The banjo case fiasco

Dear all,

Greetings from sunny Vancouver. I’m still buzzing from a wonderful festival I played over the weekend in beautiful Powell River called Sunshine Music Fest. It is without doubt the only festival I have ever played that required two ferry rides with an hour and a quarter drive in between to get there! Anyway, I turned up at the festival on…no hang on. I should start this story at the beginning shouldn’t I? Got rather ahead of myself there. I’ll start with my journey to my hotel in London prior to flying to Canada which was somewhat fraught thanks to one of my suitcase wheels deciding to escape from its moorings thus leaving me dragging a rather heavy suitcase (probably the issue in the first place…) around the Gatwick district. Then came the flight to Canada which was fine and the arrival in Vancouver which was absolutely bloody awful! Firstly, the bright idea of ‘speeding up’ and ‘modernising’ the border process by doing away with the paper landing cards one fills in on the plane and introducing swanky screens at the airport instead manifestly is about as effective as Theresa May’s dance instructor. So one hour and fifteen minutes after landing I was finally face to face with the immigration person who put the fear of god into me by asking if I had a work permit for my music work. An artist can work in Canada without a visa or permit for three months I thought….I put this to him and his response was ‘that’s right, it’s great that you research it properly’. Well thanks mate. Thanks. That means a lot.

Anyway, finally I arrived and headed to my exceedingly grotty hotel for my first night. Seriously, awful. After changing my booking for the same hotel on Monday night to somewhere mildly more pleasant I headed out for a mighty fine Chinese meal and then to bed. Then it was off to Powell River which as previously mentioned is a gorgeous spot and the music on show was nothing short of outstanding across the board! My set was on Sunday and was a lot of fun and seemingly very well received which was nice. I had great fun having a late night jam with the other artists too and meeting lots of lovely Canadian people. Then it was back to Vancouver for a couple of nights off before the gigging starts again on Wednesday. I went to a bluegrass jam in the park last night and a wee pint afterwards. Lovely.

The rest of August was also highly enjoyable. Purbeck, Folkeast and Whitby completed UK festival season for me and all three were brilliant as ever. It was great to play with UFQ, the trio and Alistair Anderson and the latter was one of many legends on show at Whitby. After Canada comes Italy then it’s a UK tour with UFQ and a few other bits before the year’s out.

Ooh do you know, I’ve forgotten another aspect to the Canada story. My banjo case. Honestly, my ruddy banjo weighs an absolute tonne and delights in destroying case after case that is unfortunate enough to house it. My near indestructible flight case is not even immune. I was in a nice little store in Vancouver, put the banjo down for a minute then picked it up and one of the bolty things holding the handle in shot out. Great. Anyone who knows me knows DIY is far from my strong suit to put it mildly so I was a little torn as to what to do. But in true self sufficient style, I googled hardware stores and went in there and a very nice chap went beyond the call of duty and sorted it all out by drilling a hole, applying screws and whatnot. There was a quite amusing exchange when I walked in with the banjo:

‘Is that a banjo, are you going to play me a tune?’

‘It depends if you’ll do me a big favour’.

It could hardly have sounded more dodgy I have to tell you. Still he fixed it, I played a tune and I have a working banjo case. All good.