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.

 

Highlights and farewells, tour summary 2014.

General News

I’ve managed to organise a tour for the new record which is meant to be ready in September. The collaboration between me and Juice vocal ensemble.

Show one is meant to be End of The Road festival!

All of us can make it! Anna and family are in The New Forest anyway, on holiday, so it all works out perfectly…. Until Anna gets really sick. The Snows have had to go home to York. Were down to two Juice. Nevermind. We have flexibility for accommodating any arrangement of people. And Sarah and Kerry have performed with me a couple of times before when I’ve passed through London. Cut to the Larmer Tree Gardens. I’ve been sleeping in a two man tent I bought that is not even big enough to accommodate me, my head pushes the thing one way and my feet the other, at least the rain is kept outside of it. That is until it drips in. With ample sleep I indulge in on-site breakfasts and lonely strolls. Occasionally familiar faces sit with me but I generally have my thoughts. I’m not performing until Saturday and The Juice pair are not arriving until then either due to other commitments. It’s been nice to catch up with people, Simon, Sofia, Sam, Zoe, James, Kai, Joe, Marissa, Hollie, Cass, Phil, Howard, Dave, Dave, Greg, Sarah, etc. Here is a summary of the show at the tipi tent as part of Mojo festival summary.

A small gathering saw us struggle on Sunday with unplugged set in the woods. Moving under the awning at the dance floor boat area in the woods helped out. During the rest of the day I also play a couple of songs for Line of Best Fit, which, you know, they’ll never use….and for the radio show of Bram Thomas Arnold, Trail Mix, which they all listen to in the Falmouth area. Missing some great bands was a downer. Seeing some great bands was a bonus! Insulting the headliners and some of the audience, great!

A shaky start to the rest of the tour ensues a week later…perhaps, but momentum is realised and accumulating feelings of success gather towards the end of the month of September.

Resuming.

The first meet up with Juice is in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton-on-Tees. I meet Anna in York to drive up to meet Kerry and Sarah from the train. They are already sat with a tea in the Waiting Room Restaurant. It is a nice intimate show to start the tour. People are eating the beautiful vegetarian food, while listening to the performance. I can’t recall the details, I know there was a bottle count and some squeals and a broken microphone. Fuelled with a delicious dessert we drive back to York for the night.

Kerry, Sarah and I train it up to Newcastle. The impressive reading room (library) of the Mining Institute is few seconds from the station and is our setting. Tall stained-glass windows, imposing portraits and shelves of books lining the walls. An industrial history of northern England staring down on us as we present some of my new songs, the songs I’ve done in collaboration with Juice. Themes running through of industrial decline and small town frustration seem slightly fitting. Unfortunately for most of Newcastle, they didn’t come to our show. The few that attended were polite enough to say some kind words about the show. Our show was opened by Nev Clay.

Shaun clears some spaces for us to sleep. We wind down with a chat and a glass of wine.

In the morning Kerry and Sarah dash off back to York for some work with Anna, I remain for the morning. Shaun and I breakfast at the Scrumpy Willow on vegan delights. And proceed to stroll the town, or ‘Toon’ as it’s known. Notably we take in the Laing gallery and luckily the last stop of a touring, Jeremy Deller curated, exhibition on the birth of the industrial working class. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. Perusing the fascinating and humbling collection, we take in song sheets of worker songs and hit the jukebox of archive voices… darker than a dungeon and damp as the dew. I leave as inspired as I was after seeing Richard Dawson perform.

My turn to dash off.

From York station I’m collected by the Juice ladies. I have luncheon of vegetable pasty and potato wedges, and an earl grey tea. We drive to Sheffield. On the way, Sarah peruses the internet roaming from her phone. A review of the album has been posted. Clunky and shying from brevity. It proceeds to describe each song. Nevertheless positive. The outlook is good. We’ve been told of good pre-sales in Sheffield. Sofia treats us well indeed!

A photographer is there. He is the venue photographer. It had occurred to me that we had no group photos so I got him to take some promo snaps of us. Sitting on an oil can, propped up at the fireplace, sat by a piano, of course. Thanks Duncan.

