Saturday found me making my way down to Brixham in Devon to spend the evening singing and playing in the Blue Anchor pub. I arrived in time for a short lie-down upstairs. Emma the landlady was most welcoming, and when I came downstairs, I set up my stuff and then sat down to enjoy a delicious lamb shank supper with mashed potatoes and greens.
I was scheduled to begin at 9 but a couple of regulars had said they were not sure they would last that long! So I began performing about 20 minutes early, shortly after my cousin Eve and her husband Mike showed up with a sailing buddy of his.
Brixham is a lovely old fishing village with a beautiful little harbour. It has its expected share of touristy bars and restaurants but the Blue Anchor appears to be very much a locals hang out that has live music several times a week and is blessed with a loyal and devoted clientele.
We had a most enjoyable evening. The regulars who had threatened to leave wound up staying till closing time and I was warmly received.
Once in a while I get to finally meet someone I have known digitally for a while, through mutual friends etc. Friday night produced one of those moments when I went to see and hear Aaron Beavers and his fabulous band SHURMAN.
I had Friday off, so arranged to stay with my cousin Eva and her boyfriend, yet another Aaron. After some fine home cooking we made our way down to the Bullingdon on Cowley Rd in Oxford which unaccountably is now calling itself the Art Bar…..so no one knows where it is!….whereas everyone knows the Bullingdon which has been there for years…oy vey…
We found the other 3 members of the band, Harley Husbands, Michael Therieau and Clint Short, quietly waiting in an almost empty room while an opening act did its thing. Aaron was off about his business elsewhere. He soon appeared and the band took the stage and despite big sound problems(the sound guy had quit the night before and the new guy was struggling with unfamiliar and insufficient equipment), and a poor turn out, proceeded to rock the house in time honoured fashion.
They are a magnificent band, everyone working 110%, great songs, and truckloads of energy. We were all totally won over. We got to hang out after the show. They have a Christmas record, the Shurman Family Holiday Album that includes a song of mine ‘Cold Shoulder’.
Aaron was also a member of John Popper’s Duskray Troubadours project which featured a couple of my songs, ‘A Lot Like You’ and ‘What Can I Do For You’. So there’s my trumpet duly blown! It was really great to meet Aaron and his band, who turned a lacklustre evening into a great night.
Last night Matt Woosey and I both performed sets at a special eating and hanging event organised by Angela Yon. It was a fabulous evening! Angela prepared some delicious food and the two dozen or so guests brought the drinks of their choice.
Once most of the eating had been accomplished, the music began. Matt played for 40 minutes or so thrilling everyone with his compelling guitar style and soulful songs. He had to drive his girlfriend to Heathrow in the middle of the night so we had agreed he would begin. He is a tough act to follow!
We had a break of about 15 minutes for cigarettes outside, ablutions and such and then it was my turn. As it turned out I did fine. My music and approach is quite different to Matts and I managed to engage the enthusiastic audience with my guitar and mandolin driven songs. An encore was insisted on, then I packed up my gear, only to get it out again and over more wine, play some tunes with Angela’s very talented daughter Amy.
It was a most enjoyable evening…thank you Angela and Hatters Touring!
After 8 gigs in 7 days I was looking forward to my day off, but at the same time I found myself itching to play. So when my friend Ian Perry with whom I was staying in Bristol suggested going to an open mike I jumped at the chance. And am I glad I did!
I dont remember ever being at a more diverse, open minded, welcoming, open mike anywhere in my travels. Songs, poetry and improvisation and all original, except for an elderly piano player who thumped away while singing songs by the Beatles, Billy Joel and the Eagles!
A very high standard of material prevailed throughout the evening, and also there was quite an assortment of people there who had just come to hang out and listen. So many open mikes I have been to are attended by no one but the fellow participants. This was a real vibrant scene that non musicians wanted to be part of.
I sang a couple of songs earlier on, then later joined a jam and got to play some bass. Throughout the evening, people stopped to talk for a spell, complimenting me, or just wondering aloud where I came from. I havent attended such a friendly, inspiring gathering for a long time.
