Well wowee, what a ride! The tour is over and I can’t quite believe it. I’m looking back at the last five weeks in wonder and awe at the sheer amazingness of it all, what an adventure it has been, I have loved it.
Here’s what happened during the final week.
Friday 28th February, The Maltings, Farnham
‘Up and putting the last few hours in on this weeks tour blog which is 3 days later than usual due to the combination of having had no time, being a total technophobe and having very patchy access to wi-fi this past few days. Am delighted that it’s finally done and will be very happy to publish it over on my music page later this morning.’
After a huge sleep I got up, got dressed and set about finishing the Week Three blog in my Gatwick Holiday Inn hotel room HQ. After finally putting it to bed and posting it out I got ready, pointed the Sat Nav towards Farnham set off for tonight’s show at the Maltings.
As I pulled into the car park it was pouring with rain, and even though I told him not to, Mick came out to help me in with my things, an absolute gent and brilliant guy as always. Once inside it was very chilly backstage and I discovered that Mick and the guys had been warming up a room for me with a heater since arriving, which was incredibly nice of them and much appreciated! I heard some nose blowing in the corridor and discovered poor Simon absolutely streaming with the return of his cold, Man Flu, The Sequel – Bigger and badder than ever! Trooper that he is he didn’t complain and while already dosed to the hilt I persuaded him to try a swig of cough medicine I had in my gig bag, in hopes it would help a little.
Despite being so poorly, Simon yet again hit the show out of the ballpark, all of the guys playing amazingly as always. I was suffering with my scratched and swollen tongue and had half a candle’s worth of oral wax jammed behind my teeth, top and bottom, over the braces, to stop it catching on them, yet as always, once onstage, all that was forgotten and singing was a joy. Owain’s sound was brilliant again and the whole show was wonderful.
Some lovely friends, the Farebrothers came along to the show, Helen and her parents Jan and Ken. I met them at a gig a few years ago as Helen is the cousin of my friend Jane, who came along to Burnley last week, and they come along to ever so many gigs which is very nice of them, and it’s always lovely to see them.
Funnily enough it was Ken who gave me a present of the Best of Sandy Denny CD last year after a gig in Kent, and it was that CD that I listened to in my car while practising Who Knows Where The Time Goes to sing with the band a few weeks ago, and even funnier, while chatting with them at the CD table tonight along with Peggy and Martin, Ken told us a wonderful story about Sandy which he kindly sent to me afterwards via email, so that I could include it here in the Blog.
Here is Ken telling the story in his own words…
‘The story on Sandy is that my first job was working at Wimbledon Tax Office which I started in September 1968. Sandy’s mum also worked there and it was around the time that Sandy had joined the band so we used to get snippets of info about the band. They were fairly new on the scene at that time so I didn’t really know much about them. I do remember when her mum came into the office one day and told us about the M1 crash which was obviously devastating for everyone. The 1969 album Unhalfbricking has a picture of Sandy’s mum and dad on the cover and the thing that always strikes me when I see the picture is that her mum is wearing the same outfit that she would frequently wear to work. It’s great to see Fairport keep going and I always enjoy their music but I have to admit it’s the Sandy Denny material that I love the most.’
It was still drizzly after the show, (that fine rain that soaks you through) and after a lovely evening and lots of chatting with the audience afterwards, I packed up and loaded up the car as Owain, Andy and the venue crew loaded out. It was a tricky one for them here, as the lorry wouldn’t fit in the car park so they had to wheel all the gear up to the road and load it in there, but as always they were smiling and joking and did it all without any complaints. I headed back to the hotel which only took an hour, and found that the bar was still open (yay!) so I bought a large JD and diet coke to take to my room and after having it felt very tiddly indeed. I vaguely remember managing to book my hotel for the following night in Weston-super-Mare, Thanks to a recommendation from Martin, followed by a bit of cannoning around my room and into the coffee table and chair several times before climbing into bed.
‘Heading back to my Gatwick Holiday Inn with Mellow Magic up loud after a really lovely night in Farnham. Loved seeing the Farebrothers tonight and loved the gig. My tongue is now ripped to shreds at the back and am hoping very much that the bar will still be open at the hotel! x’
Saturday 1st March, The Playhouse Theatre, Weston-Super-Mare
‘As well as having an album called Songs From The Crystal Cave, Ive just discovered that old Steve has another album called Mojo Priest, featuring numbers such as ‘Talk To My Ass’ and ‘Dust My Broom’ :o) I am lost for words x’
After getting up and getting ready, I checked out at reception and headed to the restaurant for some lunch before setting off to Weston-super-Mare. I was feeling refreshed and pretty good as I ordered the leek and potato soup until the waitress asked me when my baby was coming! Instant depression! I managed to smile and mumble that I wasn’t pregnant while breathing in at the same time, and she looked so embarrassed that I forgot my own mortification for a moment and felt sorry for her instead!
While having my soup, still breathing in and wondering if everybody else in the restaurant also thought I was pregnant, and everybody at all of the gigs and everyone in the whole world too, I was cheered up hugely by discovering that the action hero actor Steven Seagall has not one, but two albums available on Amazon. It was during a quiz with Boo Hewerdine a few years ago that I found out old Steve had recorded an album called Songs From The Crystal Cave, complete with a fabulously mullety hairdo-ed and leather jacketed front cover photo, so was very tickled to see he had another one too called, Mojo Priest, featuring songs such as Talk To My Ass and Dust My Broom. You couldn’t make it up! :o) Depression lifted I headed out to the car, still breathing in like mad, and set off to Weston.
I arrived in Weston-super-Mare around 5.30pm and found the big blue lorry and the band minibus parked in the road behind the Playhouse Theatre and made my way in through the stage door. Martin and Peggy had invited me to join them for fish and chips at a fab local chippy they knew, but I sadly turned down the invitation due to it being too close to showtime to be eating, much as I would have loved to join them!
The theatre, like the town, was full of character and I got ready in the lovely big dressing room Mick had allocated me while listening to the guys soundchecking through the intercom. When I heard them finish I made my way down and did my soundcheck and then went to find the foyer and the merch table with my bag of CDs.