A stream of people file in. I’m setting up my merchandise. Familiar faces arrive. juice prepare to take the stage. Hey are opening the show with their own set. A full room greets their pieces with appreciation. It’s a fine show.
It turns out that two people were brought here by false information. They leave after I’ve walked the room and placed my cassette player on their table. A very good show indeed. Everyone is boosted by this and looking forward to the rest of the tour…. We now have a few days off. Well I do. Juice have work to do elsewhere. We’re to meet again after I have collected the van. I’m scheduled for a couple of solo shows.

Solo.

A last minute addition is a date in Dublin, with a lovely group of people putting on shows as Young Hearts Run Free presents Golden Factories, as part of Dublin Fringe. Siobhàn had contacted me about playing, and followed up this with a hello at End of the Road festival.

Dublin…. Greeted at Dublin airport, taken to festival office, check into hotel, meet Allan (Town Planners, Milton Keynes) and do an interview, I’ve known Allan for some time so I ramble on into his ’80’s cassette dictaphone. We then meet Mark (Woodpigeon, Calgary), whose flown in from Finland to play this show. We drop his stuff at my hotel for safe keeping and WALK the city for a quite a while. Allan entices us all the way to see a fountain of spurting penisies, which disappointingly are obviously bull rushes. Mark buys underpants.

At the venue… Meet Adrian (Crowley, Dublin), a pleasant chatter and chit. Soundcheck, a long list of acts pass through the stage this evening. Guitarists, fiddlers, passionate singers, Adrian’s spoken word, Roddy Doyle’s devastating story, Mark’s gentle sad songs and loops. The venue lent itself to a fairly sparse looping from me with much off-mic singing into the vaults. Mummified saints are held in the tombs beneath the church. Here be photos. A nightcap of an Irish single malt and I’m done.

From Dublin I fly to Edinburgh. I take the tram into town passing out-of-town science facilities and retail outlets… I’m directly heading to the Electric Circus. Waiting outside the door of which is Rob St. John and Robin Allender. I’ve cajoled them into playing with me in the absence of Juice. It seems all too rushed and I know I’m driving the van away first thing in the morning to get to Leicester via York and Nottingham. What fun!

Nevertheless something great will happen anyhow… Rob has brought a synth, and Robin a trusty guitar. They fill out my night and we have a fun time playing. The small audience seem to enjoy it. A full report was penned here.

So the morning comes and takes me driving south. The A1 all the way to York.

Resume.

Anna jumps in with Imogen, were dropping her off with Anna’s parents before heading to Leicester for the show. Of the other two, only Kerry can make this show, in fact, she’s opening the show too, as You Are Wolf. Among many surprises was turning round to find them both on the floor as if sleeping. Before the show we had a panic then relief as our Magic Teapot promoter had booked hotels at great expense, that we didn’t need, glad he was able to get a last minute refund and not lose as much money on the (not very well attended actually Leicester, disappointing Leistonians don’t know a good thing when it comes to town) show as he could have done. Chat a while with some new fans. Drive back to Keyworth for our kip. It was, although I do say so myself, a really great show.

In the morning we set off for York. Our show is at City Screen Basement. This odd shaped cavern lends itself to a rather uncomfortable show and a polite York audience. I’m not sure what was taken away from it, but some kind people said thanks, maybe other were thinking hard about their decision to come that night. It turned out to lean more towards the comic this time. Again, only Kerry and Anna, and slightly more people than in Leicester. Thanks for Alicia Casper opening for us. And for the lovely food cooked by our host – heavy on the star anise! Disappointingly the night rounded off with Ed Snow’s bike being stolen!

I’m off to Liverpool for another solo show…

Solo again.

It’s interesting, I drive across the pennines and navigate successfully into Liverpool. Did I tell you I’m not using sat nav (or ‘nag’ as it is trying to autocorrect to)? I never have used it, we did used to do this without it. Anyway, I happily drove the wrong way, panicked, backed into a bollard, creating a lovely concave section of bumper. Don’t tell the bizzies!  It was nice to meet some new folk, with his skewed pop tape cassette and organ fun, the multi-faceted artist Chiz Turnross kindly put me up the night and provided lovely conversation and we had a nice veggie breakfast in a pretty nice end of town.  And it was nice to see old familiar faces. Haress is David And Liz, who had me over for their Sin-Eater festival in Shropshire…

The next day is spent in Manchester. It is a day off on Saturday, after hanging out with Nick Mitchell for a while I was encouraged to join in with Nick’s band at an all-dayer. The mistake was drinking beer and trying to compete with the cacophony of many guitars. My voice was not ready for the following night…

Recommenced.

