AN Arnside singer-songwriter has finally got round to recording his debut album after playing in folk clubs, festivals and bars for more than 30 years.

John Harper is a regular and well-loved face in venues across Lancaster and the South Lakes, and ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ is his response to regular audience requests for a recording.

“It’s just guitar and voice,” he explained, “I wanted that stripped-down sound that’s representative of what I do live.”

The album features 11 self-penned tracks and one traditional song, ‘The Water is Wide’ - the first song John ever heard in a folk club back in his home town of Chester during the early 70s.


“Hearing that song started my love of that school of music,” he said, “I think it was the honesty of it that appealed to me.”

In 1974 John moved to Brighton from Chester and, after five years establishing himself on the lively music scene there, travelled for a couple of years in Morocco, Andorra and Greece, working with a holiday company and playing guitar almost seven nights a week.

In 1980 he settled in Cumbria, became a regular at the Kendal Folk Club and founded Arnside Folk Club which ran for almost twenty years.

Most of the tracks on ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ were written over the last couple of years, with the exception of ‘The Singer Not The Song’, which John wrote around 25 years ago and has proved to be an audience favourite.

The title track was written for John’s daughter, who lives in Santiago, Chile, after one of her visits home.

John said: “Like any young person she’s been through happy times and tough times and on this occasion it was hard to see her go back.

“It’s become a really popular song and having it as the title track gave a bit of shape to the album.”

Another notable song is the album’s opener ‘Twists and Turns’ which, John explained, “I wrote after walking on the fells one day and looking at the view.

“It’s about all the various decisions you make and how you end up in this one place that makes you very happy.”