Sunday, 16 April 2017


Walter Kohl bottom left

In a few days I will be flying out to Vienna to meet up with my good friend Walter Kohl a well known Austrian writer. We originally met up to discuss his idea for a book, a “faction” called Out Demons Out. Now we are about to appear together at the first promotion events in Austria, for the finished book. I will be playing a few songs and chatting with Walter. It is all very exciting and something different for me.
Walter's idea was to tell the story of his childhood and growing up in post war Austria when the Edgar Broughton Band was looming in the not too far distance and then, when he first heard Wasa Wasa, how that had a dramatic effect on his view of things. The actual chronology of events is not adhered to nor are some of the facts. It is not a biography, although much of my/ EBB history is contained with in it. It is a novel. Actually it is also a novel that contains excerpts from my writings in The Instantainium.

“This one is for you, Edgar had said in the late afternoon, the sun was sinking already, and had stared into the brothers eyes for a long time. And then he started singing very softly. The air was thick like honey. It fell like beginning to melt, the brother said. Inside of me. And suddenly the village was back, and Hilda, and the bricklayer, and all the shit of that time.
He saved us from the village, actually, the brother said, and looked for Edgar.
Yes, said Charly”.

From Out Demons Out. A novel about The Edgar Broughton Band by Walter Kohl.

Each chapter is loosely based around a song title and tells part of the story of Walter's long distance relationship with the EBB and the effect the music had on him and his friends. Some of it is true and some is not. His choice. An intriguing concept.

I spent many hours being interviewed for this work here in the UK and in Austria. I have read a rough English translation which, impressively, Walter made himself. I have made some corrections while being very aware that the writer has to have most control over the finished draft. Fortunately Walter and I operate on similar lines and so this was not a problem. The book is in the German language at this time but we hope it will appear in English soon.

Walter sent me a couple of photos ( see above) from press clippings related to his book. He sent them because the strap line says “Out with the demons” and it is next to a photo of our Charlie boy enjoying some Austrian chocolate. I see where Walter is coming from but as it happens I quite like our Charles. He is the same birth sign as me, a Scorpio, he is roughly the same age and we both have a high regard for the Dalai Lama. He does make the odd gaff though , some thing I never do ha ha! During filming of the gardens at the rear of Buckingham Palace, he was showing the Dalai Lama the wild meadow garden. He was so obviously proud of it. He suddenly turned to his friend and asked him, “So how are things with China”? The Dalai Lama looked gobsmacked. The prince immediately apologised adding “ You can't really talk about that can you”? So it is with the royal one.
To be fair he occasionally speaks out against stupidity and verges on being political at times. Some thing the royals try to avoid as it contravenes their own protocols. It seems he is not a bad bloke on the surface. He certainly seems happier now he is with the one he loves and it looks like the royals have learned some thing from the recent past, especially after the death of Diana.
They have a long way to go to be a so called bicycling monarchy though.

Charles is very opinionated and that is not a bad thing but I suspect the slightly dusty, old school, hard line conservative streak would always have stood in the way of him ever becoming the key board player with the EBB.
I don't agree with his narrow ideas on style, especially architecture and though I can see having a chat would be fascinating I don't think we could ever be mates ha ha! But no, for me Charles is not the demon.
The demon is the despoiler, ravager of the world, destroyer of children, the war pig and the builders of walls that would lock us in.

People often ask me if I can play a version of Out Demons Out on acoustic guitar. It is just about possible but pointless with out the chemistry, magic and innate understanding of the other two. I say two because it only ever needed myself and Art and Steve to drive the thing. I played it with the Glastonbury house band a while ago and decided it would always be a cover version with out the guys so that's it. I won't play it again with out them. It is the one thing played by the EBB that always retained the spirit of how and when we more or less began as a proper band. The song has been through many developments over time right up to the version on the Rockpalast DVD which, is about to be re released.

The date sheet is looking interesting. I have a FDPFAFDW gig in Norway near Stavanger on the horizon with some lovely people I met last year when Luke and I were touring there. I love those gigs and the people who put them together. I have a couple of nice festivals including a return to The HRH Prog Fest in North Wales and one of my favourite bookings at the Real Music Club in Brighton. I expect there will be a few more dates coming in to add to the list. Just enough to keep me out of trouble and in practise.