Wandering back outside into the road for a roly, I could hear music coming from several back doors along the street and there was an unmistakable feel in the sea salty air of Saturday night in Weston getting underway.
After my set I made my way to join Martin at the CD table in the foyer, the only way to go being out of the back door and round to the front entrance, and once there we both had an ice cream from the old-fashioned refreshments kiosk before the interval began and Peggy came to join us, and we chatted to the lovely audience members and sold and signed CDs. Still suffering with the lurgy, Simon again did magnificently and the show was really lovely. Afterwards, the band and I mingled and chatted in the foyer with the audience, and the guys signed CDs and programmes, and we all headed backstage to pack away. Coming back through the empty theatre this time instead of going round the outside, I saw Mick, Owain and Andy packing up the stage along with the venue crew who were helping, and was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a young guy hoovering the theatre while wearing a Ghostbusters style backpack hoover! I asked if I might take a photo for the blog and good sport that he was he said yes, and told me his name was Simon. I was in awe! Simon the Ghostbuster hooverer – what a hero!
The hotel I had booked wasn’t far away, and the guys were all staying close by too, so with lunch plans made for the following day we all headed off as Owain and Andy loaded up the lorry and drove on up to Wales ready for the next show. I was really pleased to have spotted some of the little oranges Owain likes at an M&S garage the day before so passed those on to him via Andy before driving to my hotel which was called The Smiths.
I found The Smiths on the seafront and as I made my way into what had clearly once been a very grand old place, I was immediately struck by its charm, character and sense of faded grandeur. The only staff I could see were at the bar, and as I walked up I was greeted by the night porter, a young barman and the hotel owner simultaneously and given a really warm welcome. I decided to head up to my room with my bags and guitar and then come down for a nightcap, and was shown up by the porter, Dave, who insisted on carrying my bags even though he had a bad leg and walked with a limp! Up we went in an ancient old lift that was fully carpeted in faded red shag – floor, walls and ceiling – and was really, really hot. Once out of the lift I followed Dave in a comedy sketch like procession along what seemed like miles of hallways, him limping and walking very slowly and me feeling awful that he was carrying my bags, until we finally reached my room.
Happy to relieve Dave of my bags I turned on the light to find I was in a very nice and very pine-filled room! While unpacking I heard the people in the room next door coming in and realised to my horror that I could hear every word they were saying! After hearing the lady boil the kettle, make a hot drink and stir it up with a spoon and the guy get into bed, as clearly as if they were in my room, I decided it was time to head down to the bar before I heard anything else and made a hasty exit.
Avoiding the hot, strange lift-of-red-carpet, I went down via the stairs instead and found the porter and the barman watching vintage Top of the Pops on BBC 4 on the telly in the bar, so I sat on a stool, ordered a large JD and diet coke and happily watched it with them! The barman smoked so he came out front with me for a roly and told me all about the hotel and about Weston and about himself which was lovely, and I passed a very happy hour with him and Dave shooting the breeze while watching fab classic footage of fab classic songs. At one point a couple came in and having had several JDs by now, I thought they looked remarkably like Sting and his wife, which tickled me. Quite tiddly themselves, they ordered a big round of drinks to take upstairs, and before heading up they very kindly allowed me to take their photo for the blog. My friend Linda said afterwards upon seeing the photo that they did look a little bit like Sting and his wife, if you looked at them from a distance, a distance like Colchester! :o)
All JD’d out I finally got down from my bar stool, said goodnight to the guys, Thanked them for their company and headed up to my room, where I was relieved to find all was quiet through the wall. Alarm set for lunch-o-clock I climbed into my pine single bed, buggered about on Facebook for a bit and fell asleep!
‘At my hotel and thrilled to have got a seaview and my room is very piney. Was shown up to it by a man with a bad leg who insisted on carrying my bag in spite of my protests and then limped the whole way which made me feel awful. We came up in an ancient lift that has one of those heavy criss-cross metal doors inside it and was a thousand degrees and also completely carpeted, floor walls and ceiling! While making a very slow ascent, the man made smalltalk and said that a little old lady got stuck in it for hours last summer and they had to call the fire brigade. Finally out of the lift I followed him to my room and we passed a teabag on the floor in the corridor, one lone teabag which he saw and said he would pick it up on his way back down and told me that the bar is still open. I think Im going to like it here :o) x’
Sunday 2nd March, Pontardawe Arts Centre
‘Just had a very Llovely Llunch in East Aberthaw x’
I forgo the free breakfast at The Smiths in favour of a lie-in and woke up in my piney bedroom, (which smelled of pine too – a full pine experience!) got ready, checked out, retrieved my car and set off to meet the guys for lunch. I have to say I loved the hotel, they told me there was no checkout limit, I do believe I could still be there now and they wouldn’t mind, and all for £24, a bargain and a half, Thankyou so much Martin for the recommendation!
As I drove down the seafront I tried to take a photo of the Grand Pier out of the window at the traffic lights but it wasn’t a great shot, David Bailey won’t be losing any sleep but I kept it anyway as a souvenir of my first ever visit to Weston-super-Mare. :o) Speaking of which, why is the s in super not a capital I wonder? Always wanting to spell things correctly wherever possible I double-checked the spelling while writing this and sure enough, it’s a lower case s on the super rather than a capital, its puzzling to me that. And I really will get a life any minute now.
Anyway! I drove on out of town and up towards South Wales, where I was heading to meet the chaps for Sunday lunch at a place called The Blue Anchor in a village called East Aberthaw. The rain started as I made my way though the toll bridge and into Wales and by the time I arrived at the pub, which I finally found after first following my Sat Nav blindly up a dead-end dirt track to a farm and turning round again, it was really coming down outside, so I made a run for the door and once inside found myself slap bang in the middle of a Thomas Hardy novel. Stepping into this pub was like stepping back in time, it was a log fire and candlelit oasis of heavenliness, all low ceilings, arched stone doorways, wooden beams and flagstones and men drinking pints in corners with dogs at their feet. It was gorgeous.