…But soothed by some tea and a hot toddy mid set, Manchester, upstairs at Trof in The Northern Quarter, competing with the music on the stereo (riffing with Beck) proved to be one of the best shows yet. The intimate space seemed to lend itself to a shared warmth with the crowd. Juice surprised me by bringing some people up on stage to sing!

Anna has to leave to get back to York, she’s missing Mondays.

In the morning I’m picking Sarah and Kerry up from travelodge in Salford, to drive to Norwich. After a long drive from Manchester we are delighted by the quaint setting. The downstairs of the Bicycle Shop Cafe, a lovely room. And a lovely show. Not packed by any measure, but a nice space to play in. The delicious food we were served set us up nicely. Despite some difficulty regarding our accommodation for the night we set off for Cardiff rested. Swinging by Stevenage to collect Anna. Collecting a few groceries while we wait. we resume the trip to get to the M25, M4 then Cardiff. Joy Collective’s Will is ready with hotels for us to check into and a dish of hot food when we get to the venue. Feeling very well looked after, all three juice launch into a very cheeky mode during the set. Adjusting my clothes as I sang and swapping shoes and watches. All very surprising. And if you like birds, as I do, you may find this review as lovely as I did. Some of our party had not tried Wetherspoons’s breakfast before. We treated ourselves to such. A large vegetarian set me up right the way past lunch. we commence the short drive to Bristol.

Oh, Forgot to mention Oh Peas! who made the poster and played at this show, and Trust Fund.

Bristol, we are being given accommodation at a friend of a friend, the artist Kathy Hinde. Her bird based and musical installations are something of wonder. I need to investigate her work more. She is away at Ynis hir, on the west coast of wales, preparing an audio visual installation. Their home has been maintained in a kind of old-lady-died-and-never-redecorated-since-the-seventies style, complete with lovely avocado suite. Anyway. Onwards to the show, in the grain barge, the underbelly bar, fuelled with fish pie we have a great set, more wandering and magic. Juice were able to perform a set of theirs first. Brilliant stuff. Favourable reviews here and here.

Oh, I forgot to mention, on our way to Cardiff we heard news of our show with Hubby in Cornwall being pulled due to poor sales and general not knowing what to do. This did give us more than we bargained for in terms of rest days. We zoom up north. The girls use the time working in York, and I with family in Otley. Saturday we are to play Leeds.

Organised in association with Opera North, a contemporary folk type event as part of Recon festival. We are playing alongside James Yorkston. Suitably well treated and given enough cash to have a substantial (if overpriced) curry down Akbars. Some awkwardness and a quiet sound it seems. Sarah fell off a chair! Also, not often seen the need for four sound engineers!

London. Good to see a female sound engineer. Notably better than lots of the guys we’ve dealt with. I know I’ve kind of run out of steam trying to remember what happened during the sets, I think it is best left to others to provide reviews and ruminations. I know that Juice provided lots of additional delight, both sonically and visually. This show is the farewell to Anna, who has to zip up to York for her monday commitment and her lovely family, sad times…

Nottingham and Neil organises a swift transition throughout soundcheck, food and performance. All sublime of course. An odd kind of feeling is provided by the space and setting, I can’t describe it. Nevertheless something happens and I give what I can, Kerry and Sarah give what they can, there is a melancholy heavier than previous sets, a weight brought down by our consciousness that this is the last collaborative show we will do for some time perhaps.

More Farewells. It would be good to resume this collaboration at some point but we have commitments elsewhere.

UK Leg Over, RM Hubbert, No Direction Home

General News

The UK leg of this brief summer visit back to Europe done. I will provide for your goggle peepers and brain matter a brief run down of what happened. Starting with my arrival on a wet day when the Queen hath been on the throne for 60 years. Jon Stewart on the Daily Show did use the joke I was going to use. I had packed in accordance with the weather I was experiencing in East Asia with Katrine, and considering that it is lovely summer time. As sure as runny eggs and raw sausage I was stood in the rain for forty minutes in only a shirt, shivering with my suitcase and guitar.