I love it all except the time spent at airports hanging around and being dependent on others who don't have my priorities or interests at heart. I remember a woman who worked for British Airways chucking a flight case containing Luke's samplers down a ramp to the luggage guys below. The samplers provided all the sounds for the EBB set. Luke's face was a picture and she just told us it would be ok. We pointed out she didn't even take the time to find out what was in the cases. This meant both Luke and I were anxious about this until the next sound check.
I can get quite anxious about getting flights on time but I always make it with loads of time to spare. I have no problem with flying just the waiting around to do it. I became so used to a life with roadies it can be a bit irksome on my own. Happily when I arrive any where I am always looked after very well by people who care.

Easter is nearly over I am happy to say. To me it is just another religious irrelevance taken from the Pagans and incorporated into Roman Christianity by the emperor Constantine to keep order among the various Christian movements and leaders. Sadly the commercialisation of Easter has become more or less acceptable. What annoys me is that we have lost the celebratory style that accompanied the pagan festivals. I would have enjoyed the bawdy, licentious behaviour that would have been the order of the day. Orgiastic and free. Woah!
Having said that the kids have a great time at Easter and that really matters. So ignore what that Edgar whatsisface says. He doesn't like Christmas either. Out Demons Out.



Friday, 31 March 2017

Ashamed to be British?

May triggers Brexit and today we begin to get a picture of the EU response. It seems clear that no one in the EU is going to let Britain have it's way. Why would they? They are saying that they will dictate the process in so far as the trade deals will come after they are satisfied with the "divorce" and only when it is finalised. Today we were told that the EU had no desire to punish Britain as Brexit would be punishment enough.

As many of you will know I work in Norway on a regular basis so I was intrigued by the comments of some young Norwegians regarding Brexit in a recent TV news clip. Most of these bright young ones said they were disappointed with the Brexit vote. That is was selfish with out thought for the coming generations and the interests of young people now. As an older person I feel some shame in so far as many of my generation voted to leave. I think it was a betrayal of the young. Then there are those that did not vote either way in the referendum.  As time has gone by it seems to me that they are mostly people who never participate much ( "whats the point?' ) or are possibly financially comfortable enough to think they will be able to weather what ever storm arises with little adverse effect to themselves. Then there are those who blame every one else for what they don't have. There will always be a scape goat for them and this time, not for the first time it was the new comers, the foreigners. They will whine the loudest if things go badly and the EU/UK deal is poor? 

The future of foreign nationals who live and work here seems fairly safe at this stage so it seems likely that the Brexiteers will not have the satisfaction of seeing them sent home so that "we get our country back". It is very likely that immigration will not fall enough to satisfy hard line Ukippers who will rail against the outcomes imposed by the EU who are desperate to keep the other 27 members onside, just as the disaffected in the Rust Belt of the USA will rail against Trump when they don't "get their country back". 

Today the EU stated that any trade deal would require UK adherence to EU trade union laws and workers rights. We know that while many Tories would want many rights curtailed and total autonomy in respect of law making, our need to trade will limit this. If the tone and content of EU reaction to Brexit today is anything to go by, we will have to comply much more than we might have first imagined before the triggering of Brexit.

Today some one made a rather controversial comparison with Brexiteers and some Germans after WW2. She said that many Germans denied any thing to do with Hitler and his actions nor did they support him. My friend said that one day it would be the same with Brexit when no one will admit to having voted to leave the EU. We shall see. 

I feel that I am beginning to live in an England soon to be isolated from it's european neighbours and possibly the countries that made it a United Kingdom.  It does not feel good or any thing like the best way forward. Yes I am a remoaner and proud of it. 

I some times feel that my writings here might be better appreciated if they were nostalgic writings about the EBB, the good old days and how wonderful it all was. I get that but I am not feeling it.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

stormy weather

Doris the storm

Doris and Donald, a lot of wind and all coming from the west. Trump aside, I am hoping to get some fishing in over the next few days so I hope storm Doris is not going to curtail that.

