Edwina Hayes 2014 Fairport Wintour Blog

~ A journal of my time on tour supporting Fairport Convention ~

Week Five

They think its all over....

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.’

Unhalfbricking

Unhalfbricking

 

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’

 

Soundcheck, Farnham

Soundcheck, Farnham

 

Soundcheck, Farnham

Soundcheck, Farnham

 

Soundcheck, Farnham

Soundcheck, Farnham

 

Green Room, Farnham

Green Room, Farnham

 

Backstage, Farnham

Backstage, Farnham

 

Dressing Room, Farnham

Dressing Room, Farnham

 

Dressing Room, Farnham

Dressing Room, Farnham

 

Dressing Room, Farnham

Heated Dressing Room, Farnham

 

Backstage, Farnham

Backstage, Farnham

 

Helen, Ken and Jan, Farnham

Helen, Ken and Jan, Farnham

 

Peggy and the Farebrothers, Farnham

Peggy and the Farebrothers, Farnham

 

 

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’

Holiday Inn Soup

Holiday Inn Soup

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Dressing Room, Weston-super-Mare

Dressing Room, Weston-super-Mare

 

Dressing Room, Weston-super-Mare

Dressing Room, Weston-super-Mare

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Weston-super-Mare

Weston-super-Mare

 

Merch Table, Weston-super-Mare

Merch Table, Weston-super-Mare

 

Backstage Manager, Weston-super-Mare

Backstage Manager, Weston-super-Mare

 

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

 

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

 

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

Band Onstage, Weston-super-Mare

 

Backstage Manager, Weston-super-Mare

Backstage Monitor, Weston-super-Mare

 

Who ya gonna call?  Weston-super-Mare

Who ya gonna call? Weston-super-Mare

 

Ghostbusters! Or fab staff member Simon :o) Weston-super-Mare

Ghostbusters! Or fab staff member Simon :o) Weston-super-Mare

 

The Smiths Hotel, Weston-super-Mare

The Smiths Hotel, Weston-super-Mare

 

Piney Room, Weston-super-Mare

Piney Room, Weston-super-Mare

 

Luxury, Weston-super-Mare

Luxury, Weston-super-Mare

 

Mr and Mrs Sting, Weston-super-Mare

Mr and Mrs Sting, Weston-super-Mare

 


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.

Leaving Weston-super-Mare

Leaving Weston-super-Mare

On the way to Llunch

On the way to Llunch

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

 

Mick at The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

Mick at The Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

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’

 

Pontardawe

Pontardawe

 

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

 

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

 

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

Soundcheck, Pontardawe

 

Gerry, Pontardawe

Gerry, Pontardawe

 

Chris's violin, Pontardawe

Chris’s violin, Pontardawe

 

Andy and Matt, Pontardawe

Andy and Matt, Pontardawe

 

Simon and Mick, Pontardawe

Simon and Mick, Pontardawe

Simon and Mick, Pontardawe

Simon and Mick, Pontardawe

Foyer, Pontardawe

Foyer, Pontardawe

 

Super-lovely venue staff, Pontardawe

Super-lovely venue staff, Pontardawe

 

Dressing Room, Pontardawe

Dressing Room, Pontardawe

 

Backstage, Pontardawe

Backstage, Pontardawe

 

Ian and Martin, Pontardawe

Ian and Martin, Pontardawe

 

Mick, Martin and Ian, through the looking glass, Pontardawe

Mick, Martin and Ian, through the looking glass, Pontardawe

 

Home

Home

 

 

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!

 

Fridge Temperature Casualty

Will the fridge temperature madness never end?

 

Cat Nap

Cat Nap


‘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’

 

Birmingham Town Hall

Birmingham Town Hall

 

Birmingham Town Hall with spooky blue lights!

Birmingham Town Hall with spooky blue lights!

 

Stage Door, Birmingham Town Hall

Stage Door, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Birmingham Town Hall

Birmingham Town Hall

 

Mick and Owain, Birmingham Town Hall

Mick and Owain, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Dressing Room, Birmingham Town Hall

Dressing Room, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Iconic Andy, Birmingham Town Hall

Iconic Andy, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Backstage, Birmingham Town Hall

Backstage, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Backstage Monitor, Birmingham Town Hall

Backstage Monitor, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Backstage, Birmingham Town Hall

Backstage, Birmingham Town Hall

 

All the ladies to the left... Birmingham Town Hall

All the ladies to the left… Birmingham Town Hall

 

Mick and Stevie, Birmingham Town Hall

Mick and Stevie, Birmingham Town Hall

 

Lighting Rig, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

Lighting Rig, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

 

Almost Showtime, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

Almost Showtime, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

 

Onstage with the Guys, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

Onstage with the Guys, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

 

Onstage with the guys, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

Onstage with the guys, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

 

Final Bows, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias

Final Bows, Birmingham Town Hall ~ photo courtesy of Andrew Elias



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’

 

Ullverston

Ullverston

 

Ullverston

Ullverston

 

Ullverston

Ullverston

 

Ullverston

Ullverston

 

Ullverston

Ullverston

Band Onstage, Ullverston

Band Onstage, Ullverston

 

 

Band Onstage, Ullverston

Band Onstage, Ullverston

 

Owain at work, Ullverston

Owain at work, Ullverston

 

Owain at work, Ullverston

Owain at work, Ullverston

 

Dressing Room, Ullverston

Dressing Room, Ullverston

 

Mick at the window! Ullverston

Mick at the window! Ullverston

 

Backstage, Ullverston

Backstage, Ullverston

 

Martin and venue volunteers, Ullverston

Martin and venue volunteers, Ullverston

 

Loading out, Ullverston

Loading out, Ullverston

 

Loading out, Ullverston

Loading out, Ullverston

 

Art deco cinema over the road, Ullverston

Art deco cinema over the road, Ullverston

 

Art deco cinema over the road, Ullverston

Art deco cinema over the road, Ullverston

 

‘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’

 

Little pots of horribleness

Little pots of horribleness

 

 

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!

1950s Hairdryer, Southport

1950s Hairdryer, Southport

 

Hotel, Southport

Hotel, Southport

 

Breakfast heaven, Southport

Breakfast heaven, Southport

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 very lovely Lorna Flowers

The very lovely Lorna Flowers

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’

 

Southport

Southport

 

Southport

Southport

 

Southport

Southport

 

Owain and Andy, Southport

Owain and Andy, Southport

 

Big Blue Lorry, Southport

Big Blue Lorry, Southport

 

Backstage, Southport

Backstage, Southport

 

Where The Tanks Go! Southport

Where The Tanks Go!, Southport

 

Dressing Room, Southport

Dressing Room, Southport

 

Dressing Room, Southport

Dressing Room, Southport

 

Lovely Staff, Southport

Lovely Staff, Southport

 

Posing, Southport

Posing, Southport

 

Artwork, Southport

Artwork, Southport

 

Artwork, Southport

Artwork, Southport

 

Martin and Peggy, Southport

Martin and Peggy, Southport

 

Lovely Sarah, Southport

Lovely Sarah, Southport

 

Chris, Southport

Chris, Southport

 

Catherine, Chris, Aunty Celia, Mum and Dennis, Southport

Catherine, Chris, Aunty Celia, Mum and Dennis, Southport

 

Catherine, Chris, Aunty Celia, Dennis and Mum, Southport

Catherine, Chris, Aunty Celia, Dennis and Mum, Southport

 

Fun with Peggy! Southport

Fun with Peggy! Southport

 

More fun with Peggy! Southport

More fun with Peggy! Southport

 

Bernie, Southport

Bernie, Southport

 

Mick, Mum and Aunty Celia, Southport

Mick, Mum and Aunty Celia, Southport

 

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: thebadgemaker@hotmail.co.uk

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’

 

M62 Traffic Hell! Huddersfield

M62 Traffic Hell! Huddersfield

 

Huddersfield

Huddersfield

 

Huddersfield

Huddersfield

 

Huddersfield

Huddersfield

 

Mick! Huddersfield

Mick! Huddersfield

 

Stage Door, Huddersfield

Stage Door, Huddersfield

 

Ready To Load! Huddersfield

Ready To Load! Huddersfield

 

Dressing Room, Huddersfield

Dressing Room, Huddersfield

 

Mick and Martin with Flash! Huddersfield

Mick and Martin with Flash! Huddersfield

 

Mick and Martin without Flash! Huddersfield

Mick and Martin without Flash! Huddersfield

 

Programme Model Clare! Huddersfield

Programme Model Clare! Huddersfield

 

With Clare, Huddersfield

With Clare, Huddersfield

 

With Clare, 1991!

With Clare, 1991!

 

Backstage Monitor, Huddersfield

Backstage Monitor, Huddersfield

 

Band Onstage, Huddersfield

Band Onstage, Huddersfield

 

Band Onstage, Huddersfield

Band Onstage, Huddersfield

 

Quick Drink! Huddersfield

Quick Drink! Huddersfield

 

FC Badge by Mick Toole!

FC Badge Design by Mick Toole!

 

Finished Badges by Shirley!

Finished Badges by Shirley!

 

 

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’

Moonbeams March Folk Weekend

Moonbeams March Folk Weekend

 

Snoozy

Snoozy

 

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’

 

London

London

 

London

London

 

Fab Venue Staff, London

Fab Venue Staff, London

 

Fab Venue Staff, London

Fab Venue Staff, London

London

London

 

London

London

 

London

London

 

Matt and Andy, London

Matt and Andy, London

 

Merch Table, London

Merch Table, London

 

Owain, London

Owain, London

 

Martin and Peggy, London

Martin and Peggy, London

 

Cute Kiosk, London

Cute Kiosk, London

 

Owain's View, London

Owain’s View, London

 

Gerry Backstage, London

Gerry Backstage, London

 

Stevie and Jacqui Backstage, London

Stevie and Jacqui Backstage, London

 

Mick Backstage, London

Mick Backstage, London

 

Riccy Stix! Backstage, London

Riccy Stixx! Backstage, London

 

Stage Door, London

Stage Door, London

 

Andy in His Office! London

Andy in His Office! London

 

Behind the Big Blue Lorry Wheel! London

Behind the Big Blue Lorry Wheel! London

 

Greatest Guys Ever! London

Greatest Guys Ever! London

 

Quick Cuppa! London

Quick Cuppa! London

 

Mick and Andy, London

Mick and Andy, London

 

Andy and Peggy, London

Andy and Peggy, London

 

Backstage Fun! London

Backstage Fun! London

 

More Backstage Fun! London

More Backstage Fun! (where is my nose?)  London

 

Band Onstage, London

Band Onstage, London

Band Onstage, London

Band Onstage, London

 

Band Onstage, London

Band Onstage, London

 

London

London

 

Martin and Jacqui, London

Martin and Jacqui, London

 

With Jacqui and Nicola, London

With Jacqui and Nicola, London

 

Girly Selfie #1, London

Girly Selfie #1, London

 

Girly Selfie #2, London

Girly Selfie #2, London

 

Girly Selfie #3, London

Girly Selfie #3, London

 

Simon, Sylvia and Friends, Backstage, London

Simon, Sylvia and Friends, Backstage, London

 

Onstage, London

Onstage, London ~ Photo courtesy of Alex Lester

 

Lovely Flowers! London

Lovely Flowers! London

 

Lovely Flowers! London

Lovely Flowers! London



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’

 

Home

Home

 

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

Wintour Set List 2014

Wintour Set List 2014

 

Studio

Studio

 

Denmark

Denmark

 

Denmark

Denmark

 

Denmark

Denmark

 

Mick and Doctor Haze

Mick and Doctor Haze

 

Pingu's Back Passage!

Pingu’s Back Passage!

 

Pingu's Back Passage!

Pingu’s Back Passage!

 

Farm Based Owain!

Farm Based Owain!

 

Martin and Minnie

Martin and Minnie

 

Homelife is Restored

Homelife is Restored!

 

Week Four

And so its the fourth week of the tour and everything is rolling along smoothly and happily like a big smooth and happy musical juggernaut and, reoccurring colds and flu aside, everyone is doing great.  I feel very happy and settled into the routine and am absolutely loving all of the gigs and all of the guys.  Everything I need for each night I have in the boot of my car, and life as I knew it before seems like a million years ago.  This leg of the tour would take us to Yorkshire, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, East Sussex and Kent and here is what happened in week four!

Friday 21st February, City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds

‘Woke up at the crack of 2pm after a big sleep to the cat licking me on the nose and meowing very quietly in a ‘please will you get up now’ kind of way. Two seconds later my big wind up alarm clock went off and I hit the ceiling and am now up having coffee and coming round ready for setting off to Leeds soon with lovely Miss Leila Moonbeams! Very much looking forward to seeing Gerry, Ani, Rob, Amy and John W tonight at Leeds! Looking forward slightly less to finding somewhere to park as the nearest car park to the City Varieties is I believe in Bradford, but its a gorgeous venue so will be worth it! :o) xx’

After setting the alarm for 2pm I woke up feeling a little bit bleary, stumbled down and made a pot of coffee and started getting ready for Leeds! I was very excited that my lovely friend Leila was coming along with me, a longtime Cropredy goer, the lady behind the amazing Moonbeams acoustic gigs and Moonbeams Wold Top Festival in Driffield and one of my best friends.  Leila arrived at 3.30pm with a bag of Wold Top Ale for the guys and the most wonderful pork pie I have ever seen!  She ordered it from Tindall’s in town and had them bake Fairport Convention on the top of it in pastry and it was a beauty!

Car loaded up with pie, beers and guitar, we headed off and after a quick stop at Stamford Bridge post office to send off my sister’s Birthday pressie, we made it to Leeds fine and decided to pull up and unload in the narrow alleyway by the venue that Andy had managed to squeeze the big blue truck down.  With the theatre being slap bang in the middle of town, it was going to be quite a hike to find a car park so we parked up and made our way inside with everything and after a chat with the lovely venue managers, I found out that there was a 50/50 chance of getting a parking ticket if we left it there the whole night, and that they definitely didn’t clamp and the tickets were about £25.  It took me about 4 milliseconds to decide to risk it! It would be worth £25 not to have to schlep miles to a car park and back to park up the car, and then to do it again to go get it after the show! I went out and pulled it over a little tighter to the wall, popped my ‘Artist Vehicle’ sign from Mick in the window and headed back in!

I was also excited that the lovely Gerry and Ani McNeice were coming along to the show that night, as was our lovely friend Drew and his daughter Emerlee, and also John Waterson and his son Alex.  Leila and I spotted Drew, Ani and Gerry in the pub next door when we arrived and we all arranged to meet up in the interval.

The City Varieties has had a huge makeover since I last played there in 2005.  They have kept the theatre itself as it was, a beautiful Victorian music hall concert room, but have redone the backstage area and made lots of lovely cosy and modern dressing rooms.

The band had already arrived and were soundchecking and after my soundcheck everyone took loads of photos of the lovely theatre and the atmosphere was fun and very jolly.  The pork pie was a huge hit with the guys and they were really thrilled with it, it really was something to behold!  We had some fun backstage taking photos of that too!

Knowing that so many friends were going to be in the audience was a little daunting! I felt pretty nervous before going on, it’s always so much easier to sing when nobody you know is there I find.  For all its beauty, it was a tough room sound wise, and on top of the nerves I had to rise above it not being quite as brilliant a sound as usual, which was nobody’s fault at all, just the way it is in that room.  It was such a pretty room though that the beauty of it totally made up for the acoustics.

It was lovely to play regardless and after my set Leila and I headed down to the foyer to find Ellen and Martin and I set up my CDs.  It was a very tiny area that we had for the merch table, and we all squeezed in as best we could! John and Alex were down there as were Drew and Emerlee and much fun was had and more photos were taken. So much fun in fact that the house manager came along and shushed us all for being too loud which was a little bit embarrassing!

The interval came and the tiny foyer was soon swamped with audience members and after a flurry of CD signing and lots of chatting, the second half began. After a bit of fun with Peggy, Drew, Mick and Leila in the Green Room, where I was very tickled by Drew and Peggy’s story swapping and joke telling, I went up to get ready for going on again to join the band.  I really loved singing Who Know Where The Time Goes again, its such a treat every single time, and also loved the finale with everyone, which is also a treat and brilliant fun every night.

With the show all done, everybody headed down to the foyer to join Ellen and Martin, and after another flurry of CD signings and lots of chat, we all headed back to the dressing rooms to pack up.  As Owain, Andy, Mick and the theatre crew were loading the lorry, Leila and I loaded the car, which wonderfully had not got a parking ticket (yes!) and I asked Owain if he would check my lights as a funny symbol had come on in the car on the way there, one I hadn’t seen before, and I was hoping very much it was a light or something, and not the engine.  Sure enough, the right headlight was out, which was a relief on the one hand but made for a very dark drive home!  After a round of goodbyes we were on the way and I dropped off gorgeous Leila and headed home to bed after a truly lovely and proper Yorkshire night indeed!

‘Luxuriously home and in pyjamas after the Leeds gig tonight which was so nice! What a pretty theatre, and what a lovely night for me having gorgeous Miss Leila with me, and Drew, Emerlee, Gerry and Ani there too, and it was so nice to finally meet John! :o) The old saying that its easier to perform in front of people you don’t know really is true as I was extra nervous tonight playing to so many people I know, but all went great and everyone was so nice! Special Thanks to Martin for being so lovely on the CD table and making it all okay even though it was a very teeny area at tonight’s venue and a bit squashed for space. Highlights of the night for me were listening to Peggy and Drew swapping jokes about gigs that have no bar, Leila’s magnificent pork pie, not getting a parking ticket and Simon taking my photo! Loved it :o) xx’

Moonbeams Fairport Pork Pie! (photo courtesy of Simon!)

Moonbeams Fairport Pork Pie! (photo courtesy of Simon!)

Moonbeams Fairport Pork Pie!

Moonbeams Fairport Pork Pie!

My view from the stage, Leeds (photo courtesy of Miss Leila!)

My view from the stage, Leeds (photo courtesy of Miss Leila!)

Leila and Mick, Leeds

Leila and Mick, Leeds

Leila, Drew and Emerlee, Leeds (photo courtesy of Emerlee!)

Leila, Drew and Emerlee, Leeds (photo courtesy of Emerlee!)

House manager, Leeds (photo courtesy of Emerlee!)

House manager, Leeds (photo courtesy of Emerlee!)

Leila and Simon, Leeds

Leila and Simon, Leeds

With Simon, Leeds, take one!

