Service Station Traffic Jam?!

Dear all,

Good lord it’s been a little while since my last blog hasn’t it?! It’s been a typically crazy time full of lots of travel and gigs galore. The administrative hellhole of US visas is almost over – my visa has been approved! Cue some frantic planning for a US trip next month (you know…the month that begins in two days time. AAAAHHH!) but I am very excited. Before then I’m off to Germany for a few gigs which will be a blast I’m sure and better still means I get to visit Papa Joe’s Jazzlokal in Cologne again (see the archives for more info).

So just where have I been? A little political rambling about Jeremy Corbyn aside I’ve been quiet on here since the end of July so let me bring you up to speed…The beginning of August brought a first appearance at Cambridge Folk Festival and a whole weekend’s festival experience which is something I haven’t done for a while. Of course back in the day when I was first gigging and was carless (note that isn’t a typo, though careless was probably true as well…) I used to camp at festivals all weekend, stay up late having a session and waking up baking alive in my tent (or soaking through depending on the conditions) but these days it tends to be drive to festival, play festival, drive off to either hotel or home. Gosh I’ve used a lot of brackets in this paragraph. Anyway, this time with my first cousin once removed Dan among those present I decided to make a weekend of it and I had a rollockingly good time. Pick of the weekend was undoubtedly the Punch Brothers who delivered an absolutely untouchable performance which was as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen in a live set. Matchless musicianship, slick showmanship, humour, emotion – it had the lot.

Next up on the festival season calendar was probably my favourite of them all – the one and only Broadstairs folk week. This festival encapsulates everything I love about the folk scene and of festivals in general. It has a wonderfully eclectic programme of exceptional acts spread throughout a charming seaside town, in every pub, field and club going. The people are lovely, the music brilliant and Kim the organiser a star! Special mention must also go to Grayson the cat at the house I stayed at who seemed to take something of a shine to me. I’m not normally a massive cat person but this was a very lovely cat!

Next up, I had a holiday. Yes you did read that correctly. Granted it only lasted three days but that’s more than normal eh?! I headed off to Northumberland with my parents for a relaxing weekend which was absolutely lovely. Dad and I even enjoyed a little glass of a whiskey called Redemption, a fine bourbon from the US. Shall try and find some on my upcoming trip…

Anyway the holiday was never going to last long and it was then straight into a Belgian festival with Urban Folk Quartet which was in a lovely old building to a nice full house. A LOT of travel to do for one gig of course but we are musicians of course. This time I most definitely had my passport and in other news the meal on board the ferry back was atrocious.

UFQ again next at the wonderful Folkeast in Suffolk to a raucous crowd who gave us a very good time indeed. See photo!

Then it was UFQ again at Watson Hall in Tewkesbury – another nice gig and a couple of fine dancers for the last few numbers which always makes us smile. Then it was off up north to Whitby for a couple of solo slots and a couple with the legendary Alistair Anderson at Whitby Folk Week. We had a lovely time there and Whitby’s coast was looking positively majestic and needless to say the fish and chips were sublime. It was also lovely to see some folk legends out in force like Dave Arthur and Debby McClatchy. I even played in a three and a half hour banjo-only concert. No really.

Then to bring things up to date, I played the Great British Food Festival in Penrith yesterday which was a good old laugh and thankfully the sun came out just in time for my set otherwise it might have been a very lonely gig! It also of course meant I’ve been able to see my folks again as they live up here. A lovely walk down by the lakes yesterday was also a reminder of just how beautiful it is up this way.

A couple of classic quotes to share with you:

‘Dave doesn’t drink’
‘oh really, what does he drink in the pub then, coke or one of those alcopops’?

(Overhead conversation at the Market Vaults)

‘French is a bit like English and a bit like Spanish but nothing like Spanish or English so it’s very difficult’

(Paloma Trigas, slightly pissed, Belgium)

And finally, a little rant about the M25. Words struggle to describe how much I hate that motorway but take a look at this photo:

You know that moment in a traffic jam when people start to get out their cars because it’s been so long since they moved? THIS IS A SERVICE STATION! Only on the twattery twat twatting M25.