I have been hibernating more or less all of this year so far which is why I haven't written any thing here for some time. I have been writing and recording lots of music though so I have not been entirely idle.

I have been watching the news from the US and else where with increasing incredulity. The man Trump is worse than we could have imagined. It is difficult to imagine him getting through twelve months in office with out impeachment or indictment. I feel sure it can't be long before some geeky stats nut will tell us Trump has only 25 words in his vocabulary. When father and son were in business together they were legally represented by the law firm who at the time, represented the three most powerful mafia families in the US. His father was busted for a massive fraud related to the building of homes for US service men after World War 2. His father told Donald he was always right and that if any one disagreed to fire them. Unfortunately it seems he would apply this policy to judges and any one else who disagrees with his mad policies if if he could. What might he do to the free press if he could? Senate and Congress can limit potential Trump damage if it chooses to and we can only hope it does. 

Surely there has never been a more inept and ridiculous so called leader of the free world.  In the past century there have been two men, both with funny haircuts, who wanted to build walls to keep people out and one who wanted to keep people in. Trump will fail to satisfy the demands of the rust belt and other disadvantaged Americans, by restoring their vanished jobs just as May will fail to satisfy the demands of Brexiteers. 

I have said plenty about the underlying darkness that I believe colours Brexit and how I think those who "want our country back" will be disappointed by the final deal. The populist vote cannot be satisfied with out a big push to the right and eventually to the far right. Be careful what you wish for. Marine Le Pen has toned down her fascist rhetoric to satisfy the populist vote but it will return if and when she has power. 

On the subject of rhetoric its seems that political speeches have become so formulaic they begin to sound alike. It is infuriating, especially when a little truth and a properly answered question would be sufficient. After a total disaster due to inadequate management and neglect, we hear  " At this time we are thinking of the victims and their families. We are reviewing policy and have already made changes to operational practice. We will do every thing possible to prevent this happening in the future." So it goes as though we are stupid or at least too stupid to rise up and do some thing about some thing, which strangely brings me to Blair. 

The man, who some think should be brought to book for war crimes, has re surfaced with the campaign Open Britain. It was very weird to hear him suggesting uprising in the UK. Given his tarnished reputation it was sad to hear him critical of Labour Party performance though with some justification.  On the subject of political speeches I am sure I could provide a better delivery than Jeremy. Opposition to May's blundering is poor. If we had any doubt that she had no intention to deliver on her egalitarian, maiden speech outside number 10, we need doubt no more. The past few months have seen government total ignoring all pleas to do some thing about social care, NHS including mental health provision, understaffed prisons and the list goes on. There is money for non of it only the vacuous promises of the new Iron Lady. Meanwhile the poor and vulnerable suffer more and more as cuts bite hard and there is really no one who truly represents them. 

So what of Blair's uprising call? He who spoke very eloquently about Brexit and the state of the nation. A lot of people liked the message but despise the man. It sounds a warning some where deep inside me.  

My mind wanders off into a alternative reality where Illuminati pull the strings and Blair is their rep in the New World. Trump's progeny is  Anti Christ and the Bush tribe and his End Timer mates are revelling in the all of the potential destruction possible. They are all good pals and good pals with Putin who is in reality, only a lowly hit man. Considering the little good that any of them have done for the world, it might as well be true. For those End Timers and millions who believe we are living in the end of days there are many things happening in the world that they will interpret as fore told and supportive of their own view of it all. Whoa! Enough of that.

Seriously though, while there is much to be sad and concerned about, there is always much to be glad about for most of us when we look about us and around the world.  A little kindness goes a long way and we can all deliver some of this if we want to. The good and kind will never be an irrelevance even if their leaders are. In these times of austerity and division, we have to stand up for what is right and fair more than ever. We have to reject narrow and negative judgements based on a persons difference. We should resist and actively challenge all who judge and discriminate on such basis or piece by piece we shall see the rights and freedoms we enjoy reduced to dust. The thing that terrifies me most is that though I never thought I would see this in my life time, I fear I might. 


