Banjo and sarangi – a good idea?

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Dear all,

 

Well that was a hectic old couple of weeks! My tour with Suhail Yusuf Khan, a truly extraordinary Indian sarangi player has come to and end and it’s fair to say it exceeded our expectations. People left it late to get their tickets but thankfully the gigs were nearly all packed out people seemed very enthusiastic about our very unorthodox collaboration. I am excited to say that I’ve been asked to write a full piece about the tour for Rolling Stone India among other magazines so cannot put too much on here yet, but I do need to tell you a bit about it. A Dan tour wouldn’t be a Dan tour without a blog now would it?!

 

So we kicked off in Birmingham where played the Kitchen Garden Cafe which was a good first show. Feeling our way round the music of course, but people seemed impressed and struck by the collaboration. London the next night at the Green Note was packed and again, feeling our way round the stuff. Norwich on night 3 set a high standard to top – this was the night where we really felt tighter as a duo and the audience were absolutely great. Wingham in Kent, despite an unexpected move downstairs from the main venue because of a wake was also a lovely gig before the LOOOONG (more below) drive to Stafford. Now Stafford of course never lets me down and this was a really special gig as people who’ve heard me many times got the chance to hear me in a very new guise and they seemed to enjoy it. Cleethorpes was a huge surprise as we’d been warned this was a hard gig but the audience loved our set, as did we and this marked a fine end to the English bit of the tour. We then headed north to Scotland for a gig in Smailholm in the Scottish borders which was packed and much fun before a quiet end to a fine crowd in Edinburgh on the last night.

 

So that was a fairly whistle-stop guide to the gigs. As for the music, well what can I say? Suhail is a quite remarkable musician with such expression in his sarangi playing and extraordinary virtuosity and that’s before we get on to the sheer power of his emotive vocals. As those of you familiar with my stuff, I’ve dabbled in Indian music for some time now and a few tunes in that ilk have become very popular in my solo sets. India in February represented my chance to really explore this and play it with the real deal. It has been a great challenge and totally out of my comfort zone but Indian music continues to move me and speak to my soul and that is even more true for having delved more and more into it. Of course, we tried to do a good variety of material so for probably the first time anywhere people heard sarangi bluegrass among other things…The essence of these things is to try and create a genuine duo and a new sound rather than a forced east meets west. I hope we achieved this. We are both very eclectic musicians so I hope that all our various influences found their way in and we sounded like us but different. Kind of like the same but different…sorry I’ll get my coat.

 

So travel. There were a great many miles driven on this tour and one particularly atrocious journey was from Kent to Stafford. It didn’t quite top my ten hour M25 madness where I played the banjo of course, but it was certainly tedious. However, I discovered on this tour that lorries immensely get on my proverbials. I mean I had thought this anyway, but they really pushed it this time. Lorry drivers remember this – you are all slow. You don’t need to overtake each other and block every other poor sod on the road. And if one of you does decide you have to overtake can the one you’re overtaking not slow down to speed up the process? Thanks.

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