Sunday, 7 April 2013

Further adventures, slushy roundabouts and Easter Santa



Hi again blog fans, Holly here to update you honestly on the goings-on of the recent musical lives of me and Chris. Just a disclaimer: we have always promised to be completely honest here on the Honest Music Blog so, whilst the majority of the following post will in fact be really positive, you might be missing a bit of whinging and moaning. I can, hand on heart, say that what you’re about to read is 100% true and factual. It’s mostly just been a super-awesome few weeks. 

So, our last blog ended on our germ-ridden, but strangely well-received performance at Cambridge Folk Club. By the time the following Saturday rolled around, we were completely free of the girl flu and man flu and more than ready to play again. We had a show booked in Glossop, to support our good mates The Old Dance School (we’ve supported them a few times before and they are really excellent musicians and great people too), at a gorgeous venue called The Globe Inn. The gig had been booked for about 18 months and we knew it was going to be a corker. But on Friday evening, tales of HUGE snowfall across the West and abundant road closures with it, we knew it might be a struggle to get across the Pennines from York. We phoned the promoter on Friday night who said it was fine in Glossop, just light snowfall and that if we did get stuck and had to stop overnight on the Saturday that we could kindly stay at her house. So, on Saturday afternoon we ignored the horror stories of massive snowdrifts etc and chucked our guitars, sleeping bags, toothbrushes and change of pants in the back of the car and set off to the gig. I’d always rather just attempt the journey and see what all the weather fuss was about, on the off chance we could actually get there.  It seems that our optimistic good intentions were to be ignored by the hands of fate and 13 miles away from Glossop, we hit a really slushy roundabout, almost skidded into the ‘ROAD CLOSED’ sign and had to turn back. Absolutely gutted. Both roads we needed were closed from that point and to make matters worse, I’m not entirely sure that the promoter believed we were telling the truth in the following phone call to explain we couldn’t make it. So we came back home and sulked. For a long time.

Large snow fail.

The following week, the snow had melted, my guinea pig Jonathan had gone on a week-long vacation to my Mum’s house and we were on our way to London to play at Portobello Acoustic Sessions (or as it’s affectionately known, ‘PAS’) in Notting Hill. Now, having driven into the centre of London a couple of years back and getting stuck in the car outside Kings Cross Station at 5.30pm on our previous visit to PAS, we knew by all means NOT to take the car this time. So on the day of the gig we drove from York to Bishop’s Stortford (home of bankers, blue road signs, teeny tiny roads and unfathomable car parks) to park our Seat Leon overnight and get the train into London from there. After a mildly ridiculous escapade with me trying to park the car, we finally got on the train and into London Paddington, walked to Notting Hill and had time to eat some mighty fine Mexican food before the gig. Fortunately, we had booked a stopover only 15 minutes’ walk from the venue, which was completely brilliant as we were able to relax and enjoy the show without worrying about driving anywhere afterwards – a rare and wonderful treat. Regrettably, the drinks prices in London were so extortionate that we only could afford one beverage each – but it was still awesome. 

We enjoyed playing alongside some wonderful talent that night – the incredible Aaron Douglas (http://www.aarondouglasmusic.co.uk/), fine songwriter Sami Sumner (https://soundcloud.com/samisumner) and the harmony laden greatness of Apples I’m Home (https://www.facebook.com/applesimhome) . Also, people came to see us! Someone I barely know left his wife and kids at home in Croydon to come and watch and stopped for the whole night. It was brilliant. If I’m being completely honest, the sound was utterly shit on stage (and off?) due to a vaguely distracted and frankly rubbish sound man. I think he was too busy doodling to use his ears and did the usual trick of blaming our equipment (our equipment was in perfect working order, funny that). But apart from that, our sets went down well and the other acts were all really lovely to meet too and we were able to walk back to the hotel and grab some £1 closing-time white chocolate cookies from Sainsbury’s Local for a post-gig pudding. ROCK.

