website translator plugin The Chester Songwriters

Chester Songwriters Meetings 2020

Date                 Host                 Theme                 
Wed 1st AprKeith Houghton*CANCELLED* Truth or Lies?!?
Wed 6th MayStewart Lever*UNDER REVIEW* Verses with the same last line
Wed 3rd JunNigel ParamorTBC
Wed 1st JulIain PatersonSongs We Like
Wed 5th AugChris HowarthTBC
Wed 2nd SepRosa & MikeTBC
Wed 7th OctDave AtkinsonTBC
Wed 4th NovPhillip AllanTBC
Wed 2nd DecTBCTBC

NOTE: Our scheduled meetings are under review given the Covid-19 situation, please see table above.

We meet in the beautiful upstairs function room at a fantastic pub called the Cross Keys Inn, 2 Duke Street, Chester, CH1 1RP.  See the useful links for a shortcut to their website.

Our meetings start at 8.00pm, usually on or around the first Wednesday of each month.  Please note that the date of our next meeting is Wednesday 4th March 2020.

If you are a songwriter, musician, lyricist, singer or simply want to come along to listen you will be made most welcome.  Although based around songwriting feel free to play songs which have inspired you.  It's great place to try out new songs and get constructive feedback!

If you have any questions or wish to contact us use the information on our Facebook Group.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Chester Songwriters Album 2018

The Chester Songwriters is an informal group of Chester-based musicians who come together to share their songs and provide support and encouragement to each other. Occasionally, there are collective activities such as live performances at Chester's iconic bandstand by the River Dee. The most recent joint activity is compiling a CD of their songs, bringing together the work of 14 different writers in an eclectic mix where there is something for everyone.

Checkout the review of the album by Dan Schott here. The website Schott's List is the premier go to site for all the very best music, gigs and news from Chester, UK and the surrounding areas.

"Every track screams absolute quality from a collective of accomplished musicians. In a world of disposable, plastic pop, this very much feels like a piece of top-end mahogany, gently refined by hand, smooth to the touch and ready for a lifetime of love. Absolutely brilliant. The Songwriters have done the city proud and you need it in your local collection."

Click on the front or back cover picture above to expand in a new tab.

You can purchase the physical CD in digipak, with artwork by Lydia O'Hara, for £5.00 (plus 0.79p postage UK), by contacting Dave Atkinson, e-mail:

Alternatively the 14 individual tracks can be purchased as digital downloads for just £0.50 each. Or you can buy all 14 tracks for download for just £5.00. Click on the link below;

All the income from sales of the physical CD and from digital downloads is being donated to Music Action International, a charity where people from across the world use the power of creativity to overcome the effects and causes of war, torture and armed conflict. For more information click the following link to their website.

Poster by Nicky Baker

Chester Bandstand Running Order

Time     Artist                                             
1.00pmKeith Houghton
1.20pmPhillip Allan
1.40pmMike & Rosa
2.00pmIan Patterson
2.20pmPhillippa York
2.40pmStewart Lever
3.00pmAndy Hignett
3.20pmNicky Baker
3.40pmKen Kellett
4.00pmChris Howarth
4.20pmKen Moodie

The Chester Songwriters on Flipside Radio - Tuesday 19th July 2016

   1.       Phillip  Allan
   2.       Sue  Bargh
   3.       GP  Hall
   4.       Will  Riding
   5.       Dave  Atkinson
   6.       John  Williams
   7.       David  Watson
   8.       John  Every
   9.       Phillippa  York
   10.     Chris  Howarth
   11.     Nicky  Baker

1.   Phillip Allan

Based in Chester, Cheshire, UK I am a songwriter who shares ideas and works together with songwriters, musicians, poets and artists across the UK.  During 2020 I will be pitching songs and working with new artists and bands.

One of my main projects is called 'The Heart Athletes' a Chester based musical collective.

On 1st November 2019 'The Heart Athletes' released our third video single ‘Decadence’ on YouTube. Written by Phillip Allan and mixed by Tony Denmade the video was specially commissioned by Steven Berkoff as the music for the official 25th anniversay trailer of his 1994 film. With an all star cast this war between the rich and poor will leave a lasting impression. Let's play decadence!

