Bath & banter

Next came Bath. Unbelievable little city. World Heritage, in fact. Even getting there was breathtaking. Took a scenic road that overlooked the picturesque town and valley of Box. Checked into a hostel in early afternoon and went to the town center beside the Abbey (site of the coronation of England’s first king a long time ago) to try to join a tour bus going to Stonehenge. Three hour journey that also takes you to some crop circles and mysterious grass mounds. The bus was full, though, so I didn’t get to go. Would have been expensive anyway, and I had a really nice day walking around a bit (no bags!). Ducked into the Abbey for a quick look inside (beautiful church, impressive stained-glass windows and arches), wandered in a gallery with market stalls and bought a pickle, olives, and some kind of cheese with apricot, and spent some time scouring the book collection there. Walked a bit more and sat down in a beautiful park beside a reservoir and read from Hemingway’s Men Without Women, which I picked up at the bookshop. The went to another book store which sells old and rare books. Found some awesome stuff, including Alexander Dumas books published in 1800s, a Robert Louis Stevenson travelogue published in 1911 detailing a journey through the American West. Hard to pass on it, but I’ll plan on getting a version of it later. Got to drop off laundry at the hostel, which was clutch, and headed out to find the venue. Yet again, another great spot and a fun night. Got to meet Bob and Claire, who had arranged for me to gain entry into UK over the course of a single day (!), and others of Larkin Poe’s UK team. Strummed around for a little bit before the show and ate a memorable meal in the cafe at Chapel Arts Centre. Some kind of flat bread pizza with tons of veggies and tomato soup. Heard a bit from Rebecca about her experience working in an orphanage in Haiti for some time this past summer. She’s remarkable. Impressive and good folks, the Lovell ladies. The songs are fully realized, catchy, dynamic, and their musicianship is amazing (Rebecca on mandolin, guitar, and now fiddle, and Megan on dobro and lap steel). Plus they’ve got charisma and a charming stage presence. And the boys of Larkin Poe are fine fellows.

I’m pretty sure this was my first time doing a string of shows as an opener for another act and it was an interesting experience. It’s a challenge. My sets were usually thirty minutes (I could easily play double that length, and more) and choosing songs was a bit tough. Do I go with a few songs from Wounded Electric Youth, as it is the new record I’m promoting, and play “To Be a Loner” and “Wayward Son” to make sure the performance is a bit varied, with some more upbeat songs for good measure against the slower ballads and story-songs? Skip “Of Pirates and Vagabonds” and other WEY tracks to make way for songs I just felt like playing, including newer ones such as “Keeper of the Flame”, “Volcano Queen” or the long personal favorite, “Dead Cow Hill”? In the end, most of the thirty minute opening sets included “Nomie Wise”, “To Be a Loner”, “Jesse’s Mind”, “Tired Afternoon”, “Naduah”, “Keeper of the Flame”, and sometimes “Wayward Son”. A bit light on WEY songs but I wanted to save others like “Driftin’” for band shows. And then there’s the challenge of delivering a performance and trying to connect with the audience via five or six songs, and still fit in some natural banter, share about the various projects I have going on and coming down the pipe (Mali album and film, Cowboy Angel), etc. I would say the least successful night of achieving, or cramming, what I wanted into my set was Bath, where I got carried away a bit in the chatting. Really liked the night, though. It was great to get to play in some really neat small to mid-size venues (the whole deal- great sound, promoters/venue managers, green rooms, food, and hospitality, important community rooms and series..) and connect with the audiences. I plan on trying to get back to every town and area I played to get to see all the new friends out there and hopefully meet new music loving folks in the scene. After the show in Bath I met some cool people back at the hostel, staff mainly, and went out to a bar across the street for a few drinks, conversation, and few minutes of dancing to some pounding music. Love entering the traveller’s scene and meeting open-minded, cool people from around the world. Watched part of an absurd South Park episode and chatted back at the hostel, and went to sleep ~ 3am. Bus left Bath at 7am.

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