I guess it proves how much I needed to get out on the road and meet some new people. Just hanging round ones home town can wear a little thin. If we musicians keep moving around, we stay on our toes playing-wise, and dont outstay our welcome, so the next time we are around folks are glad to see us!
Yesterday I spent a most enjoyable day in the company of Tony Hobden,
a music lecturer at Weston College, a very talented fellow and all round good guy! I had left Nottingham a little before 9 and had to drop Si Anthony off in Malvern on the way. I called Tony to say I was running a little late and he reassured me it would work out fine. I got a call from him when I was 3 miles from the college to say I was due on stage in just over 10 minutes! He met me in the car park and I hobbled in(did my back in the night before!) and took the stage. What followed was a very relaxed workshop.
I began by singing one of my songs. Then Tony asked a few pertinent questions, prompting me to relate stories of my chequered career in music. A few students then asked questions. After that I finished with another song, Maybe my current single. Here is a home made video of the song featuring paintings by the wonderful Walt Turton.
After this we had lunch in the canteen and were joined by my old friend Issy Emeney
who just happens to be doing a Fine Arts course in the college. It was a great pleasure to see her and catch up a little. She is a very talented melodeon player and composer who also performs regularly as a duo with her husband Dave.
A little later we went into town so I could buy a phone charger as I had left mine in Nottingham! We then went to Tony’s house where I took a short nap and shaved and made myself presentable for the evening’s performance.
a great little venue in the heart of Weston Super Mare. The plan for the evening was to get there in plenty of time as I was to be filmed by students from the college with some very high quality equipment. We all did our setting up, ate a delicious supper, and then the musical fun began. The show was opened by two very talented youngsters. I then took to the stage and performed for about an hour to a small but enthusiastic audience.
This a great venue, and I look forward to coming back next year for a return engagement. Thank you Anna
for your hospitality and the chance to sing for you all. And thank you Tony for taking such very good care of me and being such magnificent company…..hasta pronto amigo!
On Monday night I performed at a house concert in Nottingham. It took place in the house I described in my previous post. It was a great night, with a gathering comprised of a lovely mix of people. Some young student types(!) rubbed shoulders with more well-to-do local residents, a couple who had travelled from an hour away, a merchant seaman and a retired vicar!
Si Anthony opened the show. The spacious kitchen we played in had a lovely natural sound and we were graced with a most attentive audience.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the show, and contributed generously to the hat. I even sold a few CDs! Thank you Peter for hosting a most enjoyable evening.
Last night I played a short set in the Jam Cafe in Nottingham. There was a small but enthusiastic audience who generously weighed down the hat. For this and tonight’s gig, I have a support act named Si Anthony. He travelled up from Malvern with me yesterday and I’ll drop him off there tomorrow on my way to Weston Super Mare.
Tonight we are performing at a house concert in the home of our host who is also generously putting us up for two nights. He has a remarkable home in the legendary Park Estate in the centre of Nottingham.
The walls are crammed with original paintings small and large. In the drawing room is a beautiful grand piano. After sleeping in a van the night before I now find myself in the lap of luxury. Such are the vagaries of life on the road!
Went for a walk in the Malvern hills this morning with my hosts Lisa & Matt, pictured here, the proprietors and CEOs of Hatters Touring. Freezing but bright and beautiful….
We had a great night last night at the Great Malvern Hotel. Lazibyrd opened, and I took the stage around 10 and enjoyed doing my thing to an appreciative crowd.
Tonight, Matt & Lisa are hosting a house warming party at which I will perform for a bit at some stage. A convivial, relaxed evening is on the cards!
Last night I played my first gig of the tour, in the B Bar in Plymouth, Devon. It was a cold and blustery night, so I was very grateful that the 6 tables full of people had made it, and stuck around to listen. If the contents of the hat are in any indication, then they are glad they came!
I was especially glad that my old friend Rob Brace showed up with some friends and played 4 songs with me in the 2nd set.
I spent the night in a very comfortable B&B and have just finished my breakfast.
In a short while I will load up the car and head for Great Malvern where I am spending the next 3 nights.
A great start to my tour. Big thanks and love to Hatters Touring who have set the whole thing up!