On Monday 7th January 2019 my song 'The Grace Of God' beautifully performed by Simon Schofield and The Sapphire Blue Choir was released as a digital charity single to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday 27th January 2019. Full information here.

One of my main projects is called 'The Heart Athletes' and I am working with David Watson on new songs and a rock album due for release early 2019. Our first gig was on Valentine's Day 2018 @ The Saddle Inn, Chester.

On Tuesday 1st May 2018 my song 'Chiave Del Mio Cuore' (Key To My Heart), co-written with GP Hall and magnificently performed by Marcello Dongu was released. Full information here.

On Friday 17th March 2017 the english version of the song called 'Key To My Heart', co-written with GP Hall and beautifully sung by Suvi had it's worldwide release. It is now available on Amazon Music, iTunes,, Spotify and 32 other vendors.

On Monday 22nd August 2016 I released a new video for the song 'Never Forget'. Originally commissioned in the UK by the Greater Manchester branch of the charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Air-Force Association) the song has lead vocals by Simon Schofield and backed by the 'Sapphire Blue' choir.

A video for the song 'Resting In The Arms Of Angels' dedicated to the memory of Rachel Rogers was launched on Sunday 17th July 2016. The song was originally commissioned in the UK by the Greater Manchester branch of the charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Air-Force Association). This version is sung by Rosanna Rigby and the 'Sapphire Blue' choir.

My song 'The Agenda' was released in New York as a follow up to the track 'Soulshaker'. Recent songwriting collaborations include David Watson, GP Hall, John Every, Tommy Hunt, Paul Wightman, Phil Dennett and Tony Denmade.

During 2020 I will be pitching songs and working with new artists and bands. Further information and contact details are available via my website

For the very latest updates follow me on Twitter @phillipallan

[Current Members]

2.   Sue Bargh

Born in Liverpool, Sue sang in the school choir from an early age and began learning classical guitar at the age of 12. Both her parents were very musical,as are many people of their generation, they played piano, sang in choirs, but more unusually they both learned to play guitar.

There was a gap of many years in her musical studies while she studied Fashion and Textile Design at Liverpool Polytechnic in Hope Street, enjoying the punk music scene and following the local band Deaf School at art college.

After raising her family Sue discovered folk music and songwriting through an evening class a local high school in 2004. In the same year her song 'Boy and Boat' was a finalist in the UK songwriting Contest at her first attempt. Through the encouragement of Folkus workshops (where she won more prizes for songwriting) and local Folk Clubs Sue began performing several years ago.

For many years Sue has helped to run The Chester Songwriters with the aim of encouraging songwriting friends out of their bedrooms, creating an environment where we can chat about new songs, make mistakes, make music, make friends, gain confidence and now nearly all the group have had experience of performing and gigs.

As well as her own songs, Sue loves to perform covers of other inspirational female guitarists and songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Sandy Denny, Suzanne Vega and Anne Briggs as well as some traditional songs. Steve Tilston is also a great favourite. Sue plays a guitar made by Keith Bennion of KGB Guitars in Pacific Road, Birkenhead; she has been told that this guitar was used occasionally by John Renbourn when he visited her former guitar teacher Jim Ronayne. Lately she has acquired a cutaway by Jean Larrivee, with a lovely Eagles Head inlay. Sue also plays an Appalachian mountain dulcimer and a mandolin. She is enjoying learning traditional tunes on the mandolin.

Sue has written many songs in collaboration with other lyricists and tunesmiths and hopes to continue to do so. She feels that her own songs are little snapshots of emotions and relationships, capturing fleeting moments to be remembered forever, and her distinctive guitar style hints back to her early classical lessons. Sue's songs can be heard on her Soundclick Page

[Current Members]

3.   GP Hall

My current focus is on my acoustic guitar music. I’d call myself an eclectic guitarist. I like to perform. I like to communicate. I like to do it in the most involving way possible.

