Day 1 – Charlie Friday’s Coffee Shop, Lynton. 104 miles from Hotwells, 22 posters sold
It begins. I’m a motherf- autonaut. Made myself go for a run this morning in the severely and suddenly lowered temperature of my dear Bristol. I feel so good for it now. I started running again a month ago to improve my lung capacity for this tour. It’s helped! The journey was very wiggly but easy going until I came to something called Porlock Hill. I didn’t think the car was going to make it up because I was fully loaded with, on top of my performing gear, an HK Elements PA:
hired for next-to-nothing from Pete at Skye PA and I’ve never, ever had to go up a hill in first gear in my sweet ride since owning it. Then, upon arrival into Lynton, I came to an even worse hill. My poor car. I wouldn’t be able to do any of what I do without it. I could only buy it because of the “incredible job” mentioned in Astronaut, so I am grateful to them for that, at least. My little, battered yellow Seat Ibiza
with bird poo-savaged, peeling wax/paint (I don’t know which. I know little about cars) is a good metaphor for my career, actually. When it needs to be scrapped, I’ll probably quite literally have to take my foot off the pedal with touring. Also, I’m covered in bird poo. Nah, I’m not. I’m now typing this at Charlie Friday’s
and feeling immensely good to have got here 5.5 hours before my set so I can sensibly work through tour and general life admin in these very sweet, cosy surroundings.
Anna, of Charlie Friday’s fame, has been an utterly exemplary promoter and I’m now sitting here feeling very special and welcome, surrounded (no exaggeration) by posters for my tour and, you’ll understand, planning how best to reward such a touching effort through my set. Just realised I’ve forgotten my laptop charger so I shall continue this later…
Now writing this in the car with eachone on the way to the second tour date. That gig (Charlie Friday’s), bar what I sensed was a lukewarm reception to my new stuff, could not have been more of a perfect way to start the tour. Sound was spot on (not to toot my own flute but that was because I got to do it all myself!), the room was full of welcoming, interested people, I sold some pretty posters, signed a guy called Darrel’s arm who later told me he was going to get the signature tattooed. Just so many good memories made. The icing on the cake was leaving at midnight, getting home at what I thought was 2:30am and only then realising that the clocks had gone back so it was actually 1:30am!
Day 2 – The Troubadour, London, 116 miles from Bristol, Sold 5 posters
I’m in Freddie from eachone’s car on the M4 heading to London. Eachone are supporting me tonight , as is a “special guest” who the promoter can’t announce because it’s “kind of a secret gig for them”. This one, I have been feeling mixed emotions about. Until my friend Drew, who drums for eachone, asked about the tour when they came to the Grain Barge open mic a couple of weeks ago, I was severely dubious about anybody coming to the gig. At all. Then, on Drew’s request, I asked the promoter if eachone could support me at the gig and he agreed. This made things better. It then transpired that it would make sense for us all to travel in one car and Freddie very kindly offered his, which has made me so much less stressed about the gig. It’s now the following day and I have this to report – I am possibly more of a draw in an un-tapped city than I thought 🙂 Freddie drove heroically. We arrived with lots of time to set up and prepare and eat amazing food at 50% off in the Troubadour which seems to be quite a well-to-do establishment. Standing outside the load-in door, a man in a suit came past and started talking to me about the history of the venue; how it was one of the oldest places on the street, one of the first coffee-houses in South Kensington (need to fact-check that) and how many great memories he had of the place. The soundman, Kuque, was an absolute legend – smiley and friendly from the word go. By this point, I’d already had pretty much a perfect second day, despite having gone for a run before leaving and come back to suffer this familiar, bizarre nervous attack that makes my face leak profusely. I defied it at home, telling “it” that it “would not do this to me today”. But it did. It’s odd. There’s this hyper-sensitive nerve in my nose I think, that reacts severely to coming in from a run in the icy cold and I then spend the entire day sneezing and eye-leaking with one half of my face all hot and numb. I knew it wouldn’t affect the gig. Getting on stage evokes a form of witchcraft where I’m suddenly as well as I need to be. It’s great. So, my cousin Liam arrived, we hugged, we caught up, we ate. Then I went to see the promoter, Ian, who said that I’d sold 22 tickets in advance and all of my remaining fears about the night dissipated! Then, the fact that I’d been reminded previously by Liam that it was central London on a Friday night and I needn’t worry about numbers, sank in. The venue was lush
and the 30 people in the room made it pleasantly filled, if not full. Eachone were exciting and intense
-lots of choppy tempo changes and wailing vocals – and my set went very, very well. We even made some money on the door. Then Drew drove Freddie and I home and I got to sleep at 3:30 to get up at 9am for my violin lessons, actually feeling less tired than many of my Saturday mornings when I haven’t had a gig the previous night. This tour is going supremely well.
