Paul Goodwin

Don't Wake the Scarecrow

31 Jul 2013

I'm on a Ryanair flight to lanzarote currently somewhere over Spain I think. Stansted is not a fun place in the morning but I'm looking forward to a week of doing nothing. Life is incredibly hectic at the moment, as you can probably tell from the recent frequency of these things. The trouble is if I leave too long in between them is that all the detail that made them good gets lost. Or I miss out some stuff I've done. I would love some time to write in general. Maybe I can do a bit by the pool. Unlikely.

So... Saw Beck at the Corn Exchange the other week. It was billed as acoustic but there were 3 of them and a crappy drum machine (and occasional cameos by his children on out of time tambourine and interpretive dance - got the feeling he wasn't taking it so seriously). I'm not terribly aware of his stuff, and, on the basis of this, a lot of this is pretty tedious gospel/country harmonica based ranting, but the highlights were fantastic. Specifically "Lost Cause". Goose bumps all the way. That one about how there are two turntables and a microphone was great as well.

Annie and I did a fun gig supporting Simone Felice. It's the first time I've been on stage at the "new" Portland. It's good, but I don't think I'm ever going to be as comfortable playing anywhere as I was at the old Portland. Though as it's nearly 6 months since I've done a solo gig of any kind and more than 9 since I played in Cambridge I may not actually have to be. I don't really feel like someone who does that any more. Which is probably progress. I told the Front Bottoms' cheese joke again, and once again it went down well. I think I'll have to retire it soon, but I have another cheese joke ready. Also, I had my favourite piano chair ever I think.

Simone Felice was absolutely excellent, if a slight caricature of an intense artist. And it's not totally obvious how to say his name (though I think I've ruled out Essex girl style Simown). I bought his novel last time I saw him and was going to mention it until I realised I never got round to reading it and don't know where it is. The sound was great - this was a 3 piece rather than solo and much more rocking. Try and find a video of him drumming - it's brilliant to watch. His guitarist had an electric resonator guitar which is something I've not seen before and sounded absolutely immense. If music was still something I was really doing then I would definitely think about getting one. Here's a video of my favourite Simone Felice song, from an earlier date on the same tour I think. Certainly the same out of place looking bass player.

We visited the house where they film Downton Abbey last week (it's called Highclere Castle in real life and is in Hampshire, not far from Newbury, which is much less horrible than I thought it would be). They've struck a good balance between being somewhere that people visit because of a (shark jumped) TV show and an actual place that's probably more interesting in its own right, in that there are little signs saying whose room is whose and where the Turkish army officer died in flagrante, but also lots of real family photos.


I didn't realise before we got there that it was the home of Lord Carnarvon who discovered Tutankhamun's tomb, even though we had tickets for the Egyptian exhibition. I love seeing mummies. When I open a museum there will be mummies, dinosaurs and not much else. Maybe some diamond encrusted firearms. I also enjoyed the catalogue of Carnarvon's speeding offences. He was summonsed for going 13 miles an hour in Epping Forest. I get the feeling Julian Fellowes just hung around reading the exhibition placards when he was coming up with ideas for the show.



Here's me in front of the castle. I'm getting a bit fat again. It's because Sam smileys on Kings Parade does the worlds greatest brownie. It's comfortably twice as good as its nearest rival. I don't understand how they do it. The all inclusive nature of this holiday I'm about to have probably won't help matters either... 


The grounds are amazing too - they don't look real.


The secret garden is surprisingly well signposted.



26 Jun 2013

It's been a busy music weekend - I played keys for Annie at two festivals in Yorkshire. I'm not sure why all the festivals seem to be in Yorkshire. Is it really big, or is it just that they still have to make their own entertainment up there? The first, Grassington, was nice. The place itself looks like a film set, if the film was a live action Postman Pat.


