Wednesday, 18 July 2018

a dream summers night

a dream summers night

In sweltering, humid heat my tour manager John picked me up to drive us to 
Heathrow for the next adventure in Switzerland. We like to stay in a hotel the night before departure. I also try to arrange a flight after mid day. I remember when air travel was much more enjoyable and faster. The time spent hanging around and the increased number of delays is as a direct result of more people travelling with less resources on the ground. In other words, the inconvenience experienced by air travellers is caused by simple greed.

Our flight was delayed by about forty five minutes so not the best start but at least the show was not scheduled until the following day. Our next adventure in Switzerland will be one where we fly in, play the same day and return on the following day. That will be a bit more pressured but do able. The train ride from Zurich to our destination was a treat. The trains are modern, run on time and are very comfortable. The contrast with recent rail debacles here is massive. I like travelling by train and would do so more but for the poor reliability here in the UK.

Our host Kurt Mathis picked us up at the station in Kreuzlingen which is near Lake Constance. The area is very scenic and very clean. People do not drop litter here or anywhere else.
I never know what to expect when I am travelling to a private show but I am never disappointed. Kurt turned out to be a very pleasant and interesting host. I had met him previously at one of the Chappo gigs at the Shepards Bush o2 show but only briefly. Kurt took us into town for dinner. John and I went for the Perch Frites made from the fish called Zander. Delicious.

After our dinner we sat up until around five in the morning drinking fine cognac and getting to know each other. part of the night was spent around the fire Kurt had made in his garden. We all acknowledged the power of fire and how we all gravitate towards a fire in the open, no matter where we come from on the planet. It was a great night. I don't do this often these days although John and I have had a few similar sessions over the years we have been working together. So finally, to bed and I slept like a log.

I'd had all sorts of plans to visit places of local interest but it was so hot I opted to loaf around as preparations were being made for the evening party. The stage was the decking under a balcony of the new house Kurt's brother is building. The garden is large and the whole place was once a factory. A very neat PA system was set up and a hunt for a suitable seat for me was set in motion. Soon I had sound checked the system and I was very pleased with the sound. The sun was hot but there was plenty of shade.
The time passed steadily. My bedroom was a 2 minute walk from the stage so it was perfect for preparing for the show.Kurt had hired a woman to run a bar and a couple who served the best barbecue ever.

Slowly Kurt's guests began to arrive and the  DJ kicked off with a good old selection of the good old days tunes. After sampling the barbecue it was time to perform. As always I had compiled a set list before setting out but I never keep to it. Of course this is not really possible with a band where things are set out with specific keyboard sounds and other constraining but necessary chronological events in mind. Occasionally I would change a song order on stage but rarely.

Halfway through my set some young people began heckling from a garden nearby. I returned fire with some very strange universal/ non language based noise which my audience joined in with. We all had a laugh about that and I continued. My audience was so very attentive and very appreciative. John reckons I played the definitive version of Belle of Trevelyan. I had been recording vocals on it some days before the trip so that seems to have helped. 

The recording of the new album is going well but slowly and I don't mind. It will be finished when I am totally satisfied with it. It is a lot to do by myself but I am enjoying it very much. I do intend to collaborate with a few others as things develop but there is a way to go before that. My mate Ramblin has dropped by to do backing vocals and we have been having fun recording his Korg drum. It is an amazing tool filled with exotic sounds and designed as an instrument to be played rather than programmed. Excellent!

I have been editing my novel The Instantanium and writing new sections. It has been a retreat for me for many years. Somewhere to go to when I need or want to. Now it is time to finish the thing. I could go on and on with it but the time has come to call a halt.

The temperature in Kurt's lovely garden dropped a little as I worked through my set. The audience called for an encore. Actually I felt exhausted. I had poured myself into the songs but I had to return to the stage for my lovely audience. I cracked out a version of There's a hole in it and that was me done. All good. I think most had a good time and I know Kurt had the best time. he had gone to enormous lengths to make this party and my stay with him a success and it was that in spades. My hosts always look after me very well and this was no exception. I had a really great time.

Sitting around the fire again after most people had left was a lovely way to come down after a gig and the company was special. The people who hang around in the early hours are always cool to me. They are still awake for a start and they usually have great tales and wisdom to share. After a few more glasses of cognac and some great interactions I left for my bed. I wanted to be fairly fresh for the flight home.

Next day I got up at about midday and made my way into the sun baked garden. John was about with Kurt. We took a few photos, breakfasted and Kurt took us to the train headed back to Zurich. Everything went smoothly after that and we arrived back at Heathrow on time, collected the car from our hotel and headed to London.

After dropping me off John was heading home to Cornwall. He is one of the few men I know who still loves to drive and he is as good a driver as I have ever had the pleasure to be driven by.  He texted me at around 2.30 am to let me know he was home safe. All good.
We'd had a great time. I like travelling with John and he looks after me very well. We are off to Trondheim in the north of Norway for a few days next and then on to Switzerland again a couple of days later. Thanks from both of us to Kurt who made it all worthwhile.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018


tantulas in bloom

Hi all. I know a few folk have been concerned about the lack of blog posts and why they have gone away for a time. I can assure you all is well with me. As always, thank you for your kind consideration and support.

I decided to take a break from my usual activities including writing here. A change or two is as good as a rest and feeds the musical brain and connections with the muse. Sometimes I come to a point where I am doing what I am doing because I've been doing it, not because I am developing something. The development is important along with new things to know and assimilate such as how to propagate the tantula (see above).  

I have been recording the new album and not doing much of anything else. It is going well if a little slowly at times.
Early on  I realised that this album will be a first, in so far that this is the first time I am making exactly what I want. That presents a new challenge around the responsibility for the end result. It is some times daunting but also exhilarating. I think and hope the result will be surprising in some ways. While some of the songs will be familiar, others will be new and very different from my usual music. I'm having a great time playing with technology and exploring new toys. It is a lot of fun and I do get lost in it all at times. It is a great place to hang out, somewhere in an unfinished song. 

Even fishing has taken a back seat to recording time. Actually the weather hasn't been great for fishing and now it is too hot but I am not complaining. When I look around me today I see every reason to be thankful for my lot. I seem to be increasingly more able to accept the relatively small inconveniences I experience, without complaint. 

I'm off to Switzerland tomorrow with my mate John Bradshaw to play a private gig which promises to be very special. So life is good. When I get back I will resume here with a post about our trip.