London

After warming up and waiting for the rain to pass over night. It was time for the London show. I had some errands to run in the daytime and whilst running around town through the preparations for the big Jubilee concert I called up some friends to meet at 4pm at Cecil Sharp House. Passing through the Mall there were massive screens and a big posh lady saying “this is a test to sync the audio and visual, one, two …”. As it transpires I rushed around, dropping a split plastic bag of music equipment, and arrived an hour later than I had said I would. A bemused group had gathered at the venue. I had not provided any prior instruction on what we would do for the show, but they all gave it whatever they felt appropriate and it was absolutely amazing. Nevertheless, before all that I had the pleasure of listening to the amazing guitarings of Glasgow’s RM Hubbert, (not Ron L Hubbard). The pleasure was furthered by travelling with such a pleasant and interesting companion for these UK shows. At Cecil Sharp House, the home of English Folk Dance and Song, I play centre stage as per the convention, on my right two nylon string guitars are being plucked, strummed and tapped. To the left a piano is tinkled. Voices pipe up from the crowd and two vocalists eventually move to microphones to my left. A fiddle jumps in to the back and side of the audience, to the other side an electric guitar drones from an amp.  Great supergroup: RM Hubbert, Napoleon IIIrd, Oh Ruin, Sam Amidon, two members of Juice Vocal, and Sebastian Reynolds on the keys. Such a great start to the tour.

Winchester

Ah, Winchester. Have you heard of music? Free Sat Nav lady starts as she means to go on – playing little tricks with us as crucial moments. Nevertheless the awkward one-way system negotiated, the Railway at Winchester is a reasonably quaint venue – albeit we play in the black box of the back room. Under irritating UV light. A mammoth show with four, yes, four local support before Hubby plays his set. What we are to find, starting with Winchester, is that no matter how odd it feels getting up on stage, the show goes well and the audience are appreciative. But they really do use an excessive amount of those urinal freshening balls in the loos. As was to happen at all these shows I had some great contributions from Hubby on guitar for some of my set. As is the nature of my limited conscience of the entirety of the show I cannot specify the details of said contributions. I have failed to adequately prepare for this tour and have no accommodation sorted. Luckily the delights of the pull-out mattress in the Travelodge family room awaits.

Sheffield

Using the information I gleaned from a conversation I overheard when sharing a taxi to Barcelona Airport with the Buzzcocks, I advise the best way to negotiate going around Oxford and getting up to the M1. Sat Nav Lady seems to agree with me. Castle Greyskull is located in Eccleshall, which has an unreasonable number of older men in skimpy shorts striding about. I would have to say that the facilities here were the best on tour. You will never have need for additional chopping boards. Some familiar old faces turned up which helped me feel OK about the show. Hubby joined in again with some choice plucks and taps and strums. And this time some people actually bought some of my wares. We sped up to Leeds to catch some kip at the old Broughton residence in Grotters.

Manchester

In the morning I had a family breakfast and my big brother came round for coffee.  My driver, erm, my travelling companion and excellent opening act took advantage of a well earned lie in. We took a leisurely drive across the pennines, suffering the great british summertime rainfall and chilliness. As it should be, Manchester is wet. Kraak Space, Gallery and Venue is cryptically hidden away in the Northern Quarter. Familiar faces from the old Islington Mill days are around. Magic Arm mans the bar. Jayne Compton takes to her throne. This show is the convergence of two tours. Two Wings and Eric Chenaux. Me and Hubby. Unfortunately for the former they join the show as the bottom half of the bill. As it transpires the audience doesn’t expand a massive amount from when Eric plays to when I play. I really took notice of Two Wings this time, having been too bog bound when we did the show in London together. Great sets all round. Here is where Ron L Hubbard goes back to Glasgow for a couple of days while I go to play at No Direction Home Festival… I must add again, that it is a consistant pleasure to be touring with Hubby.