The festival had a school fete kind of feel to it. We were playing in a marquee in the town square, inappropriately and loudly compered by The Only Rapper In The Village who was in sharp contrast to the rest of the call-a-spade-a-spade staff. I told the cheese joke I borrowed from The Front Bottoms but the annoying 12 year old kids in the front row who were trying to impress a girl by clapping out of time for the whole set laughed before the punchline. Then felt stupid when the punchline came and everyone else laughed. The acts before and after us in the square were decent but Local if you know what I mean but we saw a bit of Shooglenifty at the Town (village?) Hall after, and they sounded absolutely great. The town hall was very convenient for the hotel we were staying in, so the walk home was less than a minute but it has a clock that strikes the number of hours in the hour, on the hour, every hour throughout the night. Worth bearing in mind if you're ever staying at the Craven Cottage b&b in Grassington but also worth bearing in mind is that the breakfast contained very nice bacon and the greatest toast I can remember having. The perfect balance of crunchy and chewy. I have no idea how they did it. The bread was straight out of the freezer though, so maybe that's something to do with it.

The next day was the Willowman Festival in thirsk, which had more of a traveller community feel to it. We were there pretty early so got temporary tattoos, as you do. Mine was on the side of my belly and was of Elvis. Here's a picture.


Of everywhere I've played this year this was the best sound setup. Properly professional guys. The same couldn't be said for the chair I had to use though. I might have to invest in one. 


Just after we started the heavens opened and most of the festival came into the tent we were on in, which was nice. I looked up about halfway through and saw Gary who came with me and Chris to Way Out West the second time I went. My theory about there not being that many people in the world that aren't just extras strikes again. Good to see him. Still not sure why he was there. Made me want a game of mini golf. Apparently The Wonder Stuff played on the stage we did later that night because the heavens opened again. I bet it was great. We've played quite a few festivals in the last year and I've been surprised (and a bit disappointed I guess) at how little music you actually get to see. This time literally nobody else.


I washed the tattoo off after 2 days of being surprised in the morning. The guy proudly told us it could last up to a month if it was looked after. I wonder if he knows that the majority of people who let him use them as a canvas for his art are doing so mockingly and out of boredom. And I wonder if it bothers him if he does.


25 May 2013

New York was good, though the only really notable event was that we saw Justin Long having a good natured altercation with a pedestrian who walked across in front of him very slowly while he was on his scooter. His face is rounder and less long in real life. There was also some successful shopping. All pretty standard really. Here are some pictures.



Just back from the zoo. Animals are great. I know I've said it before but they look just like people in animal suits. Look at this swimming sealion for example.


Or this meerkat


Not so much the anteater, though it did prance around like a drag queen.


Here's some other cool animals.



Colchester Zoo seems a lot bigger than when I used to go there as a child. I used to like it then too, but I don't think there was a land train. I like land trains. Was kind of hoping for a monorail though. One of my favourite bits was the ant display - there's a nest which you can see right into, then a rope that goes over the walkway to a leafy island. They carry such huge things. It reminded me of this film from my childhood, which is surprisingly absent from the internet.

We were meant to have been coming back from Frome today having played there last night, but we got stuck on the M25 for so long that there was no way we were going to make it in time so we gave up and came back. It shouldn't take 4 hours to get to Heathrow. It was the last solo gig I had booked, so I was a bit disappointed. It had aleady been ages.

Last weekend we went to play at the Shepley Spring Festival - a folk festival put on by a village in Yorkshire that Annie was playing at.

It's near Penistone. I wonder if that stops being funny if you live there.


We slightly misjudged how grim the weather was going to be, especially on the first day (I didn't even take a coat) so after our first set of the weekend (in the beer tent, with less than ideal sound and largely ignored by the world in general) we went off to the (incredibly nice) house we were being put up in for a snooze before finding the saltiest noodles in the history of takeaway food from the local takeaway. The roads are quite narrow round there which you would think would mean everyone would be good at driving, but there was a smashed up car outside the Chinese and as we were walking there an old woman drove into a car parked outside a pub. Annie had another set that evening in a church following a brass band and before the winners of last years BBC Young Folk Award. Both were really enjoyable in different ways. Do brass bands always play Dambusters?