As an original composer, and a seasoned performer with four decades of experience, I’ve mastered numerous styles and fed them into my music. Predominantly performing my own compositions, I play a mixture of acoustic jazz, blues, flamenco, rock, folk, and classical improvisations. My music is very melodic as well as featuring intriguing chord structures. Most of it is instrumental, but I also write and sing the occasional songs.

I’m also a master of what I call “sound sculptures”. These are sonic compositions performed on a variety of electric and acoustic guitars and a six-string bass, played with various techniques and implements (including slides, battery fans and razors, toys, Velcro and crocodile clips), which are fed through sound processors to create a widescreen sonic environment. However odd the sounds and devices used, my sound-sculpture approach is romantic and visual. Based on human experience and natural phenomena, it mixes elements of avant-garde, ambient, industrial music and dream pop along with my more traditional influences. Often startling, it’s still always accessible to audiences: not to mention being fun to watch.

As a player, I emerged in the British blues boom in the 1960s and then followed a long and winding path through various scenes and cultures. I studied with the Roma flamenco master Manitas Del Plata in Spain, toured Europe with Liverpool band Casey Jones & the Governors, Commissioned three times (twice by The Arts Council of Great Britain) for original music and played in the British avant-garde scene of the 1970s (as an improviser, a pioneer of electric flamenco, and a composer of ambitious large-scale ensemble pieces). During the 1980’s I worked on soundtrack music, and in the 1990s I reinvented myself as the solo performer I am today. In terms of experience, I’ve gained my share of scars as well as diamonds along the way, and my life has had as much shadow as light: yet everything has contributed to the musician and human being whom I am now.

My back catalogue of sixteen albums makes for an interesting patchwork quilt of a career. Since 1989, I’ve released my music on a variety of interesting record labels including Bronze Records, Burning Shed, Future Music Records and Unknown Public. Along the way I’ve been nominated for a Mercury Music Prize (for my ‘Imaginary Seasons” album) and have gained coverage from avant-garde, jazz and progressive music websites, assorted regional newspapers and three reviews in ‘The Times’. Over the past decade, my various performance videos on YouTube have brought me a brand new and appreciative audience. As a performer, I’ve played assorted tours, concerts and festivals - including a solo appearance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and a tour of the Western Isles of Scotland & most of Europe. Onstage, I’ve worked with or alongside pop acts (The Hollies, Dave Stewart/Barbara Gaskin), legendary bluesmen (John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Fripp, John Zorn, Jon Rose & Frank Zappa), iconic 1970’s rock musicians (from Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple to Chris Cutler of Henry Cow) and a newer generation of songwriters, instrumentalists and improvisers (such Tim Bowness of No-Man, Steve Lawson, Theo Travis and Darkroom). Close collaborators on record have included Lol Coxhill, Jeff Clyne of Nucleus, Lyn Dobson (Soft Machine, Third Ear Band) and John Ellis (guitarist for Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill, Stranglers and Vibrators). I was also musical director for Welfare State International theatre company (Engineers of the Imagination).

As an example of my work click on this YouTube link   'Love Lies Bleeding'

I’m friendly (please call me 'Peter') and enjoy reaching a new audience as well as those who know me already. Have a look at my website for my discography and other releases. I can also be contacted via my website to obtain copies of my albums and for concert bookings and follow me on Twitter for the latest information @gphallmusic

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

[Current Members]

4.   Will Riding

Will Started writing the odd song the late 80s/early 90s with a trio called 'Lost for Words', based in the West Lancs village of Haskayne. It didn't last long and he gravitated towards folk music and in particular the Maghull Folk Club Guitar workshop. Unfortunately, he developed a hearing problem which meant he would sporadically be out of musical action for months at a time.

In the late 90s he relocated to Chester after getting involved with The Chester Folk festival and, with a young family, got involved in Folk Camp Holidays where he got to play and learn with some wonderful musicians and in the process made a whole world of new and lasting friendships. Although still suffering with hearing loss and raising a young family he did enough to keep his hand in, learning songs for the Folk Festival and practising hard for the annual two weeks hooley that is a folk camp. He still harboured plans of writing for himself and often scribbled notes and ideas which were stored in a large carrier bag for when the time was right.