Saturday, 31 December 2016

bye bye 2016

  photo by Dave Randell

Thankfully Christmas is over. 2016 is nearly over and I can't say I am sorry to see it go. The year has brought focus to bear on the real issues of our time in a way that I cannot remember in previous times. We live in a country where almost all government claims to address the issues that matter are total lies and misinformation. Poverty is rapidly increasing, working people have to use food banks to supplement their needs, housing for most young people is unaffordable, some of our most capable young people are shunning a university education to avoid more debt, the government are threatening to ban strikes, the great institution that is the NHS is on it's knees through lack of funding and genuine endorsement. Racism, sexism and homophobia are insidiously on the rise in UK culture and a clear move to the right is evident throughout the land. I see the evidence every where I go and I have been around a bit this past year. Whole communities in the UK are struggling to survive and government austerity policy is responsible for most of this deprivation. 

All of this seems small compared to the troubles across the world, the plight of the dispossessed of Syria and the exodus by refugees to Europe.

For many folk it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the worry and uncertainty in their lives and in the world. The strain is showing. The cost of this is probably most evident in the emergency services where highly trained and capable professionals are leaving their jobs for some thing with less stress. Are they up to the job? Well they were before cuts to services bit hard and resources were diminished. As more people become clinically depressed and anxiety levels go through the roof, the care for people with mental health issues is under resourced if it is available at all. The Police increasingly say they spend valuable time looking after people with mental distress in cells. This is because they have no where to send them for proper support and care.

The world will spend around $79 billion on ice cream in 2017. Non governmental and governments total spending on world wide aid is less than one third of this. In the UK we spend £6 billion on pet food. In 2014 it was suggested, by top fiscal experts, that the Christmas spend in the high street and on line is now an essential component of a successful UK economy. I find that very scary.

It has been a tough year for many folk I know. Many of us have lost people and of course this has been a very sad year for most of us as we saw the passing of so many great musicians, luminaries of our time and poor Jo Cox.

As we look forward to 2017 it is impossible to forget the surreal state that prevails in the world. I am thinking of Trumpworld and how is it possible that some one like Farage can achieve so much division and negativity along with his closet Little Britainers and Europhobes? I have still not met a single person who voted remain who has changed their mind. It is easy for many Brexiters to say to Remainers that they should get over it because a lot of Brexiters I meet don't seem to know what they have done or why they did it.

I suspect a lot of folk will be shocked and dismayed when we see the real cost and the resistance from the rest of the European Community to UK conditions around leaving. But I guess this debate will continue until May and co have cobbled together a route to a place they never wanted to go in the first place.

I am wondering what Putins pal Donald Trump's "State of the nation speech" might be all about. Every president makes one. Bill Clinton's was wonderful and Obama's was pretty amazing also, just to name two. Basically, for those who don't stay up half the night to listen to them, the president outlines all of the things he would like to implement and all of the ways he would do it if he was allowed. US presidents are never allowed to actualise most of their policies and the whole thing gets very watered down in Congress and in the Senate. I can only hope this applies to Trump and curbs the worst of his ignorant excesses.

In the past couple of years or so we have seen many u turns and back tracking from government caused by the will of the people. Think what might happen if we all participated in signing petitions on 38 degrees at least, never mind marching for our rights and those of our children and grand children. Are we going to let the government ban strikes, human rights and any thing else that gets in their way? Are we going to bother?

I think it was one of the first 38 degrees petitions that prevented the Tories from selling the forests to private ownership. It took a quarter of million signatures but it worked. Imagine what we could tell government if we all got involved. There are many ways we can let them know that they work for us actually and not the other way around. Join the debate here and now.

Personally I have had a great year work wise. I have had the best time playing fair days pay gigs and lots of different kinds of public shows. It would be difficult to pick the best though I especially liked the Swedish Fair days pay shows, the Norway shows with Luke, The HRH Prog fest in Wales and the gigs with Family in London and Leicester that have just finished. I loved the London shows but it was special to play the old EBB songs with Luke at Leicester. I have had a good time mostly with a few minor glitches that had little or no significant negative effect. I have made many new friends and re acquainted with some old ones too. As always I think of the people who have supported me through the year in so many clever and caring ways. You know who you are and I love you all.