Our lunch maestro extra-ordinaire Simon had found the place and had again hit the jackpot, what a pub. And what a lunch! And really reasonable too, one, two or three courses, all for £9 – £15. I had the chicken and shared a creme brulee with Peggy after and it was once again a real treat to sit around a big table with the guys and chat and eat with them, they are such great company and I was particularly tickled to be sat in between Peggy and Matt, both of whom are just so much fun, all the time.
After a lovely couple of hours I wandered downstairs to have a look at the pub and take some photos and overheard two guys in a nook talking about how Fairport Convention were upstairs! It was so lovely, they were so excited, I told Peggy about it.
I headed outside for a roly and found Mick getting the band van ready for departure to the gig which tonight was in a Welsh town called Pontardawe. I had a lovely natter with him and then the guys all appeared and we all made a dash for our respective vehicles and set off in the rain to the Arts Centre.
Arriving in Pontardawe a few minutes after the guys, I spotted Andy’s blue lorry and the band van and parked up and made my way inside, and instantly liked it. Quirky as heck and full of character, I found my dressing room and wandered down to the auditorium as nobody had started soundchecks yet, and had a lovely half hour sitting about chatting with Andy, Owain, Matt and Simon by the sound desk. I found the CD area and popped my bag down there ready for later and headed back to the dressing room to sort out my rained-on and now-frizzy hair. God bless GHDs!
Soundchecks all done, I finished getting ready and very much enjoyed chatting with Mick, who had set up his production office in the other side of my dressing room. All of the guys were upstairs in one big Green Room and Peggy was on especially good form and I enjoyed larking about up there with them for a while also before the show.
The show was super-lovely, I don’t know if it was the nourishment of a roast chicken dinner and veg, or just the lovely air of camaraderie, but it was a wonderful night and Simon again sang like a dream and the band played magnificently. The audience were insanely lovely too, so fun and so friendly, and the Welsh lilting accents were a delight to behold during the interval and at the end as we all mingled and chatted with everyone.
The next day being a day off, we were all heading homeward that night. Me to East Yorkshire, Mick and the guys to Banbury in the band van, Andy back to Midland Sound and Light HQ in Leicester, and Owain home to Northampton. It was a long drive home but the post gig high got me as far as Doncaster, and from there it was only and hour and a half to go. I had already made a decision that this week, I was going to have a proper day off rather than spend it all doing the blog. The week before I had not had chance to do the blog as you know, but had worried so much about not doing it that I stressed myself out to the point of almost exploding, which had resulted in being shattered the following day. So, this week I thought I would have a proper day off, for the first time! And the thought of it was so deliciously luxurious and thrilling that the journey home was a breeze. :o)
I must point out here that its me who decided to write the blog on my day off, the guys simply asked me to do a blog, and not having done one before as you know, it’s myself who ended up doing the way I’ve done. I’ve had no pressure from any of the guys, only lovely feedback. Still, when you start something, I believe in seeing it through and maintaining the highest standard possible, something Ive always believed in, even when I cleaned the toilets and offices of the local Estate Agents in Driffield a few years ago. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well and with good grace whatever it is I think! I especially remember opening the show for Jools Holland at Sheffield City Hall in 2005 and driving straight from there to do my cleaning before going home. As long as it was done by 7am they were happy, and so I did it at 3 in the morning on the way home, and didn’t mind at all as it meant I could pay the rent and still do my gigs. What I’m trying to say is that its I who decided to do the blog on my day off, not the guys, but I knew with every ounce of my being that I needed a day off this week or I would die, and so drove home looking forward to it ever so much indeed!
I pulled up outside my house around 5am and took a photo as it was such a lovely sight to see, and got a warm welcome from the cat, once again marvellously looked after in my absence by my Mum and my friend Alastair, and headed on up to sleep, very happy at the thought of being horizontal.
‘Halfway home after the most gorgeous gig in Pontedarwe and stopped for coffee and a natter on the phone with Al. Can’t wait to see my little old lady black cat after five days away and looking forward to tea with Mum and Rose and a Cagney & Lacey or two! Missing the Oscars for the first time in years! Will be tuning in on Radio 5 Live instead though the rest of the way home x’
Monday 3rd March, Day Off
‘Ooo coffee, life saver xx’
After a glorious lie-in, I woke up sometime in the afternoon, made a cafetière of coffee and popped a load of washing in the machine and set about answering some emails and tackling some overdue admin. I noticed that my water bottles were still frozen in my fridge, in spite of turning the temperature knob back down. These things are sent to try us.
My lovely little Sister Rosie had been home again for the weekend so I went over to Mum’s for tea with them both and Rosie’s boyfriend Dan, and gave her a lift to the railway station at 6.30pm to catch her train back to London.
The evening was spent pampering the cat and talking on the phone with friends, and I had a lovely catch-up with one of my best friends Carissa in Nashville via Skype which was lovely. I received an order confirmation email from CD Baby which really tickled me, after ordering a CD by my friend Jon Cook in Alabama. I sell my CDs in America via CD Baby but had not ordered a CD myself from them until now and I was very impressed and amused by their shipping notification email…
“Edwina, Thankyou for your order with CD Baby!
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, March 3, 2014.” :o) xx’
Trying to push thoughts of blog writing out of my head, I really relaxed and had the loveliest chilled out day and went to bed feeling rested and very happy. It was Birmingham the next day, one I would be going to and coming home from, and only being two and a half hours away I didn’t set my alarm!
‘Off to bed after the most gorgeously wonderful day off’
Tuesday 4th March, Birmingham Town Hall
‘Heading off to Birmingham to start the final week of the tour tonight after and admin-tastic few hours. So happy to have all clean washing and a tidied-up boot, I feel reborn :o) xx’
The first thing I saw after making coffee and switching on my laptop was my friend Chris’s status update on Facebook which tickled me greatly… ‘I can’t believe it’s pancake Tuesday again. Honestly, it just crêped up on me… ‘
After a very lazy morning, I got ready and set off to Birmingham Town Hall for show 27 of the tour. After a very smooth journey, apart from that bit on the M1 where its 50mph where they are widening the motorway which makes you want to stick a fork in your eye, I made it to Birmingham and promptly got lost.