With Simon, Leeds, take one!

With Simon, Leeds, take two!

With Simon, Leeds, take two!

Mick, Leila and Peggy, Leeds

Mick, Leila and Peggy, Leeds

From the stage, Leeds

From the stage, Leeds

Leila, Owain and Mick, Leeds

Leila, Owain and Mick, Leeds

Leila, Peggy and Pie, Leeds

Leila, Peggy and Pie, Leeds

Peggy, Pie and Leila! Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

Peggy, Pie and Leila! Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

With Owain, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

With Owain, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

Band onstage, Leeds

Band onstage, Leeds

Band onstage, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

Band onstage, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

In the wings, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

In the wings, Leeds (photo courtesy of Leila!)

Drew and Leila, Leeds

Drew and Leila, Leeds

With Ellen, Leeds

With Ellen, Leeds

Ani and Gerry, Leeds

Ani and Gerry, Leeds

John and Leila, Leeds

John and Leila, Leeds

Alex and Martin, Leeds

Alex and Martin, Leeds

Leila and Drew! Leeds

Leila and Drew! Leeds

With Drew, Leeds

With Drew, Leeds

Leeds! (photo courtesy of Leila!)

Leeds! (photo courtesy of Leila!)

 

Saturday 22nd February, Burnley Mechanics

‘Off to Burnley with a plate and a fork :o) x’

After a really fab night’s sleep I had what felt like gloriously ages to potter about and get ready before setting off to Burnley Mechanics.  With Burnley, like Leeds, being within two hours drive from my house, I was going to be able to go there and come home afterwards again which felt really luxurious.

I had been told about the wonderful Indian restaurant The Kashmir in Bradford that the band stop and have lunch at every year as a tradition before the Burnley gig, and as Andy, Owain and I were going to be missing it, Simon and Mick had very kindly offered to get us all a takeaway instead, so I packed a plate and a fork, and a serving spoon too before setting off, all ready!

After a quick stop in town at the motor shop to get my headlight bulb replaced I got on the way.  I knew from my venue car parking sheet from Mick that tonight on arrival, I would have to pop inside and get a permit for my car, so after finding the car park and pulling up next to Andy’s blue truck, I got out of the car and was just wondering which back door was the right one, when one of them opened and a venue manager came out and said ‘hello, would you like a permit?’  Perfect timing! :o)

Car sorted, I unloaded my guitar and bag and CDs and headed on in, and made my way to the dressing rooms where Mick had already allocated us all one each, signs up and all, he really is brilliant, and in my dressing room was my Indian Takeaway! I felt very spoilt indeed and decided I would have it later, after my set, and got my plate and fork and spoon out ready, and started getting ready.

BBC Radio Lancashire were recording the concert that night and I bumped into the lovely Phil Brown whose folk music show The Drift I have played several times over the years. A really lovely guy, he told me it was his team that were recording the show and that it would most likely be broadcast sometime in March, after the tour.  It was so lovely to see him and after a bit of a natter and a catch up, he went off to set up and I went to finish getting ready.

After wrestling into my tights I went off to find a cup of coffee in the Green Room and found Chris in there having a little play on his mandolin, and had a lovely chat with him.  Often after soundcheck, while Im getting ready, I hear the sound of Chris’s playing drifting down the corridor, and Ric’s fiddle sometimes too and its really lovely.  After soundcheck every night, Owain puts on a CD called Take Three by a trio called Take Three, made up of Gerry, his wife Jacqui McShee and Alan Thompson.  It’s a beautiful album and has become a part of our tour routine that I really love.  Hearing Jaqcui’s gorgeous voice start to float around the building every evening means that all of the preparation for the gig is done, all of us are here and soundchecked, all we have to do is get dressed and ready and that the countdown to showtime has begun. I have bought myself a copy of the album as I’ve come to know it so well now, and the rest of my whole life, whenever I listen to it, I will think of all these evenings getting ready backstage at all of these wonderful gigs.

While in the Green Room I also spotted two plates of the nicest looking sandwiches ever on the side!  Big Lancashire baps with loads of lovely fillings all cut in half and on a tray! This was clearly one of the venues that provided refreshments backstage, so I decided at that moment to take my Indian takeaway home and have a sandwich after playing instead!  A wise decision really, as in spite of having a fork, spoon and plate on hand I would still probably have got it everywhere knowing me.

I was looking forward to the gig, and was excited and happy getting ready.  Of all the gigs so far, it felt like at this one that everything was clicking and that I knew what I was doing onstage without being complacent, and that I was getting on with all of the guys okay and that all was going really well.   Everyone was in a good mood, camaraderie felt great and I really loved being there.

A lovely friend Jane from Uni days had let me know she was coming along and after a really enjoyable set and a fab first half by the band, I spotted her in the interval and arranged to meet up with her after the show as it was pretty busy and hectic at the CD table as usual.

With the second half done, and a fab show all round, I headed back down to the foyer and again met some lovely people during the post show meet and greet.  Jane went off to get her programme and CDs signed by the band while I signed CDs at the table and at one point while signing a CD, a big sponge round thing appeared in front of my nose and I looked up to find Phil from the BBC pointing a mic at me and saying ‘Edwina, just say for me very quickly “Fairport are absolutely fantastic and I think they’re brilliant” would you love?’  It was so comical and fab I of course did so and he then shot off across the room to interview someone else and the person whose CD I had been signing while all of this happened started talking to me about how much he loves Fairport, and also Mica Paris! The random combination of his two favourite artists really tickled me and gave me an urge to interview him, quick-fire style, like Phil had just done! So I grabbed my phone and asked him if he would mind, and he said no, and so I recorded a little interview with Steve! Who loves Fairport – and Mica! :o)

After the audience had made their way homewards, I packed up my CDs with Ellen and Martin, had a roly and a natter with Jane out front until her lift arrived and wandered back up the dressing rooms to pack away.

Backstage I discovered that the guys had cut up Leila’s fabulous pie and had all been loving it!  It was so popular with one friend of the band who came along, a lovely chap called Mike Bell, who tickled me greatly as he was such a character, that he insisted I write down the name of the shop it had come from as he enjoyed his second big piece! It was so lovely, definitely a superstar pork pie of the highest order!

I got all of my bits and pieces downstairs, rather wonderfully in the service lift that the guys were using to load out all the band equipment which saved me a huge trek, and after a natter and a roly with Andy, Owain and Gerry by the back of the truck, went to my car and realised Id left my keys up in the dressing room!  So much for the easy exit! I went back in and up to the dressing room and found them and came back down again and was amazed to see Owain with a couple of small oranges.  He told me that he really loves them, a particular kind in fact from Marks and Spencers, and I was very impressed with the healthiness!  It can be really hard to eat well on the road, I know I live on sandwiches and crisps most of the time, so I was really impressed with Owains oranges! Got a fab photo of Andy on the back of the lorry too!

Car finally unlocked and packed I headed off home and very unhealthily had my Indian takeaway when I got there (although in my defence I only had half) and it was amazing! It also almost blew my head off it was brilliantly spicy and it felt like it was blowing away a few cobwebs and hopefully some of the lingering cold that was still kicking around in my nose and throat. With the other half cling-filmed in the fridge, I headed to bed with my alarm set for St Albans.

‘Home from the most lovely night in Burnley, cat fed, washing in, pyjamas on and having the most amazing Indian food Ive ever had courtesy of Simon, Mick and the guys who made their annual visit to the Kashmir today and very kindly got Owain, Andy and I a takeaway. Wowee its good! It was lovely to see Miss Jane, and Phil from The Drift and was yet another gorgeous gig. Everybody had a long drive home tonight and I hope all the guys made it okay and really looking forward to St Albans tomorrow xx’

Burnley

Burnley

Burnley

Burnley

Ellen, Burnley

Ellen, Burnley

Phil from the BBC, Burnley

Phil from the BBC, Burnley

Dressing Room, Burnley

Dressing Room, Burnley

Mick in the wings, Burnley

Mick in the wings, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Band onstage, Burnley

Burnley

Burnley

Jane, Burnley

Jane, Burnley

Onstage, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Onstage, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Bows, Burnley (photo courtesy of Jane!)

Mike Bell, Pork Pie going down a treat! Burnley

Mike Bell, Pork Pie going down a treat! Burnley

With Jane, Burnley

With Jane, Burnley

Andy on the truck! Loading out, Burnley

Andy on the truck! Loading out, Burnley

 

Sunday 23rd February, The Apex Theatre, St Albans

‘Getting ready to head off to St Albans for the last show of the week. Its blowing a gale outside here in Driffield, Ive gone to answer the door twice thinking someone was knocking but its just the windows rattling in the wind. Really looking forward to tonight but wishing I could shake this dry throat. I think a few coffees and waters on the way down will help! In other news am excited that its Rosie’s Birthday tomorrow! I can’t believe my little Sis is going to be 27! :o) xx’

Woke up to a very windy Driffield sometime around eleven and made coffee and did a bit of admin and set off to St Albans in good time and then hit the M1! Being a Sunday I thought traffic wouldn’t be so bad but there are so many roadworky bits on the M1 at the moment that its pretty grim any day of the week these days it seems!  Peggy had emailed that morning to tell me that Ellen had come down hard with the band cold, and would not be joining us all again till London, so I gave her a call on the hands free on the way and had a natter with her and hoped she would feel better soon.

I made it to the Northampton area and just as I thought all was going okay, I got stuck in a jam! I was inching along in gridlock for what seemed like ages, and I knowing that tonight that a good friend of the band, Leon Lewis, was coming to cook for everyone and that Peggy had said we would all be eating at 6pm, I was kicking myself stuck there on the motorway at the thought of missing it. However, after losing the will to live about 17 times, the traffic eventually started to move, and I somehow managed to arrive by half past six, after a small detour round the council offices next door Thanks to the sat nav not quite hitting the spot. I finally found the big blue truck and was greeted by Mick coming out to meet me, a very welcome sight indeed!   I wasn’t quite sure where I should park up but with Mick’s help found a spot and he helped me carry my things in and to my amazement and delight I found that the band were still soundchecking and that no-one had started dinner yet! Hurray!  I was introduced to Leon backstage and met his lovely family too, and Mick showed me to a dressing room and I was so glad to put my things down and relax! I did my soundcheck and started to get ready and Leon helped me put together an amazing plate of food from his wonderful veggie buffet that I saved for later.   Leon has the vegetarian food stall at Cropredy and his food is incredible!  It was such a treat and his puddings were also to die for!

The guys were all milling about backstage and there were some guests there also, and it was all very bustly and fun. I saw a jolly looking guy laughing with Simon but didn’t know who he was and Gerry had told me that hs wife Jacqui would be coming that night so I was looking forward to meeting her, but hadn’t seen her anywhere about yet so having arrived a little later than usual I concentrated on getting ready.  I decided to take my CDs to the foyer after playing this night as I really didn’t have long to get ready and it was a long way to the front of house and back. Pushed for time I thought that it didn’t really matter about taking them down beforehand this once, as I would have lots of time after my set to go find Martin and the CD table, so I got ready and met Peggy in the wings ready to go on.

I really enjoyed playing and one of my oldest friends Andrea was in the audience, along with her husband Phil and some friends, so it was lovely to give them a mention and especially enjoyed the sound in the theatre, it was really nice and Owain’s sound as always made singing a joy. I met Andrea on the first day of high school in 1984 and seeing her in the interval later I was reminded of how little she has changed to me in almost 30 years! She’s a gorgeous girl and a wonderful friend and we have in all those years, never once fallen out! She works in London doing something fabulously high up in banking and has two gorgeous children and we don’t get to see each other much so I was so honoured she came along and it was so nice to give her a hug in the interval.

I slipped into the theatre just before the interval to get a photo and video clip of the band onstage, and was asked to leave by a lady member of staff!  I couldn’t think of a way of telling her that I was in the show without sounding all diva-like so I whispered to her instead that I was writing a tour diary and just wanted to get a quick photo and video if it would be okay and she relented and said ‘oh go on then’ and allowed me to stay. :o)

After the interval and the usual flurry of CD selling and signing, I made my way back to the dressing rooms and backstage area and I met Jacqui! It was so nice to meet Mrs Gerry and I was able to tell her how much I enjoyed her music every night.  She was full of the awful cold that was still going round the band like a dose of salts, and I felt for her being so bunged up and didn’t bother her for too long but she was beautiful and gracious and I was thrilled to meet her.  Peggy came and showed me a fab magazine article that had just come out about the band which was wonderful to read.  Matt looks so much young Peggy its amazing!  I loved seeing all the photos in the article and took some pics which you can see below.  Speaking of Matt, I don’t think I have met many guys as laid back and good-natured as he is.  He’s always in a good mood and is a pleasure to be around anytime, I really am enjoying his company and he’s pretty fab on the bass as well.  With the guys all having lunch most days courtesy of Simon the lunch Maestro, the first thing Matt often does when I see him on arrival is pat his tummy and groan about how is is growing with all the lovely food!  The first time he did it I thought oh my god, he is joking about my tummy, which seems to stick out most days in spite of my attempts to hem it in with a variety of Bridget Jones style undergarments, and I was mortified for about 3 seconds until I realised he was talking about his own tummy! He’s the nicest lad you could hope to meet and I really do like him a lot. :o)

Leon’s little girl was backstage also and was so cute! A budding violinist she was really funny and chatty and I was also introduced to the man Id seen laughing with Simon earlier on, who turned out to be an ex Fairport member Maartin Allcock and who I liked instantly!  Full of fun and with a twinkle in his eye he was a riot and  it was a great atmosphere backstage all in all. I was introduced also to Maartin’s wife Jan also, a lovely lady who was sat chatting with Jacqui, and I had a really lovely chat with Mick too, who amazes me more every night with his kindness, ceaseless hard work and wonderful personality.

After a very jolly time I went up to sing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and especially loved singing it in that gorgeous sounding room.  Then it was time for the encore and Maartin came out onstage with Jan to join in which was really nice! Maartin did an awesome guitar solo and I shared my mic with Jan and loved singing with her, what a treat! It was my favourite Meet On The Ledge of the tour so far!

After the show I headed with Peggy back to the foyer, which was very funny and lovely as he makes me feel like TIna Turner every night shouting ‘the lovely Edwina Hayes is here with me, on her way to sign CDs, come and meet the lovely Edwina Hayes!’ :o) During the whirlwindy meet and greet I met a lovely lady called Sophie who told me she has a blog too and that she would be mentioning tonight’s show in her next posting!  The Blog website is called The Lost Fox and is ‘One woman’s experience as she turns her back on 44 years of supporting Leicester City and instead turns her affections to her local football team-to-be, St Albans City FC.’  True to her word, the gig was given a lovely mention by Sophie on her website and here is what she has to say, Thankyou Sophie!

“And before you know it we are headlong into Sunday where there is a parental visit (always entertaining) as we all make our Alban Arena debut. Here we cheer on the mighty Fairport Convention. Who if they were a football team would by my reckoning be called FCFC. As a somewhat…ahem….more mature bunch they are more, shall we say ‘experienced’ than the mighty Saints and it does make a pleasant change to be watching a team of people that are not younger than you. They do suffer injuries just as any football team, their bass player facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a dish-washer-unloading injury (tres rock n roll). Just like Saturday I witness a match-winning performance. Similar stuff from the support act too; the very talented, very nice, younger than me; but I will forgive her, definite northerner, Edwina Hayes.”

Andrea and Phil had slipped away after the show as they had a babysitter to get back to and Andrea had to be up for work at 5.30am, so after packing away the CDs I headed backstage to get changed and pack up my dressing room and headed out to the car.  I tallied up the contents of my CD money tin and found I had sold a record amount of CDs on this night, loads more than usual which was astonishing and a lovely surprise!

Car packed and sat nav set I made a few calls before setting off as I have come to find that in the car after the gig is the only chance I really have to have a few chats with family and friends before they go to bed.  Doing proper jobs for a living, they go to bed at a reasonable hour rather than swanning about at all hours of the night like me, so I do love to check in and have a bit of a natter when I can. On this night I talked for so long that Andy’s big blue truck was loaded and on its way down the road while I was still sat in the car, as were Mick and the guys in the band van!  Last one to leave I finally got on the road and made it home around 4am after a much smoother ride, mainly because I went up the A1 this time instead of the M1!   It was a brilliant night and I went to bed knowing tomorrow was a day off which felt wonderful!

‘Homeward bound from St Albans where it was wonderful to see my gorgeous friend Andrea, who Ive known for 30 years now (blimey!) and her lovely hubby and friends. Thankyou so much for spending all that money to come and will see you for an afternoon in the pub very soon! :o) xxx’

‘One more cigarette from home x’

St Albans

St Albans

St Albans

St Albans

St Albans

St Albans

Masterchef Leon!  St Albans

Masterchef Leon! St Albans

Owain, St Albans

Owain, St Albans

Owain, St Albans

Owain, St Albans

Band onstage, St Albans

Band onstage, St Albans

With Maartin, St Albans

With Maartin, St Albans

Selfie with Mick and Maartin! St Albans

Selfie with Mick and Maartin! St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Fab magazine article, St Albans

Interval drinks, St Albans

Interval drinks, St Albans

St Albans

St Albans

Home x

Home x

 

Monday 24th February,  Day Off!

‘Wishing my lovely Sister Rosie a very Happy Birthday today and Cagney and Lacey is finally back on BBC 2 in the afternoons after weeks of golf and darts and snooker and other boring things! A happy day! :o)’

After a mega sleep, I again stumbled downstairs, made coffee and fed the cat sometime after Noon and once I could speak, I rang my sister to wish her Happy Birthday! My Mum had my sister later in life and I am 13 years older so she is very precious and still very much my baby sister who I adore.  Unlike me, Rosie is very tall and blonde, effortlessly cool and totally fab. She is the Spa receptionist at the very swish Corinthia Hotel in Mayfair and is a fabulously talented beauty therapist.  All the celebs go there and she handles them all very coolly, finding bags for Sienna Miller’s shoes, showing Oprah Winfrey around the Spa, chatting to Jennifer Aniston, dealing with Johnny Depp, all of this is just a days work for Rose!

I had arranged to have dinner with my lovely Mum that night and planned to start work on the Week Three blog in the afternoon, but after going to the bank, doing some emails and admin, the day somehow disappeared, and after spending a lovely few hours with my Mum, I came home around 10pm to find I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I watched an episode of Cagney and Lacey that I had recorded, as it is currently on BBC Two every afternoon brilliantly, and decided to go to bed and get up early to start the blog as I was so sleepy, and was out like a light!