I heard a radio report on BBC 5 a few days before Christmas about a little boy who had told his Mum that he didn't want Christmas presents for himself. He said he didn't want people to die over Christmas. He wanted to buy presents for "the poor children" and "get food for the homeless". With help he made parcels and distributed them. I hope that next Christmas might look and feel more like his vision of it.

Happy 2017


Thursday, 13 October 2016

the message clear

View from a room - British Airways i360 in Brighton

I thought I would take a small break from writing here to take some time out. 
How ever, I have been writing new songs and that is going well. I still have a mountain of technology to assimilate and prepare before I can present my 2017 show. It is time to expand the sounds so I have been preparing and recording some components. Time flies by these days and I have to knuckle down over the next couple of months on a slightly new course. 

Luke and I are off to Japan in January for two gigs at The ShinJuku Marz in Tokyo. This will be some thing special. I have wanted to see some thing of Japan for ages. Luke says he will go with out food for a week before we leave so he can fully explore the cuisine. We both enjoy Japanese food.
We get a day sightseeing before the first show and the hotel is just around the corner from the venue so, we will have time to take in some thing of the place and have a wander around. I might even get some street fishing in ha ha! After all Japan is where the whole LRF /urban fishing style originated.

Luke and I  will be working together on a show case of vintage material as well as new songs.
Our gigs together in Norway, earlier this year, showed how easy it is for us to play together as well as in a solo mode. Luke knows what I do and has an instinct for what I might decide to do and… he can correct my odd departures from long established chord sequences ha ha! 

In November I will be staying with my good friends John and Val in Cornwall. I am playing the Ilfracombe Blues festival on the 12th November and playing with Curved Air at the Cheese and Grain in Frome , Somerset on the 26th of November. It has been a long time since I met up with Sonia Kristina so it will be nice to meet up again.
I reckon I will get some good fishing in between those dates while in North Cornwall as well as some rehearsal and pre production time for the shows with Roger Chapman's band Family in London, in December.

Gigs have become very interesting and diverse lately. The latest example of this came by way of a request from my friend Walter Kohl who is a writer in Austria. Walter has completed a "faction" called  Out Demons Out which tells how the music of the EBB became a part of his youth and how our parallel stories continued to the present time. This is to be published in the German language in April and I will be playing at some performances at promotional events in Austria and Germany in April. While I contributed interviews for this book and some prose, Walter has written the work as part fiction and part fact. While working on the book in London the idea for a gallery style video installation around the interviews came about.  Octavia Schreiner, an artist friend of Walters, made some video of us during the interview and so now we wait to see what might come together in the not too distant future. I love the way one creative possibility can lead to another and more when the chemistry is right.

So life is good and very interesting for me at this time but I am constantly reminded that life for others is not. For example, today the BBC reported “Racist or religious abuse incidents recorded by police in England and Wales jumped 41% in the month after the UK voted to quit the EU, figures show. There were 3,886 such crimes logged in July 2015, rising to 5,468 in July this year, according to the Home Office. It said the sharp increase declined in August but has "remained at a higher level than prior to the EU referendum".

A few weeks ago I was in Brighton for a weekend. Outside of the hotel, on a green, a dilapidated tent was slowly falling apart in the wind and rain. Its inhabitants were no where to be seen and for some time it seemed the tent was abandoned. Later a couple of guys in their twenties arrived at the tent and began looking around. It seemed some tent pegs were missing which explained the tents lopsided appearance. The lads were wet and looked cold. Eventually they disappeared inside the tent. Some time later a couple of men around thirty years old appeared outside the hotel and threw stones and a pint glass at the tent. Then they ran back inside the hotel laughing. I was furious. The lads from the tent appeared and I told them the offenders had gone back inside the hotel. I raced down stairs to report the incident to the receptionist who called her boss, who told her to call the police. They never arrived. The rain poured down outside as the lads from the tent told the receptionist what had happened. She was very nice to them and determined to do something about it. The lads went back to their tent in tears.

