Scruffy, Indie folk-rock from Transylvania

First tour of the UK

Posted by admin On August - 26 - 2010

Dear connoisseurs. Indie folk is a reviving art. And there is no better place for it – in Europe, at least – than the United Kingdom. So that’s where I went to meet the people of my taste, spirit and ambition. And, wow, did I ever?
As in most cultures, Friday the 13th is not necessarily a good day for flying. But that’s when I went and that is also the date I had my first experience with the London public. I am still to meet a promoter more enthusiastic about music than Carl Chamberlain, the guy running the event at The Ship on that date. Personally, I was a bit exhausted (and very very ill for the first couple of days in London) so most of that good vibe had a hard time rubbing off on me. But it did nevertheless. By the end of the night I almost wished I could play with these people every night of the tour. First musician I met on that particular night was James Cordell, probably the biggest Stevie Ray Vaughan fan in the London area. And he had some good chops too!
Adam Tunji played after James, then Claire from Australia, then Some Random Homeboy and Tony TSR. It was a real treat hearing everybody play.

I haven’t really done much on Saturday, I had no gig, so I was just looking around London for things to do, drank beers, met good musicians in all the unlikely places. Like Stefano and Pask, who play in The Turning, an Oasis tribute band in Italy. They sound really good, I think.
On Sunday I went to The George in Fulham. I think it’s in Fulham. Anyway, it is a really nice place and after all the beer I had that day, I only needed a couple more to get me in the perfect mood – in spite of my worsening cold. I’ve met Andy there and we played in that relaxed atmosphere until what felt like really really late. I played songs I didn’t even know I remember, so that is always a good thing. I went home feeling really well about my trip so far, not worried at all that the next day I had my biggest challenge of performing at the Hope & Anchor. To me that place is legendary, so you can imagine how I felt.

Come Monday morning and my sickness was really getting the better of me. I could barely squeeze out a decent sound, and this was the day I had to go on for 30 minutes at the Hope & Anchor. According to my contract I was also supposed to get at least 30 people down for the show if I ever want to work there again. Scared. As hell. The Plan: I was going to play in Hyde park with some posters attached to my guitar case, promoting the show with some 20 minute sets played at 40 minute intervals. I though if enough people hear me play and see the posters, I can get 30 people down, no problem. Unfortunately it rained for a few hours, so I couldn’t really do all my sets, and after the sun came out I was chased away by the police. I went to Upper street, where the club is located to continue my busker sets closer to the venue itself, but after about 30 minutes of playing I was approached by the police again. After they left I went at it again, but the second time they weren’t as nice and promised they’d take my guitar away if I wouldn’t stop – apparently someone complained I was too noisy. As you might realize, I couldn’t get enough people down to the gig. However the Bugbear guys and gals turned out to be real nice people, and I also got to meet two great bands at the gig, so my fears turned out to be based on ridiculous assumptions. It was a superb place to be, was great to hear The Fallows and The Feud. I left the club smiling, it was a real treat being there.
Tuesday morning I had realized I had no voice left. Apparently the air conditioning was too much for me at the Hope & Anchor. Fortunately I have been doing this for a while now, so I do have my tricks to get my body working in these situations, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for on this tour.
The Elixir bar was a perfect venue for acoustic music, the PA system was one of the best so far, Dave was an incredibly friendly host and the band he put on were simply amazing. Chrystina Tomlin has some incredible tunes and voice. I dearly recommend you check her out. Another band I liked was Neon Folklore. Lilly & Nina played an interesting cover version of an Oasis song and some interesting originals too.

Oh, The Silver Bullet was up on Wednesday. This place is incredible. It was packed with singers and songwriters of the greatest caliber. It also featured an extremely entertaining and high energy host, Zeke, who made me forget all about my troubling sickness as soon as I entered the venue. I spent this night savoring the musical delights of all the singers present – I, of course, played as well. I really can’t wait to get back to this venue in the future, it was a real fun place to be. I also met Sicky there, he has some really interesting music that you should check out.
On Thursday I had to find this place in Acton, called The King’s Head. I got lost for a while searching for the venue but when i finally made it, it seemed like another brilliant place for acoustic music. And, know what? It really was! Matt was really good with the PA so it sounded just how it was supposed to. And he is a really cool guy too – I was very pleased to learn how cool promoters were in London btw. (I had feared things would be different in Manchester, but as it turned out, music people are just freaking cool everywhere!) Had a real nice time at The King’s Head, drank some Real Ale with Kurtis and listened to the performers for a while. I couldn’t stay long though, I was leaving for Manchester early the next day. But I do want to come back to the King’s Head, both to play and for the ale.
The Blue Cat Cafe in Manchester was real easy to find, it is located in a suburban area called Stockport, there are several other venues and restaurant on this street, it makes for a real nice experience if you’re on the go. Danny, the owner of The Blue Cat lives just upstairs of the club, and boy, is he a nice guy! The vibe in Manchester was definitely different than in London. So were the people. It is just a different place. A really nice place. Especially for a travelling musician. A band called Jack headlined the night, Ben Dalby and I played 30 minute sets before that. My guitar gave up on me on the very last song, constantly going out of tune for some reason, so I didn’t finish my set the way I usually do, but with a “sorry, my guitar is too tired to play any more”. Jack have a few songs I really got hooked on, I hope they will make those available online or by means of a CD or something, because I intend on steeling every single note. The guys were real cool off-stage as well, Danny even gave me a ride to the coach station, though it was kind of out of his way. Really grateful for that. 🙂
I spent the next couple of days in Stoke-on-trent (birthplace of Robbie Williams and Slash, as Danny from Jack pointed that out for me) and also got to visit Buxton. Had a lovely time, but I had to get ready for my final gig in London, at Dingwalls in Camden Town.

I arrived back in London quite early so I got to visit all the shops and pubs in the area, I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on any of the shopping experience however, as I had carried my hard case for so long in the past 11 days, I really didn’t feel like making my life harder with souvenirs.
Dingwalls was great! Ant was a friendly host, as expected, and the venue had quite a few people show up for the event. The sets and the jam session went on for quite some time – almost made me miss my bus actually. Everything was great. One act in particular has gotten my attention, they are called Cook And The Case. The vocalist had an insane style. Really loved it.
As you can imagine, I really can’t wait for my second tour in the UK. I am sure it will be at least as exciting. Cheers!

One Response to “First tour of the UK”

  1. Bass player says:

    Congrats, man! It seems you had quite a nice time there! I’m sure it was only the first tour from many to come! It would be more than interesting to have links in this article to MySpace pages and other URLs. All my best wishes!

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