Day 3 – The Belvedere Inn, Weymouth – 73 miles from Hotwells, Sold 9 posters
This one was always set to be a right smasheroonie. I am sorely hungover now. A week ago, Vicki, from The Belvedere asked if I wanted a room for the night in the hostel above the bar and I enthusiastically said yes, knowing that I had nothing on the following day for once. So I knew I may partake of a few ales on this night. I did. We (Edd Bleach, Sarah and Sarah Limm) went to a bar on the seafront called The Nook after staying until closing time at the venue. I drank a lot. Have I mentioned that I got drunk? I don’t remember getting back to Edd’s place but I woke up topless on his sofa bed with my headphones in my ears, sleeping on my phone, and staring at a Boost bar and some empty wrappers of assorted snacks I’d wolfed down before passing out, thankfully. That’s actually not that different to most nights, except I’m not usually that drunk.
The gig – as I should mention, this being a gig diary – was lovely. The third of three amazing shows to start the tour. Can’t believe my luck. My good old mate, Edd Bleach
was very supportive and helpful leading up to the night and the whole tour in general, as was Sarah Limm aka Sukulele of Air FM. The crowd tonight went crazy for “Isla View”. I’ve been finding that a lot. I’m really glad people appreciate the honesty and really hopeful that they don’t go away thinking I’m a sexual deviant. When you combine “Stuff”, “Idiot” and “Isla View”…I mean…one could see me as a bit of a slimeball. But you’re always just so bloody entertained! What am I supposed to do?!
I loved this gig. The landlord, Tom, was a star, as was Aaron who rescued the sound for us at the last minute. Somebody said to me I just need one break and I’ll be everywhere. Flattering as that is, I kind of already feel enough like I am! Now, to lesson plans for next week. Cardiff next – Thursday!
Day 4 – Gwdihw, Cardiff 41 miles from Hotwells, sold maybe 7 posters?
Back on it today. Driving RasThulhu and RasEve
up to Cardiff at about 3 today. Currently sat in the grain barge getting lunch at midday. I need to run through my new songs that I haven’t yet played before I leave and was going to go for a run but my allergic attack the other day has put me off… I think I need to get back to it on off days. So really.. Should have done one yesterday. I want you who are reading this to know that my main reason for starting running a few times a week again was to improve my lung capacity to be able to perform better to you all! So it’s YOUR FAULT, ha ha! Today’s entry may be a long one. There is a small Sheffield problem: I knew that I was playing The Cremorne (tomorrow)
on derby day. What I didn’t know until just now was that the venue is 2 minutes walk from the stadium. And I was told to get there for 7:30 which is kick off!! I’m hoping to get in touch with the promoter today and find out that if I get down much, much earlier, I’ll find it easier to park. Otherwise, it may prove to be the hardest one.