Later I watched as the head waiter from the hotel restaurant walked over the green towards the tent. He called to the lads who emerged from their very wobbly tent. The waiter was carrying a tent and a box of food. It was so nice of the hotel staff to do this. An antidote to hate. I was very impressed. The lads were delighted and shook hands with the waiter in the rain as though they didn’t want to let go of his hand.

On the morning of departure I ran into the friends of the bullies and had a discussion with some of them in the lobby. I had my say and questioned their motives. I told them this was a hate crime and asked why would any one want to hurt two homeless people living in a tent? I was wasting my time and as one of them giggled at my assertion that this was a disgusting thing to do I was once again reminded where the nazis came from. The bullies were well dressed and looked just like any other young men any where, but they were not. There is some thing monstrous about their idea that this kind of abuse is legitimate and amusing.

If you are thinking - Here we go again, more gloom and doom then think again. There is an opposite to every thing rotten. The hotel managers demonstrated this perfectly with their gift of a tent and food and to further demonstrate the  power of positivity, I must tell you some thing about Oscar who is eight years old. Oscar’s mum Alex is a friend of mine and she sent me a link to a newspaper article about Oscar. 

Oscar and his brother Arthur

KIND little Oscar Moulding is on a mission to send a special gift to  help his disabled friend Sophija in Bosnia become more mobile.
The eight-year-old Robert Le Kyng Primary School pupil, who has muscular dystrophy like Sophija, wants to raise more than £800 so he can ship the £9,500 motorised wheelchair he has outgrown to his international pal, hopefully in time for Christmas.
He has been friends with Sophija for many years and understands her difficulty of having a manual wheelchair, which is why he is so determined to help his friend be more independent and able to play with her younger brother.

“I think Sophija will be happy when she gets it,” said Oscar.

Read the complete article here 

What a lovely little boy! Wonderful! The message clear.


Sunday, 28 August 2016

far og sønn

Luke arrived on the Monday before our flight to Kristiansand on the Tuesday. We had both been looking forward to this adventure for months. It was a fairly civilised departure time though we took off from Heathrow three quarters of an hour behind schedule. We missed the connecting flight at Gardermon Oslo, an airport under massive reconstruction and some how a bit depressing. It was hot and muggy. SAS gave us one hundred Norwegian kroner each as compensation for missing our connecting flight and had booked us on the next flight. One hundred kroner is about £10-00. Luke approached a bar and was told you have to have food with these vouchers so we ended up with a lager for Luke a sparkling water for me and some peanuts. Down the way you could buy a cheese burger for 130 kroner, about £13-00 so the SAS complimentary vouchers seemed just a tiny bit mean given the high cost of snacks and drinks in Norway. 

Finally we arrived in Kristiansand and we were met by my good friend Karen and Johan who drove us to town. Kristiansand is a lovely town by the sea and surrounded by a host of small islands and inlets. It was nice for me to be back and for Luke to see new sights.

Next day Karen had arranged a fishing trip and our friend Birger was very clear that we should have an early start. He had decreed there should be no sitting up all night talking. Don't where he got that idea from. Any way Karen prevailed, as usual, and we set off at a reasonable hour. After a short drive we stopped to meet Karen’s mom who is a very charming, spritely lady in her eighties. Later we met up with Roar and Per Gunnar Birkeland, our skipper, and loaded our picnic and other goodies onto the boat. Per used to be an F16 fighter pilot and now he flies civil aircraft for SAS. It was very generous of Per to take us out on the sea in his boat. We chatted briefly about his days flying fighter planes but I would like to have had more time to hear his tales. I shall remember the day forever. 

We set off through the harbour towards the open sea through a maze of very small islands and narrow channels bordered by tall rocks and cliffs. The area is called Ny-Hellesund. 