My lovely elderly black cat was happy to have me home and again sat on my laptop bag a lot as if to say, I’m sitting on this so you will stay here with me instead of disappearing off! Again I must Thank my Mum and my fiend Alastair for looking after her between them all these weeks, they have been amazing and it has meant that my lovely old girl has been able to stay home rather than be in the cattery, which is wonderful.

‘Where has the day gone? Its dark now and Ive done nothing! xx’

Cat on the bag again!

Cat on the bag again!

My gorgeous Sister Rosie x

My gorgeous Sister Rosie x


Tuesday 25th February, Loughborough Town Hall

‘This week’s blog almost done, am heading off to Loughborough for the start of week four of the tour.  Sunday night seems like a million years ago instead of the day before yesterday, really looking forward to seeing everybody xx’

After getting up and working on the blog for a few hours, I had to down tools and get ready for the show in Loughborough.  I was worried about not having finishing it in time to post that day, as I had done the previous two weeks, and emailed the guys to tell them it would be a day or two late, and set off to Leicestershire! On my way out of town I called at the post office to collect a parcel that had come while I was out and had been left at the post office for me to collect instead. The only trouble was the post office had moved, and I couldn’t find it! I put a note on facebook asking if anyone knew where they had put the post office please, and I found it in the end and picked up what turned out to be an enormous parcel, all wrapped up in brown paper, from my friend Tony  in Nashville.  With no time to open it yet I popped it in the boot and got on my way to the gig.

After finding the venue I parked up in the car park and made my way to the back door and rang the buzzer and nothing! I went round for ages with my bags and finally found a back gate and rang Mick, who came out to find me right away! I was uncharacteristically in a really grumpy mood for about 5 minutes until Mick told me what had happened to him on his day off!  Mick is staying in Banbury for the duration of the tour, near Fairport HQ so that he can pick all the guys up and drop them all off easily, and on his day off he had been driving his own vehicle and had hit a pothole which had caused over £500 worth of damage to it. The last thing he needed on his day off! He had also come down with a horrible virus, one that he had once had before and which was very serious, and had been to see a doctor and had been prescribed some very heavy-duty antibiotics.  Upon hearing this I felt ashamed of myself for feeling grumpy just because Id had to carry my bags around the building for ten minutes and resolved to try to put my ridiculous worries into perspective from then on!

Mick had told me earlier in the tour that its really important to look after yourself as much as possible when on the road, as its very easy to go and go and go and then suddenly collapse if you’re not careful. He had seen it happen many times and on the strength of this I had invested in an array of vitamins from Boots to try to stave off any major coldy things and also some tablets to improve my brain which I have incidentally lost.  That night though I felt pretty croaky, and to my horror I felt like my voice was going to go a couple of times during my set, a very rare thing.  After coming off, I though wow, what happens if I lose my voice? The thought was horrifying and sobering and I hoped very much that it wouldn’t happen.

Backstage I gave Chris and Ric some Quorn savoury mini eggs as they has been on offer in Tescos the night before, three for two, and was thrilled to find that they liked them as much as I do! Mick, in spite of his horrible day and feeling so poorly, had bought some Dreamies cat treats for my cat which was lovely, and had also made me some ‘Display Copy Only’  labels to put on my CDs which was lovely also and made my CD display feel very executive!

Speaking of Mick, last week I promised you ‘Mick the Movie Star!’ and so I will tell you now that as well as being a Tour Manager, Mick also is very experienced in working in the film and television industry, and has worked on many films and TV shows.  His nickname in the music world is Pingu and he is known in the film and TV world as Minn! He really is an amazingly interesting guy and here are just some of the things he has worked on:

Cyw Heul – S4C Drama . Transport & Genny Op. Appeared as himself – Biker

Y Palmant Aur “The Gold Pavement” – S4C Drama. Transport & Genny Op. Appeared as farmer, policeman, undertaker

First Knight (Richard Gere, Sean Connery, Julia Ormond, Ben Cross) Safety Lighting Crew. Had 13 Days on camera as a bad knight in varous scenes

Mortal Combat (Angelina Jolie).  Transport & Genny Op

Dinotopia – Safety Crew

House of America (Sian Philips, MattRhys, Steve Macintosh, Lisa Palfrey) Transport, Motorcycle engineer, Motorcycle stunts.

Re-inventing Eddie (John Lynch, John Thomson) Transport.

Tair Chwaer “Three Sisters” – S4C Drama. Transport and Genny Op. Appeared as Mechanic, Biker, Drug Dealer.

Batman The Movie – Genny Op

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter) – Genny Op

Bright Young Things (Stephen Fry) – Transport and Genny Op

Only Fools and Horses – Last three shows – Transport and Genny Op

Casualty – Transport and Prop vehicles

Y Graith “The Scar” – S4C Drama – Transport and Genny Op. Prop vehicles

Down To Earth (Pauline Quirke, Angela Griffin) – Transport, including driving Amanda Holden

Blue Peter – Live building of studio ice rink (was given Zoe Salmon’s dressing room to sleep in!)

Top of the Pops – Two shows – Standby Rigger

Pop videos including: Siouxie and the Banshees, Boys To Men, GMX Stuns, Falco, Spoilt Victoria, Miec Stevens etc…

Y Parc “The Park” – S4C Drama – Transport, Vehicle stunts

Blue Juice (Ewan McGregor, Catherine Zeta Jones) – Transport

Torchwood Series One (Eve Myles, John Barrowman) – Transport

Happy Now (Ioan Gruffydd) – Transport and Genny Op, Vehicle stunts

Skins – Transport, Rigger

A Mind To Kill (Phillip Madoc) – Transport

Arthur’s Dyke (Pauline Quirke) Transport and Genny Op

Framed (Eve Myles and Trevor Eve) Transport and Safety

Human Traffic (Danny Dyer) Transport and Genny Op

Theory of Flight (Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter) Transport and Genny Op, Prop vehicles

Soloman and Gaenor (Maureen Lipman, Nia Roberts, Ioan Gruffydd) Transport and Genny Op

Heartlands (Michael Sheen, Celia Imrie, Kate Rusby, Jim Carter) Transport, Motorcycle Engineer

Copenhagen – Transport

The Calling (Frances Magee) Transport and Genny Op

Willow – Transport and Rigging

Braveheart – Transport and Scots Rebel

What a list! :o) My favourites on there are the undertaker one and also Braveheart I think! He really is quite a guy and every day its a huge pleasure to be working with him.

The gig went great and the audience were super lovely.  It was my first time ever being in Loughborough let along playing there, and vocal woes aside, I loved it.  I got off home as I had a dentist appointment at noon the next day and had planned to go to that on my way to Worthing, which was the first of a run of 5 shows I would be away from home for, so had to make sure I was up and packed for 6 days on the road and all ready by noon!

I made it home around 2-3am after a very lovely stop at a services on the way for something to eat, and finally opened the huge parcel from Tony and was stunned by all the lovely pressies inside! Tony is a wonderful artist (Tony Armani) and inside the giant box were a lovely painting he had done of the cat, a set of Egyptian cotton sheets, coffee beans from my favourite Nashville coffee-house Bongo Java, chocolate, cookies, lovely posh smellies and a mug.  I was overwhelmed it was so very lovely and I headed to bed feeling very happy and lucky indeed.

‘Just stopped for tea on the way home from Loughborough and theres only me and the man serving called me ‘me duck’ which was really nice :o) A quick zip home tonight after a lovely gig although my voice has gone croaky as heck which is a bit worrying. I felt I gave the worst performance of the tour tonight singing wise but then sold the second highest number of CDs so far in the 21 gigs we’ve done so am very bemused indeed! Maybe they liked my shoes? Feel very lucky anyway jeez! Loved seeing the guys again after the day off, I adore them all! In other news I picked up a gigantic parcel from Nashville at the post office on my way out of town this afternoon, when I finally found it, and cant wait to.open it when I get home, Thankyou Tony! :o) xx’

Micks Movie!

Micks Movie!

Big parcel from Tony!

Big parcel from Tony!

Pressies from Nashville!

Pressies from Nashville!

 

Wednesday 26th February, Connaught Theatre, Worthing

‘Getting ready to head down South with the tour for the next five days starting with Worthing tonight, via a trip to see Trevor the dentist in Beverley where he will change the wire in my braces and ratchet them down another notch. After taking my laptop out to the gig last night to work on the blog backstage, it reset itself to 1.02pm on April 8th 2008 again when I opened it up this morning, I don’t know why it keeps doing that, its like being in Back To The Future or something x’

Aware that I still hadn’t published the latest blog, I got up as early as possible and worked on it for as long as possible before having to once more admit defeat and leave it in order to get ready to head off.

After flying about a bit I somehow made it to the dentist for just after 12pm and Trevor the dentist set about tweaking my braces! After turning 40 last year, and inspired by my lovely friend Astrid who had amazing results, I decided to go ahead and have lingual braces fitted to correct my very overcrowded bottom teeth and to close in my gap and overbite that I have always had.  Lingual braces are like train tracks but on the inside of your teeth rather than the outside, so they don’t show! They really are invisible which is great but the downside is that they cut your tongue to ribbons at first until you get used to them, so last October when I had them put in, I had the worst two weeks of mouth pain I have ever known!   I go to an orthodontist in Beverley and the treatment will take 9-18 months followed by a few years of a fitted retainer.  Three days after having them fitted I thought what have I done? It hurt so much and for the money it costs I probably could have hired a personal trainer for a year or Gordon Ramsey to come and shout at me for a month not to eat rubbish instead, after all when it comes to improving one’s appearance, the mantlepiece is rarely scored higher than the fire, but it was too late, I had them put in and so I must see it through!

I must admit thought that the teeth are all moving really well and I’m so happy about it, and will be super-happy when they are all straight, but to my surprise Trevor decided to add four more train tracks to my bottom set of teeth, which was fine, but felt a little odd and I wondered if they would take much getting used to.

Dentist done, I didn’t hang about and got off down to Worthing.  With the M1 being so awful, I decided to go the other way, and chance the A1 one and Dartford Crossing rather than risk the M1 and M25. It was a gamble as it was 25 minutes longer on the sat nav, but I chanced it and wonderfully it paid off and I somehow managed to arrive in Worthing minutes before the band!

Happy to be in the venue and on time, I set about getting ready and when the band had arrived and were soundchecking I popped to find Martin in the foyer to set up the CD tables.  I found him in a very drafty spot by the main doors where the venue had allocated us a medium-sized table and a tiny table that was comically small! After a quick perusal, we decided to move everything to the other end of the foyer instead where it would be less drafty, and the lovely venue manager Mark rustled up a second tiny table so that we could put the two together and make one slightly less small one! Brilliantly, the two tiny tables were different heights though, just to add to the fun, but we got it all sorted and I dashed off to get ready, passing Owain and Andy on the way sorting out something with the PA which involved Andy having to lie flat-out on the floor, which tickled me.

I did my soundcheck and was delighted to find my voice felt back to normal again, as I had been very worried about the croakiness of the night before.  The show went really well and it was lovely in the interval meeting some of Peggy’s friends who had come along, and also a lovely lady called Yvonne who is the official fundraiser for Fair Mobilty which is a charity who provide electric scooters/wheelchairs for hire at major events and festivals.  The charity is run by volunteers, and is at Cropredy every year and Yvonne collects CDs and autographs from all the artists each year to have as prizes for their Conventionalists raffle. You can find their stall every year at Croppers up at the top right of the field.  I gave her some signed CDs for this year’s raffle and had a lovely chat with her and it was a wonderful night all round.  The band were fab and I really loved the whole evening.

At the post-gig meet and greet with band I bumped into a lovely guy called Ian Judd who has been coming along to my gigs for many years, it was very nice to see him and he kindly allowed me to take his photo too! I also met a lovely musician called Dan Ogus who I had met before and we had a lovely natter too and he told me about his new band, Bemis which sounds fab.

For the next three gigs, I had booked myself into a Holiday Inn near Gatwick which was central to the three venues, and so after a round of goodbyes and see you tomorrows and a roly out front, where I saw a hatchback taxi across the road, not something I can recall ever seeing before, (a haxi?) I headed off up the road to find the hotel and on the way started to realise how sore my mouth was! My tongue had been rubbing against the new braces all day and night and was suddenly feeling swollen and very sore, great!

After finding the hotel and following a bit of a hoo-ha at the reception desk due to them not being able to find my booking, I was given a key and made my way to my room and decided to set up my laptop to finally try to finish the blog! Once settled in I realised I was simply too shattered and thought I better sleep instead and wait till I was more refreshed in the morning.  Again, this was not a patch on the Chester Holiday Inn! The wi-fi was £10 per day, as was the car park and the room was freezing and had no sockets anywhere other than on one wall, where I finally found two!  Due to the dashing about at home that morning, I realised I had picked up a pile of clean washing without looking, and had in fact brought 17 pairs of knickers with me. I thought it was 16 at first and then found another pair! It was definitely time to sleep so with a throbbing mouth I hit the pillows!

‘Made it to the Surrey Holiday Inn which will be my home until Saturday and while its not as good as the Chester one a few weeks ago where you could smoke, there is a complimentary Kit Kat and sparkly water in my room and the bathroom is miles away from the smoke alarm so am happy. I loved the Connaught Theatre tonight in Worthing, it was red velvet seat heaven with lovely staff and the sound was wonderful. I especially liked the house manager Mark, an incredibly nice, tall, thin man, full of so much nervous energy you could have run a wire from him and powered the lights along the promenade, and the older man behind the ‘refreshments’ counter who seemed to be permanently counting his float all night which tickled me. A lovely place and lovely people and a really lovely show. In other news I unpacked my bag to find that scooping up and throwing in a pile of clean washing at 10am this morning in a hurry has resulted in me bringing 17 pairs of knickers with me for 5 days and Trevor the dentist turned the screws this morning and added four more metal squares to my braces so Im reliving the scratched tongue pain of the first week all over again which I could do without. I think its back to the oral wax and double strength nurofen till I break them in. Happy and tired and cannot wait to sleep x’

Worthing

Worthing

Worthing

Worthing

'Life is a theatre' Worthing

‘Life is a theatre’ Worthing

Comedy table! Worthing

Comedy table! Worthing

Comedy table! Worthing

Comedy table! Worthing

Ta da! Worthing

Ta da! Worthing

Yvonne from Fair Mobility, Worthing

Yvonne from Fair Mobility, Worthing

With Peggy and Yvonne, Worthing

With Peggy and Yvonne, Worthing

Peggy and friends, Worthing

Peggy and friends, Worthing

With Peggy and friends, Worthing

With Peggy and friends, Worthing

Setting up, Worthing

Setting up, Worthing

Setting up, Worthing

Setting up, Worthing

House manager Mark, Worthing

House manager Mark, Worthing

Techy twiddling! Worthing

Techy twiddling! Worthing

More techy twiddling! Worthing

More techy twiddling! Worthing

Even more techy twiddling! Worthing

Even more techy twiddling! Worthing

Lovely Ian Judd, Worthing

Lovely Ian Judd, Worthing

Hatchback Taxi! Worthing

Hatchback Taxi! Worthing

Thursday 27th February, The Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

‘Wowee, best sleep ever. Making coffee and so pleased I remembered to bring the bag of coffee this time instead of just the cafetière and milk x’

After a huge and very lovely sleep, I got up, logged on and finally got my blog finished and posted! It was such a weight off my mind as it had been bothering my greatly that I hadn’t done it! I was then very amused to receive the following email from Mick…

“Greetings everyone. I trust you are all recovering from the plague! Those of you who have performed in Excaliber may be pleased, or indeed perturbed, to find that tonight’s show will be within the set of Birdsong, a play set before, and during the First World War.  Pity it’s not “Blackadder goes Forth” as I make an excellent “Baldrick”.  I have spoken to Mike Powell the head techie, he assures me the P.A. will fit ok and that sight lines will not be compromised. It is a 7.30 show, there is no rider. See you in a bit. Mick.”

Mind boggling with what to expect, I set off to Tunbridge Wells and arrived and parked up in front of the blue truck and the band van, in a spot that Mick had super-kindly coned off for me.  Once inside I was very tickled to find that it was indeed a full theatre set onstage and I was very impressed with Owain and Andy’s handiwork in fitting all the band gear and instruments around the set, they did an amazing job!

‘Backstage at the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells and its super chilled and relaxed and am delighted to find that we are sharing the stage with the set of a WW1 play called Birdsong. Gerry’s kit is nestled nicely in front a paper mache trench complete with barbed wire and I think tonight is going to be fun :o) xxx’

Backstage I was given a very cosy little dressing room by Mick that I loved, which had its own loo (luxury!) and got ready and soundchecked feeling very happy indeed.  The CD table that night was at the back of the room, so it was lovely for Martin and I to be so close to the concert room, and I knew that a lovely promoter called Keith would be coming with some flyers for a gig I am playing at his folk night on the 30th May at St Edith Folk and sure enough I spotted him while setting up the CD table and gave him a big hug.

Also coming along that night were a lovely couple from Bexhill-On-Sea called John and Sue, and it was lovely to see them in the interval and at the end, they are such a lovely couple.  Also there were Matt’s wife Tammy and their son Austin, who I hadn’t seen since Milton Keynes, so it was super nice to see them and I loved hanging out with them and Peggy backstage.

With all the costumes lying around, great fun was had dressing up in them and being silly, especially by Mick who called the band to the stage dressed at a German soldier and later on popped on a habit and pretended to be a nun :o) It was awesome!

It was a brilliant night all round, and the sound was incredible! I LOVED it and Thanked Owain afterwards as it has been so very lovely! Lots of CDs were sold and I headed off back to my still-not-as-good-as-Chester hotel very happy, floating all the way.  On the way out of Tunbridge I stopped at a garage for petrol and was stopped in my tracks by a newspaper billboard that said ‘Potholes wreak havoc’ and though of poor Mick and his horrible pothole car accident on Monday!

