Michael now lives in Manchester: here's a link to his website.
This is a list of his locally inspired songs & tunes:
“Is that thee Smith?” A story from an 1840s miners’ strike.
“The Lisles of Cullercoats” and of Blackhill – my pal the late Tony Lisle.
“The Ballad of Mitch & Johnny” The story of 2 Teesside based jazz musicians
“The Maryport Mystery or Shotley Bridge Fair” From an 1846 newspaper report.
“Crookhall” The story of a tragic explosion in the 1840s
“From the Low Mown Meadows to Los Jannos” The story of Jack Greenwell of Crook, international footballer, coach and anti fascist.
“Tir no nOg” – the land of youth – hopes for the future
“Alex Barrass” The story of pitman poet Alexander Barrass
“The Ballad of Bart Monaghan” The story of a furnace keeper relative of mine from way back.
“Red Vest, Blue Shirt” The sad story of Andrew Bowden of Oakenshaw, a gt,gt,gt uncle of mine.
“Will Reed’s Barn” An account of a harvest home in 1880s Knitsley from an old newspaper cutting.
“Back in 1847” Immigration, then and now
“Arthur Monaghan” A dear late uncle of mine
“Pease Pudding and Daal” The fortunes of my gtgt uncle George Warren of Leadgate during WW1
“John McDonnell” The travels across the Irish sea & the Atlantic of my gtgt granda
Tunes – no words
“Mr Frederick Douglas’ welcome return to Hexham” – Frederick was a former slave and an abolitionist.
“Pat Herraty” – The foreman at the Sproats opencast site where I worked one summer.
“The Little Count” The tiny Polish Georgian musician who is buried in Durham Cathedral.
“Fr Frank Monahan” – of Leadgate my late uncle.
“Miss Kath Corr of Consett” A late great aunty of mine.
“Mr William Fifefield’s Farewell to the Tyne” A drummer and boatman on Tyne in Georgian Newcastle, a native of the West Indies.
“Happyland” A place name that always appealed to me.
“The Gill Bridge” – The soaring Hownesgill Viaduct
“Derwent Kites & Medlock Buzzards” The iconic birds of NW Durham & of Manchester, where I now live.
“The Checkweighman” An undated memorial stone in Tow Law cemetery reads “A TOKEN OF RESPECT TO GEORGE RICHARDSON CHECKWEIGHMAN OF BLACK PRINCE COLLIERY BY HIS FELLOW WORKMAN. Elected by the hewers, the checkweighman held a post of great responsibility, ensuring that his workmates were not swindled out of their earning by the coal owners. George was born in the mid 1840s and died in the first 1/4 of the 20th century.
“Shorestone Turnstones” Busy little birds on the Cullercoats tideline
“Capricorns” - inspired by an impressive billy goat at Minsteracres!
“Seraphino Pino” A Genoese street musician found on Victorian censuses in Consett & S. Shields
“Tony on the Wall” color:#333333;background:#F2F2F2">A tune about a Geordie - Celtic God, Antenociticus whose temple is at Benwell where my gt aunty & uncle lived
“Picnic at Edmundbyers”
“The Basket of Figs” –inspired by the report of an 1840s Shotley Bridge theft
“Whittonstall Bank” The first tune I wrote
“The Voyage down the Derwent” An 1840s epic, repeated by some lads from Blackfine in the 1960s