No Direction Home

I get a lift from Wakefield with my big sister and my niece. We are all going to the festival, as is my little sister. Shame Katrine isn’t here, we went to the first couple of End of The Roads together and it has the same feel as the small first EOTR. Briefly I watched Diagrams which have infectious enthusiasm for music and well put together songs. Dirty Three. Tiny Runis, Serafina Steer, Ichi, And others…  bored of typing but must go on to engage with the internet based audience… There were pretty agitated larks trying to get on with their thing, where we had plonked all our cars and tents. Great close up views though. I played two sets. The first I hastily arranged a couple of willing volunteers (Rob St John and Mark Andrew Hamilton) to step in as my band. Or as Rob St John kindly advised, my ‘drone rangers’ (Rob used to do a drone thing under the name ‘Droney Mitchell’ – and as Mark Hamilton/Woodpigeon opened his set with a Baez song he will be ‘Drone Baez’). As uncomfortable as ever I trudged through. In my mind it was a terrible mess. Positive reviews. Second set was later that day on the little boathouse stage. And with drums this time. The guys who hadn’t heard that Houquets had had to pull out scarpered fairly soonish. I was missing seeing Moon Duo.  A bit of sleeping to the sound of Pyramids. Who’d have thought that dragging a suitcase across a muddy field could be a logistical nightmare. Hubby collected me and additional passenger (Not a ‘hidden passenger’, Shearwater). This was Bob from Tod (R L Wilson) with a camera – capturing me on tour. More on that in the future.  Highlights as an observer: Diagrams, Dirty Three, Austra, Ichi, Serafina Steer and some more I can’t remember at this juncture.

Oxford

We scurry along the M roads and A roads down to Oxford, stopping for some grub and a piss. We overshoot the SatNav a couple of times, due to my pedantic eye and perhaps by me not zooming in too closely, but eventually gilde into Oxford, weaving thorugh caped cyclists and bespectacled boffins (not really) and arrive at the Jericho Tavern. Of course, Seb has been waiting an hour or so. Patiently sitting at his keyboard.  With a failed pick-up and/or jack socket we quickly assemble a work-around. I loop my guitar via microphone. It brings the overall sound level down but works amazingly well under the circumstances. Bottled water multi-pack solo anyone?. Yet another snuggly night in a Travelodge family room, this time with alarming night frets from Bob from Tod.

Bristol

Bristol, Bristol, cobblestone Streets. People missing teeth. Guitar failure from last night prompts a mending. I get advice from a Bristol based friend, Robin Allender, who I have also invited to play with us tonight.  He advised me of Stevie. In a workshop buried in a little cellar in the centre of Bristol. He carefully inserted a new jack socket. but there is still a problem – but a greater one that even he cannot attempt to address at this late juncture. The socket is a vast improvement so I go on happy and £20 lighter. We meet Robin in Cafe Kino, I eat som lovely falafel. Robin has just returned from his latest jaunt on the Yann Tierson world tour, and as it happens taking over the guitars for the lovely Felix. Show run-down: Local support. Hubby did a great set as always. Two guitars accompaniment. Touched a bare scalp. Magic!

Brighton

We nearly died on the way to Brighton. Both I and Hubby nearly dozed off going round the M25. Down at Crawley Hubby nearly overdosed on Red Bull and I had a Lucozade (don’t tell Katrine). We were aiming to get to Brighton for 2pm so I cold go to record a session for SImple Folk Radio. Please can everyone ignore the fact that it was filmed in the ‘naughty room’ at the Pelirocco Hotel (*shivers*). Wow, the backstage grub selection proves good enough to make my total evening meal intake (a number of salad sandwiches).  Thanks to Woodpecker Wooliams who proved to be the best support on this brief tour. Good to see some old familiar faces. Despite being tired and grumpy it all turned out well for mine and Hubby’s last show together on this jaunt. After driving back up to London late in the night it would be a few days off in London before heading to the continent…

 

 

 

MAY 2011: Tour so far…

General News

Ok so I mentioned HomeGame, let us backtrack a little…

I come back to the UK to play some shows. This starts well, I get the train over to Manchester and Walk up to Chapel Street, Salford. Traipse to Islington Mill where the wristband exchange is…only to find that the promoters (Chris Horkan, Hey! Manchester) have already taken them for me to collect at the venue. It would, of course, be the furthest venue from anywhere. So traipse up to Peel Hall I do…the venue is a lecture theatre – a slope of seating down to a presentation area – my stage later this evening. At the Sacred Trinity Church I see a bit of Cath and Phil Tyler – plain folk songs with reasonable banjo playing – then Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – soundscape with a wailing lady-friend – like Juliana Barwick with a guitar and electronics more than she needs – then it turns out Richard Youngs is playing next – he holds an audience rapt with the most ridiculous show – failing to control a motion sensitive synthesiser and his own voice. He succumbs to it’s limitations and begins to auction records to a still rapt audience – absolutely amazing! This fills me with much confidence, and as i return to a modest audience a t Peel Hall I watch the end of The Wave Pictures. I have no fear of playing tonight. Thanks to Richard Youngs. Brief show rundown – dropped coins, kicked beer can into girls face, played one of my favourite shows of mine. All back to Nicks (I missed Float Riverer for Richard Youngs) for some sleep. Hooray!