‘The show in Tunbridge was really lovely, my favourite stage sound of the tour so far and great fun was had with all the theatre props and costumes! It was lovely to see Tammy and Austin and also lovely John and Sue and despite most of us suffering with colds, all of us did brilliantly I thought. A wonderful night xx’

Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells

Owain's view, Tunbridge Wells

Owain’s view, Tunbridge Wells

Owain's view, Tunbridge Wells

Owain’s view, Tunbridge Wells

Soundcheck, Tunbridge Wells

Soundcheck, Tunbridge Wells

Sound desk, Tunbridge Wells

Sound desk, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Martin, Tunbridge Wells

Martin, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

Dressing Room, Tunbridge Wells

House crew, Tunbridge Wells

House crew, Tunbridge Wells

Herr Mick of the Gestapo! Tunbridge Wells

Herr Mick of the Gestapo! Tunbridge Wells

Peggy and Tammy, Tunbridge Wells

Peggy and Tammy, Tunbridge Wells

Band onstage, Tunbridge Wells

Band onstage, Tunbridge Wells

Band onstage, Tunbridge Wells

Band onstage, Tunbridge Wells

Peggy in the wings, Tunbridge Wells

Peggy in the wings, Tunbridge Wells

Mother Mick and Austin, Tunbridge Wells

Mother Mick and Austin, Tunbridge Wells

Lovely Keith, Tunbridge Wells

Lovely Keith, Tunbridge Wells

Martin and Austin, Tunbridge Wells

Martin and Austin, Tunbridge Wells

Gorgeous John and Sue, Tunbridge Wells

Gorgeous John and Sue, Tunbridge Wells

With Keith, Tunbridge Wells

With Keith, Tunbridge Wells

Keith's Team! Tunbridge Wells

Keith’s Team! Tunbridge Wells

Keith and Sonny, Tunbridge Wells

Keith and Sonny, Tunbridge Wells

Backstage Monitor, Tunbridge Wells

Backstage Monitor, Tunbridge Wells

Potholes!

Potholes!

So that was week four! It was so much fun and I again loved every second! There is one more week to go and coming up next time among other things will be fun facts about the band and crew… my thoughts about all of them… the final run of shows… and more lunches!

I have again had lots of lovely emails and facebook messages and comments this week, and will be replying to every single one over the next few weeks. I was tickled by one chap at a gig who asked me if I had shares in the Chester Holiday Inn after raving about it on here so much! :o) One of the reasons I love Holiday Inns so much is because of the Elton John song Holiday Inn, from his 1973 Madman Across the Water Album. Its one of my all time favourite songs about life on the road and I play it all the time in my car and I love it to bits!

Until then, Thankyou for reading and see you all next week!
Love Edwina xxx

Week Three

So here we are at the end of Week Three and I no longer remember what I was doing was before the tour began, I have forgotten everything I will be doing after it has finished and I only know what my name is because Mick puts it on my dressing room door every night, Peggy introduces me onstage using it and because I see it on my CDs in the interval. Life consists of eating, sleeping and breathing the tour and I feel totally immersed in this wonderful roller coaster of a ride with the guys and am loving it more than ever.

Everyone has settled into a routine and everything leads up to making it a really great gig each night.  It’s all about the show; load in, soundchecks, getting ready, going on, meeting and greeting, packing up, loading out, driving off, going to sleep, getting up, going to the gig, load in, soundchecks, getting ready…. and a million things in between, and all of it is awesome.

Here’s how it all went this week!

Friday 14th February, The Princess Theatre, Hunstanton

‘Heading off to the badlands of East Anglia today, the part of the country that Victoria Wood said was put there to keep the people of Hull from shopping in London :o) Really looking forward to the next three shows xx’

The first thing that struck me as I drove down to Hunstanton is that Lincolnshire really could do with some dual carriageways, oh my god.  The A15 was 40mph hell as I found myself in one queue after another, all trailing behind either a tractor, a lorry or a horse-box.  I have nothing against farm machinery, lorries or horse boxes but after a few hours one does start losing the will to live.  Norfolk wasn’t much better and later that night at the gig, I found myself saying to the audience that although people say Norfolk is difficult to get to, if you allow some extra time on your journey its not too bad, so I had allowed four days and had got there fine.

‘Dear Lincolnshire, please buy yourself some dual carriageways, driving through Beirut would be preferable to driving through you. Yours, Lost the will to live, Driffield x’

I arrived and saw Mick parking the band van and pulled in behind him and got out of the car to be blown away by the wind!  It was blowing a gale as I got my guitar and bags together and followed Mick inside, and once through the doors I was immediately struck by the quirkiness of the theatre and I loved it.  Full of nooks and crannies, the Princess Theatre is very old style and bursting with character and charm.

I made my way to my dressing room and was surprised and delighted to find a heart-shaped box of chocolates there.  Being Valentine’s Day it was very cute and such a nice surprise and I suspected who they might be from! :o)

Soundchecks done I went to find Martin in the foyer and we got the CD tables ready, both of us having to cram into little corners due to there not being much space.  Later we moved into the bar which was much better, and after a wonderful show, we all ended up having a few drinks in there along with the staff and audience which was great fun.

I really enjoyed the whole night, there was a lovely atmosphere and I tried out the new breathing idea during Who Knows Where The Time Goes and for the first time I felt like I really sang it well, which was thrilling.  It only took five shows!

I had booked a Holiday Inn in Ipswich for the next two nights and after a round of goodbyes I set off.  It was a very windy two-hour drive down through Norfolk with twigs and branches blowing all over, especially around Thetford Forest, although I also saw two deer while driving through there which was lovely.  I stopped for petrol and a sandwich just South of Thetford and messaged Owain to warn him about the wind and the twigs and branches blowing about, as I knew that he and Andy were somewhere behind me making their way down in the big blue lorry, and eventually I made it to the Holiday Inn and checked in.

Like Bath, this wasn’t a patch on the Chester Holiday Inn (did I hallucinate that place?) but it was a welcome port in a storm and I was happy to be out of the wind.  My room was teeny, it must have been like the Krypton Factor shoehorning a bed and an en suite into such a tiny space, it was quite impressively done I thought! My room was also at the end of the longest hotel corridor I have ever seen. It was the Titanic crossed with The Shining!

Once in there I took a deep breath and did something I had been putting off, I waxed my legs with Veet strips! I took 3 nurofen on the drive down in advance and all I can say is ouch! I hope that’s not too much information, but needs must and an hour later my legs were hair free and very red!

That done I headed to bed, with the sound of the wind howling outside and a funny creaking sound above me.  I thought wow, the wind is even making the ceiling creak, and then the creaking stopped, and I realised it hadn’t been the wind at all but the occupants! I turned the telly on and went to sleep!

Lovely surprise in my dressing room!

Backstage, Hunstanton

Band onstage, Hunstanton

Gerry onstage, Hunstanton

Band onstage, Hunstanton

Backstage managers, Hunstanton

Dressing Room, Hunstanton

Saturday 15th February, Colchester Arts Centre

After a big lie in, I got up and realised I had brought my cafetière and fresh milk but had forgotten the pack of coffee, disaster! Taylors of Harrogate-less, I made do with a nescafe sachet (sigh) before heading down to the hotel bar to find a proper cup of coffee, and got ready to head off to Colchester. After going to the venue next door first by mistake, I found the Arts Centre and parked up in front of the band van and Andy’s blue lorry with a little help from Mick!

The Arts Centre is in a beautiful old church and all of us were in the same room, like at Oxford, which was lovely.  I especially enjoyed chatting to Andy in the green room before he headed off for his evening pre-drive nap and the atmosphere was really fun and warm.  The venue had had an afternoon show so the staff were all a bit shattered from that but helped us get our show up and running and were all super nice.  Poor Ric was coming down with a bad cold and suffering a lot that night and I really felt for him.  Simon told me that they had all decided that the band van was to blame for the cold that was going round us all, as they hired it from a company called Vans For Bands, and think the previous band must have left the virus in it and renamed the company ‘Viruses For Bands’ :o)

The show went great and it was very lovely to meet David Hughes, member of St Agnes Fountain and a previous Wintour support act himself.  I also met a lovely lady who turned out to be the Mum of a lovely singer/songwriter in York I know called Sam Griffiths which was a nice surprise!  I sang Vincent, or Starry Starry Night as I like to call it, as my final number, so that I could dedicate it to Ric as he was feeling so poorly and had mentioned that he liked it, and a member of the audience complimented me on it during the interval and asked if it was on a CD.  It isn’t on a CD so I offered to send him an mp3 of it that I have on my laptop which I did the next day! I sang Who Knows Where The Time Goes the same way as the night before, hoping very much it hadn’t been a fluke, and sure enough, the new breathing idea still worked and I was so happy.

I took quite a few photos at this concert and also two videos which you can hopefully see below! I have upgraded my blog account this week to include videos which I’m quite pleased about and hope they come out alright. :o)

A wonderful gig all round, I headed back to the hotel in Ipswich via a stop at the garage to fill up my squirters and buy a sandwich. I called my Mum and my friend Alastair, both of whom have been amazing looking after my lovely elderly cat for me during the tour, and made it back to the hotel fine. I plodded down the 27 mile corridor again to my tiny room where I was pleased to note that all was creak-free from the room above.

‘On the way back to the hotel after a gorgeous night in Colchester. Just stopped at the garage to fill up my squirters as they’re empty and Ive been having to open the window at traffic lights and throw bottled water on the windscreen so I can see through it which isn’t ideal. What a beautiful venue tonight though, and I love when we’re all the same room, the CD table and the sound desk and the stage. It was really lovely. Thinking of all the Sherlock gang tonight and would be there with them all if I could be. I’ll be raising a glass to you all in spirit xxx’

Colchester

Gerry, Colchester

Stage managers, Colchester

Peggy, Colchester

Owain’s view, Colchester

Owain doing his stuff, Colchester

Monitor, Colchester

Owain’s view again, Colchester

Martin, Colchester

Peggy onstage, Colchester

David Hughes and Martin, Colchester

Sam’s Mum, Colchester

Colchester

Longest corridor in the world!

Sunday 16th February, The Apex Theatre, Bury St Edmunds

‘Bury St Everyone’s here’

After another disappointing nescafe sachet and a hair wash, I checked out of the Holiday Inn Ipswich and headed off to meet the guys for what would be my second lunch with them.  Simon had chosen the place, a village pub, and it was wonderful like last time.  I arrived ten minutes late but managed to get my order for a chicken roast dinner in just in time and what a lovely roast dinner it was!  Most of us had a roast, Ric and Chris had a lovely veggie pasta, and it was great fun around the table.  I was very impressed with the barmaid who was able to pull two pints at the same time and also impressed that we all got individual jugs of gravy to go with our various roast dinners. It really was a lovely lunch indeed and I decided that Simon is the lunch Maestro!

Lunch

Two pints at once!

After lunch we all set off in convoy to visit Stowlangtoft Hall, a nursing home where Martin’s mum Minnie is a resident, and where Martin had arranged for us to play a little afternoon acoustic concert.  I followed the band van in my car and we made our way to what turned out to be a beautiful stately home set in acres of gorgeous grounds.  As I followed the van through the gates and up the tree-lined driveway, we came around a corner and saw the house ahead which made me think of Downton Abbey, it was such a lovely sight. We were warmly greeted by managers Elaine and Ruth and the rest of the team there, and once inside I was then reminded of the film Quartet as the entrance hall and rooms were absolutely stunning.

Follow that van!

Follow that van!

Stowlangtoft Hall

2014-02-16 15.13.59

Downton Abbey!

Martin and Elaine

Maestro Simon in the front…

…the rabble in the back! :o)

Little Cases

Big Cases

Percussion

The guys had worked out a little set list for the afternoon and I was to start by singing a couple of songs, then the guys and I would do a song together, then they would do a few together, with me rejoining them for a last number.  I decided on Annie’s Song by Sir John of Denver and Streets of London by Lord Ralph of McTellshire for my opening numbers and we all sang Who Knows Where The Time Goes together, and then I sat down and watched the guys, and wow.

Watching them play acoustically like that in that lovely room is one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen.  They were amazing. As I watched and listened, I realised why it is that they have been around for so many years and why they remain so popular, they were utterly fab.

I took some photos and a couple of videos and after the performance we spent a lovely hour with the staff and residents, all of whom were really nice. I especially enjoyed chatting to a man called Jeff who told me he had over a thousand CDs and to two ladies called Kathleen and Rosemary who were absolutely gorgeous. Ruth, one of the managers, was very heavily pregnant and told us that Annie’s Song was the first song on her birthing playlist, so I was really pleased I’d sung it! Everyone was so nice, it was such a pleasure and an honour to be there.

Fairport Unplugged

Fiddletastic!

Lovely residents

Fairport wonderfulness

Peggy on percussion!

More lovely music

Mandolin!

Martin and his Mum Minnie

Jeff and friends

Meeting the audience

Ric and Chris mingling

Elaine and Martin

Gerry and Matt

Lovely Mick and lovely Ric

Kathleen and Rosemary

Cheese! :o)

After a truly lovely afternoon we all headed off to the lovely Apex Theatre, a gorgeous venue with a beautifully modern auditorium and spacious backstage area.  Despite being so new, the Apex has a warm and classic feel and is situated in a lovely outside shopping area that is also very tasteful and contemporary. I spotted a River Island, a Debenhams and a Costa out there and was impressed. I really, really loved this venue and especially enjoyed singing here.

Peggy’s trouser hem had come down and backstage in the dressing room I stitched it up for him with my emergency black cotton and needle that I always carry in my handbag! Simon got a photo of me on the floor and as you can imagine it was all great fun! :o)

The set list sheets Mick gave me on the first night in Tewkesbury have proved invaluable, and each night I pop them out on the side in my dressing room and have come to rely on them as my guides for the evening. As the tour has rolled on I have settled into a little routine of my own during each gig and the sheets are always there at the centre of it. After we all arrive around 5.30pm, the band go and do their soundcheck, and while they are doing that I usually find my dressing room and hang up my clothes, get out my gig boots, plug-in and pop on my straighteners and open up my gig bag. I usually get my hair sorted out first and then start on my make-up and at some point I hear that the band have finished their soundcheck and I go find the stage and do mine. After that I usually go and touch base with Martin to see where the CD table is going to be and then I go back and finish getting ready and by then it is usually not long till 7.30pm and the start of the show.

After all the outfit trying palava of last week, I finally settled on the outfit that I wore on the very first night in Teweksbury, (typical!) which is a black chiffon shift dress with sparkly black beads around the hem and the neckline, thick black footless tights, black cardi and black stiletto ankle boots. I wash the dress, tights and cardi every time I go home, every night if possible, to try to keep them as clean as possible and think now that I will stick to that outfit for the rest of the tour.

Back to Bury though, it was lovely to see my friend Kris Spurling and his wife Wendy and their little girl Robyn in the interval and after the show – Fairport fans and Cropredy goers all three! Kris is the loveliest guy you could ever meet and was the producer on the ill-fated Shane Lynch album along with Ric and I some years ago.  He surprised me by giving me £50 from a little bit of money he had finally managed to make from the album, not nearly the amount he was owed after not being paid either, but a little something at least for all his hard work. I didn’t want to accept it as I have been paid enough by the mileage I get from telling the story, which tickles me, but he insisted and after a bit of arguing about it I accepted it and can finally say now that I did indeed get paid in the end! :o) It was super nice to see them anyway and we had a lovely chat after the show and I took some photos of them with Matt, Ric and Peggy and I look forward to seeing them at Cropredy.

It was a fantastic show and a wonderful evening and we all headed off home afterwards, ready for our Monday off.  I drove up the A1 and stopped at a services for coffee and a toasty somewhere around Grantham. There was only me in the place and while the Costa lady tided up and moaned about the enforced piped music driving her crackers, ‘it just goes round and round and round!’, I sat there in a bit of daze and suddenly felt a pang of sadness at the thought of not seeing everybody the next day. I realised for the first time how much I was going to miss everybody when the tour was over and it was the strangest feeling, kind of hollow and sad and I didn’t like it at all! As quickly as it came it went, and I got back on the road and finally made it home to the cat and headed to bed for a huge sleep!

‘Such a lovely gig in Bury St Edmunds and so lovely to see Kris, Wendy and Robyn! :o) xxxxx’

Apex Theatre

Apex Theatre

Fab quote

Terry the promoter, Apex Theatre

Stage Door, Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Everyone’s here

Apex Theatre

Leads and cables

Whatever you do, don’t go down the middle…

2014-02-16 18.07.32

Owain in the gods

Andy!

Andy again!

Soundcheck, Apex Theatre

Lighting rig, Apex Theatre

Lights

Soundcheck, Apex Theatre

Soundcheck, Apex Theatre

My guitar and pedal case

Backstage staircase

Teeny weeny tea point sign!

Backstage monitor, Apex Theatre

Fairport video game figures!

Awesome Mick TM

My rider!

Dressing Room, Apex Theatre

Dressing Room, Apex Theatre

Dress hanging up, Apex Theatre

Ric, Wendy, Robyn and Kris, Apex Theatre

Packing up, Apex Theatre

Cortado on the A1

Home x

Monday 17th February, Day off

‘Oh boy, what a big sleep! Up at the crack of 2pm and suspect the chances of getting dressed today are minimal Thanks to getting all my household shopping done on Thursday night. Very happy to be home with the cat and after some more coffee my big plans for the rest of the day are to write up this week’s tour blog, catch up with friends on the phone, do some admin and watch Cold Case xx’

After waking up in the afternoon feeling like I’d been hit over the head with something big and heavy, I stumbled downstairs and made coffee, fed the cat and popped in a load of washing.  By tea time I had done my essential admin and caught up with a few things and got started on the week two blog.  By 7.30pm I was feeling so unusually tired I decided to go and lie down for an hour, and woke up at 2am!  I came down again, made coffee again, got all the washing off the radiators and decided to pretend it was morning and see what happened, maybe going back to bed again if need be!  I set to with the blog and by 11am it was all done, double checked and ready to publish.  I needed to set off for Chesterfield at 3.30pm so went back to bed and set my alarm for 2pm with my body clock officially all over the place!

Turned my fridge temperature up a notch on Thursday and just realised all my coke zeros and yoghurts are now frozen x

Stretchy x

Tuesday 18th February, The Winding Wheel, Chesterfield

‘Getting ready to head off to Chesterfield to rejoin the tour today and really looking forward to it. Have slept at very odd intervals this past twenty-four hours due to having a topsy-turvy body clock but had loads of rest and three lots of dreams and done lots of washing and it all feels very rock and roll :o) xx’

Feeling a little discumbobulated but happy, I made it to Chesterfield fine and spotted the big blue lorry and band van in the car park round the back and pulled up beside them. I made my way inside what seemed to be a big municipal type building and found my dressing room and found Mick and started getting ready while the guys did their soundcheck. The first thing I noticed, for some reason, was a sign on the back of my dressing room door about portable appliance testing and realised that it meant PAT testing. I had my little PA system PAT tested a year or two ago but had absolutely no idea what it stood for, so there you go, you learn something every day!