The weather was warm and we were glad of the breeze as we sped through the blue waters towards a pole in the sea with a cormorant sitting on it. Per and I dropped a line over the side of the boat and soon we had a nice collection of mackerel. Job done we headed back to the lagoons and rocky out crops on the shore line. We parked the boat and Birger produced cutlets and wonderful garlic sausage. Others had brought salad and other goodies. 
Soon a barbecue was happening on one of many steel grills provided by the local commune / council. Birger expertly coaxed the fire and soon we were all dining in the fresh air on a beautiful Norwegian summer day. Per produced some fine coffee at the end and I was beginning to wish we could live out there at our mooring for a few days. I was becoming deeply relaxed.

from left to right Karen, Birger, Roar, Per and Luke

Finally a trip to a little theatre in what used to be an old school house brought a close to our wanderings. Karen has been closely involved with the affairs of the Undervannsskjær theatre and worked with the previous resident actor. His successor Olav Grenstad carries on the work. The theatre houses a performance area for around 45 people swell as Olav’s living space, a kitchen and small cafe area. Olav’s daughter makes delicious cakes and others goodies for visitors to the theatre. Patrons arrive by boat, as we had done, and as tradition requires they are met by the resident actor and seen off by him from the jetty nearby. The theatre is a joy and one of the many special things to be found in this area of islands. Wonderful!

Luke wearing the hat that belonged to 
Karen's dad Peter. A special gift.

Luke commented that he would like to play a gig there. It would be perfect.
A short trip back through the rocks and inlets took us back to the mooring and soon we were driving back to Kristiansand. The evening was spent chatting and as is often the case when I stay with Karen the talking went on long into the early morning punctuated by a few glasses of cognac.
Next day was rehearsal day. Luke was staying just around the corner with Kiki a friend of Karen’s. He rolled up ready to go and after breakfast we set off up the road to Vaktbua where we had a run through the songs we were going to play together. They were Aerial, Hotel Room, Almost Dancing and of course, Evening Over Rooftops.

It was hot and sunny as we worked. Luke played his new song and we got through every thing we need to after Luke had reminded me of some of my own lyrics. He also put me right on a wrong chord I had adopted for Hotel Room when I changed the key from Cm to Dm. Oops! Thanks Luke.

Later Karen made what we called her Hunters stew. Luke had asked her what would be a typical Norwegian meal and this was the result. The stew was mostly reindeer meat in a brown sauce with boiled rice and salad. It was delicious and it was very kind of Karen to go to so much trouble for us. We shared the meal with Kiki and Joachim, a friend of Karen’s whom I had met the previous year. 
The meal was fine as was the company and another late night loomed large.
Next day was show time. 

On my first solo visit to Kristainsand I had visited HAPPY DAYS a project for people with disabilities and where Karen works. I had a great time there and so Luke and I decided we would visit and play a couple of songs. There is a very strong musical theme to the project. They present a festival every year where musicians work with disabled musicians and singers for a public performance. So cool!

@ Happy Days

@Happy days

After coffee and delicious brownies Luke played drums while the group performed their stuff. It was great and Luke made a better job of things on the electric kit than I had done a couple of years previously. Luke sang a couple of his songs as did I and we left the group who had a meeting scheduled. I know Luke had a ball and it resurrected my idea of making a YOIK CHOIR for the festival at some time. I have it all worked out in my head ha ha!  

Later Luke and I had a good sound check well in advance of doors open. last time the weather had forced me inside the gig after we had originally set up outside. It poured non stop. Any way this time around we were blessed with lovely weather and the gig was to be outside, in the garden at Vaktbua.
After the soundcheck Karen had made the most wonderful crab dinner with fresh crab from the nearby fish market. It was stunning and again also enjoyed by Kiki, the very amusing Joachim and a documentary film maker called Stefan. A very interesting man.

The gig went very well. Luke kicked it off with a great set. He soon had the audience listening and I was so proud to see how they took to him instantly. He rocked. So it was my turn and the audience was very warm and in good humour. I still marvel at the level of understanding shown by the Norwegians and how they laugh in the right places. I was thrilled to see some of the young people I had met at the previous years show. I noticed that they were very taken with Luke's show. It was great to see him making new fans and friends.
I enjoyed my set immensely and it moved up a notch when Luke joined me for the last songs. What a lovely audience and what a lovely crew. Special thanks to Harald Hempel for a great onstage and out front sound and Kristin Evensen who took time and care to light the stage for us.