Now writing the rest of this entry in my mate Matt’s bedroom in Sheffield. I stayed with him and his mum, Val last night. But back to Cardiff. I was kind of gutted that this one came so early in the tour – would have loved it to be the final date. Note to self: if you ever organise a tour again, pay at least some attention to the tour route. See, I knew it would be a warm and emotional experience, as it always is playing in my hometown. After the above bit, I got home and had a perfect run through of the new set and practise. My set for the Cardiff date I’d planned would be ALL new. I’ve never played a set of nothing but new album songs, at least to my Cardiff fans, in my life. It was daunting but a really useful experiment. The set was:
1) Edge in Wordways
2) Running out of Things to Say
3) Emergency Services (with Henry who joined me on stage)
4) Half A Turn
7) Isla View
8) Nightmare part Deux (with Jay who joined me with Eve from Bristol)
9) Astronaut (with Pun Ra)
10) My Bjork – Hyperballad cover
We’ll get back to the set later. I packed up and picked up Jay and Eve from St Andrew’s and we drove to Gwdihw. Great having company for a change. We were in traffic most of the way (a recurrent theme for this tour it would appear) so arrived at about 6:20 with doors opening at 7:30 and Imprints, who were co-headlining courtesy of Fuelled by Cider Kev, also arriving late and yet to soundcheck! Not an ideal start. But they are all thoroughly decent chaps as was the soundman Sam Smith (not that one) and we all got checked and relatively happy to open. Beatbox Hann opened and he has seriously stepped up his game. Some amazing new noises. Then I was on at 9pm. The room was maybe only half full but those there made it a beautiful atmosphere for me. Playing such a new set was very nervewracking and insightful. I still can’t play Isla View in the way it deserves. Even 14bpm slower than the recorded version, I can’t seem to get the words out in the right manner or in their entirety! And I have practised it a great deal. But it would seem not enough. Two false starts euuugh, I’d forgotten about that. Had to restart Isla View and Bleach because the loops were either halfway through each other or just not quite spot-on enough to endure. But nobody minded. The collaborations with Henry, Jay and Pun were tremendous fun. Pun and I yelled the refrain from Astronaut at everyone and he wore the Astronaut helmet from the video (which could potentially be out in two days…Mike Loek is such a legend) Being with Jay and Eve all day made everything less stressful and more enjoyable and I’ve never enjoyed a drive home from a gig as much as the one Eve, Jay, Henry and I shared back to Bristol that night. Henners performed us a few of his stirring, soulful new tunes and then him and Jay did some wicked freestyles. I’m so blessed. Which leads me to the end of this enormous entry – sometimes, and it’s becoming usual with my Cardiff tour gigs, I have a night that the word “thank you” can never repay. This was such an overwhelming experience. Touring is so very polar for me. The stress of the driving and soundcheck, the expectations of the crowd, the need to sell merch, then all combined with the soaring highs of the gig and adoration of so many endlessly supportive people. In the city I grew up in aswell, it’s just too much. Too, too, too much. That’s all I kept saying to myself after the plummet in mood I suffered dropping Jay and Eve back at home and being alone in the car. Thank you so much to everybody for this night. I was so wired I couldn’t sleep until about 6am (I think) and then woke up before my alarm at 9:30am for…
Day 5 – The Cremorne, Sheffield, 182 miles from Hotwells, 5/6/7 posters sold (got a bit drunk…)
The most taxing day so far and, without wanting to speak too soon, potentially the most taxing of the whole tour. So glad to have this mission over with!
I woke up still completely wired with this tightness in my chest. Had no time to process all the feelings from Thursday night in Cardiff. I want to be quite brief about this entry because I’m in Matt’s room and he’s politely waiting for me to finish this to show me some UFC. I got breakfast in the Galley Cafe in an attempt to show myself I can be kind to myself – felt awful, walked home – felt awful, had a shower – felt slightly less awful, got in the car. Google had changed the journey time from 3hr44m to 4hr18m – felt awful. This was the single most appalling drive I think I’ve ever put myself through. It felt like 6 hours solid in traffic jams on motorways I didn’t know only to arrive to the Sheffield derby traffic. Somehow only got beeped once on the entire journey. But not suffering a heart attack because of how I felt physically is the bigger surprise. Arrived, hugely relieved to park easily outside Matt’s Mum’s. Val gave me vegetable soup! The day was getting better. I got an Uber to The Cremorne. The driver, Mohammed, was lovely. I told him to watch Taxi Driver. That’ll beat it out of him haha. The manager at Cremorne, Rachel, was frazzled. I didn’t like to say there was no chance she could be as frazzled as I was. The layout of the place was quite odd. I didn’t take any photos but the little stage had a tiny dancefloor in front of it, about 8 feet deep. It seemed like an afterthought. Then all the seating was up above me on the right. Buuuuuuut all this said, the soundcheck happened – it concerned me – was beyond what I could really mentally handle at that point, but it got to an adequate level. Then I started at 9pm and the sound was perfect for Charge, which is very rare. So respect to Simon on sound for that! The first half of this set was genuinely, I think, one of the best I’ve ever done in my life. Then the football crowd arrived back in the pub, Simon turned the system up and the sound went to shit. But I’d won most of the I’d say 40 people who were there watching me over by this point with Charge, Men With Guns, I Want Everything and Neat Rice Soup. So the fact it fizzled out didn’t matter too much. No idea how many posters I sold. I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA HOW I GOT THROUGH THIS DAY. To be stood outside with Jim, Matt, Ruth and Adam with a nice pint after the set was beyond bliss. Another very polar experience. We stayed for a little while. I got more than a little tipsy and caught up with everyone.