Our London fan Nadeem!

The following day we went back to Bishop’s Stortford and drove on to High Barn in Great Bardfield, Essex. If you haven’t heard of this venue or been already, I strongly urge you to do so! It’s in a beautiful part of the country and is, quite frankly, a stunning place to play. They have a varied programme of music which includes frequent ‘Unplugged’ evenings, which is what we were playing at. We arrived on time at the venue and from then on were treated to some absolutely gorgeous sound engineering from the very happy man doing the sound. Makes such a big difference dealing with techies who are passionate about what they do! We knew we were in good hands and the building is perfect for acoustic music. We met some wonderful artists at this show as well – the guitar God we now know as Robert Castellani (http://robertcastellani.com/Home_.html), from Belfast the super-lovely, crazy travelling Owen McGarry (http://www.owenmcgarry.com/) and a great local band led by Jon Hart (http://www.jonhartband.com/jonhartband/Home.html). People came to see us there as well - a man who looked like Santa waved if I asked the crowd if anyone had been to see us before, which felt really good. We sold a bunch of CD’s to new followers and the whole show was broadcast across t’Internet to Canada & Portugal and somewhere else. Also, the compere Flora was really nice to us and we had a really good chat about knitting & crochet in the Green Room beforehand. I expect that this wasn’t a highlight for Chris but it was very interesting for me. The whole gig was brilliant though and we loved playing, in particular we felt really at home on stage at High Barn so it was a real pleasure to perform.

A very high barn.

We returned home the next day, after a whole two days on tour, and had a few days enjoying Easter with our families (and much chocolate). I instantly started to email to book shows again after having such a blast in London and Essex, despite having barely covered our petrol expenses on the last stint. I actually don’t care – that’s what I have a day job for, right? To pay for what I LOVE to spend my time doing? 

We then returned to Norwich to play at Grapevine @ Bedford’s, a regular acoustic evening organised by the ever-wonderful Steve & Jan Howlett (we’ve blogged about them beforehand). Even though we have performed here twice before, we love to return and always find something new about each show. This time, we learned NOT to follow the Sat Nav on the journey from York – Norwich, as it takes you on a very long, slow road through Lincolnshire and at times, it felt like we were never, ever going to get out. Fortunately we did though, grabbed a Desperados and some hot nuts at the venue and played the show alongside the stunningly talented (makes me feel old and envious of her youth and talent) Freya Roy (http://freyaroy.blogspot.co.uk/) and our wonderful new friends Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe (http://colestacey.net/). 

Beer and hot nuts. The sign of an impending good night.

One thing that makes the gig even better is when the other acts are really good to chat to before the show – makes me feel relaxed and breaks down any hint of ego – and tonight was no exception. Cole and Joseph had been on tour for ages and were rapidly wilting by the end of the night but it didn’t dampen the witty banter and story sharing we had throughout the night. It was also lovely to meet Freya who was just so, so good and she didn’t know it. The audience was fairly subdued to be honest, but sometimes this is the way and everyone did applaud – I think it was just one of those nights where the crowd were naturally quiet. Perhaps, like me, they were still suffering from a post-Easter chocolate hangover and any whooping might have induced unpleasant side-effects. We did however, meet a couple who came to see us who we had met in Dent at the Music & Beer festival last year, which felt brilliant as it reinforced my theory that every gig we do seems to bring people back further along the line. We know you’re out there and we really do thank you for it. 

Back home. Thank you car.
 
Phew – OK, I think that’s everything updated for now. We’ve got more shows coming over the next few weeks (including one in an actual working launderette – I kid you not) so please do come and show your support (http://www.hollytaymar.com/gigs) . If you’re nice to us, you might make an appearance on this blog. If you’re not nice to us, you might make an appearance too. So please come to our shows, be nice to us, and revel in your glory. 

Most love to you all,
Holly x