The next thing I did was head to the front of house to find the CD table and found that Ellen had returned! I hadn’t seen her for what seemed like ages, so it was lovely to see her, and I popped my CDs out while she and Martin popped all the Fairport ones out and Peggy was around too and the atmosphere was really fun. A friend of the band came along too and brought some very lovely looking Fairport box sets which he sold at the desk.

After my soundcheck I headed to the backstage staff kitchen area and made some coffee and enjoyed hanging out with Andy and Owain and Mick for a little bit. Mick popped a photocopy of an article in my room for me to read, all about his company and Cropredy, and how such big events are set up and rigged, which was really interesting and before I knew it, it was time to go on!

As always I met Peggy backstage and he went on and did his wonderful introduction to the evening before introducing me. Mick had to hold back a big black curtain for us to go on from the back, as there were no sides of stage at this venue, and it tickled me to think of all the comedy mishaps that could potentially occur when coming on through a curtain! One of my favourite things about the band, speaking of Peggy, is that all of them take such a pride in every show. For a band who have been together for so long, you might forgive them for maybe going through the motions a little, or being a touch complacent, but not these guys. Over the past few weeks I have heard Peggy warming up in the back, seen the way Chris packs his fiddle away straight after the gig, making sure it’s safe and put away, watched Simon change strings and listened to the way he talks to the audience every night as if it was the first night of the tour, seen how much care Gerry takes over his drums and percussion, heard Ric do gorgeous fiddling every night, never quite the same way twice and always full of passion and soul, and likewise with Matt and his bass solo-ing on the instrumental number. Each one of them gives every performance their all, and its inspiring and wonderful every night.

After making it through the comedy curtain okay, I really enjoyed my set. The audience were really nice and the whole gig went by in a flash. Meeting and greeting people in the interval and at the end was lovely as always and before long I was saying my goodbyes and heading home again.

Peggy had said that the best kebabs in England were from the shop opposite the venue and I was very tempted to get one but I thought I better head off really and so was very good and resisted!

I made it home fine and got to bed as soon as possible as I had an early start the next day!

‘At the services on the way home from Chesterfield and a really warm and friendly gig, I loved it. All of us were a bit on the last minute arriving but still had loads of time and I especially liked the cabaret curtain that we all had to come on through due to there being no wings. The potential it had for mishaps of falling through it, tripping over it etc… really tickled me and made me think of Phoenix Nights. Happily no such mishaps occurred and the gig went really well and the venue crew were all really nice and fun as well. The two young stage guys in the back invited me to their local acoustic night and the lady in the bar gave me a free bag of crisps. Ellen was back with Martin on the CD table which was really nice and the two of them were ace as usual as was Peggy :o) It feels a bit strange going home instead of heading to a hotel but a treat also as I really do love my own bed and think Im going to sleep for England tonight! xx’

Winding Wheel

Ellen is back!

Big blue lorry, Winding Wheel

Winding Wheel

Winding Wheel

Mick in Production Office, Chesterfield

Production Office, Chesterfield

Dressing Rooms, Chesterfield

Dressing Room, Chesterfield

Dressing Rooms, Chesterfield

PAT means Portable Appliance Testing!

Dressing Room, Chesterfield

Wednesday 19th February, The Sage, Gateshead

‘Had such a good sleep last night, coma is more the word in fact! Getting ready to head up the A1 to play Gateshead and Edinburgh via a stop in the Dales to see Jimmy, Vicki and Archie for a cuppa! xx’

After a really good sleep, I got up and got ready and set off for the next two gigs in Gateshead and Edinburgh. Martin had told me that the band were all booked in at the A1 Washington Services Travelodge that night so I booked in there as well and headed off up North.

I had arranged to call and see my cousin Jimmy on my way up, who was over from Australia visiting family with his wife Vicki and their little boy Archie. They had rented a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales near Richmond and invited me to pop and see them, so at Scotch Corner I turned left onto the A66 and ten miles along there turned left again, and found myself slap bang in the middle of the Dales.

I have never been up that way before and was struck by how wild and beautiful it is, while at the same time hoping that my car was up to coping with the windy country roads which really were ‘up hill and down dale’. I know the North Yorkshire Moors and the East Yorkshire Wolds pretty well and have been to South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire loads of times, but the Dales and that area up there around Richmond was completely new to me, and I eventually arrived at the cottage in the beautiful tiny village to a warm welcome from Jimmy and Vicki. I sang at their wedding in April 2010 on a beach in Sydney which was a gorgeous event and a trip I’ll always treasure, they really are a wonderful couple and it was my first time meeting gorgeous little Archie who is now two, and Vicki is well on the way with ‘bump’ as they are calling Archie’s soon-to-be little brother. I took my guitar in out of the car to show Archie as he has a little ukulele and is already showing an interest in big guitars, good lad!

It was so nice to see them but all too soon it was time to head back to the A1 and up to the gig so with a round of hugs I turned around and drove back the same 10 country miles back to the A66, headed back to Scotch Corner and carried on up to The Sage.

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

I love The Sage! I am lucky enough to have played here a few times now over the years and it’s always a treat. I knew where to head to when I got there, which is always nice, and sure enough I found Andy’s lorry and the band van exactly where I thought they would be and headed in though the stage door.

The dressing rooms are very big and spacious at The Sage, with mirrors everywhere and loads of bright white LED lighting. While getting ready I noticed a white hair in my eyebrow!

‘Getting ready at The Sage and just found a bright white hair in my left eyebrow! How long has that been there? Are my eyebrows now elderly? These are my worries.’

Soundcheck done I headed to the foyer to find the CD table and ended up walking the length and breadth of the entire front of house in vain, I couldn’t find it anywhere. The Sage always provides artists with a lovely dinner, which I have never yet in all these years had, due to it always being too close to showtime for me sadly, so I knew the guys were all having that and I decided to head back to my dressing room and wait until Martin and Ellen returned from dinner. The second I walked back through the backstage doors I saw the big Fairport merch flight case! I had walked right past it on my way out to the foyer 20 minutes earlier, and had walked all over with my heavy bag of CDs for absolutely no reason whatsoever! Feeling very silly indeed I popped my bag of CDs on top of the flight case and went to finish getting ready.

Everyone came back from dinner and I discovered that it was to be an 8pm start rather than a 7.30pm one, and so with an extra half hour to kill I set about cleaning my hairbrush for some unknown reason! Jimmy messaged to tell me that they had found a little lead on the path outside after I had gone, and I realised my lovely little fender mini jack pedal lead from Mick must have fallen out of my guitar case pocket! Jimmy said he would pass it to my brother Will at the weekend for me and luckily I have a spare so all was well.

‘I have an unexpected extra half hour before the gig and instead of writing a song, doing something exercisey, or anything worthwhile at all, I am cleaning my hairbrush with the foamy soap in my dressing room xx’

Foamy soap, Gateshead

8pm rolled around and I went on and really enjoyed singing and playing. The audience were really nice and after playing Speed of the Sound with the band, I came off and went to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich.

During the interval I sat at the CD table with Peggy, Ellen and Martin and was very tickled by a lady’s t-shirt that said ‘The McBastard Clan’ on the front. :o) During the second half I started packing up my things as much as possible in my dressing room and hearing one of the songs from the stage, I realised I had ages before Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and wandered outside to the stage door to have a roly. I took a few photos and pottered about and came back in and to my horror I suddenly realised that the band were playing the song before ‘Who Knows’ and that I had about 2 minutes to put my boots back on and get to the backstage! I wondered if I was perhaps in the twilight zone, how could the second half have whizzed by so fast like that??

With seconds to spare I made it to the backstage and was there ready to go on when Simon introduced me, something that is still a thrill every evening I must add, and all was well, and I found out later that they had decided to drop a song in the second half due to the 8pm start making everything run on a little later than planned. Thankful that I wasn’t going mad after all, I really enjoyed going on for the finale number and bows and the post gig meet and greet at the CD table, and then it was time to head to the Travelodge!

I loved knowing I would be in the same hotel as the guys, I’m not sure why, I just did! :o) After pottering about for a bit I climbed into bed and fell asleep with the telly on. Another wonderful night.

‘At my Travelodge after a really lovely time at The Sage and feel very comforted knowing I will be surrounded on all sides tonight by sleeping Fairports :o) I loved every second of singing with these guys tonight xx’

Stage Door, Gateshead

We three vehicles, Gateshead

Gateshead

Its childish I know… Gateshead

Dressing Room, Gateshead

McBastard Clan T-shirt!

Martin and Ellen, Gateshead

Mick on the bourbon! Gateshead

Dressing Room, Gateshead

Mini lead, photo courtesy of Jimmy Hayes!

Thursday 20th February, The Queens Hall, Edinburgh

‘Just had the nicest lunch here at this gorgeous pub. They were playing Neil Diamond but he was coming through the lounge speakers a bit distorted bless him! Heading off up to Edinburgh now and hoping this coldy feeling goes away soon xx’

From the Travelodge we all headed up to a lovely village pub for lunch. Simon had found it for us all and it was another triumph. The menu was incredible, you could even order a variety of hot sauces in the ‘sides menu’ and so I ended up having a starter sized portion of pea parmesan risotto with a side of mash, a side of chips and just to break up all the white, a jug of peppercorn sauce!

Around our table the choices everyone went for ranged from black pudding and scallops to fish pie and creamy mash, lamb and soup, and it was lovely to join the guys again outside of a gig. By now a lot of us were feeling, had been feeling or were on the verge of feeling cold and fluey and the hearty food and roaring log fire were a welcome treat indeed. I sat in between Chris and Simon and had such a lovely time.

Throughout lunch, a Neil Diamond album was playing but was coming through a little bit distorted which tickled me. Later, before leaving, I spotted one of the speakers on the wall and couldn’t resist capturing a little bit of crackly Forever In Blue Jeans for posterity. :o)

Angler’s Arms

Angler’s Arms

Angler’s Arms

Gerry and Mick, Angler’s Arms

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Crackly speaker, Angler’s Arms

After lunch the band set off up to their hotel in Edinburgh and I set off to the gig with plans to call somewhere and pick up a few things I needed, not least some wrapping paper and cards in order to get my little Sister Rosie’s Birthday present all ready to post off the next day on my way to Leeds!

On the way to Edinburgh I was very sad to hear about the passing of the lovely sound man Doon, known to many as Doon at the Moon. I heard the sad news from one of my best friends and favourite singer/songwriters David Ward Maclean who had this to say about Doon:

‘Any musician knows the huge pleasure a good sound can bring to playing a concert. Back in early 2008 or thereabouts I was privileged to be asked by Edwina to play a set along with her good self and Jon at the Half Moon in Putney. It wasn’t just a good sound. It was an incredible sound, the kind of sound that throws every nuance back at you and makes you start to look for something a bit extra in the performance. Sad to learn that the man largely responsible for that ethos of sound quality, Gordon “Doon” Graham, is no longer with us. Here’s a lovely tribute from Ralph McTell.’   DOON by Ralph McTell

After calling at the Berwick-Upon-Tweed Tescos to get all the things I needed, I made it to The Queens Hall fine and found the (very handy) little back alleyway that is a parking godsend. I arrived just before the guys so pulled up and got all my things inside, popped my CD bag down by the CD table and headed backstage with my guitar and gig bag.

The guys all arrived and I found a dressing room upstairs and saw that it had a shower in it. I had planned to drive home after the gig that night, as we were in Leeds the next day, not far from my house and I had decided to drive home through the night and lie in. I realised that if I were to wash my hair now, it would save me time having to wash it the next day, as I knew I was going to be tired, and also I had just bought some really nice new shampoo in Berwick.  So I went down to the car and got it, along with my hairdryer, and jumped in the shower and washed my hair while the guys soundchecked!

I was drying it as fast as I could when I heard a knock on the door and a voice said, are you decent? I usually wedge my dressing room doors open at the gigs, as I don’t like feeling hemmed in and prefer to have the door open, but I had closed this one while I had a shower and so I opened it, and there stood the promoter with a cake! I knew right away who it was from, a lovely man called Trevor who lives in Aberdeen and often comes along to my gigs in Scotland, and who makes the most fantastic cakes! In the past I have been lucky enough to have had a coffee cup & saucer cake, a coffee bean cake and an apple pie with jug of custard cake from Trevor, and all of them have been amazing. The coffee cup cake features in my Good Things Happen Over Coffee CD booklet actually, as it was so fantastic that I took a photo of it and included it!  Sure enough the promoter told me a chap called Trevor had sent it backstage as a surprise, and after drying off my hair I took it downstairs to show the guys. It was a wonderful VW camper cake and a wonderful surprise, Thankyou so much Trevor!

VW Camper Cake!

VW Camper Cake!

VW Camper Cake!

VW Camper Cake!

The gig went great and Peggy and the boys were on terrific form. I met a lovely friend of the band called Jack Westwood who was there with his daughter and her boyfriend, and who gave us all a tiny bottle of whiskey which was really nice. :o) A real character, I liked him instantly and also out in the foyer later I met another friend of the band, Fraser Nimmo, who had done the Wintour Support in the 90s sometime I think he said! A lovely guy, it was a pleasure to meet him too. During the interval I saw a lovely couple who I know from Scarborough and also had chance to chat to Trevor and Thank him for the wonderful cake.

I couldn’t help noticing that the plug socket in my dressing room was upside down which tickled me, it actually made it easier to plug my straighteners in actually!  I do enjoy odd things like that. :o)

After a great show and a round of goodbyes I headed out to my car and psyched myself up for the long drive home. I decided to be clever and go the other way home, via Carlisle rather than back down the East coast, as it’s all motorway rather than A roads and would be quicker I thought. Unfortunately I blindly followed my sat nav for half an hour before I realised to my horror that instead of taking me on the motorway towards Glasgow, it had taken me down an A road to Carlisle, that was way worse than the one I had avoided, and thus followed an hour of driving through millions of villages until I finally emerged onto the M74! At one point I found myself at a temporary traffic light, and I could see the road ahead was clear, there wasn’t another car for miles! Never have I been more tempted to run a red light!

I stopped for coffee at Lockerbie as it had started to sleet and I was feeling tired, and as I pulled into the services I saw a big friendly looking Days Inn and as I had my coffee and pushed a not very nice burger and fries around a plate, I called the hotel just to see if they had any rooms free and how much they were if so….

A lovely friendly Scottish lady answered the phone and told me that they did have rooms and that they were £45. I said Thankyou and that I would call back if I decided to stay. I thought about it for ages, I didn’t think I could make it home and was kicking myself for not anticipating feeling so tired. I finally decided to stay at the Days Inn, and I texted my Mum to ask if she would pop in on the cat in the morning, and also my friend Leila who was coming to the show in Leeds with me the next night and headed out to my car to drive over to the hotel. Once in the car, a second wind took hold and I changed my mind. I was dying to get home, I needed to wash my gig outfit, I wanted to see my lovely cat and I longed for my own bed! I set off and made it home at 6am, hugged the cat who was so happy to see me and fell into bed!

‘Car packed and homeward bound from a lovely gig at The Queen’s Hall where the staff were all really cool and amazing and the band played like a dream. Am now about to reverse out of this brilliantly handy back alleyway that is a parking godsend and leads straight to the back doors ooo and dishy Nathan the backstage manager guy just walked by as I was typing this, so I showed him :o) Okay, here goes! xx’

London, Paris, Rome? No, Haigh and Wigan!

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Backstage monitor, Edinburgh

Fiona flyer, Edinburgh

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Band van and car in back alley, Edinburgh

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Band van and car in back alley, Edinburgh

Upside down socket, Edinburgh

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Peggy and Martin, aye aye, Edinburgh!

Fraser Nimmo, Edinburgh

Lovely Scarborough friends, Edinburgh

Nathan and Suzy, Edinburgh

Ric, Owain and Jack with whiskey bottles

Teeny Whiskey from Jack!

Risque artwork, Edinburgh

Back alley, Edinburgh

So tempting!

So the tour is now two-thirds of the way through, and I really can’t imagine doing anything else now except this. I love it! I also think my legs are improving slightly from all the walking about at venues. One can hope anyway!

I had lots more lovely feedback from the blog this week too, Thankyou so much again. I have gone ahead and bought the domain http://www.edwinahayesblog.com to make it easier to find, and this should take effect in a few days. The http://www.edwinahayesblog.wordpress.com will still also work though which is good. As with the past two weeks, I am actually writing this on my Monday off, which will be in next week’s blog as ‘Day Off’ :o) I feel like I’m in Back To The Future writing that, as its Monday now but I won’t be writing about today until next week, on next week’s day off,  four days after the end of this coming week and oh my god I think my brain just exploded.

Thankyou so much for reading and highlights next time, other than the riveting day off news, will include: Mick Peters – Film Star!… the most wonderful pork pie ever made… a BBC Radio live recording… finale bow photos in Burnley courtesy of my lovely friend Jane… a guest appearance by an ex-band member… backstage Masterchef food from Leon Lewis… and much more!  Do tune in to read all about it!

See you next week,
Love Edwina xxx

Week Two

Hello and welcome to Week Two of the Fairport Tour Blog! It’s been another brilliant and hectic week and here is what happened!

Friday 7th February, The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

‘Having coffee and working on the tour blog and after an hour looking through the wordpress help forums have finally found out how you centre-align photos in a manifest theme! I’m so pleased! It feels very luxurious to be only 38 minutes from tonight’s gig, I could get used to this executive touring! :o) xx’

After a big lie in and some admin and some more blog researching, I headed off from my luxurious base at the Chester West Holiday Inn to the New Brighton Pavilion and ended up at the lovely old-fashioned sea front and promptly got lost.

My sat nav told me I was there but there was no pavilion in sight, so after a bit of driving around and following my nose, I finally found the back street that I thought must surely be the right place and sure enough, like a vision from heaven, I saw Andy’s big blue lorry parked up and Mick parking the band van and I parked up next to them. Mick had dropped the guys off round the front and come round the back to park and I was so glad to see him! We made our way inside and I was given a dressing room and could hear the band doing their soundcheck through the intercom, so I got ready and headed on up to do my soundcheck when I heard them finishing. The backstage intercoms really are handy as you can hear everything that’s happening onstage and without them it would be easy to lose track of whats going on, especially in venues where the backstage area is huge and like a rabbit warren.