Having consulted my venue parking sheet, I had the name of the road where we could park all programmed into my Sat Nav, but when I got there it was all one way, and the road was a million miles long, so I went round the one way system several times before amazingly, like an oasis up ahead, I saw Simon standing by a lay by! I managed to cross two lanes of rush hour traffic to pull up beside him, and sure enough, coming up the road was Mick in the band van. He had dropped Simon off and gone round the system again while waiting for one of the venue staff to come and lower the metal bollard which allow vehicles into the little parking area. I could have wept for joy to see the guys, I was so relieved! Chris, Ric, Gerry, Peggy and Martin all got out of the van and when the bollard were down, I tailgated Mick through the gap into the car park and there was Andy’s blue lorry too, wonderful! All parked up and happy, I made my way in with the guys and Mick allocated us all dressing rooms in the backstage area of this gorgeous venue.
Stevie and Andy from Iconic had come along to this show which was lovely and Andy casually mentioned while chatting in my dressing room that his son’s band had just won a BRIT award, such a modest guy! His son’s band are called Bastille and my little Sister Rosie was very impressed to hear I had met one of their Dads!
Ric had some guests at the gig and also a lovely guy called Anthony John Clarke had come along to see the guys, a singer/songwriter and friend of the band who had supported them on a previous Wintour. I liked him immediately and enjoyed chatting to him while I popped my CDs out on the merch table. He was amused by my Pour Me A Drink Lighters which was lovely. Being a Birmingham show, Peggy knew a lot of people also and there was a lovely atmosphere all round.
Just after soundcheck, the fire alarm went off for some reason but none of the staff seemed worried and nobody moved so I didn’t either! I wandered outside the stage door to have a roly before playing and really was amazed at the beauty of the building, it really is stunning. The sound in the Town Hall was wonderful too, it was a real pleasure to sing in there and especially lovely to sing with the band in that gorgeous concert room.
My friend Andrew Elias also came along to the show, popping in on a break from working over at the Badminton Tournament. Andy is a wonderful photographer and took the photo of me that is in the Wintour Programme (also a calendar!) He took some great photos and a videoclip during the show which you can see below. Andy’s Travel Champion website is well worth checking out, combining his three loves, photography, music and travel!
Mick spent a lot of time backstage that night trying to find a car park for the band van, as the hotel they were all booked into didn’t have one that could accommodate the van! I did a bit of googling to try to help and found a few suggestions and he ended up going with one near the hotel, although he had to sit in the van and wait for midnight before paying and displaying! The glamour of life on the road!
After the show and a lovely meet and greet with the lovely audience, we all packed away and the man came to lower the bollards to let us all out! After a bit of a comedy time trying to find the road out of Birmingham, due to road closures and road works on the one I needed, I finally got on my way and made it home.
I decided to watch Cagney and Lacey before going to bed, one of my favourite programmes that’s being shown on BBC2 every afternoon at the moment as part of their ‘Afternoon Classics’ season, but was amazed to find that Mary Beth was six months pregnant since yesterday and when I checked, sure enough the Beeb had missed out two episodes! I put a comment on facebook about it… ‘Im not complaining but BBC2 have got their Cagney and Laceys out of sync. Mary Beth is suddenly six months pregnant since yesterday!’, and my friend Miles tickled me by replying… ‘They’re not out of sync Eddie, it’s that Harvey is so potent that he just has to walk past Mary Beth and she’s up the duff. They actually had 34 children during the series run. They just hid them all down the precinct.’
A wonderful, wonderful day.
‘At the Tamworth Services having toast and a cortado after a comedy hour trying to find a road out of Birmingham going my way. The gig was utterly lovely tonight at the Town Hall, what a gorgeous concert hall, wow. It was lovely to see Andrew and also Carolyn, Suzy and Megan and I really loved the whole night. Homeward bound now, with clear roads from now on hopefully and will be posting a CD on the way to somebody who lives in a place called Steeple Bumpstead whose address Ive just written out very happily indeed on a jiffybag :o) xx’
Wednesday 5th March, The Coronation Hall, Ullverston
‘Heading off to Ulverston in Cumbria today then on down to Southport for the next two shows. Can’t quite believe its the last week! xx’
Tonight’s was in Ullverston in Cumbria and over coffee around noon, after a good seven hours sleep, I decided to book a hotel in Southport so that I could drive down there after the show, have a good sleep, get up and head to the Atkinson venue around noon to spend the afternoon writing up the tour blog, having not done it on Monday. With this plan in action I set off and made to the Ullverston absolutely fine in about 3 hours.
I was immediately struck by the lovely scenery as I got closer, it’s very wild and beautiful and not unlike Vancouver Island I thought, where they filmed the Twilight Movies. I once went to Vancouver Island to sing while a man proposed to his girlfriend, after getting an email from a lovely guy called Rob Weeds, telling me all about how he had gone out with a girl called Leanne in college but they had drifted apart, both got married, both got divorced and two years ago had bumped into each other in Blockbuster videos and started going out again. He told me she was the love of his life and that he wanted to propose and asked how much would it be to hire me to come and sing her favourite song while he did so, which was Feels Like Home. Well, it was such a lovely email, I replied saying just petrol money would be fine as it was so romantic and so nice. He then replied saying that was great, but that they lived in British Columbia, Vancouver Island! I had assumed he lived in the UK somewhere, so I replied to explain that I lived in England, and he replied to say he knew that, and had planned to fly me over with his air miles. And he did! I flew to Vancouver, hired a car, took the ferry over to Vancouver Island and drove over the small mountain range and down the other side to a tiny town called Tofino on the Pacific Coast, where their friend Suzanne had arranged a gorgeous hotel for me, and was in on the whole thing and was helping Rob with the proposal plans. The following afternoon, Suzanne and I went to a lovely holiday log cabin that Rob had hired for the weekend for him and Leanne, and he took her out for a walk while we sneaked in and laid out candles, champagne and strawberries and then hid upstairs in the bathroom. When they came back, she saw all the candles and everything, and he got down on one knee and I stood on the landing and sang Feels Like Home.