We had previously met up with Jarle and Ingve our friends from Stavanger. They had come for the Vaktbua show and to take us to Stavanger for the show they had arranged. We agreed to meet up at 11.30 next morning for the four hour drive to Stavanger. 

It was so nice to hook up with Elisabeth again who runs Vaktbua. It is always a great pleasure to play at her venue and a privilege to be asked to play for this diverse community. As usual the after gig party at Vaktbua was a lively affair with Elisabeth firing up the DJ cd decks with a set of rootsy grooves. Vaktbua is a special place run with the help of the public and the community of artists, musicians who use it. It is interesting to see how it all works and how it's aims and objectives always incorporate different and innovative ideas and a healthy, inclusive ethos.

And so to Stavanger along a road that that takes you through some of the most dramatic scenery imaginable. Water is every where in the form of great salmon rivers and fjords. Through tunnels carved through the mountains by waterfalls cascading into the great waters we sped on towards Stavanger and the next gig.
Ingve drove. Luke sat in the front passenger seat so he could take in the sights. I slept a little as we travelled. I can sleep almost any where and frequently do. It is some thing I learned to do on the road in the early days.

Stavanger quayside

On our way we met some of Jarle's and Ingve's friends at a roadside cafe. They were a very nice bunch of people. I have been invited to play for them at a sixtieth birthday party in June. So I shall look forward to that.

We arrived at Jarles house where Kirsten had made a curried chicken soup with nan bread. It was delicious and I commented that food wise Luke and I had been spoiled to bits. Soon after Luke and I left for Ingves house where we met his wife Mette and their son Kristoffer. Luke and I got ready for the gig. I had a shave and Luke put on his usual make up of blue green stripes. So off to the sound check. The sound check went well, quick and easy. Perfect. The sound guy Arne Kolstad is the local blues and music guru and he did a great job at the soundcheck and later during the gig. The sound was perfect.

Luke began his set and again it didn't take long for the good folk of Stavanger to tune in to his music. It went very well and I was so happy for him. He has worked so hard to get his set together and it has been a joy to watch him develop his thing. I am biased but the fact is he touches people in a lovely way. I have only just reached the stage where I can bear to stay in the room and listen to his song The Letter but I still shed a tear when he sings it.
One guy asked me, in a good natured way, how did I intended to follow that? He meant Luke's set. I smiled and said that I thought I could manage that and I did. The audience was so nice and listened to every thing including my stories which have become quite a feature in Norway.

The onstage sound was so good and it always lifts a performance. I gave it every thing. When Luke came back on stage to join me we had already improved our way of performing together over just a couple of days and it all worked out very nicely. I would like to have played an encore but the way we ended with Evening Over Rooftops was so emphatic we left it there.

Back to Ingves for refreshments and we fell into bed. I slept like a log and awoke to find Luke already up. We both tucked into an english breakfast that was a treat. Later we went out on the water with Ingve in his boat. I dropped a line or two but there wasn't lots of time for fishing. How ever the trip was special and Luke I got to see a side of Stavanger not seen from land. In the distance and high above the shore line, great mountains rose up in a cloudless blue sky. It was magic.

When we returned Ingve prepared a Russian crab. The thing was massive and delicious. It was as good a crab as I have tasted and the amount of meat on it was astonishing. It was a lovely afternoon and a very pleasant way to end our visit as we sat together in the sunshine, chatting and getting to know each other.

Soon it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes to Hette and kristoffer and Ingve drove us to the airport. I soon realised I had left my wallet in the car. Ingve found it , raced back to the airport and managed to get a woman, who worked for security, to get it to me on the plane, just three minutes before take off.

The joyless experience that is Oslo airport followed and eventually we were on the plane to Gatwick. The rain that fell as we landed couldn't diminish the fact that this had been a great trip and that it is always good to be home.

Special thanks to Karen Valeur for looking after us so well. Karen is one of those people who some how connects every one together and makes the best things happen.

Thanks to Kiki and Jarle, Kirsten, Igve and Hette for their splendid hospitality and every one else who made it happen. Thank you Elisabeth and Jarle and Ingve for putting the shows together.

We will never forget the trip to Norway when we played together acoustically for the first time. Thank you all for being our friends.