Back over the Pennines to Leeds. The show is back at the good old Brudenell… Napolean IIIrd pefroms before me. Then “just like Marmite” I perform on the ‘huge canvas’ of the Brudenell. I can not really be sure what I did – but it involved a beer crate and signing a drumstick which wasn’t even mine. Was great to see all my old pals and family. Also to some of the LDS peeps like Neapolitan the Turd, the Bugles of Birth, Dragged About By Ponies and the Lonely Wolfman.

Next show, Puzzle Hall, down the rugged valley. An intimate show. Some mild audience participation. It just about worked. These guys went to the show, listen at about 20:35 for some Jeff Lewis and then Ambiguity then they give you their opinion of the show :Crow Versus Crow Radio Show #5 by CrowVersusCrow Openers for the night were ‘A Rookery’, some good lyrics in there, liked the mandolin/violin. And thanks have to go to Gav for recommending a friend go see me in Paris…

Now, in Sheffield I swiftly passed through. Part of Sensoria, It was a shame that I could only be brief at places which were big events – would have been nice to stick around. Anyway, thanks for having me Nigel and I am genuinely sorry to have missed In the Nursery.

Glasgow was my next stop – and a lovely train journey through Northumberland – Every British person should know this part of their country, it’s nice. This show was pretty nice, I would not too hastily say that RM Hubbert was my favourite person to share the bill with on this tour – his guitarisationing is SWEET! Thanks to the Arches for the balloon too. It’s nice to have some company on stage. Some words on the evening.

After a wee drink to calm down after the show I settle into a comfortable bed in the Jury’s Inn, safe in the knowledge that I have a complementary breakfast waiting downstairs when I wake. Amazing. Despite the breakfast I make slow progress up to Fife, helped by the fact that the sign for the bus station was pointing in the wrong direction when I got out at Waverley Station.

Arriving in Anstruther is like arriving in a miserable fishing village in the middle of nowhere. But. You can get off the bus and ask the first person you see where you are playing and how to get there, because they are all there for a festival of music organised by the Fence Collective. I arrive in beautiful sunshine and fresh sea air is served in welcome doses. The place is not miserable at all (wait until the rain comes again). My show uses the apples from the dressing room in Glasgow and as you see below, some otherness. My highlight was seeing Geese, and watching the Eider at the shore. Very kindly I was given a little mention in this write up.

Shame I couldn’t stick around for the Sunday – Francois and the Atlas Mountains and JTP. Oh well, must dash… DTB is off to Paris. I will play you a recording of the West Country Girl show one day. Watch this space.

So West Country Girl is the creperie where Josh T Pearson lived. They had me over to play in exchange for free crepe and beer. Their hospitality knowing no bounds whatsoever. I need to tell you this now. Lisen. When you are in Paris you must go here:

West Country Girl, Passage St. Ambrose, 11 Arr, Paris

The next day I have a day off and wander Paris alone. It is a bad place. There are bad people. And you should never be alone in Paris. That is all I can say. It will not be so bad if you are not alone.

I scoot off to Lille and play a beautifully long set on La Peniche. Kind regards to the banana for his contribution. This is not Paris and I recommend you go and visit. Before I play the big show I do an instore at Minor Place records. The first hiccup of the tour is me leaving a small bag of cassettes, Buddha machine, and microphone there.

I learn that Magpies are simply called Pi in French, derived from Pica Pica?

After Lille I play again in Paris, this time less people show up and I get embroiled in a documentary about Primavera Sound and how Toma from La Boutiques Sonores is going and how coll it all is. They let me stay in their tiny apartment which was sweet to see and very kind of them. So makes up for the poor show, not that I didn’t have a nice attentive audience and blow the hell out of their tiny little French minds. Shame on the rest of Paris for not being there. Props to Alexis Gideon – He persevered a little way with a lost voice and lost audience. His shizzoo is so funny.

From Parizzle I get Le Train to the Netherlands. Leiden is, as I think I mentioned, historic. Medieval. Dutch.

The small and respectful crowd are delighted that I play for them, in their sarcastic Dutch way, I think they liked it. Second hiccup is leaving my glasses there.

More on this flippin’ tour soon, my eyes are hurting…