It was really amazing, and the best thing about it all was that she said yes! After all that effort it would have been awful if she’d said no! It was lovely. Anyway! The scenery around Ullverston reminded me a lot of the scenery there, lovely big trees and lovely landscape, and as I reached the town itself I was struck by how gorgeous it was, very oldy worldy with tiny little shops and streets, so charming.
I found the venue, which had a wonderful life-size Laurel and Hardy statue outside it, and once inside it was all hustle and bustle as the venue has lots of volunteers who help out with all the events, so there were loads of people there all getting everything ready and all of them were really nice.
The guys were soundchecking as I made my way in, so I went to find Martin and Peggy and popped down my CD bag and headed backstage to get ready. Mick had given me a huge big dressing room which was right by a fire escape which made popping out for rolies rather handy.
I heard the guys finishing off soundcheck which was my cue to go get my guitar and pedal and head to the stage ready to do mine. When I got there the guys had finished but Chris and Ric were still onstage tuning up a little, so I went to my mic and Owain started doing my soundcheck and I started to sing Orphan Girl by Gillian Welch. The next thing, Ric and Chris joined in on fiddle and mandolin and so I sang the whole song with them, and it was my absolute most favourite 3 minutes of the entire tour! What treat, I loved it! Money couldn’t buy a feeling like that feeling, it was amazing and absolutely made my night!
Still on a high from that, the gig went swimmingly and was loads of fun. The people in the audience were friendly and great fun too and a grand time was had by all. I had to walk round the outside to get to the foyer to Martin and the CDs which was fine as I got to take some lovely photos for the blog on the way, and have a crafty roly at the same time!
I adored this gig and am thrilled that they have been in touch since to invite me to play at their folk club. After some diary liasing I’ve just confirmed that I will be playing in November 2015, quite a way off, I won’t make my sandwiches for the journey just yet!
After loading up the car I went to say bye to the guys who were packing up and getting ready to head to their hotel, and I said bye to Andy and Owain who were loading up the truck. Like me, they were heading to Southport tonight too ahead of the gig tomorrow, so I knew they were not far behind me as I made me way down the M6.
I made Southport in two hours and found my hotel on the seafront and checked in and it was HUGE! What a gorgeous rambling old place, I loved it. I found my room and was very tickled to hear snoring coming from the room opposite mine as I fumbled with my key opening my door. I couldn’t resist taking a little videoclip of it! What was I saying about getting a life any day now?
Once settled in my room I was all ready to head to bed when I got a message from Owain. He and Andy had arrived at their hotel to find it wasn’t open! Not open as in not built yet! I suggested they head to my hotel and as Andy always stays in his truck, the hotel found Owain a room and all was well, but it was the last thing they needed after such a long night and I really felt for them as they had to be at the venue for noon the next day to load in.
Happy that they were all sorted I climbed into the biggest comfiest bed ever and fell asleep, happy and tired.
‘Had such a lovely night in Ullverston tonight wowee, what a beautiful town and gorgeous venue and lovely, lovely people. On the way to Southport now to my hotel and a big sleep before an afternoon of blog-finishing and tomorrow nights show xx’
‘Made it to my hotel and its huge! Really pretty too with a massive lobby full of displays in glass cabinets, then corridors with signposts to various suites and I passed a room where a businessman was sat at a desk with a pot of coffee and a bowl of fruit on it having what appeared to be a conference call. I caught his eye as I walked past with my guitar and Tesco hessian bag, which felt a bit two-worlds-collide-ish! Up in my room now and the guy next door is snoring so loudly I recorded it before opening my door, I have got to get a life! Im at the front and have a seaview which is awesome :o) Going to sleep for England now I think xxxx’
Thursday 6th March, The Atkinson, Southport
‘Ive just dried my hair in the 1950s’
I woke up around 11am in my big comfy bed and opened the curtains to see the sea and rang down to ask reception if it would be alright to have a late check out, and Owain too, which they said was fine. I texted Owain to tell him he had another hour and started getting ready.
The big plan for today was to head on over to the Atkinson and spend the afternoon working on the Week Four blog as
I had brought my laptop and planned to have a good go at it in the afternoon in my dressing room before the show. It
was on my mind that this weeks one was later than all the previous weeks had been and I wanted to get it done! After
drying my hair with the hilarious 50s style hairdryer in my bathroom, I checked out and popped to the hotel coffee bar where I got a very lovely tray of toast and coffee for £2.99!
I made my way over to the Atkinson and went round the one-way system a few times before finding the way in! I found Andy and Owain inside, already loaded in and now setting up the stage. In a co-incidence, the guys were all staying at the same hotel Id just left that night! I saw the van arrive as I was pulling out, and they were all planning to have a restful afternoon and a few drinks over at the Scarisbrick Hotel and I loved knowing that we were all there in Southport for the day.
I found a dressing room and settled in, I got my laptop out and turned it on and logged into Facebook where I was shocked to get some very sad news that a friend of mine had passed away suddenly in Nashville. Originally from Manchester, Lorna Flowers was a songwriter and a lovely lady who I had known for over ten years. It was such a shock to hear she had passed away, a shock to everyone who knew her, and all thoughts of working on the blog went out of the window as I liased with friends and came to terms with the awfully sad news.
‘So very sad and shocked to hear that the lovely Lorna Flowers passed away suddenly yesterday. A colleague and a friend for many years and the hardest working songwriter I ever met, she will be very much missed xx’
The next thing, Owain texted to say he and Andy were heading over to join the guys at the pub and he invited me along. I Thanked him but had the blog to do, but he messaged again and encouraged me to go join them, and I’m glad he did as I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at all to work on anything, so I headed over the road to join them for an hour. The chaps had headed back to the hotel by the time I got there so I had a natter with Owain and Andy and they then went off to get something to eat and I headed back over to the Atkinson to take some photos and get ready for the show.
I had some family and friends coming to the Southport gig, my Mum and Aunty Celia and our family friends the Marghams. Also my friend Andrea’s Mum and Dad June and Steve McGuire, were coming so I was excited about seeing them all and wanted to make sure they all had a good time. Mick was amazing sorting out all their tickets, that Stevie had helped arrange, and I got them all some programmes and popped them with their tickets at the Box Office.