The weather was better the next day so we braved the festival site at about lunchtime to see Gren Bartley, who I used to know to talk to from the Folk Club. I think he's left me far behind, but he's very good still. We were playing on the main stage, which was pretty big and exciting. Got to meet Martin Simpson and Flook who are all very nice, but surprisingly short, which isn't something you can say for the introductions to Martin Simpson's songs. Very good at the guitar though!

Bearing in mind there were only 3 acts left I think that they may have overestimated the amount of water required.


Some members of the public broke into the backstage area and tipped over the portaloo - they were trying to scare each other but it got out of hand. And out of toilet. There was a little blue turd on the grass for the whole afternoon. The people in question legged it fairly quickly.

My Stranger in India

10 May 2013

I just had a really special experience in the security line at Heathrow. The lady behind me was annoyed with me because the American girls in front of me were taking ages to put their bags through the scanner so when they finally got out of the way and I went through, took my bag off the conveyor and put her and her ugly friend's bags through first. Is there a rule that if you get to an age at which it's OK to wear golden plastic Pat Butcher earrings you can act like a complete dick? I'm on the way to New York for the first time in a year and I'm beyond tired before I even have jetlag to deal with. Maybe that's a good thing really.

A few of us went down to London on Sunday to see Hop Along at The Old Blue Last after someone mentioned them on Twitter and I checked them out and loved it. I got brunch at the restaurant round the corner before getting the train, which was a decent standard but for some reason doesn't include baked beans. Of all the ingredients in a breakfast, baked beans are probably the most important - they tie everything together and stop it being too dry. A breakfast without them is like pizza without tomato and mozzarella. You can call it a pizza if you must, but we both know it isn't really. We got to London at about half 2 and, as an experiment, walked from Leicester Square down to Embankment, where I mistakenly believed the pub we were meeting Andy and Jason in to be. On the way we had a quick look at the National Portrait Gallery because I'd mentioned the frozen blood head they have in there, and passed some kind of rollerblading fun run. Not sure what it was in aid of but it seemed to have more marshalls than normal entrants. Still, rollerblading looks hard to me - you probably need a lot of people to help take the injured to hospital.

Upon reaching Embankment we walked along the river to Temple where the pub actually was, and then walked back up to The Strand to find a cash machine, past St Clement's church which was doing the Oranges and Lemons tune on its bells. Eventually we settled in at The Walkabout (scene of me watching that brilliant Liverpool vs West Ham FA Cup Final, 2006 maybe?) to wait for the others. After it transpired that it didn't do any real beer or food we headed off to The Globe in Covent Garden, which did. It turned out that it was right in front of the red carpet for The Olivier Awards, which honour the best in London Theatre. I imagined that there wouldn't be anyone you'd have heard of involved in London Theatre, but after Brian May sashayed past we started running out of the pub to take a look every time a cheer went up. I saw Helen Mirren, Harry Potter (I know, I know), this dude who I'd not heard of but is in some children's film and an awful lot of people who looked very attractive at the kind of distance an audience is from a stage and not so great at the kind of distance one side of a barrier is from the other. Jason saw Kim Cattrall.


On the way to the venue we went to Pizza Express and got a bowl of mixed olives that was really stretching the definition of mixed.


The Old Blue Last is a venue I'd not been to before but is exactly what a venue should be - dark, sweaty and noisy. With some inconveniently positioned bunting.


The first band started up as we walked in and were very loud, very good at playing their instruments (especially the guitarist), and the singer was very shouty and very standing on the floor in front of the stage so you couldn't see him. Reminded me a bit of Rock of Travolta (remember them?!) except with a shouty singer. A similar stage presence though, because the singer was in the crowd. I enjoyed them a lot for a while, until one of them said they run a "DIY space" (I'm assuming for horrible art rather than furinture building). And it got a bit samey. Second up, Muncie Girls, were really great. Girl fronted pop punk. It's often really hard to hear the vocals at gigs like this (loud music, small room, not especially great singers) but the drums were unbelievable and really great drumming is enough to get me going at gigs like this (most of the drum sound coming not through the PA so it sounds real and close to you). The same was true of The Sidekicks, who had some strange technical difficulties involving the bass, which sounded absolutely fine out the front. It meant there was a 10 minute gap in their shortened set, and some people who'd come to see them rather than Hop Along were a bit disgruntled. They sounded a bit like Weezer which is no bad thing and again the drumming was amazing. At one point just before the only kind of quiet song built up to being massive the guy was going absolutely crazy smacking his leg because he wasn't allowed to hit his drums yet. You can't help but love it when people are that into something.

