Out of the Painzone

Well, I fully intended to post my second tour diary at least in the same quarter as the first, but I got reeled into the infinite misery of the end of the masters. It was a dark time, dear reader; for days and then weeks I barely saw any other humans, my daily treat being a walk to the shops to make sure stocks of cheesecake were topped up. I was racked with too-much-laptop back agony, I was gloomy…I questioned the sanity and point of dedicating life energies to bits of music the world may never hear, etc etc. (The painzone refers to a song by The Shivers that contains a genius and rather tender lyric about an encounter on a petrol station forecourt with somebody taking gender change hormones.)

I came out to a friend’s album launch and got very giddy in the company of the other humans. I finally handed the sucker in (28 mins of carefully composed dramatic song cycle which I will hopefully get some funding to record and perform. Somehow. Anyone wanting to exercise some patronage is welcome to get in touch. Based on the life of a very colourful lady in the French Revolution, who avoided the guillotine narrowly twice, by her powers of seduction and tricksy survival manoeuvres…makes the Hunger Games seem like a walk in the park…and carried the scars of the rat bites she received in prison unto the grave…). I was so knackered by the time I submitted, I managed one glass of wine in the pub with my fellow post grads and had to go home for a four hour sleep. Yes, it was party time round here!

So the second half of the tour was Excellent. I went and played in Cardiff at a not-Glasto event. Charlotte Church’s manager came up to me and gave me a card, and said she liked what I was doing and to stay in touch. She was charming. And she must be good at her job. Charlotte Church makes an actual living.  It was lucky that she came up for a chat and that there was popcorn, because there was definitely no actual financial payment forthcoming. And it wasn’t a cd buying audience either. One of those gulp-let’s-just-think-about-building-an-audience gigs then. However it was enjoyable and I had never been to Cardiff before.

Then up to Stroud to play at Eppy fest. This was the absolute crowning glory of the entire tour – the best kind of night to play, when they’re organised by people who love music and want to put a good night on. And punters who turn up and are interested and buy cds. Stroud is an intriguing place. Damien Hirst has a studio there, for example, which is random.

I was on first-lovely venue, lovely people, got the job done and settled back full of prime west country Indian takeaway to watch Matt Stevens  do an incredible guitar loop wizard set. Beautiful, fluid, not show offy but just extremely musical and textural. Then William D Drake & co  blew my tiny mind with their mash up of traditional English song and progginess. I had literally never heard anything like it and their current release the Rising of the Lights is on my top list for 2012. So full of exuberance and delight, and completely on its own planet. Lyrics include one about somebody called Sir Tom being disappointed to find he was not the first to discover the Mastodon. You don’t get that kind of rhyme very often.

In fact just writing about it all is reminding me how very agreeable it was trundling along the roads of the UK, travel kettle at the ready, dreamily munching on the favoured possum snacks while listening to the radio, even if it was raining all the time, being put up by delightful people, finding a generally warm reception for the music. It definitely made me think I want to do MORE with another album.  And if I do it again, I don’t have to keep thinking at the back of my mind ‘O God I have to come up with a whole submission in a few weeks.’

So I’m going to a remote farmhouse on a Scottish Island for xmas and I’m starting to write for the next album. I’m hoping providence will in the meantime suggest some way of paying for it. Could do another pledge, could apply for arts council funding, could find some money down the back of the sofa, could patent invisible finger warming flexible fibres that keep your hands warm when you’re busking outside in Scotland; there are any number of possibilities. Would be nice to get a few collabs going.  Also I learned not to take it personally when no-one comes to your gigs-I played an amazing bill in July with Lach, Lee Patterson, William Douglas, who are the total cream of Scottish singer songwriter (and that term doesn’t do justice to their flair) and there were 8 people in total who were there. Half of them were playing. It was brilliant.  There was plenty more fun at the vomit-scented antifolk stages during the festival (‘it’s not sick, the previous act uses beer and an apple core as a prop and it just smells like that’.) Lottie Depresstival, Erin K, Laura Levites (a scrumptious American comedienne with a luscious way about her.)

Next London gig is an xmas spectacular at the Dublin Castle, might be some new songs, and I’ll be out and about in Edinburgh doing things.



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