Martin arrived and we set up a table in the bar outside the theatre, and before I knew it, it was showtime! It was quite nerve-wracking playing while family and friends were in the audience but my set went well and I included a song that I wrote with Lorna called What Happens Now in her honour. I felt ever so sad but didn’t want to spoil anyone’s night so I tried to rise above it and carry on as best as possible, especially as my family were so happy and excited to be there.
Simon was still ever so poorly, but rose to the occasion again and the band played brilliantly well, my family are still raving about how good they were now, weeks later!
My lovely friend Sarah came out to see me just before the interval, as her little girl was poorly at home so she wasn’t going to be able to stay for the second half. I met her at the merch table and we had a bit of a catch up. Sarah’s Mum and Dad are best friends with my Aunty and Uncle and I have known Sarah all my life, and she and her lovely husband Myles are the people I first ever went to Cropredy with!
I got to say a quick hello to my Mum and everyone else in the interval but had planned to catch up properly after the show, as it can get busy at the CD table, which it did! So afterwards we all met up and the band all came out to sign CDs too and it was a very lovely hour indeed. A lady came up to me and asked if I had gone to Brownedge School, and I replied I had, as I am from Preston, just a few miles up the road from Southport. She smiled and said ‘ I think I taught you’ and it turned out to be my first year primary school teacher Miss Poole!
I was amazed! She was with her husband Dennis, and they came to chat to Mum and my Aunty and I, and in another twist, Dennis and my Mum realised they knew one another from the civil service, and had worked together at the Jobcentre. My Mum had no idea his wife Catherine, Miss Poole, had taught me back in 1981, and the whole thing was incredible!
After a huge round of goodbyes and hugs, Mick and the band being especially lovely to my family which was so nice of them, and some really lovely audience members being very good fun and posing for photos, I walked down to see my Mum and Aunty off and as I was having a roly I spotted Simon heading out to walk back to his hotel, looking ever so poorly. It would be a while until Mick was ready with the van and the hotel, while not a million miles away, was far enough to walk with a heavy bag and a streaming cold, so I grabbed my car keys and whizzed Simon round there in my car instead. Wide awake and wired to the hilt after an emotional afternoon and lovely night, I packed up and headed home, an easy run at that time of night. I stopped on the M62 for coffee and a toasty and there was only me and the lovely night lady, who I see from time to time whenever I stop there late at night on the way home from a gig. We had a natter which was lovely and I headed back out to my car and the next minute I was crying, right there in the car, all these tears just streaming down which is so unlike me.
I think it was all the emotion of the day mixed with all the emotion of the tour, and tiredness and excitement and sadness all rolled into one and in hindsight I think it was my end of tour blues hitting a few days early, as I have not cried since that night! After a big nose blow I carried on home, and just before heading to bed I remembered I had some parcels coming in the post and in case I slept through the postman’s knock, I popped note on the front door to say please would he knock loudly as I was in but that its hard to hear the door! With that I headed on up and crawled under the duvet!
‘At the services having coffee and a toasty with the lovely night lady who is always on the Costa counter when I stop by late at night. She’s a big fan of PJ Proby and loves a natter. I loved the show tonight in Southport and sang a song for Lorna who Ive felt so terribly sad about since hearing the news this afternoon and still can’t believe is no longer with us. It was so lovely to see Mum and Aunty Celia at the show as well as June and Steve and the Marghams and as always I met some really lovely people, not least Mrs Poole, my first year Junior teacher who came up and asked if I went to Brownedge Primary because she thought she might have taught me. And she did! I knew her kind lovely face right away even after 34 years, it was amazing and so nice. Homeward bound and only two more shows to go now, with a Moonbeams Folk Weekend in between! Its been an emotional day and a lovely day and a sad and small and humbling one too. I will remember it always xx’
Friday 7th March, The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
‘Its hard to hear the door’ is code for I am asleep x’
After a huge sleep, I was knocked up by the postman (sorry, I couldn’t resist that!) who handed over my parcels, and as I came round slowly with coffee, the very lovely Shirley Smith arrived with a big box of badges that I had ordered last week after Mick Toole very kindly did me a wonderful design. Shirley lives in York and makes her wonderful badges as a hobby and will do a minimum order of 35 badges at 15p a badge, which is brilliant for all of us independent musicians who don’t want to have to order hundreds at a time online from some big company. Shirley has been making badges for me to go with my two albums since 2008 and when I emailed her to ask if she might be free to make me up some Fairport ones as an end-of-tour pressie, she very kindly agreed. I emailed Mick Toole, who designs all the Fairport flyers, posters, programmes, banners and album covers, and he very kindly made a design for me to send to Shirley, and a week later here she was at my door with a big box of them all done! If you ever need a badge making, I can really recommend Shirley, she will post them if need be and is a super lovely lady. You can email her, Shirley Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Car packed and with badges in tow, I set off to Huddersfield and with it only being an hour and a half away from my house, didn’t expect traffic to be any kind of problem, but I forgot about the M62! I’m not one to swear but it can be a bastard of a motorway, as my friend DWM would say, and today it really was!
Finally through the traffic I made it to the gig, parked up and stepped out of the car and into a giant puddle, great! Slightly on the last-minute I got all my things inside the stage door and finally relaxed! After soundchecks I got ready and chatted a bit to Owain and Andy who had both had a huge takeaway each and were feeling a bit full! I headed up to the foyer to find Martin and Peggy and gave them the box of badges, which was so much fun. After weeks of Peggy promoting my CDs and giving out my badges at the merch table, it was wonderful to see him with some Fairport ones and great fun was had giving them out to the audience as they made their way into the theatre.
My lovely friend Clare came along to the gig which was so nice. I met Clare at Chester College in 1991 and to me she is still the same now as she was then, absolutly brilliant, and it was wonderful to see her.