Hop Along themselves were a little disappointing, though I'd mentally prepared to be blown away so I guess they were always going to be. The gig was running about 45 minutes late by the time they came on so a lot of the set was spent worrying about getting home (we missed the second half of my favourite song of theirs - not sure of the names but it's about cherry picking in Canada - could've watched it though because we had to wait 10 mintes for the tube) and I don't think the singer could hear herself for the first few songs because she was getting nowhere near the notes. There were some moments of brilliance though, and quite a lot of spine tingles, which is the reason I go to stuff. If there'd been no time pressure and I'd not been so happily surprised by the greatness of The Front Bottoms earlier in the week then maybe I'd see it in a different light.


On Tuesday I went to Half-Ton in Milton to get some drums recorded for what I've decided in advance is going to be my Great Lost Album. We did 4 songs and the drums sound really great. Guilt Edged Opportunity sounds about 10 times better than it did with my homespun saucepan and mattress effort at percussion. If I can just find time to do the rest of the recording... I'm not sure what the best way to release music is these days. A lot of the fun of doing it is having a physical thing that has your name on it, but nobody (including me) buys CDs any more. I wonder if there's any way of doing a run of 100 real CDs. Or if anyone would want just a little lyric book so that I can have the fun of designing one. Stupid internet.


On Wednesday I broke a 6 month abstinence from playing live in Cambridge and went to an open mic at The Alma. Didn't really enjoy performing at all, though things don't seem to go down well there if they fall outside the metaphorical paint of the metaphorical white line in the middle of the smoothest of metaphorical roads. I did So Finally a Love Song and Black Coffee and Bromide, both of which have emotional content so didn't have a chance. Though my cause wasn't helped by the PA cutting out during the second which threw me off my already wobbly stride. Oh well, maybe in another 6 months I'll ty again. I do miss playing though.

Well that's mature

26 Apr 2013

I got to cross a band off of The List this week. The Front Bottoms in Camden. Their self titled album was probably my favourite new thing I heard last year so there was a lot of pressure on them. From me anyway. I'm sure they didn't care. It felt like it might actually be summer for the first time of the year and having a leisurely pre-gig pint in The Worlds End with the sun pouring in, the faint noise of a didgeridoo in the background, pondering the queue for The Underworld (something called Moonspell apparently - the people going to see whatever that is all looked like they know the Dungeonmaster's Guide inside out) was lovely. Until AC/DC came on the jukebox at a volume that I'd have believed they were actually playing in the corner of the pub. It was still pretty good even with the rawk to be honest. We got to the venue too late to see Stephen from Tellison playing support because the waiter at the sushi place we had dinner at  was new and when he couldn't understand our request for green tea ice cream, rather than finding someone who could understand just went away and pretended that nothing had happened. Twice. Still, we got there just as The Front Bottoms started and almost immediately I was grinning from ear to ear. They were even better than I'd dared hope. Louder, faster, tighter, more dynamic than the album. Really, really tight actually. An excellent line in banter too. And the brilliant songs just kept coming. Here's the video for a new one.

A non-musical highlight was during Mountain when someone invaded the stage with a double per band member, they stopped the song, downed them in complete unison, and started up again. Really, really tight. I did feel pretty old, but better that than the alternative. I'd not been to The Barfly before. It's exactly how venues should be. There were a few "that guy could only possibly be a massive tool" moustaches around, but that's London I suppose.

That leaves The List as: The Gin Blossoms, Bruce Springsteen, Frightened Rabbit, The Retrospective Soundtrack Players, Swans, Brand New, Say Anything, Bad Books, King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, The Wrens. Some of those are going to be easier than others.

