I write to you from sunny (no really, well it was earlier it’s dark now) Cumbria where I’m based til Thursday with my mandolin playing chum Nic Zuppardi. We’re playing a series of care home concerts courtesy of Live Music Now (www.livemusicnow.org.uk) and had the first couple today after a rather unpleasantly early journey up the M6. They were both lovely and seemed to make a real difference to them and us, what music should be really. It follows on from a pretty hectic couple of weeks kicking off with a gig back in Newcastle, my second home where I spent six happy years in the not so distant (although becoming slightly scarily distant) past. The Cluny is a great venue and it was a great gig with some welcome familiar faces. Thanks to Ian Courtney for the gig and the accommodation. We had a rather surreal journey to said accommodation when a dreaded red light appeared on my car dashboard saying the car was beginning to overheat! It turned out to be nothing major and was fixed by the AA guy the next day but given we were four miles from the house and it was stupid o’clock in the morning we decided to make the journey stopping every half mile to allow the engine to cool down again!
After a couple of days respite the gigs began to roll in thick and fast though not before I saw Martin Simpson at the Gatehouse in Stafford and even got to have a go on his banjo. You know, I know you all know I play the banjo but there is something about the phrase ‘had a go on his banjo’ that never looks good. Ah well. So the gigs…first in Wolverhampton where I had a cracking night at the Grain Store before three rural gigs with Urban Folk Quartet in New Mills, Yoxall and Tansley. The first named, I played with Meaghan Blanchard only a couple of months before so knew it was a beautiful venue with stunning sound and a lovely audience. A great night there and the other two summed up all that’s good about village hall gigs – good crowd, great support, great pre-gig food!
UFQ will be back in action on Friday down in Cornwall (which is not near Cumbria) when we play Falmouth University. That’ll be pretty much it for us on the gigging front til April when we embark on a hefty tour and release our new album but of course I am in pretty constant gigging action from February 28th til then with my solo tour. No new albums for a couple of years then two in three months! Like buses…except not.
So this week, I ended up looking like a bit of a lazy git but I swear I wasn’t really! I don’t know if any of you self employed people have the same experience, but one of the beauties of working from home which often I do on gig hunting, social media, practicing, writing etc is one can do it in one’s pyjamas. There is something awfully nice I find about not getting dressed yet actually being quite productive. So on this particular day I woke up at 9 and began work at 9.15 and had done a massive amount right up until about 1pm when there was a knock on the door. Temporarily forgetting that I was in such attire, I answered the door and there was a parcel delivery person. I can honestly say, and I have experienced some, I have never seen anyone look at me with as much contempt as that man. He may as well have said ‘you lazy bastard’ and I’m not altogether sure he didn’t have to really work hard not to utter those words. But it was one of those curious English moments where he won’t say what he really thinks but makes it obvious therefore I don’t say ‘no I’m working from home I swear, I’m not just watching re-runs of Friends and sitting on my posteria’ so he still thinks I am watching re-runs of Friends and sitting on my posteria and all in all it made for a slightly uncomfortable experience. But there are worse.