Tuesday, 7 June 2011

this england

It has been a long time since I played as many gigs during the summer months as I am doing this summer. Although every gig is quite different there is a common thread that runs throughout and it is quality people. I am beginning to think that my hosts and their assembled guests would all get on well together if they were all in the same place and I am wondering how I might get that together in the future. One thing is certain. I have learned a lot about this England and the people who live in it. It is so easy to lose touch with what is going on in the land and I am enjoying the opportunity to meet with folk and to find out how it is for them. What their dreams, interests and priorities are, for a good life.

So, I was off again on the Virgin train to Burton on Trent via Birmingham. There I was met by Peter, my host, and Karen who drove us to Burton on Trent. I’ve played there a few times before but it had been a while. I once rode out there, pretending to be a Tour De France rider, when I was about fifteen and I remember suffering very badly on the way home.

The gig was in Noel and Natalie’s garden. When I arrived a small pa system was all fired up to go and my sound check took about fifteen minutes. The rest of the afternoon was pleasantly taken up chatting and exchanging stories with the crew ( Peter’s family and friends). As time went on the makings of a barbecue, and curry and chilli arrived and the stage was set.

Before I played Peter gave me a beautiful gift of a locally made crystal goblet engraved with my name, the date and Burton on Trent. I shall treasure this as a memento of a great night in the midlands. Darkness fell with a little breeze that threatened to lift the gazebo covering the decking stage. A few table lights were strategically placed on the stage. The garden filled up with around forty guests and we were off. Peter introduced me with a touching reference to former times and I began. A dog barked immediately and we all had a little smile as we heard the owner next door ushering it inside. Peter had texted me the night before to ask if I was planning to play Poppy. I replied – No. But I am now. I did and worked my way through the set for the evening. My audience was very warm and attentive. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I think they did.

The apr├Ęs gig party was a hoot with people playing Twister and drinking quite a lot. The conversation and atmosphere was great. Later some of us stayed up chatting until quite late or early, depending on your internal clock. There was the odd inebriated and very surreal, impromptu performance on the piano and guitar by one or two folk that had us all falling about.

Next day a spot on bacon and egg breakfast in the garden and a little sunburn for yours truly. Lots of tea and it was time to leave for the station. Pete arrived with partner Karen. Pete is a dead ringer for Spadge the EBB roadie. Peter and I got in the car with them. Peter crashed out and Pete drove us to New St Station in Birmingham. It had been a long time since I had been in the Bull Ring area. Like all inner city areas the changes are enormous and not all good. The individual retailer or service provider has been pushed out by the well known names that occupy every town centre and high streets. I remember when Birmingham was grimy and warm. Now it seems worn and bleak. Not much wrong with Brummies though nor their near neighbours.

There was the familiar little sad thing inside as I said goodbye to lovely people. Every one had been so nice to me. Big thanks to Peter Greening for the invite and all the goodies. I must say special thanks to Noel and Natalie for putting me up and taking care of me. So, another happy and memorable outing into this England is completed. Next stop Oxfordshire at the week end. I am spoiled you know!




pgreeni said...

A briiliant night with some old songs and some great new ones. Edgar still plays with energy and soul and every one Ive spoken to, who was there, really enjoyed it. We all had time to chat with Edgar and we were all impressed of how easy it was to talk to this very intelligent man discussing many topics ( Edgar you may like to know Ive bought some books for the first time for years). With regard to your comments on the piano and guitar playing, I think Helen needs some musical direction, please dont let her give up her day job (lol). Once again many many thanks for a great night - when can you do it again. A big thank you to my daughter Natalie and her partner Noel for all their hard work.

Peter Greening

Anonymous said...

Very nice pictures. Aren't people clever. Sounds like another great night.

Anonymous said...

Gotta book one of these. They all seem special.

Good luck at Leicester Edgar. Can't make that one but will see you at Glastonbury for sure.
See 38 Degrees massive campaign against ConDem NHS butchery. Reform yes but not sell out.
Everybody should check out 38 Degrees. I know you are fan Edgar.

antony.smith80@ntlworld.com said...

James, Ive got one of these gigs booked in Lincoln on july 23, your welcome to come see the main man if want to.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony thank you so much but I am in France on holiday then. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...


I had decided not to comment on any blogs anymore but felt I had to say what a lovely gesture it was by yourself to invite James to join your party when Edgar played. This kind of thing goes some way to restoring my dwindling faith in the human race. Pity there are not more people like you. It really lit up my day when I saw your comment so whilst James has thanked you I would also like to thank you.

'One good deed in a weary world'

Quote taken from Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory. The original!


Anonymous said...

Marquee is up, beer has arrived, stage is set and folk are traveling from all quarters of the land. A little corner of Oxfordshire awaits.
Love reading the comments of others on their events. They seem each to have been different but with a common convivial thread.
Have been planning our FDWFAFDP for so long now I wonder what I will do next week when its all over. Bring some good weather with you please Rob. and a warm jumper:-)