When I see stars

13 Apr 2013

It's been a relatively musicy week. On Saturday I was playing guitar with Annie at a pub in Southend-on-Sea (we didn't want to leave the keyboard there on the back seat all day) so we went down early because it's somewhere we used to go to when I was little. In particular I remember what is now Adventure Island and used to be Peter Pan's Playground. There's a crooked house there, which (it turns out) is quite hard to get through as a grown up, but I remember us going a lot as children. There used to be a marker on it showing where the water had got to in the flood of 1953 and I kept looking for it, but it's been painted over I think. Which is a shame.


We got some above average but not spectacular fish and chips, spent a few quid on those 2p waterfall machines that even if you pretty much emptied out you'd put all the coins back in again, and had a go on various rides. I'm not good on rollercoasters so we had to check before each one that it didn't go upside down or anything. Everyone else on each one was a parent with their toddler. I actually quite enjoyed the last one. We also had a go on the go karts, which I was great at but not as good as the little chavvy kid who could go faster than everyone else because he was little.


There was a definite change in atmosphere about the place as the afternoon wore on. Run down turned to edgy. Mark Eitzel wrote a song about Southend. He wasn't wrong. 

The gig was ok. It wasn't exactly busy but people seemed to like it. I'd never played all the way through all the songs on guitar before the set, which was a bit of a risk, but we only decided to do that the day before. I felt like I did alright. I'd seen the guy before us, Bob Collum, back in the day at the Boat Race. I quite liked him then, but I liked him more now.

The venue toilets had some wonderful graffiti.


Here's my selection of gear. Would've been easier to take the keyboard


On Tuesday it was Annie's EP launch at The Slaughtered Lamb in London. They've been having decent gigs there for several years but there's never been anything I wanted to see enough to go to London for. It was a lot plusher than I expected, but I had imagined there'd be a stage. It was her first full band show in the UK. We had cello from Jo who plays with Emily Barker, cajon from Mike who played on all my recordings and backing vocals from Kerry Devine, who was the opening act. All of them were great. Gary Stewart who we stayed with in Leeds did the middle set. He has that thing where even if the songs were no good (which isn't the case) it's really compelling to watch him just because of how perfectly he plays the guitar.

Our set sounded really nice - the cello and drums and effortlessly great harmonies really filled it out. I've missed playing in bands. Saying that, the most exciting thing about the whole thing for me was that Max from Hollyoaks was in the pub upstairs. No sign of OB, but it's still the best celeb I've seen in a long time (I think he beats the twice-weekly sighting of Rory McGrath in Fitzbillies). Nobody else seemed very impressed.


The parking they have round there is interesting. They've got a perfectly good pay and display machine which they've blocked up and put a note on saying you either have to call a premium rate phone line or go to a newsagent about 10 minutes walk away with a number and your registration. I guess they're trying to squeeze extra cash out of the phone line, but it seems a bit wrong headed.

Score draw

19 Mar 2013

Just got back from the first Cambridge United game I've been to for over a year. It was freezing and they have nothing left to play for this season, but it was still really enjoyable. I've missed my pillar.

Fortress Abbey

I'm slowly backfilling this with what's been going on for the last couple of months. It's proving hard to find the time to do the tour justice, let alone the 6 weeks since. Though the 6 weeks since were a bit less busy to be fair. How did I ever do one of these things every couple of days? I guess I had an emptier life. Though I used to spend my quiet moments trying to write music and these days I'm mostly thinking about the table football championship at work. Not sure which is less mature.

I guess it's good to be comfortable. Jason Molina's death surprised and upset me more than I'd have expected. I've been checking out Magnolia Electric Co. for the last couple of days and I wish I'd known how great they were when I saw them at a distance and was pretty underwhelmed at End of the Road the other year. It was probably life changing down the front/with proper attention. The records are beautiful.

Garlic Nan

29 Jan 2013

Our gym was nice enough to let us go to all their branches around the country for the duration of the trip so we went to sit in the hot tub the morning after the Symphony Hall gig. My back was sore from traipsing back and forth across sheet ice with bags/instruments/goodnessknowswhat so it was pretty welcome. This one had a plunge pool. Sod that. It's interesting how every Nuffield gym has the same slightly tasteless scrambled eggs. Of all the meals in the world you would think that would be something you'd cook specially rather than microwave.