After my set we hung out in the foyer with Peggy, Martin and Mick for a while and the guys played a blinding show, Simon seeming at last to be recovering a little bit from his awful cold. Something about all the tears of the night before made me feel lighter somehow, as though Id got a load of my chest and I really enjoyed singing and playing and it was a really lovely night.
I was very tickled that the big blue lorry was backed up and ready to load out all through the show, back door open and ready! With it being a day off the next day everyone packed up and loaded out super quick and we all headed off with lots of see you on Sundays and have a good day offs!
I was booked to play at a lovely local festival Moonbeams the next day, and I planned to try to finish the blog in between playing as it now weighing very heavily on my mind not having managed to write it up in Southport!
I was home in a flash and after a bit of pottering about headed to bed! A wonderful last-but-one show!
‘Homeward bound from a super-lovely night in Huddersfield and the last but one show of the tour. Loved seeing my gorgeous friend Clare and loved the gig. Man I love these guys, Im going to miss them when its over. Am stockpiling episodes of Cagney & Lacey to help me through the withdrawal symptoms next week! xx’
Saturday 8th March, Day Off
‘After a wonderful week, it was the last-but-one Wintour show in Huddersfield last night and today is a day off with the final gig of the tour being tomorrow night in London. Here at home in Driffield I had a lovely first set at my lovely friend Leila’s Moonbeams March Folk Weekend earlier on today, I was pleased I could speak at 1pm let alone sing! :o) Back home now and working on my Fairport’s Cropredy Convention Official page blog before heading back over for the evening set.’
After setting my alarm for noon so I would be ready to go play my first set at the Moonbeams Folk Weekend at 2pm, I got up and came down, made coffee and at 12.15pm I got a text from the lovely Martin Peirson, festival MC and all round amazingly lovely guy, that said ‘Are you up?’. I texted back that I was and he rang me to say that Ewan McLennan was running late and could I possibly make it down there to play at 1pm instead of 2pm? I said yes, still half asleep, then shot upstairs to get ready leaving my toast popped up in the toaster, and somehow made it to the Bell Hotel, guitar in hand and make-up on for 12.51pm!
The Bell Hotel in Driffield is a wonderful 18th century listed hotel in the heart of the town that plays host to lots of lovely Moonbeams concerts and events. Leila and her wonderful Moonbeams have brought some amazing artists to play in Driffield over the past seven years, including Peggy and PJ, Martin Simpson, Skerryvore, Roddy Woomble, Lau, Boo Hewerdine, The Bad Shepherds, Vin Garbutt, Richard Digence, The Oysterband, Show of Hands, Miranda Sykes, Steve Tilston, Dan Walsh and The Younguns to name but a few. Also it regularly features local artists such as myself, David Ward Maclean, Andy Stones, Boss Caine, Holly Taymar, Mark Wynn, Paul Liddell, The Whiskey Dogs, Anna Shannon, Hissyfit, Benjamin Leftwich, Carol Henderson, Jasper Bolton, Dogfinger Steve, Stevie Mould, Chris Helme, Lucy Marshall and many, many more. Gerry and Ani McNeice (who came to the Leeds show!) from Wee Dog Sound always do the sound and all of the nights are fantastic!
This was the second March Folk Weekend and was again a huge success! I somehow managed to play for 45 minutes and after a few hellos and natters I headed home and had my popped up and now rock hard toast and set about starting on the Week Four Blog!
A couple of hours later I headed back over to the Bell to play my evening set and got home around 11pm to find my lovely friend Alastair had come to feed the cat, having forgotten I was home that night! We ended up having a lovely cuppa and catch up and as he was heading off a few days later on tour around Europe doing sound and Tour Managing for an American artist called Joan As Policewoman, we made plans for me to feed his cat in return while he was away!
After Alastair headed home I worked on the blog some more for a while and then spent some time writing out my end of tour cards for all the guys, and with my alarm set for London, I went to bed. One more show, it was hard to believe it was all nearly over!
‘Such a lovely night at Moonbeams with the gang :o) xx’
Sunday 9th March, The Union Chapel, London
‘Off to London today for show 31 of the tour and can’t quite believe it will be the last one! What a five weeks it has been. Ive loved every minute and have learnt such a lot. I thought I knew all about touring, and driving, and gigging, Miss independent pants here, but I realise now what proper grown up touring is really all about and am truly humbled and honoured. Its been amazing, Thankyou so much to all the guys for such a brilliant and inspiring and fun time xx’
Up, coffee-ed, hair washed and car loaded, I set off for London in good time and had a very smooth journey all the way until the last ten minutes, when I crawled across London in loads of traffic but finally made it and Thanks to a tip-off from Owain, found the blue lorry in the road behind the Union Chapel and squeezed in next to it. Mick and the guys arrived soon after and we all congregated in the Green Room as it was one big room for all of us here, which was really fun.
The Union Chapel is a stunning venue, an absolutely gorgeous room with lovely acoustics. Like Oxford, Llandudno and Colchester, we were all in the same room here, the sound desk, the stage and the CD table and with it being the last night tonight I especially loved this and the atmosphere was fun and exciting and light-hearted from the moment we all arrived.
Gerry’s wife Jacqui came along, as did Stevie and Andy, and it was lovely to meet Simon’s wife Sylvia for the first time too, originally from Nashville, she arrived before the show and it was very nice to chat with her about Nashvegas and America.
After getting ready and doing soundchecks, I slipped outside the Stage Door for a roly and saw Andy in his lorry, doing some admin. I went to chat to him at the window and he invited me to jump in join him in the cab which was wonderful! Owain wandered outside also and I got a few photos. I’m so fond of Andy and his blue truck, it was amazing to sit behind the wheel! Owain pointed out that I was in fact sitting in Andy’s bedroom as well as his office, and it was all just a real honour and ace. :o)
As I went on to open the show for the last time I felt happy, excited and sad all at the same time. It was a funny feeling knowing it was the last night, but also a fantastic feeling knowing I had been a part of something so very special indeed.