Day 6 – The Old Courts, Bailiff Bar, Wigan, 173 miles from Hotwells, 4 posters sold
Finding it hard to vary my vocabulary talking about these experiences. “Thank you” and “amazing” pop up a lot. Currently sat in the bailiff bar, 25 mins til I’m on. It SHOULD be amazing tonight. Doing my own sound, staff are interested, room is busy, perfect space for me on stage. But I ate about 45 minutes ago and I am so devoid of energy now. I know the magic will take over as the focus sets in but right now, bleugh. Yesterday was such a mission.
This place is a little like No.1 Harbourside in Bristol, in terms of vibe and style.
I’m now sat in Firebird Studios the day after this gig. Last night was about a 6/10, I’d say. Very grateful to the 8-10 people who watched and listened to my set pretty intently. The meal in question earlier was from a vegan restaurant attached to the Old Courts called The Coven and was another “I can’t believe this is all vegan” experience. The PA for this gig was a Mackie Reach – single powered speaker with very wide dispersion and a monitor built into the side of the unit pointing at the stage! On the one hand, it was a brilliant solution to the newly-refurbished space with a stage that was perfect for my size of act. On the other hand, for a busy, loud Saturday night, it was not at all adequate due to some built-in (or, more probably, locked-out-by-tech-manager) limiting so, while it was a joy to do my own sound and have ample time to prepare, as soon as I started rapping in “Charge”, the loops disappeared beneath my voice and the limitations of the setup began to sink in. I tried as hard as I could to ease off the mic and adjust the levels to get a happy medium but could only really make it work with the impact I need when either I was playing an instrumental or just reciting I Want Everything. The PA didn’t project beyond about, I think, ten feet? So I had a very loyal segment of the room who had come to watch me – Dom, Lauren, Chris, Jo, Mandy, Andrew, Martin and a couple of other people – but, behind them, an either oblivious or uninterested ¾ of the room. They’re useful, experiences like this. I tried to play into the intimacy despite how lacking in energy I was – the magic of being on stage always takes over and makes me forget how bad I feel (!) but for a large portion of the second set, I found myself looking at a lady sat probably just out of pleasant reach of the PA with her husband who kept shooting me disdainful looks and smiling to myself. It took away from the set a little. But again, if any of you are reading this, thank you to the people above who came and listened and enjoyed. There was a moment when I started my second set when I opened with my Organ Donor cover when the entire room was listening and the response was fantastic. But then the murmur of chatter started up again and I think the PA’s limitations came into effect again. I enjoyed this gig though. The drive home at midnight was much less stressful than the drive up to Sheffield, but, physically, it was very taxing. My back and eyes were killing me by the time I finally lay down in bed at 3am. Again, you really need to love performing to do this job. Ooh, before I forget, I actually arrived before the sun went down.
Bristol next, after a couple of days off. So proud of myself for getting through the last two days. Halfway through now!
Day 7 – The Gallimaufry, Bristol, 3 miles from Hotwells. Very unsure about how many posters were sold. I feel like it was about 10-15 but I can’t make the maths work. My head hurts.
Oh my. The Bristol date. And I’m only halfway through!
I’ve decided to give myself a headstart with the diary for the next few days by writing this entry pre-gig. It’s 3:56pm and Jeevan from RSVP Music is on his way to pick me up to go and practise My Bench with Rob from Junior Bill at Rob’s place, prior to us getting to the Galli. I kind of know the kind of things I would be putting in this diary were I to make time to do it after tonight’s gig so this won’t be that unconvincingly fabricated. I know, for example, that whatever time I arrive at the Galli, time is going to run away from me and I’ll be on stage before I know it. I also know that I’m going to feel incredibly touched by the attendance. I THINK it’s going to be the busiest of the tour judging by the event’s numbers.
That can be misleading though. I have to admit that I have, on a couple of occasions, seen a friend’s gig is close to selling out and flaked, knowing they’ll have a full room. If everybody did that, we’d all be like this guy…
Plus that’s a big reason for why terrible political vote results happen e.g. leaving the EU.