After getting his ears fixed he decided to kick it up a gear. He bought an eight track recorder with the idea of using it to help him practice, record and play over himself. He got carried away and over a couple of years produced a rather large body of work under the project name of "The Naughty Step".

In 2012, he developed a footwear fetish and started writing again. He was missing the human interaction, so ventured out and started playing two of his own songs "Favourite Shoes" and "The Elves And The Shoemaker", amongst a repertoire of standards. Encouraged up by the reception these songs got he continues to write and is getting his songs out to a wider audience. He has slowly built up a body of songs inspired by people, places and the common experiences we all share. He's hoping to record in April and produce a sampler EP some time in the Summer.

Will's songs can be heard on his new website and Soundcloud Page. His videos can be viewed on YouTube and he also has a Bandcamp Page which contains his Naughty Step Instrumentals available as free downloads for personal use.

[Current Members]

5.   Dave Atkinson

For me, song-writing is an expression of self, of my emotions and experience, not just something I do. I feel very fortunate to have the gift of self-expression through song, and to have in my life so many lovely (and patient!) people to help me un-wrap it, and to share it with. The gift is reward enough in itself, it would not be worth more if it rewarded me financially.

I have been writing and performing since the late 1960’s, encouraged initially by my Mum (a fine classically-trained pianist). My first influence was Bob Dylan, followed by Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, Gram Parsons and performers from the English folk scene; latterly this has included Steve Knightley of Show of Hands. During the 1970’s I self-released a couple of vinyl albums and recent (since 2015) unexpected interest in these from people in distant parts of the world has generated sales enabling me to fund the start of a project which aims to collect the best of my written and recorded material on 7 limited-edition CD albums. To date, 5 have been issued and over £700 raised in support of ‘good causes’. If you buy 4 it is just £12 and £9 will go to the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital Charity. To find out more about the ‘good causes’, buy CDs, hear some of my songs and find free lead sheets to download, go to:

You can also hear me at:

What they say:
"Great work Dave, it is an album I will continue playing and enjoying for many months".

"I bought one, and I'm hooked".

“Your music was the perfect soundtrack for a long drive to Scotland”.

“It's a very beautiful album. I love your style, your bittersweet songs, how melodies accompany your singing, the images that the lyrics evoke. I'm so glad I discovered your music”.


< [Current Members]

6.   John Williams

John was born and raised in Birkenhead. Sharing his grand parents terraced house with his family, John’s early musical influences stemmed from Granddad William playing a wood saw with a fiddle bow, harmonica, spoons and jaw harp, and father Ken an upright piano (this may explain a lot). His father’s favourite saying was ‘if you can sing it I can play it’. From as early as he can remember music had been huge influence with singing being his passion.

A member of the school choir and Church choir boy at both St Marks and St Anne's Churches (at opposite sides of Birkenhead park), unbeknown by either choir master. Half a crown for singing at weddings on Saturdays was welcome, unless of course both churches had weddings at the same time! In which case he could often be seen running across the park frantically trying to change from a black to a red cassock (if you think Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean you will be very close).

Also as a Scout at the 1st Birkenhead group, John was soon selected to perform in the Gang Show and performed a solo to open to a full house at Plaza Theatre, Birkenhead. Yes, you got it as a Choir boy! After the performance he was approached by Ralf Reader the producer of the Gang Show at the London Palladium to join their cast.

John’s eclectic passion for all genres of music shows in his huge musical collection with his first album ‘Freewheeling’ by Bob Dylan planting its musical seed. A brief excision occurred with a very poorly made boxwood guitar (he swapped for a pet pigeon and an old bicycle) playing very loosely the only song he had learned ‘Don't Think Twice Its Alright’. The song’s title also seemed to reflect his ‘get on with it attitude'.

