nine

Now Loch Skerrow’s wayside halt

Smells of garlic and gorse

A purple dragonfly motorway

Like this young thumb by Palnure

Backing his way to Newton Stewart

Caught between work and desire.

I get a summit fever urge

To text wish you were here

But the Solway glitters

Where it rose to drown

Margarets Wilson and McLachlan

Tied to the stakes and that

Catholic guilt still abounds

Yet for those whose Covenant is sky

Kites roam the rocky shrines

And governments

Still can’t climb hills.

Cos we’re always on the edge of something, always on the edge of something, always on the edge of something more

(Rap) Once I met a soldier on the road

Damaged by his training and it showed

Crashes and drinking took its toll

But he remembered every word of Eminem

Took them to the church to make amends

A prayer and a tribute

To his son

Now he’s come to Castle Douglas to be free

If she will accept him down on one knee

With his khaki and Yankees hat

Bought from the same charity shop

Gave me the choice of the words

Which would create most of a stir

When the bell rang she raised her head

But the lights changed and we sped

Away …

At the museum stop at Creetown

Some Guides light up the bus

With makeup and laughter

From their phones

Across the aisle a pencil’s busy

Lips pursed with concentration

She says her name’s Iona

Going to be a writer

Behind glass we watch the traffic

Bones moving in the landscape

Hope our words will travel

Like dragonflies in amber.

Cos we’re always on the edge of something always on the edge of something always on the edge of something more.

Steady rolling tempo, in four, with a shuffle. Acapello rap on the middle eight

© J.Purkis 2020

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Lyrics and chords to other songs I play

Speaking in Tongues (2000)  

(about Walter Benjamin)

The Age of Maturity (2018)

(about Camille Claudel)

When Keats had gone (2017)

(er ... about John Keats!)

A Mother's Day (2016)

The Visitor (2007)


Picture credits (in order)

* 'Peace River'


*'Murray monument, Gatehouse of Fleet' on

*Anthony O Neill, 2010 on

*wikipedia page  'Wigton Martyrs'

*Andy Farrington, 2010 on