I am really looking forward to tonight. I’m also quite nervous. I genuinely just spent 45 minutes chewing my pen deciding on a setlist. I actually drew two graphs of how I want the set to flow and ebb. I think I’ve got it down now. There are a few wicked collaborations. I’m starting and ending on appropriate bangers. Slotting the best of the new stuff in there. Setlist is very important. My goal is to have people leaving laughing and feeling warm inside (and like they’ve just seen the best gig of their lives, obviously). I’m curious abouut David Leach who is the opening support. He’s said he doesn’t need mic’ing up, which if I’m honest makes me a tiny bit worried he might upstage me! Millie who has been shadowing me on sound at the Galli open mic is helping out on sound for my set and one of my best friends, Heybus is the main support. Before I close this entry – I’m defiant that I won’t add to it later to give myself a chance to take everything in (and be a bit pissed) – I must say that it feels a tiny bit unsettling cancelling the Grain Barge open mic for this gig AND not doing the tour gig at the Barge. I just thought I’d give me, them and my lovely followers a break from the same venue! Wish me luck. Manchester tomorrow, then Brighton. Mike Loek, famous producer, editor and director of the very-soon-to-be-released “Astronaut” video is joining me for the rest of the dates. After Brighton, the hardest of the driving is way behind me. Tonight is going to be emotional…
Day 8 – Strange Brew bar – Manchester 161 Miles from Hotwells Road. 7 posters sold
Last night was incredible, as I knew it would be. Mike Loek is typing this for me now and I wish I always had a transcriber! The room was so full last night. The opening support David Leach was an unusual experience. He had asked to not be amplified. I gave him mics anyway and he used them only to tell the crowd off…?! Jeevan, Rob and I practised my bench at Rob’s house courtesy of a much appreciated lift from Jeevan. When I mean much appreciated I mean it really strongly because driving is really stressful especially in Bristol City Centre. The practise was much needed and made me very excited about the gig! Then ANOTHER lift from Jeevan to the Gallimaufry had me arrive at a venue less frazzled than any of the tour venues so far. There is, again, too much to say about this night and I will try to come back to it at the end of the diary.
Mike & Mike are now en route to Manchester to day 8. Mike D is writing now..
I must confess: this one was a huge anticlimax after yesterday. As if it wasn’t going to be! I’m truly grateful to Rich and the rest of the wicked boys of Granfalloon for putting it on. Always enjoy catching up and playing with them. Their music is incredible too – Granfalloon music. But yeah. Playing to ten people with a combined seven hours of driving is… Well, it’s tour life. At my level. I tried very hard to get people to all of these dates and, 8 days in, I’m exhausted and a bit unwell (I put all of that down to the driving) and am proud of myself but I realise, stoically, that there’s nothing more I can really do now – least not without a sizable advertising budget. If people are gonna come, they’re gonna come. If not, it’s practise.
To sum up, we arrived well in time, ate great Lebanese food down the road, sound was great, gig went adequately and I sold albums to 70% of the crowd. Job done?
Day 9 – The Brunswick, Hove. 167 miles from Hotwell Road. 4 posters sold.
Mike came with me again today. It was set up to be an absolutely brilliant gig. Got there in beyond ample time, fairly straightforward 3 hour drive, time to relax at the shore…
Beautiful venue, long soundcheck and resulting perfect sound. Caught up with MC Cashback, Captain Mike,
Spliff Richard and another ageing rapper friend (!) And then half of the people who said they were coming didn’t turn up or dropped out at the last minute. It was another very emotional day. I was very disappointed but had to stave it off. I decided to play my songs that would hopefully make the people assembled in the room laugh and drop in a few new ones and stuff to hopefully coax in people from the main bar. Very pleased with my set and how I handled it. But the full experience left a little bit of a sour taste. Today’s entry feels a little more a personal therapy session and like it’s more for me than one I’ll be glad for you guys to read. You’ll all already know my grievances. Maybe touring like this just isn’t the right path for me? Been a bit concerned that some of the bridges I’ve built on the tour have already been burnt eg by me effectively dobbing in the sound man in Sheffield for being new to it and thus not quite getting what to do. He was a nice guy and might (still) be instrumental in me being asked up there again. I’m probably worrying too much. I have found though that on a number of these dates, I get to the venue and am treated a bit like an afterthought. It smacks of somebody in the management hierarchy looking at who is playing that night, seeing it’s a soloist with no profile and being dismissive about what and who I’ll need for the event, tragically after other people involved in the organisation have been either helpful or enthusiastic or both. Just feeling a little negative about it all today. Ho hum.
