Part III: 2017 Tour review

General News

A day off in Otley, eating at Stew and Oyster and whatnot.

We’re off to Scotchland! Zooming up the Dales and across the Pennines into wintery Westmorland and the obligatory stop at Tebay Services. Every touring band knows the wonder and welcome.

tebay services

Cutting back across the countryside in who-knows-where of Scotland following the Sat Nav. This is the first tour I’ve used it and it is amazing how all your other navigational senses are snubbed for it. I became blind to the scenery I’d come to know, the familiar roads. Sat Nav was everything!

philip selway and laura moody

Arriving at Kirkcaldy as it darkens. Circling around and then in to the Adam Smith Theatre, where James Yorkston humbly shows me to the backstage, introduces me to Yorkston senior and the other acts assembled (Phil Selway is soundchecking with Laura Moody, and Kathryn Williams and family are lounging around the snack table). Already there are my backing band for tonight. Brilliant team DTB: Seth Bennett on double bass, Lucy Frankel on violin and Rachael Simpson on trumpet (who I now find out did the music for a past addiction of mine, Clay Jam).  Pre-show we all slip off to a local Italian restaurant, the fact that Tomo behaved so well and ate up his pasta was a real blessing, a lovely dinner to ease us into the evening. As for the show, what a nice time it was.  Kath and I sitting at the back marvelling at Laura’s brilliance. My only regret is not recording this set, the gang fitted in so naturally!

Chez Toad w/ Matthew and Neil

We’ve a lovely hotel sorted and a good nights rest is had in readiness for the breakfast included.   Setting us up for a gentle jaunt down to Leith. Stopping off to show the boy the beach and the ships lining up in the estuary. He’s a big stones fan, I mean he’s really into stones right now. Unfortunately, big pebble in hand, he slips in the shingle and bashes it right in his nose, leaving a big scrape. Poor little bear.

Meursault

RM Hubbert

Actually, we swing by Leith but move straight round into Edinburgh to find our hotel. Katrine got a late deal, in an unexpectedly fancy place. They have gifts for Tomo in a made-up cot and very friendly and helpful staff. The cleaners stop to ask whether we would like them to leave some sweets and snacks for Tomo in the room. So it turns out the place doesn’t usually have any rates less than twice what we paid. Lucky! Enough of that. That’s not DIY ethic is it… I want mice running up the wall beside me as I curl up on a mouldy sofa at the student promoter’s friend’s brother’s flat.

I go by myself back out to Leith to get set up at the Happiness Hotel chez Song, by Toad records HQ. The generally good egg and all round sweary gobshite at the helm, Matthew, was overseeing things despite a terrible cold. In this cosy in-house recording studio complete with wood-burning stove my ‘collective’ is Neil Pennycook (Meursault), Lucy Frankel again, as well as a second fiddle player Robyn Dawson (who I didn’t know before tonight and in the hullabaloo forgot her name!), Mario Cruzado, who has been making a lot of video stuff for SbT, and my old pal RM Hubbert. The sound system is very minimal, and creates an intimate atmosphere. The show was really brilliant. A lovely attentive audience and some surprising swells of beauty from the band. Before my set the collaborating band each took to the stage, Neil running off a couple of songs, Hubby playing a couple of pieces, including a rendition of one of my favourites. Emotional stuff. Mario showcases his own songs and Lucy gives us a fiddle tune with accompaniment from Mario, Neil and Robyn. It was also nice to see Johnny Pictish Trail, who was luckily in town that weekend for a show of his own.

Glasgow poster

the front of Hug and Pint

We’re able to have a leisurely breakfast including veggie cooked breakfast and plenty from the ample buffet. What a treat! #sorrynotsorry before heading over to Glasgow. Where we’re able to dump our stuff at the Travelodge and have a leisurely lunch and coffee in town before heading out to the Hug and Pint. Really well treated here! Given tea and vegan asian inspired dinner and generally checked on by lovely staff. Tonight is monday and monday is not a great gig day. Nevertheless I have a good time. Opening the show is a good friend of an old friend of mine,  Robert Sotelo (Andrew Robert Doig) doing his first full band show for his new, critically acclaimed, album, Cusp. A thoroughly nice bunch. I also have Hubby come down to add some flamenco percussive touches. The setting is quite different from the previous night. As I’ve also stolen the Robert Sotelo group for the show too. It actually turned out to work really nicely in a lot of places on this evenings journey. Thank you David, Niall and Gavin for being game. Thanks to Brian for agreeing to put the show on. And on second thoughts I should have taken up the offer to open for Faust the following night, what a missed opportunity! I was too focussed on sticking to my plan.

