Louis Armstrong loved playing one nighters (God knows why, with all the appalling racism he had to endure) but his sidemen hated them, and I can understand why, the travelling always far outweighs the actual playing on stage. Take our recent gig in Graz, Austria - part of the Austrian Ukulele Festival. Within the space of 24 hours, we managed to - take 4 plane trips, 2 trips on a funicular railway, play a gig and three taxi trips. Added to that some of us out of towners had extra train, bus and car journeys back to our homes.
Since I live too far away from Heathrow and can’t do early starts anymore, me and several other out of town ukes stayed in a hotel near Heathrow prior to the flight. The festival is held at the Schlossberg, a castle on a tree-clad hill in the centre of Graz:- its been going for a few years now and attracts some heavy hitters of the ukulele world: James Hill who I hadn’t seen since we played at a ukulele festival in Liverpool, Nova Scotia (in 2006/7?), Andy Eastwood who I last saw at the GNUF a few years ago (both great guys) plus some great acts I hadn’t seen.
6am start for some of us from our hotel at Heathrow
Terminal 2 taxi sculpture
On our flight to Munich (where we would transfer on to Graz) I enlisted the help of the girls to do some reaction shots for my cowboy song "The Ballad of Hopkins McGruder" coming soon.
On arrival at Munich, we got pulled aside and escorted to passport control as our plane was delayed and we thought we might not make our connection - God bless Austrian Airlines.
We were whizzed over to the plane in this special bus.
Disembarkation at Graz airport and onto another bus - did I mention bus journeys?
We stayed at this excellent and comfortable hotel the Wiesler, which judging by this wall seems to have had a few famous guests.
a bar just round the corner
Bridge of Locks! plus a view of the river with the fort on top of the will where the festival was held
A hanging surfer on the river Mur as we passed by on our way to the gig!?
and then up on the funicular railway to the top - Verena (sound) Dave and Richie enjoy the ride
It was good to catch up with Andy Eastwood again - he guested on my album and is a master of the George Formby style of banjolele playing - he's also a arranger of classical pieces for the ukulele - look at his take on Chopin's etude - how brilliant is that?!
Here's a view of the festival hall where the acts performed - our show went well, and as we got up to bow, I knocked over one of those enormous white ukuleles on the stage - i must remember to stay classy (and not clumsy) in future!
Since the schedule was running late, we went on slightly later, but played a set of just over an hour, it was a good gig and after a couple of beer it was time to head back to the hotel as we had a 6.45am start to head back. Sorry to all that we weren't able tp stay longer.......
and after five hours sleep - guess what, we were on our way back.........