The short drive to Leicester was pretty uneventful. Annie bought me a grumpy smurf at the services, I think to make me fail to open then container as I had with the web slinger. God knows how kids get into these things. We got off the motorway and onto the brilliantly named Groby Road (sounds like a dirty cat), where the hotel was and came to the turning marked Premier Inn, then carried some stuff into the reception where we tried to check in. Turns out there are two Premier Inns on Groby road in Leicester, each with piles of maps to the other that they give to the 30% of people who thought Groby Road would be sufficient to put in the satnav. My old uni friend Niall who was coming to the gig was, coincidentally, in the same hotel. Which seems very unlikely seeing as even if he was booking into a Premier Inn on Groby Road there was still only a 50% chance it'd have been the same one.

The venue was really nice. I had an excellent chicken melt thingy while the main band of the night had one of the longer, louder soundchecks I've seen in a while. My solo gig was ok, I'd not played in ages so getting through the set with not too many cock ups was as good as could be hoped for really. The crowd were friends of the local bands on the bill so were never going to care but were polite at least. Setlist (vaguely):The Ghost of Paddy's Night Past, Watertight, This Place is Dead Anyway, So Finally a Love Song, Edinburgh, maybe something else.

Annie and I played a more assured set (to my mind) than the night before, maybe because there was a stage and monitors and it was dark. And I had this guy watching me.


It's quite nice being a backing musician - there's a lot less pressure. A lot less reward too, but it's still fun.

About 20 seconds after everything was all over the room turned into a rockabilly disco. I've not seen so many quiffs or so much gingham in one place before. Annie and Niall went to get the car and, I'm led to believe, they saw some local wang. Classy place Leicester.

Against my expectations, Leicester closes really early. Probably for the best bearing in mind the state of it at 10.30 (and actually, any other time I've been there), but trying to find some food was a nightmare. We had to go to a 24 hour drive thru McDonalds in an industrial estate on the outskirts in the end. If you've Pledged for Annie's ep you may have seen some footage of the ordering process. Niall enjoyed his I think.


The next morning went to the Leicester edition of the gym which was bigger but more suspicious of us. It had some amazingly hot hot tubs, which operated a weird alternating system where only one would be on at a time so everyone had to shuffle between them every 10 minutes. Seems to me you may as well just have one that's on all the time. When we were done we went for lunch in central leicester - all the restaurants were super busy apart from Urban Pie (who'd have thought it with a name like that!) and a very tasty Indian restaurant.


We intended to go to the National Space Centre but there wasn't really time, after we'd pissed about in a toy shop for a bit and driven round a properly horrible so we headed for Birmingham a little bit early.


The venue was very trendy, which these days means falling to pieces and smelling of lentils. Though I do admire somewhere that's actually falling to pieces rather than having had an expensive refit to look like it is. Good taste in games though:


Louise Petit's band were nice again. She had an extra guitarist for a couple of songs called Amit. Amit can do this. Not sure if it helps his playing in some way but he sounded nice.


We played well I thought and met some nice people. I was still struggling with the melodica breathing but only a couple of people came up to me and took the piss about it.

Hit the road

25 Jan 2013

Knowing that we were going away for 12 nights this morning, we spent all of last night waiting for a Chinese meal to be delivered, trying to call the restaurant because they brought the wrong thing, taking the meal back to the restaurant because they'd left the phone off the hook and eating Chinese. That meant that this morning was busier than we thought it might be, because we had to pack, gather supplies and scrape 3 inches of snow off the car. Which for some reason I decided to do with no coat or gloves on. A 15 minute drive round Cambridge trying to find somewhere to check the tyres now that they've closed Sainsbury's later and we were on the road only an hour later than planned. We'd allowed 5 hours for a 110 minute drive so it wasn't too big a worry. We even had time to stop at the services 10 minutes north of town for me to get a substandard KFC (the chicken was too freshly cooked for my liking, and the coke machine was broken or empty or something). Annie began her effort to eat nothing but burritos for the entire trip.