With a cycling club he briefly left music behind, followed by fishing and then motor cycling. This progressed to another huge passion ‘motor cycle racing’ and working through all the racing classes John then held a full international racing licence. This led to racing for several sponsors at international level, competing in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the legendary Isle Of Mann TT Races sponsored by Bill Smith Motors of Chester.

John unfortunately had a near fatal Crash at 160 MPH during the 1989 TT Formula One race which left him in serious condition in hospital. During his 3 month hospitalisation and with his avid interest in Motor Cycle Racing left far, far behind he was nursed back to a reasonable fitness by his wife to be Cal. Now with a revived interest and passion in music, but unable to play a stringed instrument or even hold chord, for any length of time, due to being left with a weak and painful and fused wrist John had a frustrated drive to try, try and try again. During 1998 John sadly lost his wonderful wife and his inspiration in life Cal to Asthma. He became mum and dad to their young son Nathan, putting his drive to play any instrument on hold.

Eight years on and after a challenge from a friend who asked him if he would write her a poem, John presented her his first poem. John being John wrote her a poem every day for well over a year, when she eventually moved to France, he presented her with large book of poems of varying standards of which a few have survived.

Desperate to play a stringed instrument a musician friend Billy Edwards suggested a banjo and said he should have a guitar/banjo available to pick up for just a short time every day. Slowly, very slowly his wrist improved then in 2011 one evening after a meal in local pub, hearing acoustic music filter from a folk club his musical spark fully reignited his passion for his music. To play and perform became his focus.

Since playing his first live song at a folk club in October 2011 he has never looked back. Soon after this performance he became a club Resident at the Hungry Horse Folk Club, then a committee member and organiser for the Wirral Folk Festival. Presently John is a club resident at Wallasey Folk and Acoustic Club. John’s progression through the folk and Acoustic circuit has progressed quickly with him already having been a member of two duos and a folk band.

Three years ago John came along to his first Chester Songwriters meeting night organised and run by his dear friend Sue Bargh. From the songwriters he received his first encouragement to write his own songs in ‘a happy encouraging supportive environment’. The marriage between his poetry and music developed.

John’s main instruments are his David Oddy cello mandolin and tenor guitar. John performs his music across the North West and has started recording his first solo album. He can be contacted via Facebook John Williams Folk

[Current Members]

7.   David Watson

Chester-based singer/songwriter David Watson can usually be seen performing as a solo artist in the clubs and pubs in Chester but will, without any encouragement, also form loose associations with fellow musicians from, for example, The Chester Songwriters Group or with members of Full House/Galleon Blast.

You never know what you are going to hear. It could be covers of pop songs from the 60s through to the present day. You could hear folk/country rock through to classic blues or harder rock covers of artists such as Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jackson Browne, Springsteen, Neil Young, Clapton or The Stones. It could just as easily be a selection of traditional and contemporary folk tunes or even a touch of country. He also has, as a songwriter, quite a list of his own material to slip into a set.

He is happy to shares ideas and collaborate with other songwriters and musicians and has set up a Chester Songwriters Dropbox to facilitate music file sharing and editing.

David's can be contacted via his website and he is also on Soundcloud.

[Current Members]

8.   John Every

At what point does a particular combination of words and music become something more than just a particular combination of words and music? When does a song become a song... with an independent validity in its own right?

I ask myself that question every day... and every day I wish I knew the answer!

But I do know that it is a rare and wonderful feeling when you realise that it has happened and that a very particular combination of words and music now has a life of its own. That feeling is the reason I write songs.

Recently my writing has been focused on songs to be included in an album being recorded by The Ultimate Coffeehouse Collective (TUCC).

Sample tracks in development for the album can be heard at: The Ultimate Coffeehouse Collective

Contact John at:

Be sure to checkout John's new website:

[Current Members]

9.   Phillippa York

Phillippa is a folk/classical singer/songwriter living in North Wales who has had the good fortune of joining Chester Songwriters when it began. Inspiration comes from the Chester Songwriters through sharing music, ideas and original songs with friends. This generates new ideas and the motivation to keep writing. It also provides the opportunity to showcase new songs, for example at 'The Raven Songwriters Showcase' and the Chester Bandstand performance on Sunday 21st August 2016.