Notice at Regather

We’re based in Otley for the next bout of shows, giving Tomo some grandma, cousin, aunt, and uncle time. After a couple of days rest, Katrine and I scoot off to Sheffield. Tonight is Friday Night! It was a delight to get to see Regather, and meet Tim, what a great project and place. James Green agreed to come and join in, albeit briefly with a French harmoniflute (!), which did add a nice texture and melodious atmos to a couple of tracks before he sloped off to watch my antics from the audience. Sam Airey opened the show with some lovely electric picking and melancholic songs. The only downside to this whole evening (even drunken heckling added a certain something) was that I think I got Sam’s cold from sharing the microphone. What an error.

Lookin gup in MIMA

the Cumby

The following night we head up to Middlesbrough, and the Middlesbrough Institute for Modern Art. I’m pleased to catch up with Luke Harding, who now runs The Smeltery (plus a few events here), in addition to his award winning Vegetarian restaurant, The Waiting Room, in Eaglescliffe, a few minutes drive away. I know I’m not an easy sell in a town I’ve never played on a cold wintery night, but a small appreciative crowd gather in the cavernous foyer to watch and listen to me bellow into the acoustics and squeal some feedback around. Actually one of the most enjoyable solo shows! Also, the slow food is amazing. I had a delicious veg lasagne! A delightful evening attested to by this kind review.

Waskerley Way

Trundling back on a clear A19/A1 back to our sleeping baby. I’m heading back up this way on Monday to play Newcastle with Neil Turpin. It comes around quickly, we had a nice family sunday dinner round at my Bro’s house – he’s been working on his crackling (whatever that is). My first time to the Cumberland Arms, and the show was probably one of the tightest jams for some time – Neil was on the ball, and I think we did the fastest version of ‘Nature’ I’ve ever done.  The sound guy Ian took some feeds from the desk and we have a brill recording from this night. Will see what I can do with it all…  Opening the night was an aural onslaught from local oddball and nice guy Waskerley Way. The event was summed up in this positive appraisal by the lovely Ben Lowes-Smith.

The last few shows I will sum up in Part 4…

Part 2 (2017 tour de-brief)

General News

Arrive London Heathrow.

Collect hire car for a 2-month rental. Speed round the M25. Have a night to cuddle my family and have a rest before the first show.

Rose Hill, Brighton

Head to Brighton the following day. Hey, have you heard of the Rose Hill? It’s ever so lovely! This is the first of my efforts to cajole some acquaintances into performing with me – and this night will prove to set the bar very high indeed! Marcus Hamblett was my saviour in rounding up the team. Team DTB tonight is MH himself – on crutches (not playing them – his chosen device is guitar), the dear Tristram Bawtree also on guitar, Alabaster dePlume on saxophonical (he also opened the show with his ascerbic and poignant socialist ranting), the wonderful Emma Gatrill on clarinet (through effects board) and marvellous Tom Heather as drummist. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter bunch. It sounded like we’d had a week of rehearsals, most of it just worked so perfectly!

So, verily boosted by that, I zoom back in the pitch dark of Sussex for a sleep, narrowly avoiding running down a cyclist who’d chosen, in the middle of the night, a foggy night, to cycle with no lights or reflective clothing.

My band at Paper Dress Vintage

FELL in Hackney

Headed for London the next day – I meet up with Danny Green, who has agreed to jangle his guitar tonight, we have a pizza and discuss the oddness of what we do, prancing about in front of people with daft songs what we writ. But hey, people come to see it so can’t complain getting the opportunity to do something you enjoy so much. Also agreeing to form tonights band is Alabaster DePlume again – he’s residing locally so just a stroll for him to get to Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney, and The brilliant Jonny Bridgwood and Howard Monk – as you may recall they we’re my band back in 2009/10 for the Outbreeding record and surrounding live shows. Wow, this turned out to be a high energy performance to a packed room and thoroughly enjoyable -the band absolutely nailed it! The night was opened by FELL, the brainband of Nicolas Burrows, one of the nicest chaps to sport a moustache.