I had a couple of guests in the audience, Kerry and Alex Lester, so I gave them a little mention from the stage, as I sang at their wedding in Rye in December 2011 which was very special indeed, and I absolutely think the world of them both. Alex is also the Dark Lord of BBC Radio Two, and has hosted his Best Time of the Day show during the small hours of the night for 24 years and has been a Radio Two presenter for 27 years. You can find out more about Alex’s show over on The Best Time of the Day Show Facebook Page. Kerry took a video clip of me playing Speed of the Sound of Loneliness with the band, which she kindly emailed me to include in the Blog, and Alex took a photo of us all onstage, both of which you can find below. Before leaving the stage, the guys surprised me with an enormous bunch of flowers which was so lovely and the biggest bunch I have ever seen! It really was magical and I floated offstage with them and back to the dressing room.
Mick found a vase for the flowers and also backstage I found a card signed from all of the guys which was also really lovely. After calming down and a roly, I grabbed my camera and headed round to the front to join Martin, Peggy and Ellen at the CD Table to watch the show!
It was a lovely surprise to see Nicola Lyons from 4 Square at the merch table. A friend of Martins, Nicola and her fab band played at Moonbeams a few months ago and are coming back to play at the Moonbeams Festival in July, and it was lovely to hang out with her and have a natter. Jacqui came to join us as well and along with Martin, Peggy and Ellen it was a very jolly table indeed!
Seeing the guys play in that gorgeous room was incredible, they are just so, so good. After a very hectic and fun interval chatting with the audience and selling CDs, I headed back to get ready to join the band for the last time on Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Meet On the Ledge, both of which were wonderful.
After the show there was a real party atmosphere and I was introduced to lots of friends of the band who had come along, and said lots of goodbyes and had many hugs and kisses. Gerry surprised me with a copy of a wonderful CD he and Jacqui had made years ago with Alan Thomson, featuring a whole host of guest appearances by their friends, including Ralph McTell and Bert Jansch. I was incredibly honoured and will treasure it always.
I packed up my car for the last time on an absolute high, and floated all the way home after such a great night, great tour and amazing five weeks. Magic times a million.
‘Amazing night, amazing guys and amazing tour. Homeward bound and will be floating all the way. Awesome times a million xxx’
Tuesday 10th March, First Day Back in the Real World Again…
‘Up and having coffee, bit bleary but very happy and the sun is shining! Could Spring finally have sprung? :o) x’
So that was Week Five, the final week and the last installment of my Wintour 2014 Blog!
Thankyou so much for reading, I have loved every minute of the tour and adore all of the guys. What can I tell you about them that I haven’t already said? I think they are talented, genuine, lovely and amazingly good fun, and as a 40-year-old independent singer/songwriter, they are an inspiration to me in so many ways. What they do and the way they do it is something that I aspire to, and I could not have asked for a better insight into and example of seeing musicians doing their thing so brilliantly than Ive had in joining them on this tour. It has been a shot in the arm for me to witness these guys first hand playing their music all over the country the way they do. Better role models I couldn’t hope to find, they mean it and they do it and they love it and they live, eat and breathe it. They are brilliant. I fucking love them.
I can’t Thank them enough for having me, especially Peggy for putting me forward a year ago. To invite somebody along to play with them every year the way they do is so generous, and having met some of the previous years opening acts while on the tour, its very clear that they too adore and admire them greatly. To the crew and behind the scenes guys too I am so Thankful, and in awe of the hard work they put in while never once moaning about any of it. Great guys, Mick, Owain and Andy, Martin, Ellen, Stevie and Andy, Gareth, Mick Toole and Nigel, I bow to thee, you are all awesome.
Thankyou also to all the people who have emailed me during the tour, or posted a comment on the blog or written on my Facebook Music Page. I am still catching up with all my admin but every single one of you will get a reply at some point soon!
I will now resume my regular gigs, I have a busy year ahead with lots of shows, a tour with Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes, a Nanci Griffith tribute tour with The Kennedys, a two week tour of China, a live album recording with the Abbey Road Live Here Now team in May at Driffield Town Hall, Thanks to being put forward to the team by the fab music journalist Jonathan Wingate, and of course Cropredy! You can find all my upcoming gigs on my Website Gigs Page and hope to see some of you again somewhere up the road.
As for the guys, they went straight into the studio to start work on their next album, then they flew to Spain to play at the Costa del Folk Festival and then flew to Denmark to do a week’s tour there, where they were snapped mingling with a local dolly bird called Jacob… so it was non-stop for them, troopers that they are, and as Simon put it, they plan to sleep sometime in April!
Andy and the big blue lorry are back out on the road with Jools, Owain is out on tour with DJ Fresh, after helping out with the lambing on his friend’s farm (what a guy!) and Mick headed home to Wales to his lovely cat Sooty, where he caught up with his friend Doctor Haze and unwound with a spot of caving in a rock face hole brilliantly named ‘Pingu’s Back Passage’ before he heads off again to work on a huge show.
Martin headed home to join his family after the very sad passing of his lovely Mum Minnie, who we were all so fortunate to meet in Bury. He received the news late on Sunday night, during the London show, and gentleman that he is, he didn’t tell anybody till afterwards so as not to upset anyone. It was an honour and a pleasure to meet and work with Martin and to meet his lovely Mum, and I was very glad to be able to call him up the next day to tell him that and hope to see him again soon.
Peggy and Ellen headed back to Brittany where Peggy will rest up his poorly hand ready for Spring. They very generously have invited me to play at their lovely summer festival over there one year, which sounds wonderful. Stevie and Andy from Iconic are now hard at work on the PR for the Fairport Spring Tour which starts in Hastings on the 1st May.
And as for my lovely 18-year-old Black Cat, she has been very happy to have my guitar case back home and at her disposal to sleep in after all these weeks on the road. I’m not quite sure how to tell her that Im back off on the road again tomorrow… I will break it to her gently.
I am now able to restore the original set list photo, after ‘Tapping’ it up in Week One so as not to be a spoiler. The rest of my whole life, hearing Myths and Heroes will feel like a cue to start getting ready to join the band onstage for Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and I can’t think of a more wonderful reminder of the tour to carry with me always.
Thankyou so much for reading, its been a pleasure. Have a wonderful summer and see you at Cropredy!
Love Edwina xx