New songs, new shows

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018


Sylvie here. I’ve been recording a bunch of new songs with Howe Gelb and Giant Sand for my next album. I just one of them – a late-night ballad titled “Not In Love” – on on my brand new Bandcamp page, The song is only a rough mix, but I’m hoping to get the whole album mixed and mastered before too long.

Meanwhile I’m about to head out on the road.

I’m flying to the UK to see family and friends and to play one show with my singer-songwriter friends Jason McNiff, Sid Griffin and Kathleen Haskard. It’s on 25th October and details are on my tour page.

After London I’ll play three shows in Ireland – one in Dublin, two in Galway. And then straight off to France for two weeks of word and song, celebrating the life and work of Leonard Cohen – something I never tire of doing. All that info’s on my Tour page too.

Hope to see you along the way.


Find me here

Monday, February 12th, 2018

LC mural ss copyI seem to have lost the habit of blogging. Time seems to be getting shorter these days. But I do post on Facebook every day. Both my pages are free and public – my regular page reached the limit of 5000 friends that Facebook alllows, so I opened a “professional” pagee where you have to “like” me. I hope you do! So until I get back to blogging,  visit me at  and



Maybe it’s the time of man

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Happy birthday Woodstock. I was a kid in London when you were busy being stardust and golden. I’d never been to America – never been anywhere farther than Boulogne on the ferry – but as soon as I got home from school and out of my uniform, I’d float around in a kaftan and wish I was a hippie.

Here’s a conversation I had with Neil Young about it a while back.


Sylvie: Would you have gone to Woodstock as a punter if you hadn’t actually been playing?

Neil: No, never, no.

Sylvie: What do you remember about it?

Neil: It was like a migration – I don’t know what to compare it to. We thought it was the first time we’d seen the group of people that we kind of knew, that we met around the country – the heads, the hippies, whatever – the first time that we’d seen them all come into one area and you could feel the strength of the numbers. But corporate America was watching too. And it was a lot of confused travelling, nervous people, a lot of different people going back and forth and kind of on-the-spot plans being made.

Sylvie: And your set?

Neil: We were nervous- it was like our second show or something – and I was especially nervous because I didn’t know the rhythm section that well and we really didn’t have that much of a groove.

Sylvie: Is that why you didn’t want to be filmed?

Neil: I didn’t allow myself to be filmed because I didn’t want them on the stage. Because we were playing music – get away, don’t be in my way, I don’t want to see your cameras. I don’t want to see you. To me it was a distraction from making music, and music is something you listen to, not that you look at. So you’re there, trying to get lost in the music, and there’s this dickhead with a camera in your face. So the only way to make sure that wouldn’t happen is to tell them I wouldn’t be in the film so avoid me, stay away from my area. And that worked.

Sylvie: A bit rum coming from someone who’s just made a concert movie!

Neil: All the shooting that we did [for that], you don’t see cameras around, there’s nobody in front of us, and if they are it’s not for long.

Sylvie: You the only one in Crosby Stills Nash & Young who didn’t want to be filmed.

Neil: I was the only person in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that was, you know, not Crosby Stills and Nash!

Sylvie: Didn’t you and Jimi Hendrix steal a pickup truck backstage and go joyriding?

Neil: You know, to tell you truth it’s been so long since it happened…

Sylvie: Hah! It wasn’t me, Officer’

Neil: [Laughs] It probably was me. I seem to remember a pick-up truck somewhere and Hendrix being nearby and something happening. Hendrix is the best, nobody can touch him. I’m a hack compared to him, a hack. That guy — it slipped off his hands, he couldn’t help himself. I’ve got to go in there and hack away with a machete to get through what he just walked through. I can aspired to be able to play that way and to approach it sometimes, so I’d get half way there sometimes; but when it comes to really playing, I mean, I’ve got a lot of emotion and very little technical ability. Jimi had them both. He was so smooth and so great and so special.

Meanwhile, here’s a band that didn’t ask to be left out of the Woodstock movie, but they were.



Spring forward – look back

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Last night the clocks went forward, but me and my blog still seem to be in retrograde. Every adventure I’ve had these past week (tons) I’ve meant to hit the keyboard and blog about it. But instead I’d hit the hay, then head off the next day for another escapade. Hard to imagine sometimes that less than a year ago I was stuck at my desk, staring at 600 sheets of paper, the manuscript of my Leonard Cohen book. Now I’m running about all over, book under one arm, uke under the other.

I’m just looking at my tour page to remind myself of what I’ve been up to these past weeks and grinning broadly. Like getting up onstage with a San Francisco Prog Rock band, Hot Lunch, or playing in my singer-songwriter friend Lucas Ohio’s band. Or being invited by another friend, Victoria Zackheim, to join her and a bill of great women writers, including Zoe Fitzgerald Carter, Barbara Graham, Mara Purl, at a weekend of ‘Women’s Voices’. Or being part of the brilliant ‘Word Performances, with Doug Cordell, Tim Toaster Henderson, Crystal Reiss, Cybele Zufolo Siegel, Sarah Griff, Phil Lumsden and more.
Here’s a link to Part 1 of my reading: And here’s Part 2: – –with this solo uke spot in the middle

One of the craziest nights was a Litquake/Noisepop event called ‘Way Behind The Music’, in which a bunch of musicians and writers (including my pals Eric Shea from Hot Lunch and John Doe) were handed passages to read onstage from celebrity autobiographies. I got Rod Stewart – whose book I’d read, so I had an idea what to expect – and David Cassidy, which I hadn’t. So I found myself standing under the spotlight, narrating an unexpected, over-the-top tale of Cassidy, a groupie and a cholestroload of butter. I cracked up a few times, but with the help of a margerita managed to make it to the end!

The past week I’ve been back on the Leonard Cohen trail. With Leonard coming to the Bay Area for a concert at the Paramount Theatre, I did a free show called ‘The Night Before Leonard’ in the cocktail lounge of a theatre called the Marsh. I had two great accompanists – Matthew Szemela on violin and Colleen Browne, formerly of Pale Saints and the Wronglers, on bass. The following morning I was on a plane to Portland and a theatre full of people (450- my Woodstock!) for Live Wire! radio.

So now I’m home, busy writing an article for MOJO – Stephen Stills, who I interviewed the other day, and who told me this great story about Neil Young and his mum…. oh, I’ll tell you that later. As the late, great Douglas Adams once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” A bit like everything else right now. Take care, and I’ll check back in soon. xx

Friday, October 12th, 2012