Allow me to end this entry on a more positive note by saying: Luke Bennett was tremendous as always…
Day 10 – West Malvern Social Club, Malvern. 66 miles from Hotwells. 4 posters sold.
Today was much better than the previous day. I swapped a Mike for a Jay.
They both smell. It was a like-for-like. Currently writing this in a new eatery in Plymouth called “Hangry” that is about three doors down from the venue. More about that tomorrow.
I was really feeling the strain of everything this morning. Brighton left a bit of a shadow on my resolve. Guess that’s to be expected with it being the midpoint of the longest run. This is really a very small tour but when you’re carrying out absolutely everything on your own, it is a great deal of effort. Jay arriving cheered me up and it was somewhat soothing to have company on the – thankfully – meagre drive to what I expected would be a packed room in a beautiful town.
Unfortunately we missed daylight, arriving at 4:30pm but we looked at a hill. It was a nice hill. Rich met us and we had a coffee in his kitchen and chewed some fat. He is a very close #2 to Anna’s #1 promoter on the tour. Alas, the perfectly-formed venue was, by any assessment, dead. But I played what I think was a blinding and amusing set to I think about ten people who I could tell really enjoyed it and it left me optimistic that, were I to play there again, those ten would likely bring another ten. But, really, who knows? Yesterday didn’t leave me with a great sense of hope. Fourth Engine,
a synth pop duo from Bristol, were supporting and Rich treated us all to an Indian meal before we all went to soundcheck. Tyler was the soundman. He did a fantastic job. Jay was very funny company all day. We do have a laff, him and I. The end is within my grasp now. I’m kind of amazed that 100 posters looks like it’s going to be the exact right amount for the tour. Though, having just arrived in Plymouth, I’ve been told there’s been a lot of interest in the gig and I think I only have about 15 with me. A huge hearty thanks must be extended to Rich and the staff of the West Malvern Social Club for tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed talking shit to you!
Anyway, to today…
Day 11 – The Bread & Roses, Plymouth. 119 miles from Hotwells. 6 posters sold
Tonight has potential to not actually happen.
Lest, I forget, I want to strongly note something that I said on stage at Malvern last night: touring as a soloist gives me a really deep appreciation of other people’s talents, skills and compassion. I was so very grateful to be entertained by Fourth Engine at the venue last night. It was blissful. A real treat. I feel like I need to expand upon this. This entry is taking a few days to write and I was busy yesterday on my “day off” so only had time to note that above. It’s now two days after the Plymouth gig. So, to expand upon that: I am just another white bedroom MC who was fascinated by the larger-than-life stories of gangsta rap and set loose by Eminem, without a crowd to watch me. The words “thank you” are never going to fulfill the emotion I feel when I say it to the people who form that crowd. And the people who’ve accompanied me on the last five dates ie Mike Loek and Jay. Even though for those people in the crowd, a lot of the time it’s a tiny amount of effort that was required to just nip to their local because “violinist, rapper, menace” piqued their interest, the sum of their efforts is far greater than their parts, for me. It all makes me want to give a lot back, in terms of promoting the few artists who’ve supported and featured with me, going to their gigs and somehow expressing my gratitude to the crowds. Let’s move on…
Plymouth was OK. I’d give it a 7/10. The organisation leading up to the date was appalling from their side. They were by far the worst and I’m that confident that they won’t ever read this that I am calling them out. And i don’t feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds me because it was a really unfair way to be treated after all the effort I put in to get the word out. It was always a different person replying (very late) to my emails who wasn’t answering my questions and instead putting some other obstacle in the path of it being a successful gig. The worst example of this was them confirming I could use their powered speakers, saving the total ballache and expense (that they would not cover) of me hiring a PA, months ago and then at the beginning of the week, emailing me to say “can you bring your PA? We will give you an extra £50” and then not replying to my pleading replies. I hired a nice mixing desk from Oasis again – because I knew that the mixer they referred to in an email would be a DJ mixer and totally not fit for purpose – and drove down after my violin lessons not knowing if the gig would go ahead but past caring at that point. Mike L came with me again and we had a laugh on both journeys and shared tips and philosophies about the arts and promotion etc. He’s a great ally. We arrived, grabbed dinner in a new place two doors from the venue, went back to discover the speakers were there for me to use so I knew the gig was going ahead. I set it all up myself. The manager arrived and put an ace poster they’d made on the door and was charging £2 entry. People were streaming in and I got excited. It soon became apparent when I started playing that this was largely down to it being Saturday night as opposed to my draw. So about a quarter of the people in the room enjoyed my epic 1.5 hour set and I had some lovely comments and recommendations afterwards, sold a few posters and put it down as a “good” gig. Must highlight Owen’s comments: he spoke at length about how refreshing it was to see somebody clearly passionate yet humble and in touch with the frustrations of what it means to be human and to live this life. He noted my performance of Bleach and how I’d admitted I’ve lost friends over that track and how refreshingly real that seemed to him for me to be open about that. His comments touched me. He also mentioned that he went to a, if I remember rightly, Benedictine (?) school where it was compulsory to learn violin between years 7 and 10. I must look that up. I didn’t feel I rose to this occasion because, knowing I was doing a longer set, I paced myself and it surprised me to finish the gig not dripping with sweat. I suspect my body was fairly low on adrenaline reserves aswell by this point in the week. This wasn’t my best showing or performance at the Bread and Roses and it could be my last, though I’ve already been booked for March of next year. I’m not sure the nightmare of miscommunication is worth it.
Off day (fifth of five in a row), Thursday 22nd Nov
Must say big heartfelt thanks to:
THE WILDCARD, MANCHESTER
THE EVANS FAMILY & FIREBIRD STUDIOS
JALON RASTHULHU FEARON
SALLY AND HARRY HARRISON
MATT HAWKSWORTH (AND MOTHER)
ROB AND EVERYONE AT OLD COURTS WIGAN
LOUISE AT THE BREAD AND ROSES
PETER AND WENDY HAYWARD
I have been unable to help but to dwell on how many of my friends pulled out of coming to my gig in Brighton. It really got to me. But what got to me equally was the efforts of the people above to make it to my gigs, some travelling a considerable distance in questionable weather.
Day 12 – Cwmcarn Hotel, Caerphilly, 40 miles from Hotwells, 8 posters sold
Well, I’m pleased to say that the tale has a happy ending. Clayton Blizzard, my friend and utterly engaging spoken word performer came with me to play support, as did his brother, Heybus (see Bristol) and Monsieur Loek.
Probably my second favourite ever car journey there preceded a gig that was as warm, well-played and well-received as any I could expect. Love what Vinny and Anya did on the sandwich board outside
and it was a pleasure to play under the historic bison again. It’s a great venue.
It was busy, Clayton aced his set, I was doing sound again (which took me a little while to set up but we managed), Mike L was filming and Heybus was providing general moral support, camaraderie and hilarity, as per. Brilliant crew. I’ve sold 89 of the 100 posters I had made for this album which I think is really good going and surprisingly well prepared for me. Total fluke in other words. Also signed all of the ones I sold tonight which is rare. The response was pretty rapturous really. Having had five blissful days off, this one kind of felt like a one-off gig but it was just the kicker I needed to end the tour. I’m now writing this on my phone at Firebird Studios where I teach violin Saturday mornings having slept for probably about three hours because, again, I was so bristling with adrenaline when I got home. But that’s fine. Just made the Astronaut video live and it’s going down a storm. I’m so very proud of myself.
You know what? I wanted to write a circumspect, coherent conclusion to all of this but I like that you’ve had the balls-out, seat-of-your-pants experience already if you’ve read the whole way through so let’s keep this bit succinct – support live music. It’s leaving us. Don’t contribute to that. Be a hero.
An after movie of the tour will be with you soon, courtesy of filmmaker, Michal Loek.
89 x copies of Edge in Wordways posters sold
89 x UNUSED A3 certificate envelopes bundled FREE with those posters. You lucky people.
~2,600 miles travelled.
1 x first-time ever set of entirely new tracks played to my friends in Cardiff
countless friends made
65 x right hands shaken
2 x left hands shaken
1 x European Union missed, pre-emptively.