The snow was getting noticeably thicker as we headed west, but it didn't affect the length of the journey as much as the combination of our satnav's habit of announcing turns either miles in advance or at the very last minute and the road system in Birmingham city centre.

Eventually we pulled into the loading bay of Birmingham Symphony Hall, and after a bit of confusion about whether we could park there, we unloaded onto a trolley (and how I wish everywhere had trolleys) and began to negotiate the labyrinth of ramps and corridors to the foyer where we were playing. It's an impressive building, and apparently one of the top 5 concert halls in the world. The foyer, which feels like a cross between a conference centre and a shopping mall was also very swish. Here's the view from the window:


I was a good set - complete opposite of last week in terms of audience noise. It was a bit disconcerting being able to hear so well. Ironic in a concert hall. 

When we were done, hundreds of admirers queuing up for an audience with Annie so I kept an eye on the gear and talked to a guy about melodicas for 20 mins. Though it was interesting. He'd done a 2 hour solo melodica show once. I said, no offence but I'm glad I didn't see it. I keep running out of breath while playing the melodica. Someone should come up with one that allows you to both suck and blow. Like Coldplay.

Talking of sucking, here's what the set list is written on the back of.


After we watched the other act, Louise Petit, who was good, we carefully walked out onto Broad St, site of several "special" nights in my mid to late 20s, including the legendary office party where our 3 person company spent more than the 25 person company and found a Mexican restaurant which not surprisingly outclassed the one at the services in the A14.

We stopped at a Tesco for supplies on the way to the hotel (I'd forgotten my toothbrush and neither of us packed toothpaste - the cupboard in the bathroom is full of toothpaste from trips like this). Annie bought me a spiderman Impenetrable Web slinger from a vending machine that I couldn't get into for ages.


Goodness knows how children manage it. It's pretty good though.


We were booked into a Travelodge that turned out to be above a KFC and a Subway, with a car park that was 2 inches deep in ice. Unloading took a long time. It smelt a lot like a Subway and there was only one member of staff (I guess it makes sense seeing how cheap the rooms are) and we had to wait for ages to check in, wondering if there was actually anyone there. Annie even rang the hotel, but the phone next to us just rang. She turned up in the end though.


 I don't remember touring involving this much carrying stuff around. I suppose I've never brought a keyboard before. I'll either end up a lot stronger or a couple of inches shorter.


Back in the saddle

23 Jan 2013

I did my first bit of performing of the year last week playing keys for Annie at Folkroom Records' biweekly night near Kings Cross. I forgot how heavy and annoying my keyboard is, but I have repurposed an old laptop bag to carry my pedals and leads in some semblance of order so I feel a little bit more professional. Small things. It was nice to play, but the audience were pretty vocal the whole time. I've rarely had much fondness for London audiences (or acts) at the lower level - the acts are almost never very good but take themselves incredibly seriously and the audiences either have no clue about music or are weirdos. There are weirdos everywhere obviously. This audience was pretty typical as a whole, but a lot of the people were nice. We played well, despite not really practicing in ages. I have a melodica part now, and was a bit nervous about it, not really having played one before. It takes a lot of breath.

The snow is very annoying eh? I've managed not to fall over at all so far this year but getting anywhere is very slow. I keep ending up in the middle of big patches of ice, losing confidence and just standing there helpless while various small children whizz by laughing.

Annie and I are traipsing off round the country tomorrow for about 10 days doing a series of gigs, which is pretty exciting. I'll be playing keys a lot and doing solo sets about half the time. They may well be all the solo gigs I do for the foreseeable so I hope people buy a lot of CDs. They're only going to get harder to sell as people care less and less about them and I have so many left! It's a shame that there's no market for actual physical things any more. Unless they involve Mumford and Sons or knitting.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is already this year's Masterchef Australia. It's so gripping watching grown women behave like school kids and marvelling at how strange plastic surgery looks, even super expensive plastic surgery. The whole of the first series was a single confusing argument. With that and Hollyoaks it's a miracle anything gets done on a Sunday.

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