Incredibly my solo tour is coming towards the end after what seems like no time at all. It has been really rather splendid and I’ve really enjoyed playing new material alongside stuff from last year’s Incidents and Accidents and a bit of other stuff from times gone by. It’s all been a tad exhausting too of course with ludicrous amounts of miles but I have really enjoyed seeing faces both old and new. Touring is something I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with but performing is something I cannot live without so thank you for allowing me to do it!
So to bring you up to speed…after my last blog it was a crazy weekend of gigs beginning in the old hometown of Stafford at the Gatehouse Theatre for a typically wonderful gig at that venue. My hometown provides me with a beacon of wonderful support from wonderful people upon which to build my career and I really do appreciate it all the time. Traditionally the aftershow party for gigs at the Gatehouse tends to be at the good old Market Vaults with a fair bit of beer consumed but it was a little on the mellow side this time as it was a very early start the next day to head down to Cromer to play Folk On The Pier with Urban Folk Quartet. We had a great time despite my astonishing inability to find how the hell to drive to the ruddy venue but we got there in the end!
Then the next day it was to Walton on Thames to play the wonderful Riverhouse Barn. This is a truly delightful venue run by great people which I first played a couple of years ago. That was a midweek gig and was a little low on numbers to put it mildly but lovely nonetheless. Much is made now of the difficulties facing live music for both musicians and venues and I have known venues give up on folk gigs because of the difficulty in selling tickets (particularly in advance as folkies tend to buy a bit later!). Here is a case of a brilliant venue not giving up, rethinking their strategy, persistently trying to promote and spread the word and build an audience. I’m happy to say it was a great turnout this time and it was great to see such a great venue reaping the rewards from such hard work. Better still, what a genius idea to have a Sunday afternoon gig instead of evening? Why doesn’t everywhere do that?! People worried about having to get up early for work on the Monday etc – no need!
Then it was a couple of days breathing space before heading to Bromsgrove to play the folk club there which was a nice night and lovely to see the Pridden family again who are always such lovely hosts! Then it was down to Plymouth to play the B Bar which like last time was an absolutely belting night – thanks so much to everyone for coming, a real classic this one. Then it was up to Wotton under Edge for another return gig, the delightful Under The Edge arts which is the loveliest of lovely venues. Then it was to London to play London Roundhouse no less! Urban Folk Quartet had the honour of supporting the lovely Joss Stone who is a bit of a fan of the band. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to play such an iconic venue and reach so many new people. Thanks to Joss for having us and it was bloody brilliant!
Oh yes this has been a four paragraph tour. Next up was a northern leg starting in Ulverston at the Coronation Hall which was a great wee gig with a lovely audience – check out the Furness Tradition Festival they are running in July, it’s a great festival! Next up to Edinburgh for one of the legendary house concerts they have up there and great to catch up with old chums Tom Oakes and Rachel Newton and to share a dram with the legendary Douglas! Then down to Newcastle for a gig at the Mining Institute. What a gig this was – a truly special night for me. An astounding venue to put it mildly and a brilliant audience who packed the place out. Simma did a sterling opening set and also promoted the gig. Thank you so much to the city that was my home for six years – there’s a reason I love coming back and it’s that you are bloody marvellous.
Then it was down to Oswestry in Shropshire for a gig at the utterly lovely Willow Gallery which was once again a great wee gig as well. Then it was down to London to play and talk at the Care England conference about music and the arts in care homes. It was an inspiring day and as you know this is a topic I feel strongly about after my experiences with Live Music Now, especially concerning Glen Mason the subject of my song ‘The Song Always Stays’. Older people deserve access to the arts just like the rest of us do and it should happen in every single care home, end of story. In the case of dementia, when people have lost the cognitive ability to think in the same way the arts is the BEST way to help them make sense of their world, refind their personality and identity and be happier and more fulfilled people. It was an inspiring day in many ways.
Finally here I am in Leicester where last night I played at the Musician, a wonderful venue and a great gig shared with the Jess Morgan trio who were really really excellent. Cambridge, Hales, Aberystwyth, Geldeston, Maldon and Chester remain and then I’m off to Canada! No rest for the banjo players…
I had an eventful day or two – I managed to lose my jacket on London Underground which was hugely irritating then encountered the strangest thing on Virgin Trains – while having a wee, a computerised voice listed things not to flush down the toilet including goldfish. You can’t do free wifi but you can tell me not to flush goldfish down the loo. Good to know where you’re at. Then I got a cup of tea and saw this (just be glad I put a photo of this bit rather than the toilet bit):
I’m all for caution when it comes to food allergy advice but is it really necessary to write ‘contains milk’ underneath large capital letters that say MILK?
Finally to round off the rant section of my blog – take a look at this:
Now am I just massively OCD or does this not make you want to hunt night and day to find the utter twit who parked like this? I mean seriously do people just park up and get out without even checking how they’ve parked?! To me it’s as unthinkable as dropping litter. I maybe shouldn’t have left the note I left showing a diagram of how parking spaces work and where the car is supposed to fit into all that and suggesting that he or she might reconsider being such a self important noggin but I can’t deny I don’t regret it for a second.