Phillippa’s love of performing, extends to dance and acting as well as singing. She has performed contemporary dance performances at The Stiwt in Wrexham and a contemporary dance project in Wales Millenium Centre, home to National Dance Company. Phillippa was a member of the chorus of several musical theatre groups appearing in shows ranging from 'Under Milkwood', 'Home for Christmas', 'Anything Goes' and 'When We Are Married'.

As a classical singer Phillippa has had the pleasure of being a member of Chester Music Society chorus for ten years where she has enjoyed singing large works by renowned composers. North Wales Music Tuition Charity (NWMTC) concerts with dedicated music teachers have developed solo experience in many genres.

Phillippa has shared her original songs at open mics in Chester, the Kelsall Folk Festival, and Wirral Folk on the Coast. She has received expert tuition in residentials with the Arvon Foundation, Folkus’s Waddow Hall folk music course in England, Can Ar Dan in Wales, the Glaisnock summer folk school in Scotland, and many more. Phillippa has had poems published in the university newspaper in Cardiff where she studied Communications and been highly commended in a local poetry competition. She was semi finalist in the UK Songwriting lyrics category in 2011 with the song 'Not Another Sunset'.

Listen to her songs  'Sycamore Dancers'  and  'Leaving For Amsterdam'  on her Soundcloud page.

[Current Members]

10.   Chris Howarth

Chris Howarth is a born and bred Mancunian, who eventually moved away from the city, but didn't fall far from the tree and has settled in Northwich in Cheshire.

He started writing songs at the tender age of 14 (right now, that seems a VERY long time ago) initially influenced by the likes Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Jethro Tull. He led and played in a number of bands through his teen years before married life, children and work, saw an end to the rock'n roll, lifestyle!

Somewhere deep inside though, the creative spark lived on . Years later, the old and cherished Fender acoustic was brought down from the attic and the songwriting began again. In 2015, Chris came across Orchard studios in Alsager (and a few new musical friends) and a long nurtured ambition was realised when his first album of 10 songs  'A Different Man', was released.

This set him off in a new direction and seeking kindred spirits, he found the supportive arms of the Chester Songwriters. Chris has performed with the Group on a number of occasions and the opportunity to share ideas and invite constructive criticism has been excellent and has inspired him in 2017 to get back into the studio. Work is now complete on one half of the "difficult" second album and the album should be able to greet the world in March 2017.

Chris hates to be pigeonholed and he believes that songs cover a spectrum of styles and cover a range of topics. Onwards and upwards!

Have a listen to the songs  'Rise Up Now'  and  'Out Of The Corner Of My Eye'  on Soundcloud.

[Current Members]

11.   Nicky Baker

Nicky spent her young life the other side of the pennines, enjoying ice-cream and sandcastles on the Scarborough coast in that hot summer of ‘76... 😉 She now finds herself working in IT based in Chester, UK, and after raising 2 boys has rediscovered songwriting, multitracking, and all things acoustic guitars…

She loves melody, and would chose that over lyrics… admits to being a huge McCartney, Crowded House, Kate Bush, and Lloyd Cole fan, and has even dabbled a bit with synths (take a listen to 'Lonely Road' on YouTube).

Whilst not the best singer, she began playing classical guitar aged 9, and promptly gave it up aged 13… only to rediscover pop and electric guitar as a Uni (well, actually a Polytechnic) student in Leeds.

She had a go at tape multitracking, and has got an Alesis drum machine somewhere (might be worth something!), whereas the last 10 years has seen her discover digital multitracking, and even dabble in making YouTube videos, with varying results. She has spent an awful lot of time using Mixcraft DAW, and you can possibly find her hanging around the Mixcraft forums (“fora?”).

Some of these videos and songs can be found on Nicky’s “msnickybee” YouTube page here.
You can listen to some largely unfinished tunes on Nicky’s Soundcloud page here.
If Facebook’s your thing, she also has a music page here.

Nicky now hates ice-cream (she vastly prefers cake).

[Current Members]