On Friday 29th and Saturday 30th May, I played two gigs – the first in Hoxton at the Zigfrid Von Underbelly, the second at The Victory pub in Hereford.
Both gigs were great fun for various reasons, and meeting both sets of promoters was lovely.
And when you meet nice, decent people who put on shows, after 6 years of doing this, it really helps.
Hoxton was what I call a “normal” gig – I opened the evening and only a few people were about so early, so it was standard London fare- you sing to people and they clap politely and move on, waiting to see their friends or y’know the people they actually came to see.
However, my experience the next day, in another part of the country was very different.
Firstly, I was invited down by Slim Estrada who plays the slide guitar on my song ‘Vodka’ on the album. He’s Matt (the album’s engineer)’s friend, and plays a mean doboro. I always try and do what scares me in music because in my life I usually acquiesce to my fears a lot, so I try and be braver in music. When he said me, my wife and a bunch of my bandmates are popping down to do a set in Hereford…why don’t you come with..? My first few thoughts were all the reasons why not to do it – I don’t get on with the idea of being around a lot of people, I can’t really afford it, I’ve had a chest infection for 4 months and bad asthma so maybe 2 gigs in 2 days isn’t a good idea… all the excuses under the sun and then I froze all that and went “sure! love to”.
I’m really glad I did, it was a wonderful experience when you don’t want to kill people you’ve been stuck in a van with for hours on end. Everyone I was with was great at music – having jammed together for ages before, and there was a real genuine love of it that was tangible. No egos, no bullshit, no showing off – just people and passion.
The people in Hereford also had an appetite for it and they embraced a good show with vigour and more appreciation than I’d seen in London for a while. The whole evening was excellent – I was the middle act, and enjoyed all the others- and the audience were in a great mood- quiet for the most part and warm when sets were over. I knew it was going to be a good night when Alula Down popped her uke and shruti on stage opposite mine – How often do unrelated musical twinsies happen?! Never?!
Mark’s set was so raw and wonderful, it made me wanna rush out and buy a bodhran immediately. Alula and her partner’s music was so pretty, with shruti, uke, accordian, guitar…really peaceful to listen to and it was only a shame their set caught the tail end of the footie and some rowdy pubgoers down the other end
The spirit and atmosphere really aligned to make it a special night-all fairy lights and bunting. For me, always, singing Oarsman is my favourite part, and singing it in what looked like the bowels of a ship was even better. But even more than that, meeting lovely, like-minded musical people was the highlight because I am always “solo” so its lovely to feel part of a bigger community.
Here are some pictures of both shows:
Hoxton – Pictures by Peter Kent
Setting up in Hereford with Slim Estrada:
Hereford: Pix by Ingrid Bohnen