Approaching the End
Friday the 23rd at Brook's Blues Bar in a swank venue called the Telegraph in Putney we had perhaps the best gig of the tour in terms of sound quality and performance level. Ann and Tony, dear friends of ours, really have a good thing going on at that place, and it was a real treat to be in their hands for the night.
Saturday the 24th we went down to Brighton after spending the night at our great musician friend Simon Praeger's house, where we were spoiled with good tunes and tasty food. We played at Jane Bom-Bane's wonderful little cafe full of interesting gadgets, including an animated dvd cartoon of aesop's fables embedded into two tables called "aesop's tables", and a wind chime triggered by the removal of a salt shaker from one of the tables. It was a great night, we love Jane, her music is totally original, harrowing, yet beautiful.
From Brighton we took off at 8 am on Sunday the 25th to hit up the Fiddleford Inn in Dorset for our lunchtime gig there. Michael ate a bacon sandwich, the first bit of meat he'd eaten in a long while, since the food is of such good quality. It was great to be invited back there by Liz the owner, since we're treated like kings, the people are wonderful, and the food is delicious. Gypsy swing guitarist Jipe Gerardin and his wife Fiona graciously invited us back to crash at their farm cottage a couple of miles down the road. We went for a long walk along an old railway line, saw pheasants and deer, came back had a delicious feast of Italian food, played some swingin' tunes and stayed up talking until the wee hours.
We then took off in the late morning, only to get stuck in the awful London Monday afternoon traffic, lamenting having left Dorset. Stopped in Michael's flat for a quick freshening up, and tore down to Gillingham in Kent to play at a 17th century pub called the Barge, which from the outside looks like someone's home, but on the inside looks like the hold of an old schooner, with low beamed ceilings, wood paneling, and odd bits of shipping esoterica strewn all over. Tim the owner showed us his own zob stick, a slightly different version of our Boot. Had a great, albeit surreal gig there, then went down and tapped on the windows of the Man of Kent, where Rob was stoking the fire before hitting the sack. His wife Heather had called us the day before and extended an invitation to crash there since we were to be in Kent for two days, so we decided to take them up on the kind offer. We slept on some incredibly comfortable sofas, and were joined by Dude the meowing dog who slept on my bed, wedging himself into my armpit.
The next day we walked around Rochester with Rob, then went and said hi to Stuart at Oranges to take a photo, and then headed over to the lovely Roffen where we played an hour set for John Adams' popular Bottleneck Blues Club, that had an audience of about a hundred utterly silent people. They loved it. At the end of the night went back to the Man of Kent, played a couple of tunes with some of the local musicians playing there, and crashed (me with Dude again) on the couches.
Took off around mid day on Wednesday the 28th, went and chilled out a bit, met up with Yann aka the Amazing Rolo, who's Nintendo Wii Loop Machine Software is taking the internet by storm. Went down to Angel for a gig at Sam Lee, Joe Buirski, and Lauren McCormick's Magpie's Nest, a happening folk club akin to the 60s coffeehouses, slammed with all sorts of people, and played with a cool English "old folk" group called the Faustus. It went down gangbusters, and saw some familiar faces, including our friend and kindred spirit Luis Tariq, and Sumana, a buddhist friend we met at a little venue in east London last year.
Last night played a nice intimate gig in Twickenham for the second Brook's Blues Bar shows, which was preceded by one of Ann's amazing, abundant feasts. Michael had some pickup issues in his accordion, so we played acoustically the first set. It was nice to unplug for a bit, and then play a louder second set, with Yann joining in for a couple of numbers at the end.
Anyway, I'm sure there's a lot more to recount, but we have to head up to Buckingham pretty soon, followed by Manchester tomorrow, so I've gotta sign off.
All I can say is that everywhere we've played, we've received incredibly warm and positive responses, met some wonderful, generous people, and been invited back. It has been an amazing experience. 24 performances down, two to go...