A few weeks on since my last blog and more twittery to tell you about and umpteen gigs to boot. First up was the conclusion of the Urban Folk Quartet gigging for the year as we played a couple of Gloucestershire villages – Brockweir and May Hill. Both were cracking fun as these rural gigs tend to be. What a joy it’s been this year to finally gig with the quartet. There’s loads more to come and it’s exceeded what were already lofty expectations.
After this came the arrival of the wonderful Miss Meaghan Blanchard from PEI, Canada as we embarked on the UK half of our collaboration after a successful trip round the Canadian east coast last year. First up was a gig at the House Of Commons. After all, where else would you start a tour. We shared the bill with a cracking Canadian musician called Tim Chaisson, a fine fiddler and singer who has also been participating in a UK exchange thingy with the extraordinary Kizzy Crawford, a sickeningly young and talented Welsh singer/guitarist. A real star in the making. Also present was Cerys Matthews of Catatonia fame and a bunch of other music bods and of course MPs. I even bumped into a certain Nick Clegg but deemed it best not to talk to him as I was under orders to behave myself. A couple of little jokes over the mic aside I largely did…apart from one accental incident. Read on for more details…
Anyway that rather unusual gig out the way it was off to the homestead of Stafford to entertain Meaghan for a couple of days…that sounds wrong…but anyway you know what I mean..prior to our gig at the Gatehouse Theatre which was its usual fantastic self and Meaghan of course knocked them dead. We had the usual great after-show drinks in the Vaults too so all in all, a thoroughly great start to the tour.
Next up it was back to London to play Cecil Sharp House again with Kizzy and Tim. A quadruple bill basically and it was great. Then came new territory – New Mills in the Peak District. What a venue! Spring Bank Arts Centre has some of the best acoustics I’ve ever come across and a lovely crowd as well. The journey there not so much but Friday traffic in England is what it is. Shite.
The weekend saw a trip to Stratford upon Avon to play the AFO Conference which was nice if networky and then it was off up north to Durham to play the wonderfully weird Old Cinema Launderette which as ever was a beauty of a gig. Then it was to Edinburgh for the legendary house concert at…well I’m not supposed to say his name but let’s face it everyone in Edinburgh knows about it…Then it was back to the Midlands to play in Birmingham at the Kitchen Garden Cafe. That was also nice with great support from the excellent Rich McMahon.
Then to continue with a truly stupid amount of driving it was down to Suffolk to play Maverick Events in Easton where we had a packed out room with a lovely atmosphere and a great way to finish off the tour. Meaghan has been such a delight to work with both musically and personally and Stafford feels a little poorer for her absence! Hopefully future collaborations will happen too.
Then as if that wasn’t enough driving, I then headed north to Newcastle for a social visit more than anything though I also fitted in some teaching and playing. It’s a city I’m extremely fond of after a fabulous six and a half year stint of living there from 2005 to 2012 and it continues to hold a special place for me. Great to catch up with old chums, have a few drinks, listen to Geordie accents. What more can one ask for?
So to finish off the year I have two gigs this weekend at Meadow Folk Club in Telford tomorrow then down in Lincolnshire at Faldingworth Live on Saturday. Then of course it’s my little Norwegian tour on the 10th and 11th December followed finally by the annual shindig at the Vaults in Stafford where I’ll play for hours and hours.
So to round off a month of doing stupid things, came the House of Commons coke incident. I hasten to add I’m not referring to the white powdery thing you snort which I have never snorted. No, I’m referring to the weird coloured drink – you know, the one that rots your teeth and robs coins of their coatings? So in the house of commons we had a room to keep our stuff in such as instrument cases, bags etc. One thing also was there was a bottle of coke. Now those of you familiar with coke (which surely is all of you given the ruddy stuff is available at every outlet in the world it seems) will know that it has a tendency to fizz when shaken. Especially if some dozy git with a banjo case knocks it over onto a big table.
That’s right, this is a two paragraph tale of idiocy. So, I succeeded in knocking it over and it cascaded everywhere. I thought bugger. This table looked so unbelivably grand and expensive, I frankly dread to think and worse still I could see nothing whatsoever to mop it up with. I rushed to the toilet hoping no-one would go in there in the meantime and could only find toilet roll. Now toilet roll is pretty rubbish at mopping up anything…well apart from the obvious. It was as expected next to useless. The upshot of all this was that there was a remarkably sticky and weird smelling table in the house of commons. I subsequently learned that this room is frequently used by government MPs as a meeting space. I now have an image in my mind of MPs trying to look through their papers only to find that they’re stuck to the table.
So I guess at least some good has come of it all.