Soundcheck done I headed off to find the CD table, where Martin had already very kindly taken my merch bag and I set up my CDs ready for the interval. The sound was wonderful as always, but I decided to debut one of the dresses that I dug out last Monday and what a mistake! I teamed it with some untested trousers and it all felt too tight and all wrong and I was happy to get changed afterwards back into my driving clothes and put that one down as a no!

It was a really lovely gig with a warm and friendly crowd and the show went really well. Simon and I didn’t find each other before the show to go through Who Knows Where The Time Goes, so after the gig we arranged to meet up in Llandudno to have a run through and in the meantime I was still practising like mad in the car. Before we all headed off to our respective hotels, Simon invited me to join the band, Mick and Martin for lunch the next day in Colwyn Bay and so with arrangements made to meet there at 1pm I headed off back to my Holiday Inn!

It was particularly windy that night in New Brighton and I almost blew away heading out to my car! The wind blew me all the way back to Chester and I resisted the urge to faff about in the Mastermind Chair and went to bed! I did have a Kit Kat though.

‘Back at Chester West base after an especially lovely show in New Brighton. Lovely warm audience, lovely sound and the band were fab and Meet On The Ledge was really wonderful. I was very unhappy with my outfit, a trouser and sparkly dress combo that I wont be trying again but hey! I’m going to have an early night tonight instead of swivelling about in my Mastermind chair like a child! Super tired but very happy :o) xx’


Backstage, New Brighton

Band onstage, New Brighton

Gerry, New Brighton

Saturday 8th February, Theatre Cymru, Llandudno

After a fab sleep I got up, got ready and headed off to Colwyn Bay to meet the guys for lunch. Another wild and windy day, we all met at the Pen-y-Bryn pub which was really lovely. It was my first time hanging out with the guys outside of a gig venue and we all sat round a big wooden table and had a really lovely lunch. I had steak pie, mash, mushy peas and gravy which was a wonderful change from motorway sandwiches! I was sat near Gerry, Mick, Ric and Chris and I really enjoyed chatting with them, especially hearing stories of Gerry’s time in America.

With a couple of hours to kill, we all headed on into Llandudno where the boys checked into their hotel and I planned to head to the venue early. However, on the way into the town, I passed a little hair and beauty salon and on a whim pulled in. I asked if they could fit me in for a trim and the lady said she would be free in half an hour. So I called my Mum and pottered about and then had a fab hair trim and lovely natter with the hairdresser.

That done I headed to the venue and found my way through the car park to the barrier and the stage door manager let me through. It was ridiculously windy as I unloaded my guitar, gig bag and CD bag and I finally made my way into the hugest venue ever! After about ten miles of corridors I finally found our area and was greeted by the lovely promoter for the evening, David, who showed me where everything was.

Dressing room found, I made my way to the Green Room where Andy and Owain were having a cuppa and a bit of a chill out before soundchecks. It was lovely to have a chat with Andy, as I often miss seeing him due to him having to sleep during the gigs ready to drive the big blue lorry off into the night to the next venue. Owain was watching a movie and I decided to stitch some beads that needed fixing onto another dress I planned to try out that night. Mick came in and set up his laptop and showed us an article about when he was nominated ‘neighbour of the year’ which was really lovely! You can see the article here: Mick Peters – Neighbour in a Million! The band arrived shortly afterwards and after soundcheck Simon and I finally had a run through of Who Knows which was really nice. We decided I’d give it a whirl that night and arranged to have another run through in the interval.

I was very nervous indeed about singing the song for the first time but excited at the same time! I knew that night that a lovely guy called Ian would be coming to the show from near Hull as my friend Becky had texted to tell me, but I forgot that my Mum’s lovely cousins Mary and Sue were coming, with Sue’s husband Albert and a family friend, and even though Mum had texted to tell me, with all the nerves and excitement about singing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, I forgot to mention them in my opening set but they were very nice about it afterwards! Just before going on for my set, I realised to my horror that after all the bead stitching, this dress was also no good, as the minute as I put my guitar on, the beading on the front clattered against the back of it! Not having brought anything else to wear that night, I had to make do and decided I would just have to stand really still while onstage, so as not to make a racket. During my set, I heard a few funny sounds and assumed it was my dress beads on the guitar, but when the band came on to play Speed of the Sound, the first thing Simon did was come and change my microphone. It turned out that the lovely posh mic Simon had kindly lent me had decided to play up, after having just been repaired too, and so it wasn’t my beads after all but the mic making the funny noises! As Simon took the mic away and popped an SM58 in its place, it struck me what a great way to fire someone that would be, just walk on and take the mic away! :o)

Thankfully I wasn’t being fired, and the song with band was lovely and their first set was great. During the interval I sat with lovely Martin and signed CDs and met some of the lovely audience, and then raced backstage to have another run through the song with Simon. On went the band for their second half and I waited and listened and tried not to worry too much about the upcoming song, but in fact worried so much I almost exploded. I was thrilled that it was a venue where Martin’s CD table, Owain’s sound desk and the stage were all in the same room, like at Oxford. It’s so nice when it’s like that!

The moment arrived, and after the lovely introduction to the song that Simon always gives, mentioning how Sandy had written it as a teenager and brought it along with her when she joined the band, he invited me onstage and on I went.

I don’t really think I have the words to describe the feeling of standing there with the band singing that song, other than to say it was incredible and such an honour. Simon was so lovely and encouraging as he always is onstage, and with his help I relaxed and sang it with him and it was wonderful. Afterwards I wished I could do it all over again, and knew that even though I had got the words and melody in the right place, that I had yet to break it in and really sing it from the heart, and I could only hope that after a few more times, it would click. For a first attempt though I was very happy and the response from the guys was really warm and complimentary and I also had some lovely comments from audience members after the show.

As the band played their last number, I met Peggy in the wings as usual and we got ready to go on for the encore but for some reason, when Simon was saying goodnight and Thankyou, he mentioned Peggy and myself and Peggy said to me ‘come on’ and we started to go on. I knew it was too early, but still full of adrenalin from singing the song, and not really thinking straight, on we went! So there we were onstage, just as the band were about to come off ahead of the encore, and so we all ended up just staying on! We sang the encore and did the bow at the end, where we all link arms in a row and shuffle forward and bow, then shuffle back and bow again (my favourite bit of the show!) and then all came off and nobody seemed to mind too much about Peggy and I gate crashing the stage unexpectedly and it was all really good fun!

I must just mention a lovely young singer called Lani Bowerman who came along to the show with her sister and Dad. Family friends of Mick the TM, they were super nice and Lani is a singer/songwriter with a catalogue of her own songs under her belt and she is barely sixteen years old. I really enjoyed hearing her demo EP and have invited her to join me at a few gigs later in the year as she really is very good.

After hugs with Mary, Sue and Albert and some lovely chats with audience members, we all packed away and headed off to our hotels. I floated back to Chester on such a high feeling very happy and lucky after such a wonderful night that really brought home to me what music is all about in so many ways.

‘How did I love the gig tonight? Let me count the ways. Somehow managing to come on for the encore with Peggy before the band had actually left the stage aside, it was total gig heaven, and even that bit was funny :o) Playing these wonderful big concert halls with such a wonderful band all these nights, always with a gorgeous sound that makes singing an absolute joy, is just the most wonderful thing imaginable. It’s what it’s all about, the songs and the music. All the stupid worries about dresses and big hips and hairdos and shoes and doing a good job and do they like me, all fall by the wayside and don’t matter a bit at the end of the day, its all about the music and I really felt that tonight and felt lucky and humbled and proud and honoured. A truly lovely night indeed xx’

Simon and his lovely parlour guitar, Llandudno


Sunday 9th February, The Lowry, Salford

‘Making the most of my last half hour at the Holiday Inn before heading up to Salford and the The Lowry for tonight’s gig and then home for a day off. I’ve heard that Britain’s Got Talent is filming at The Lowry today, and parking may be tricky but am going to try my best to squeeze the Audi in next to the big blue crew lorry, I like a challenge and I’m not parking miles away for anyone! John‘s blog about the same show last year when BGT was also filming was really funny, I especially loved the bit about a film crew suddenly appearing from round a corner walking backwards in front of Simon Cowell doing a walk and talk piece to camera and the whole thing going past him in a flurry :o) I have to say this hotel has been amazing and is officially my favourite hotel in this area now. Smoking rooms, free parking, free fast wi-fi, a fridge, a bar, a cafe and super cheap – awesome x’

After a big lie in I headed down to check out on my last morning at the hotel, and after a lovely lunch in the bar with piped Gary Barlow playing (not so lovely, no offence Gaz) I made my way to Salford Quays for our final show before a day off.

I absolutely love The Lowry and having played there a few times before I knew where to head for and was really looking forward to it. Having heard that Britain’s Got Talent was filming there, I braced myself for difficulty getting in but to my surprise and delight all was clear, and it turned out that filming had finished the day before so all was fine!

I made my way to the stage door and loading dock and saw the big blue lorry parked there like a big, friendly, welcoming beacon and parked up next to it. I made my way inside and found my dressing room and the stage and CD area and started to get ready. Having the world’s worst unruly hair, and with the weather having been so awful since the tour began, I have taken to bringing my hair straighteners along with me to the gigs, as if it should get wet on the way to the gig, it puffs up like mad and goes huge. As I have time to get ready after soundcheck, and because there are lovely dressing rooms to get ready in at all the venues, the first thing I do now is straighten my hair when I arrive rather than do it before setting off, like I normally do for my own gigs. I have taken to wearing my Skerryvore bobble hat on the way to gigs to hide my unstraightened frizzy mop!

Hair done, I discovered Martin having a logistical nightmare with the band’s huge merch flight case and some stairs! With Owain and Mick’s help he managed to get it down the steps and I helped him into the lift and we wheeled it up to the merch area in the foyer. The CD table was by a huge window that had a panoramic view of the Quays and the lights and buildings looked quite stunning, I wish now I had thought to take a photo! I brought a bottle of wine for Martin that night as he really is so kind and lovely to me on the CD table, and great company. We haven’t had Ellen with us this week at all, so it’s just been Martin and Peggy and I, and the two of them have been amazing. Peggy asked me to put one of my badges on each of his lapels while were setting up and gave one to the venue manager too who put it on which was lovely!

The gig that night was really great, I sang Who Knows Where The Time Goes for the second time, only marginally less nervous about it than the night before, and it went well but I knew again when I came off that I hadn’t quite nailed it. Peggy and Martin had a video screen opposite them up in the foyer and both were very complimentary but I knew I could do it better.

The band were brilliant and all too soon the show was over and we all went up to the CD table and chatted to some of the lovely audience members. The band come out every night after the show to chat to the audience and sign CDs and programmes, which I think is amazing. I don’t know of many big acts who do that, they really are lovely guys.

After packing away, everyone was keen to get off home as it was a day off the next day. With hugs and goodbyes all round we all pulled out into the night and headed off down the road.

‘Home, unpacked and in pyjamas and slippers via a cuppa at Alastairs and a stop at the 24 hour garage where the lady managed to get a huge bag of cat litter through the night pay window very impressively. It’s so lovely to see the cat, and after a few ‘where the hell have you been’ meows I think all is forgiven xx’

My car and the big blue tour lorry, Salford

Mick the TM and Owain the sound man, Salford

Dressing room, Salford

Dressing room, Salford

Backstage, Salford

Lancashire crisps! Salford

Monday 10th February, Day off

‘Having coffee and catching up with all emails and admin and just had a really nice email from a guy who was at the gig on Saturday who said he really enjoyed it and that he would have come up to chat at the end but his bladder was full but he really enjoyed ‘Over The Edge’. Things like that really do make my day :o) xxx’

And so it was the second day off! It came round so fast and after a huge lie in I spent the day doing washing, banking, bills, admin, emails, making calls and drinking coffee and then started on my Week One Blog. I remember looking at my notes and photos and thinking it probably wasn’t going to be very long and wondering what I was going to write about. Several hours later, I was amazed to see it was in fact 14 miles long, and after another hour checking spellings and grammar I headed to bed not really sure if it was any good, too long, the right thing etc…

Not used to being ignored, the cat went and sat on my laptop bag in protest! :o)

Cat on my laptop bag

Tuesday 11th February, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa

‘Heading off to Leamington after a lovely day off for the next show of the Tour, really looking forward to it and hoping no more lightbulbs go in the house while I’m away, 4 of them decided to go this weekend all at once for some reason! In other news I have noticed my teeth are on the move making these braces worthwhile after all! I can no longer poke a cocktail stick all the way through my gap, it will now only go so far, so it is definitely closing up, although I can still fit my Tesco Clubcard in it so still a bit of a way to go yet xx’

After another lie in I got up and made coffee, checked the blog one last time and emailed it off to the guys, sent it out to my website mailing list and posted it on my facebook page. I got my washing off the radiators, packed my bags and set off to Leamington for gig 10 of the tour. The guys all sent back lovely comments about the blog which was reassuring and very lovely!

Before setting off I spent an hour trying to book a hotel somewhere south of Leamington as the following night would be Exeter, and I needed to stay somewhere on the way down. Having left my hotel bookings till the last-minute like a fool, having not quite appreciated the impossibility of driving home every night before the tour began, and being a dab hand at booking hotels when needed via booking.com and late rooms, I was surprised to find that all of the hotels I was trying had no availability. I decided to leave it as I needed to set off, and armed with a couple of hotel booking numbers I got going and thought I would make some calls later on from the gig and sort something out.

I made it to the Spa Centre fine, parked up in front of the lovely blue lorry, found my dressing room and totally forgot about booking a hotel as I got ready and said hello to the band and we all chatted about our days off and did soundchecks.

Peggy and Martin had mentioned that Robert Plant might be coming to this gig, being an old friend of Peggy’s but I didn’t think too much about it and certainly didn’t think that if he came I would meet him. Backstage I met Linda Leslie, Chris’s lovely wife, who had come along for the evening, and lovely Andy from Iconic Media, who I hadn’t seen since the first show in Tewkesbury. As I got ready for the gig, the main thing on my mind was my third performance of Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and the atmosphere was friendly and fun. Matt came to find me to give me an electric cigarette kit that his lovely wife Tammy had kindly posted up for me. He showed me how to use it and set it all up and I was very honoured that he and Tammy had taken the time and trouble to do that, he is such a lovely guy and super nice and friendly, and like Peggy is also very funny and laid back too!

Martin again took my CDs to the foyer which was lovely of him and he set them all out too, so all I had to do was play my set then go and join him in the interval. The sound onstage was wonderful again and I really enjoyed playing. I knew that some friends were in the audience that night, Barry, Ian, Bob and Martin, who have been coming to see me play at gigs in the Midlands for many years now which is so lovely. I gave them a mention onstage and after playing Speed of The Sound with the band I came off, leaving them to play their first set, and went to get a sandwich and a coffee with Mick. We found the staff kitchen where Mick made me a very welcome cuppa and I had my Tesco sandwich and wandered up with my Sharpie pen to join Martin ready for the interval.

As the audience all came out and started coming up to buys CDs, Martin suddenly said that someone wanted to say hello. I looked up and it was Robert Plant! He shook my hand and smiled and told me to get back to selling my CDs as people were waiting to buy them, and I think I mumbled something to him in delighted shock before heading back the queue of people for a whirlwind round of signing CDs.

I was also introduced to a lovely young singer/songwriter called Deborah Rose, who is playing at Cropredy this year and who was very lovely indeed. We had met years before at the Marrs Bar in Worcester and after a quick chat with her and some hugs and hellos with Ian, Barry, Martin and Bob, the interval was over and the second half began.

It then sunk in that Robert Plant had probably seen my set which Martin confirmed, and I was so pleased that I hadn’t known beforehand! Coming out to join the band in the second half knowing he was in the audience was fairly nerve-wracking though, and I found out later from Owain that Robert had sat next to him at the sound desk during the show!

All went really well and after a lovely second half, we all headed back out to the CD table area where everyone chatted and mingled and photos were taken. I met a lovely friend of the band, a singer called Anna Ryder who supported the band a few years ago on tour, and also met Matt’s Mum, Mrs Pegg, who was really nice. I got a chance to chat more with Chris’s wife Linda and also talked more with Mr Plant (!) who told me to remember that even though Sandy is revered and very loved, she was also loads of fun and I shouldn’t be worried about about singing her signature song, which was lovely to hear. He told a few funny stories and was just really lovely all round to everybody, and he also signed an autograph for my friend Paul who works at the bank in Driffield. I told him that Paul has a Led Zeppelin coaster on his desk at the bank for his coffee mug, and Robert told me that his one and only job had been in a bank for two weeks before he went off to play rock and roll.

After all that excitement and a lovely time we all packed away and headed off, and I got to my car and remembered I hadn’t booked a hotel! Armed with a Holiday Inn number I called it up from the car and got a guy in a call centre in America, who found me a hotel in Bath in about two minutes! He booked me in and gave me the address and, still on a high, I found myself saying to him, guess who I met tonight? He said who? And I said Robert Plant! After a moment’s pause he said ‘Robert Plant? Was he in a band or something?’ :o)

I left it at that, Thanked him for finding me a hotel and headed off Bathwards. I stopped somewhere near Gloucester for coffee and toast and a few catch up texts and emails on my phone, and made it to my hotel in Bath at 2am. It was a lovely hotel but not a patch on the Chester West one! No Mastermind chair, no smoking and no Kit Kats, but hey, it was a room! I headed to bed very tired and very happy.

‘Bath-bound to a Holiday Inn after a really fab night in Leamington, Thankyou so much Barry and co for coming and Simon and the guys and Martin and Owain for another lovely gig. Feel a bit scratchy in the throat but got an electric cigarette from Matt tonight so perhaps its a good time to give it a whirl. Maybe just after this roly! xx’

‘One of these three is an international icon, a true legend and a multi-millionaire.
The other two scrape a living in Folk-Rock. Can’t put a fag paper between them.’
(photo and caption courtesy of Mr Nicol!)