Billy Mahonie

Seckar

I have a show tomorrow in London and thought the drive back to Sussex where the family is was a bot of a waste if I have to shoot off in the morn – I am kindly housed that night by my old pal from University, Leon, who inadvertently keeps us up chatting until the early hours. The next day I move the car from the soon to expire parking space, and drive up to near Tufnell Park where I pop in to see Beth and Sam, giving them their copy of the record they guest on. And strolling up the Heath for the sunset. The venue is just round the corner. A smaller space and a chance to see creaky old-timers Billy Mahonie show they still have the post-rock grooves and moves! Also playing is electro-northerner Seckar, with synth melodies and smart beats. My show was a little more ramshackle, but fun nonetheless! A sneaky cameo from a hunched-over fiddle player who crept in and crept out (a particularly enigmatic Sam Amidon). Guest guitarring from Billy Mahonie’s Gavin Baker. Plus some vocal noodles from soprano Sarah Dacey and producer, beatboxer, general good egg Matthew Ker (MaJiKer). I night-drive once again back down to Sussex – It’s a nice thing to be able to come back to the most bestest two humans in the world so sweetly sleeping and lie down to sleep soundly with them.

Howie Reeve

The following day is a trip to Hastings. I’m getting to catch up with decent chaps, Greg Butler (director of the film about me) and Chris Broughton (no relation) who have been superb at arranging and promoting a beautiful gig at The Printworks. Friend Howie Reeve happened to be touring the same time with the opportiunity to cross paths here – I invited him to play a set and he opened the show. What a brain pecking delight. You must check out his records – even if ony for the beautiful sleeve artwork! Local Otti and the Voices performed a set. It was a wonderful night even with the bellows of laughter from the chatterers downstairs.

Hubby

Nancy Wallace

Sunday daytime is another London jaunt. A matinee show at the cosy Servant Jazz Quarters with Nancy Wallace, proper english folk, and RM Hubbert, proper Scottish bloke. it all seems too brief. Hubby has to shoot off before I play, but not to worry I will catch him in Scotland as he’s promised to join my band! And Nancy too has something she has to get to, long time ago I used to play a few of the early London shows organised by The Local (Howard Monk) with Nancy. Busy sundays. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this, one of a handful of solo shows on this tour.

Monday is a rest day, but of course I’m in mid-tour head and can’t stop it spinning with thoughts of what’s going to happen and what already happened.

The Waterman Venue

Waterman decor for show

Tuesday we set off as a family up to Cambridge. I don’t think I’ve been here as a performer since I played a show at the Portland Arms as stayed in a Uni College eating breakfast in the dining hall with students and professors and whatnot. We’re staying at The Waterman as well as doing the show in the potting shed attached to the back of it. Dan Carney stepped in to get this show together for me, I’d not seen him since around 2005 or 2006 or something when he was part of the band I Had An Inkling. Anyway – a thoroughly nice chap, as is his pal C Joynes, not-so-fresh from the plane from Bangladesh, who opened the show with his inspiring amped up folk guitar. I learn that Euros Childs and Rosie Smith (who will join me in Cardiff) are playing at that old Portland Arms right across the road so I pop in to say hello before I play. I joked about them having stole the audience but my little 30 person capacity room fills up.

In the morning we had a lovely veggie breakfast included in the accommodation. Have a bot of time to run around Jesus Green with the little rascal, kicking up the autumn leaves, and tickling the posh drunks swigging rosé from the bottle at 10am.

Leicester The cookie

Peter Wyeth

We only have a short drive up to Leicester for the next show. I’ve been put on as a ‘Her Name Is Calla presents…’ by good chap Tom Morris. He’s agreed to have local soundbuilder Peter Wyeth and Adam Weikert (from his band) play a set each to open the show as well as jam with me – as a surprise extra another Calla member, Thom Corah, strolls on with his trombone! Adam bangs some loud keys as well as all the atmospherics he and Peter inject, makes for interesting listening -I think I played a little too long for the small crown that had gathered on this drizzly night. Must mention that The Cookie is a great venue though, and we were staying in the Travelodge just a few steps away, which made for a very convenient night (I was able to have a beer despite promising myself a dry tour!).

Polly Hardy

Giant Head

Although the next show is only in Nottingham I’m driving up to Otley to deposit Katrine and Tomo – She has an thing to go to in Leeds so Grandma is called upon to look after our little tot. Not long after getting up to Otley I set off back down the M1 to the Maze – so I barely skim the edge of Nottingam really. This will be another solo show, Chris doesn’t want to try and play with me and I had totally not been organised enough to ask Katy. They had organised two other acts for the bill, and what lovely treats they were too, Polly Hardy was a great sparse guitar and voice melancholia performance smoky tones. Giant Head wielded a great heavy synth rack and pounded our guts with heavy beats, wild twiddly bits and profound rapping. Actually really great!

It’s a fast ride up a lonely M1 back to Otley for sleeping.

We’ve a day off.

Part 3, soon.