After coming back from our gigs in Bradford and Salford (UK) - I had spent a couple of weeks painting various rooms in our house. While its good to be at home, rather than on the road - if I'm completely honest with myself, after 12 days of slapping paint on walls day after day and watching it dry - you do start to drum your fingers and look at the walls and the ceilings, murmuring: "there must be some way out of here".
And so what better way to release oneself from the purgatory of painting the house than to swap it for the purgatory of driving almost 1000 KM for a couple of gigs - it was pretty exhausting. Our first gig was in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, normally a three hour drive north, which took six hours, due to a broken down car on the Dartford crossing over the Thames estuary. I've learned to be fairly philosophical about traffic jams as there is absolutely nothing you can do (its an 'act of God' I guess) plus it gave me a chance to get groovy and up to date with contemporary culture by checking out the latest few episodes of the Dissect podcast about up to the minute rapper Tyler the Creator - this ate up quite a few hours, however I still missed the soundcheck and arrived only just in time to eat dinner.
The gig went over well and we hadn't played Bury for quite a few years - its a lovely theatre, probably about 6/700 seats, but quite intimate.
Grabbed a quick snap of the auditorium when I set up my music stand before the doors opened.
Here we are changing for the show
And waiting to go on for the second half of the show.
The 'encore' photo is getting to be a bit of a cliche on this blog along with the 'soundcheck' photo. Anyway, after the show was over we retired to our hotel, or rather pub, which had rooms in it and I sat around with Jonty and Dave to unwind and had a few beers.
Whilst my room at the hotel was comfortable, unfortunately I couldn't get to sleep till gone 1AM, but still rose, as is my habit at 6AM - which meant I was pretty short on sleep for our next gig at the Ukulele Festival of Scotland in Dumfries - a long 7 hour drive, up to Scotland.
So I drove pretty slowly, given that it was a 350 mile journey - fortunately I noticed that Tyler the Creator had 'dropped' a new album: 'Igor" and I can highly recommend this meisterwork for any driver who is short on sleep, but wants to stay awake - easy listening it ain't!
Might as well pack in some more pics of the journey to pad this out
I remember we played here in January 2017 and were given a fine welcome - the festival is very well organised and we all received a goody bag - in this case a branded satchel which is good timing as my current one is starting to disintegrate due to the weight of this computer.
The festival is run by Stuart Butterworth and his wife Linda who were resplendent in traditional Scotch dress and is held in the splendour of the Crichton Estate, which used to be a hospital but is now some kind of university.
This is the main festival site - the Easterbrook Hall.
Ukes dinner table tableau - with added ukulele (just in case you were unsure of what instrument we play!)
I read the other day, that some concert promoters, in search of that little 'added extra' to flog exclusive tickets, have started letting punters in to the soundcheck (in the case of Paul McCartney) so they can experience something of the concert atmosphere. Soundchecks are extremely boring, but absolutely necessary and it might be a great wheeze to let the punters actually DO our soundcheck while we all have a cup of tea backstage - one can only dream!
The gig went over well and it was good to have George playing with us again. I notice that there are more and more ukulele festivals and more players than ever - every town, village and hamlet seems to have some kind of ukulele club/society and the number of us earning a living at it seems to have increased. I met again The Ukes in Fabula who I'd last seen at the Austrian Ukulele Festival last year - there is also a young player called Zoe Bestel who I missed, but is very highly regarded as a singer/songwriter. Richard Durrant, our old producer was there playing the ukulele (he's a well known classical guitarist). It was also nice to see my cousins Jane and her husband James who live close by and I spent the night at their place before making the long (8 hour) journey home again.