Dressing Room, Leamington

Dressing Room, Leamington

Dressing Room, Leamington

Dressing Room, Leamington

With Barry, Peggy, Bob, Martin and Ian, Leamington

Toast and coffee, Gloucester Services

Wednesday 12th February, The Corn Exchange, Exeter

‘Bath is so pretty. I’ve never been here before and can’t get over how many three-story crescents and blocks of sandy coloured terrace houses there are, its stunning. Heading to Exeter and in need of a Boots as I’ve run out of hairspray and definitely have a cold coming on, and have brilliantly remembered where there is one in Exeter! Right next to a Matalan too! Thats my afternoon sorted x’

After checking out of the not-as-good-as-Chester Holiday Inn and a gorgeous drive through Bath, I made my way down to Exeter. News reports of severe weather and flooding all over the UK were increasing and it was slow going due to traffic jams, accidents, high winds and heavy rain. I made it to Exeter with big plans to go to Matalan but in the end only had enough time to pop to Boots as I could feel a cold coming on and my head felt very cotton-woolly and my throat was scratchy. After a whizz around the pharmacy I also got some hairspray and some face cream for 40+ skin, which was slightly depressing, and made my way to the Corn Exchange. The blue lorry was there as was the band van and I made my way inside and found everybody.

The following day was to be a bonus day off, so there was a ‘last night’ feel in the air again, even though we would all resume on Friday! The venue was lovely and we all had gigantic dressing rooms! I dosed myself up on my Boots cold and flu products and the show went really well. I realised during Who Knows Where The Time Goes that I was having trouble with the breathing in one of the lines, which was what was making me feel like I wasn’t singing it was well as I would like. I made a note to try it differently on Friday night, and by now felt very happy that I knew all the words and melody off by heart, and vowed personally to try breathing differently and maybe finally manage to sing it to my own satisfaction at the next gig!

I had some family friends in the audience, my Aunty Barbara’s friend Hilary and two of her friends, and my friend Phil’s Mum and Dad, Marion and Len. So there was much chatting and hugging during the interval and after the show, and I also met a local promoter and friend of the band called Steve, who was there promoting his Budleigh music evenings.

I went down to the stage door after playing my set to have a roly, and after going through a kind of indoor wheely bin loading dock area, I opened the heavy door to the outside and two pigeons flew in, frightening me to death! I really hope they don’t have CCTV cameras in that loading bay as I was flailing around all over screaming and the whole thing was like a really bad spoof of The Birds! They disappeared up into the rafters and I was quite worried that they might then fly up the stairs into the auditorium, disrupting the show, but Owain told me later that they had been coming in and out all day which made me feel better! The band van also got a parking ticket that night, even though Mick is meticulous in his arrangements. He was understandably not too happy about it and went round wearing it on various parts of his body for the rest of the evening which was brilliant. :o)

Martin was brilliant company at the CD table as always, as was Peggy, and I realised that my name was coming round on a video screen in the foyer which was quite exciting and I decided to take a photo. Well, it took about ten minutes for it to come round again but undeterred I waited and finally it came round and I got my photo!

I was as always amazed at how hard Owain and the crew work at the end of a gig, breaking down and packing up the PA and loading it all onto the big blue lorry. They usually have help from some of the venue staff but still its a mammoth task and they do it without complaint and always in good humour. Andy Salmon wasn’t with us at Leamington and Exeter as Jools Holland had a show that he was working on, so we were joined by a lovely guy called Steve, who drove the lorry.

We all said our goodbyes and headed off. The guys were going home as was I, and with all the weather warnings I was wondering what kind of journey I was in for, but to my surprise it was very smooth! While the poor North West was battered with strong winds, I somehow avoided the worst and zipped home. It took 6 hours with two coffee stops but I was very glad to get home through the night rather than spent my day off driving the next day, which would have taken twice as long, and finally home, I headed to bed exhausted and happy.

‘A third of the way home and stopped for petrol and a toasty and coffee after gig eleven of the tour which was really lovely. Im tuning into the weather forecasts but other than seeing an incredible electrical storm up ahead a few miles back and some hailstones round the M4 area it’s not been too bad so far. It’s a very windy night not to be spotted at the petrol pump though! The lady didn’t see me for ages and by the time she turned on my nozzle I only had enough stamina left to fill up to £53 before my hand got too cold to go on. It’s enough to get me home, it’ll do! Having my toasty and coffee by a display of Belvita breakfast biscuits and wondering who buys them? A breakfast no more needs a biscuit than a roast dinner needs a slice of toast but they seem to be popping up in shops all over. Hope the guys all get home safe tonight, looking forward to our bonus day off tomorrow xx’

Bath, so pretty

Green Room, Exeter

Plates and napkins, Exeter

Monkey nuts, Exeter

Dressing Room, Exeter

Stage door lanterns, Exeter

Big blue tour lorry, Exeter

Exeter

Peggy in the wings, Exeter

Band onstage, Exeter

Band onstage, Exeter

Band onstage, Exeter

Parking ticket! Exeter

Post driving-nap Steve, Exeter

With Len, Exeter

Budleigh Steve and Len, Exeter

On telly! Exeter

Len and Marion, Exeter

Hilary and friends, Exeter

Packing up, Exeter

Packing up, Exeter

Packing up, Exeter

Packing up, Exeter

Matt after the show, Exeter

Breakfast biscuits?

Thursday 13th February, Day Off

‘Coffee, admin and post in pyjamas :o) xx’

After waking up at the crack of 2pm, I spent my bonus day off doing washing, grocery shopping and also went to Driffield Electricals to get some lightbulbs as four of them had decided to go at once while I was away this past week! I also popped to the bank to give Paul his Robert Plant autograph and told him the story about him working in a bank for two weeks. Paul was over the moon and said he was going to frame it! All of that done I went to bed at the very early time of 10.20pm, very unlike me, all set for heading to Hunstanton and back to the tour the next day!

‘Shopping done, washing done, admin done and off to bed at the insanely un-rock n roll-y time of 10.20pm! x’

The new original set List!

So that has been Week Two! Two weeks in and I am still loving every moment and think I am even more in love with all the guys than I was last week. Not even halfway through and I already know I am going to miss them all terribly when it’s over, but there are three more weeks to go yet so am not going to think about it!

I have had some lovely feedback from last week’s blog, Thankyou so much. One reader came up to chat at the Exeter show and mentioned that while he had enjoyed the blog, he had found the inclusion of the set list photo a bit of a spoiler. I thought perhaps I should take it off last weeks’s blog and pop it back on at the end of the tour but after a chat with Peggy, who suggested I change the titles instead, I did just that, and with the help of my lovely friend Stephen and his photoshop skills, I replaced the original version with a ‘new original’ one and will pop the ‘original original’ back on at the end of the tour!

Thankyou so much for reading and I will post Week Three next Tuesday!

See you then,
Love Edwina xxx

Week One

So, here we go with Week One of the tour blog, and what a week it’s been!  As a fan of Sex & The City I must say I feel a bit like Carrie Bradshaw sitting here typing a weekly column, except much less thin and in my lounge in Driffield rather than in the window of a New York Apartment. It’s a whole new world this weekly writing, and I can’t resist the urge to take a puff of my cigarette and type ‘I couldn’t help but wonder… ?’

Seriously though, it’s the first time I’ve ever written a blog and I was thrilled to receive such lovely feedback from my introductory post last Monday, Thankyou very much for the lovely comments.

Well I’ve been making notes and taking photos since the tour began a week ago, and have put them altogether here along with the pre and post-gig updates I made on my personal facebook page each day for an added daily insight, and here’s how it all went!

Friday 31st January, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury

‘Very happy and excited to be heading off to Tewkesbury for the first gig of the Fairport Wintour tonight. Ive almost become a daytime person this past few weeks, getting up early, going to bed early, answering the phone before 10am, offering people cups of tea ‘come in, have a cup of tea, I’m being a daytime person today!’, and its been quite nice actually but I’m very much looking forward to getting back to being a lady of the night again (in the non-prostitute sense of the phrase I hasten to add) and whizzing about all over in my car with my guitar. Here goes! :o) xx’

The first night of the tour was The  Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury and after a very wet and windy journey down from East Yorkshire, I arrived at the venue and parked up my car next to the big blue tour lorry and the band bus as advised by Mick the Tour Manager. He had asked me to park up and unload my things, and after that to go and find the car park.

So I gathered all my things up and made my way in through the stage door, and found myself immediately at the side of the stage where the band were soundchecking. Standing there with my guitar and bags still in hand and seeing them there playing was thrilling and I felt very excited. I was soon greeted by Mick, who gave me a warm welcome and showed me where to put my things. After popping my bags and guitar into a dressing room I was then introduced to Stevie and Andy from Iconic Media, Fairport’s PR team, and also I was led through to the foyer to meet Peggy, Martin and Ellen, who were setting up the merch on the CD table. I also met Ian, a lovely photographer and Fairport reporter, and Andy Salmon from Midland Sound and Lighting, the tour crew manager who I was especially delighted to see as Andy is also a long time member of Jools Holland’s tour crew and I worked with him back in 2004 and 2005 when I supported Jools Holland on tour.

Andy’s a lovely guy and he put me onstage every night at 7.30pm for every one of the 26 shows I did over those two years with Jools, so it was really nice to see him again. After a huge hug, he told me some very sad news about two long time members of the Jools crew who I remember very fondly, Pete The Hat and Buff. Buff is also one of the Fairport crew and he has sadly been very poorly and was unable to be on the Fairport tour this time, but is recovering and will be okay, which was a great relief to hear as he is a fantastic guy. Pete The Hat however had sadly passed away, just three weeks earlier, which I was very sad to hear. Pete did my sound on all those Jools gigs, and was always super lovely and Ive thought about him a lot this past week, a very sad loss indeed. After hearing about Pete and Buff, Andy then told me that the very spot we were standing on in the wings, was the spot where Eric Morecambe had collapsed and died while giving his final performance in 1984. It was a sombre moment all round standing there taking in such a lot of sad news but the mood was suddenly broken by a loud car horn beeping from outside, and to my horror I suddenly remembered the car.

Sure enough, I had parked up in front of a car park gate, and the beeping was someone wanting to get out! The next few minutes were a flurry of grabbing my keys and running out into the rain to move it, kindly assisted by Mick who came with me and showed me where the car park was. I was mortified! I had been in the building about 14 minutes at that point and was already causing chaos.

With the car sorted and after a whirlwind of more introductions to theatre staff, I got my guitar out and walked onto the stage and finally met the guys in the band.

We had arranged to go through the two songs we would be playing together on the tour at this first soundcheck, and to walk onto the stage and meet them all and then start playing with them right away was a real thrill, and a little bit scary too! Owain the tour sound man was in the front of house doing the sound, and he soundchecked my mic and guitar, which sounded amazing, and then we went through Speed of The Sound of Loneliness. Not being used to playing with a band I was more than a little apprehensive but the guys were lovely and made it very fun and easy, and it was wonderful to play with them. By then it was getting quite late and as the crew had been there since 10am that morning, Simon called a break and said we would leave Meet On The Ledge till the next evening and we all went off to the dressing rooms to get ready. Having practised it like crazy and being more nervous about that one number than my whole set put together, I didn’t mind leaving it till the next night at all, as there was already so much to take in.

Back in the dressing room area the band and crew all wandered in and out, Mick brought me a copy of the tour set lists, Simon came to chat and brought me some crisps and a drink as that particular venue is one where there are no backstage refreshments provided, I chatted also to Matt and Chris and got a very big hug from Ric, who I had met years before when he played fiddle and I sang on an album by Shane Lynch, which never saw the light of day and which neither of us ever got paid for! I have no wish to speak ill of a born again Christian former boyband member, so I will just tell you that one of the songs was a spoken word version of the Hothouse Flowers classic Don’t Go, with Shane speaking the lyrics over the top of an instrumental, and leave it at that. Gerry was lovely also and there was much good-natured banter and joking and an air of excitement about the first gig. It was then that I noticed my name on the door of the dressing room, put there by Mick, as it would be every night I would later discover, and a little gold plaque above it. The plaque had Eric Morecambe’s name on and upon checking, sure enough it turned out to be the dressing room Eric had used on that fateful evening. Well, with only minutes to go till showtime, thinking about Eric somehow calmed my nerves, as I felt very humbled to be in that dressing room and headed to the stage thinking about him.

At the side of the stage was Peggy, arm in a sling and looking almost as nervous as me as he had been given the role of introducing the show each night due to his hand injury. I stood there with my guitar next to Peggy with his arm in a sling, waiting for the cue and he was really lovely and funny as always, and the rest of the band came to stand with us to wish us luck. There we all were, stood on the spot where poor Eric breathed his last, and then it was house lights down, and Peggy went on. He gave a lovely introduction to the evening and then invited me on, and on I went! That short walk to the mic felt like a mile, especially as the band were all in the wings, but somehow, once there, I plugged in and started to play and it all felt wonderful. Owain’s sound made singing a joy and I played five songs before introducing the band, and on they came to join me for Speed Of The Of Sound Of Loneliness. I then went off leaving the band onstage to play their first set and the tour was officially underway!

In no time at all it was almost time for the interval, and I made my way to the CD table to join Ellen, Martin and Peggy where I would be selling my CDs each night and they would be selling the Fairport CDs and programmes. The audience all came out for the interval and after a whirlwind round of CD signing the second half of the show began and I sat and chatted with Martin, Peggy and Ellen for a while, all of whom were lovely and gave me lots of tips and advice about the tour. With not joining the band for the last song on this first night, it was suggested that I perhaps set off home early as it was a long drive home and such a bad night weather wise. I packed away and after a lengthy round of goodbyes and hugs with all of the lovely people I had met this first night, I set off home, wheels floating about 4 foot off the tarmac all the way with happiness.

By the time I got home about 2.30am I had already had some lovely comments on my facebook page from members of the audience, and I felt very happy, excited and lucky. What a night!

‘Having the most amazing time in Tewkesbury, it’s all been lovely from the moment I arrived, the band and crew are all absolutely wonderful and I’m incredibly honoured to be in the dressing room Eric Morecambe used when he played here in 1984 which sadly turned out to be his final performance. Magical stuff indeed all round xxx’

Eric’s Dressing Room, Tewkesbury

Stevie PR and Mick TM, Tewkesbury

Ian the tour reporter, Tewkesbury

Ellen and Martin at the CD Table, Tewkesbury

Wintour 2014 Set List xx

Saturday 1st February, The Stables, Milton Keynes

‘Heading off to the lovely Stables in Milton Keynes for the second show of the tour tonight and really looking forward to it. Hoping for a much less rainy drive today, yesterday was ridiculous all across Birmingham and down to the M5, I had to have my wipers going at top speed all the way, its a pain! Here’s hoping its dry! xx’

After the excitement of the first gig, I headed off to the Stables still on a high and reassured somewhat by having played at the Stables several times now over the past 10 years, both as support in the big theatre and also as a solo headliner in their smaller room, Stage Two.

I arrived uncharacteristically early and headed to the back door, where I was comforted to see Andy and Owain’s big blue crew lorry. Andy and Owain typically pack up and load all the tour equipment after every show, and then Andy drives the blue lorry through the night to the next venue where they both then get some sleep before unloading and setting up in the next venue around noon the next day, having everything set up and ready for band soundchecks at 5.30pm. They are real troopers indeed and while Owain does the sound during the performance, Andy gets a few hours sleep ready for the night drive. Thanks to a print-out from Mick the tour manager, I know each night what the parking situation is at the venue, and my favourite ones are the ones that say ‘loading dock/car park’ as that means ‘find the big blue lorry and park nearby!’

The band soon arrived and I headed to the foyer to meet Ellen, Peggy and Martin and put my CDs out ready for the interval, along with my free matching badges, slightly non PC Pour Me A Drink lighters and my lovely friend Leila’s Moonbeams flyers, and then headed into the theatre to watch the band soundcheck. It was really lovely to sit and see them play. The Stables lighting man Dave was adjusting the stage lights at the same time, I looked up and saw him up in the rigging, and halfway through the band’s soundcheck he turned them on and they really looked fantastic.

I also spotted Owain up in his sound booth and got a photo of him from down in my seat, 4 miles away! I am sure we had been introduced the night before but after so many introductions and with slipping away before the end, I hadn’t quite got a handle on everybody’s names and faces and all I really knew about Owain at this stage was that he was tall with tufty blonde hair and his sound was amazing!

During this soundcheck I was invited up to go through Meet On The Ledge, and I was more nervous about singing the five lines of the second verse than I was about my entire solo set, but it went really well and all I could do was hope it would go well during the show. As they had been the night before, the band were super friendly and warm and lovely, and so so so good!

For anyone reading this who may not be familiar with Fairport, the band members are:

Simon Nicol – Rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Dave Pegg – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Matt Pegg – Peggy’s son, standing in for Peggy on this tour
Chris Leslie – Lead vocal, fiddle, mandolin
Ric Sanders – Violin
Gerry Conway – Percussion and drums

All too soon it was showtime, an 8pm start tonight rather than the usual 7.30pm start, which gave a leisurely feel to everything but also allowed me much more time for faffing about worrying about my hair and make-up and outfit before going on. After fiddling about with my tights and dress for the seventeen thousandth time, it dawned on me that what Id really like to do is lose three stone, which no amount of fiddling was going to make happen in the next five minutes, so I pulled myself together and concentrated on the gig instead!

After playing my set and a second time playing Speed Of The Sound with the guys, both of which were lovely, I spent a few minutes backstage putting my guitar away and thinking ‘oh my god I can’t believe that went okay, I’m so glad I didn’t trip over in my heels, I’m so glad it went okay etc… ‘ at top speed in my head before heading to the foyer to join Ellen, Martin and Peggy. I got to know them all a bit more this second night and was fascinated by Ellen’s electric cigarette, with which she has given up smoking completely! Matt also has one and he has also given up and so I am seriously thinking about trying one. Matt’s lovely wife and son had come up for the evening for the gig and it was really nice to meet them, and the camaraderie at the CD table was great fun.

I didn’t expect to sell a lot of CDs at The Stables, having played there before, but to my surprise I sold quite a few and the feedback from the Fairport audience during the interval was again really lovely. The guys did a fantastic concert, both sets bringing down the house, and I went up with Peggy to join them for Meet On The Ledge after their last song, the brilliant Matty Groves. I was nervous all over again going on and the first thing that dawned on me was how strange it was to be onstage without my guitar. Having nothing to hide behind is quite unnerving and my hands felt like giant heavy plates at the end of my arms! Thanks to the professional and easygoing manner that the band have onstage, particularly Simon, who wanders over to say reassuring things onstage in a way that is very cool and laid back, the whole thing was delightful and lots of fun, and in the nick of time, after Simon’s last verse, I caught Peggy’s eye and stopped short of coming in for the chorus on my own, as they all hold off for a drum fill bar from Gerry before coming in! I am still so glad I looked at Peggy as the horror of coming in early, on my own, would probably have haunted me for the rest of my life otherwise!

So it was all amazing and all went well and after some lovely post gig chats with the band and crew and audience and staff in the foyer, I hugged Mick, who is wonderfully always there to help with absolutely everything, and headed across to Hitchin where I had booked a hotel. The next night would be Canterbury and from there I planned to drive home as Monday was a day off. I got to Hitchin and checked in and it was one of those hotels where you check in and its all grand and lovely, but then they direct you to your room which may as well be in another timezone it’s so far away! After finally finding it, I checked a few emails, rang my Mum, ordered a pizza that never came (hardly surprising, they probably went to the next county looking for my room) and fell asleep!

‘Just got to my hotel after a second wonderful gig and after negotiating 27 firedoors with my guitar and two big bags to get to my room Im arm achy but very happy. Singing Meet On The Ledge with the guys has gone straight to the top of my personal high charts, overtaking meeting Angela Rippon on a train and my emails from Bob Dylan’s manager Jeff (that I keep in a folder called Jeff). Really its something else singing with those guys and everybody on this tour is so lovely, am absolutely loving it. So now am wide awake in this hotel room, which was once a priory apparently, theres a Corby trouser press which always makes me think of Alan Partridge and I can see a three pack of digestives on a tea and coffee tray and its very, very quiet. All the stories about rock bands trashing hotel rooms probably all came about not because of drink and drugs but because they went mad from too many individually wrapped biscuits from the least interesting end of the biscuit variety spectrum and mini cartons of uht. But back to the tour, its amazing and I feel very happy and proud to be a part of it xxx Oh dear god I just heard someone clear their throat! Where did that come from? Outside? Through the wall? I think I’ll put the telly on xx’

The Stables

Owain the Soundman behind his desk, The Stables

Soundcheck no lights, The Stables

Lighting Rig, the Stables

Dave the lampy, The Stables

Soundcheck The StablesSoundcheck with lights, The Stables

Soundcheck, The Stables (if you click on this photo, you will see that it looks like Matt has a heavy metal hairdo!)

Sunday 2nd February, The Gulbukien Theatre, Canterbury

‘Having coffee and eggs on toast in Hitchin and researching how to write a tour blog. Just read lovely John’s one from last year and also the weekly one that the band did, both of which are wonderful and witty and fab. I’ve never thought twice about rambling on about endless minutiae here on facebook but the thought of writing something that people I don’t know can read is quite daunting, I’ll give it a whirl anyway as they’ve asked me to do one and it’d be rude not to! Off to Canterbury for gig three tonight and really looking forward to it xx

After checking out of the hotel, I headed into town to find some brunch and decided to start looking into how to write a blog! Having been asked to do one, I hadn’t really thought too much about it and so I decided that afternoon, with a little time to spare before heading to Canterbury for the third show, that I better do some research.

Over eggs on toast at a lovely little cafe called the Fourleaf Clover, I read John Waterson’s blog from last year. John goes by the name Fake Thackray and supported the band on last year’s Wintour and he is very funny! I really enjoyed his account of his time supporting the guys in 2013 and you can read his blog here: Fake Thackray Blog

I also read the bands own weekly Tour Blog that they did last year, which was hosted on a website I’m reluctant to mention here as I wrote to them asking if they might host mine this year in exchange for me buying some advertising on their website, which they seem quite keen to sell, and they didn’t reply! Charming!  However, being well brought up and with it being a great read, I shall rise above such rudeness and post the link here: Fairport Convention 2013 Tour Blog

Research done I made my way to Canterbury and horror of horrors couldn’t find the big blue lorry anywhere on arrival! I checked my parking sheet from Mick and it said ‘venue car park’, and I was in the venue car park, but where was the lorry? I parked up and found a kitchen door and knocked on it, and a lovely girl inside told me to my relief that the backstage area was the next door along and I was fine to park in that car park. It turned out that due to some construction work being done at the venue, the lorry had gone through a barrier that was now closed, and was round the back, and all was well.

I made my way in and found lovely Mick who showed me to my dressing room, and then it was soundcheck and then I took the CDs down to the foyer and set up and later found Martin and Peggy, but sadly no Ellen tonight as she can’t be at all of the gigs. We were all offered a lovely roast dinner at this venue by the super nice promoter Deborah, but sadly I forgo mine, as eating before playing is something I find really hard, and so I had brought an egg sandwich to have afterwards instead. Such glamour!

For some reason I felt very weary tonight, very unsparkly, and I had only driven an hour or so down the road instead of the 3 or 4 the past two nights. I was really puzzled as to why and wondered if not being used to having such a lot of time to kill before a gig had something to do with it, or if the adrenalin of the first two nights had subsided a little, I didn’t know.  I remember once going to see a gig at The Old Vic, and being appalled by how much the two girls who were the support act were moaning about how tired they were. They even did a song they had written all about the tiredness of being on the road. I remember thinking ‘sit down, I’ll get up and play instead!’ I couldn’t believe they were complaining, and onstage too.  At that time I was just starting off doing gigs, and would have given my right arm to swap places with them. I vowed never to complain about any gig ever, as however tiring it may get sometimes, it beats digging a hole for a living, and many other jobs hands down. I actually saw two men digging a hole twice last year! Once outside my front door, two council men who I made cups of tea for and passed down to them in the hole, and again in Dunkeld, while at the Pertheshire Amber Festival. I walked past two guys working in a hole in the pavement there, in October, carrying my guitar, and they smiled and shouted ‘give us a tune’ and I thought they were heroes. So I would never, ever complain, but I was mad at myself for feeling weary. All I have to worry about is my half hour set, how could I possibly have ended up feeling tired before it?? I had time to think about it later on the way home and had a bit of a word with myself. I thought about the men in the holes and all my friends who get up and work all day in offices, and have children and are hectic all week-long and how much I had been looking forward to the tour, and how much I wanted to do a good job for the band after they had been kind enough to invite me to open for them, and I reminded myself how lucky I am to swan about playing music for a living.

Wonderfully I finally met Owain the sound man backstage after soundcheck, and was able to say hello and Thank him for the lovely sound and have a bit of a chat. Then a tall guy with a hat on walked past and smiled and said hello and I smiled and said Hi and asked him his name. He said ‘are you joking? I’m Owain’ and for a second I was very confused. Then I saw the Owain I thought I had met walk by and realised he was actually a foot shorter and was the venue backstage manager, who happened to also have tufty blonde hair. Having only seen Owain from afar the past two nights, and with him now having a hat on, I really hadn’t seen his face properly and was mortified! He was very nice about it and let me take his photo for the blog, one that I later sent him to which he replied that he takes a terrible photo. Ladies, if you are reading this, when you scroll down and see Owain’s photo, I think you will agree with me that he does not take a terrible photo, quite the opposite in fact!

Anyway, all went very well during the show, the guys were wonderful again and I met some lovely audience members again in the interval. The Cropredy banner had arrived and Martin and Peggy had set it up in the foyer, which was wonderfully exciting to see! The banner will join us at the CD table from now on and while I’m mentioning the merch, I must just tell you that Tour Programmes are actually calendars too, which is fab! They were designed by Mick Toole who designs all the artwork for the Fairport CDs, posters, flyers and programmes and they really are fantastic.

The Gulbukien theatre is very lovely and has a wonderful foyer full of art deco style chairs and tables in bright colours, and Peggy was as always brilliant company all through the evening, both on and off stage! Meet On The Ledge went really well again, Peggy and Chris both tipping me the wink for the delayed chorus which was lovely of them! I had a lovely email from Chris While just before the gig, in which she asked me to give her love to Chris Leslie, and also asked if the two of us might play something together when we are at Chris and Julie’s Party on the Lawn Festival in June. I mentioned this to Chris who said he would love to which was very thrilling as he is not only a wonderful musician and singer but an incredibly lovely person too, something that was becoming clearer each time I talked to him. Likewise with Gerry, Simon, Matt and Ric. After only three nights I was slowly getting to know them all and they are all gems.

After a post-gig round of goodbyes and hugs, and a send off again by lovely Mick, who again made sure I was okay and saw me out, the drive home was smooth and clear and after a quick stop at Peterborough Services for coffee, I was home by 3am and after faffing about for ages and lots of cuddles with the cat, who had been very well looked after by Mum and Alastair, I headed to bed.

‘Just pulled in at Peterborough for coffee halfway home and there’s only me! And piped INXS! Just looking through my tour photos from the last few days and feeling very happy and lucky. Tonights gig was another lovely one, I especially loved the sound of the band tonight, in particular Gerry’s drums which made me think of Pat McInerny (one person not three people) at one point, really fab stuff. In other news I had a go at trimming my fringe backstage with a pair of scissors I found in my travel bag, largely because Im an idiot and shouldn’t be allowed time to myself in big buildings with dressing room mirrors, but its not as bad as it was last time I did it so think I got away with it. Its a night off tomorrow so am homeward bound to the cat on night-time empty road heaven and looking forward to pottering about and catching up with everything at home before the next show on Tuesday xx’

Lunch in Hitchin!

Canterbury Stage

Ric’s Mic, Canterbury

Chris’s mic and instruments, Canterbury

Simon’s Guitars and mic, Canterbury

Gerry’s Drums and Matt’s Bass, Canterbury

My mic, Canterbury

Cropredy Banner, Canterbury

CD Table, Canterbury

Backstage, Canterbury

Owain our Soundman, Canterbury

Backstage Manager, Canterbury

Band onstage, Canterbury

Gerry onstage, CanterburyGerry onstage, Canterbury

Ric and Chris's Dressing Room, CanterburyDressing Room, Canterbury

Pink sofas, CanterburyPink sofas, Canterbury

Peterborough Services, 1am!Peterborough Services, 1am

Monday 3rd February, Day off

Monday was a day off and a chance to pause and reflect on how it was all going, and to do some washing! I spent a lot of Monday afternoon and evening joining this blogging website, WordPress, working out how to use it and posting my first post, with a lot of help from the WordPress forums! It was reassuring to find so many other people as technophobic as myself and in need of help with things such as font changing. Changing the font took an hour as it turns out you have to pay $30 for that feature, and once paid you then have to know how to write something called a CSS code! I finally figured it all out and went to post my introductory update, which I had already written and saved in a draft, and found it had completely disappeared! It was nowhere to be found, only the title, ‘Introduction’ and an empty page. I could have wept! So, I took a deep breath and started all over again! One burnt Tescos chicken and potato bake later I had rewritten it and voila, my first post was complete!

After that I had a look in the wardrobe for some more stage clothes to wear, as having dressing rooms every evening on the tour is a luxury I’m not used to, and it means I can take an outfit to change into, rather than having to wear something I can also drive in. So I dug out a selection of dresses, most of which were unworn, some of which had to go back in the wardrobe as they were too small, and packed them all ready to take. By then it was pretty late, so I made a couple of calls to family and friends to catch up, repacked my gig bag, and with square eyes from being on my laptop all night, headed off to bed all set for Oxford.

One thing that stands out in my mind from Monday night is chatting to my good friend Alastair, a touring TM and sound engineer who regularly travels the world making artists sound great, who, after kindly allowing me to waffle on for ages to him about the first three shows of the tour, simply said ‘welcome to proper touring.’ :o)

Tour boots on the radiator!

Tuesday 4th February, St. John the Evangelist Church, Oxford

‘Off to the ford of Ox and its a lovely sunny day too! Cold but sunny! Its almost like the sun is saying, Im going to shine, but Im going to blind you and at the same time you will be freezing xx’

Renewed and refreshed and with the first blog post done and published, I set off for Oxford in the sunshine and had a very happy drive there. Unfortunately by the time I arrived at the venue the rain had started again and after a few goes around the block I found the back gates with help from Mick, and pulled in next to the big blue lorry and the band bus. the band bus is a silver minibus that the band all travel in, driven by Mick, and so seeing that told me the band had arrived.

The venue was a beautiful church and the promoter for the evening was a young lady called Sonia and her team of volunteers. The band were soundchecking as I arrived and with it being a church, I was thrilled to see the CD stall was in the same room, which would mean we could all watch the show, and I headed over to Ellen (who had returned!) and Martin and popped down my CD bag before heading to the back to put down my gig bag and guitar. Sonia had allocated the vestry for the dressing room area and it was all very Father Ted! There were loads of jokes flying around between the band and the crew and various priestly items had already been commandeered for photos and general larking about. Mick had popped a white collar on and was henceforth known as Father Michael for the rest of the night, and I spent about an hour taking photos and being silly in the back, it was comedy heaven :o)

Less heavenly I think were handling the acoustics and Owain did a stellar job with his PA system in making everything sound wonderful in such a huge cavernous room. The sound onstage was actually my favourite of the tour so far and I felt like I sang my very best, which made up for what I felt had been a less than great performance in Canterbury.

I got to see the whole show from the front for the first time which was amazing, and had fun sitting with Ellen and Martin during the evening. I also met a lovely guy called Walter Forever Young (not his real surname!) who is a good friend of the band and who had travelled over from Germany for the concert and has a radio show there. The audience were really lovely and I chatted to lots of lovely people, in particular a lovely lady called Margaret, a fiddle player who told me she had a recital coming up that she was very nervous about. I wished her luck and hope all goes well for her, she was so nice.

‘Backstage’ on the Father Ted set, after the show, I was very honoured to be asked by Simon if I would like to sing Who Knows Where The Time Goes with him. The band play it each night, third song from the end in the second half, and I was absolutely bowled over by Simon asking me to join him in singing it. I said I would love to. Not having not ever sung the song before, even though I love it and have it in my car in fact, I played it non-stop all the way home, with just one or two other CD breaks so as not to overdose myself on it.  I marvelled at Sandy’s singing anew, listening in the car, and wondered how it would all go. Sandy is so loved, its a huge honour and not a small thing to attempt to sing her most well known song.

All in all it was my favourite gig of the tour so far. The day off after the first three gigs, had somehow brought everything together and I really felt like everything was clicking. I was nervous at the thought of singing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, but so honoured to be invited and I floated home feeling very happy and proud and lucky indeed. It was very rainy again on the way home but a smooth journey and other than a quick coffee stop at the Tibshelf Services, I sailed home.

‘At the Tibshelf and just had two cortados, straight up. I love them, they’re so cute! Two thirds of the way home from the Oxford show which was in a church and quite stunning. I got to see the full show from the front tonight which was a treat and my hair behaved for a change, although I wasn’t keen on my sleeves. The band were amazing and the audience were especially warm and friendly. Heading home for a big sleep before a leisurely journey to Lincoln tomorrow via Beverley where Im hoping to find a new black gig cardi xx’

Father Michael, Bishop Owain, Friar Gerry and Brother Andrew, Oxford

Father Michael, Oxford

Walter Forever Young, Oxford

Father Michael and Brother Andrew, Oxford

Priesty Drawers, Oxford

Jeezy Creezy, Oxford

Backstage, Oxford

Backstage, Oxford

Backstage, Oxford

Band onstage, Oxford

Two cortados, Tibshelf Services

Wednesday 5th February, The Drill Hall, Lincoln

‘Simon Nicol is a superstar! He just did a wonderful Birthday dedication to Barbara before the finale number which tickled me pink on her behalf! What a lovely gig in Lincoln tonight, and its stopped raining too! So lovely to see Barbara and Peter and gorgeous Miss Lily and lovely Les from Faldingworth Live xx’

Gig five was Lincoln and almost a home run for me being only an hour and half from Driffield, and so I expected it to be a smooth run there and I could not have been more wrong! After arriving at the gigs for about 5.30pm the past four nights, but not soundchecking at any particular time, I decided I should probably ask Owain what time he would like me to soundcheck each night, so it could become a proper time and a routine. He very kindly suggested 6.30pm, or half an hour before doors, and like a fool I set off at 5pm for Lincoln, not allowing any extra time for delays. Well it was a horribly rainy and windy night and the run to the Humber Bridge was fine but from the A15 down it was 40mph all the way and when I arrived, the parking situation was ‘car park next to venue’, which didn’t seem too bad until I realised it was pay and display and I didn’t have enough change! Arriving so close to soundcheck I decided to risk a ticket and head in, and Owain was really lovely and did my soundcheck and I then grabbed some change and headed back out in the rain to put a ticket on my car. By then there was a huge queue at the machine and I heard someone say it wasn’t accepting 10p pieces, of which I had loads! So I ran back into the venue and found Martin and Peggy and asked if they could give me two pound coins which they kindly did. By this time the queue was even longer and I had to go to the back again. With a handful of coins in one hand, brolly blowing inside out in the other, I realised that the queue was going to take ages, so I ran to my car and got a piece of paper, borrowed a pen from a kind lady in front of me and jotted down the telephone number on the machine which was an option to pay over the phone, and headed back in. Simon had suggested we might go through the song after soundcheck tonight, and to my horror I realised I had only got time left to get ready, and call up and pay the parking before going on, and so we decided to leave it till the next evening instead. Paying for the parking by phone took ages, and I was bellowing into my phone at the voice activated automated menu giving my card details till about five minutes before going on! Peggy came to find me ready to go on and he was very lovely as always and on we went!

It was a lovely gig in spite of the totally self-inflicted stress beforehand, and I was thrilled that some family friends were there, Barbara, Peter and Lily from Driffield, and the lovely Les from Faldingworth Live. Simon gave Barbara a lovely Birthday mention during the show, and I recorded the band doing Who Know Where The Time Goes on my phone, so I could learn Simon’s phrasing and practise some harmonies. I got a fab photo of Peggy, and of Ric doing a Kenneth Williams impression, and a lovely one of Chris and Ric, and some lovely photos of the gig also from the side of the stage and from the front.

It was a lovely gig all round and Peggy and Martin were great fun on the CD table as always. No Ellen tonight sadly again but she will be returning soon. I decided that even with my soundcheck being 6.30pm, I would aim to arrive at all gigs for 5.30pm from now on, just to be on the safe side! Lesson learnt I headed home, very happy again after another wonderful show, after being seen to my car by Mick, who was yet again amazing and super lovely.

‘Home from Lincoln, washing in, slippers on, cat cuddled and packing for the next run of shows in the North West before a bit more cat cuddling. I must not forget my cafetière! After a rainy drive and a car parking experience that was like something from a comedy sketch due to the ticket machines not accepting 10p pieces and everybody in the gigantic queue having 10p pieces, the gig tonight was really wonderful, I loved it and particularly enjoyed Meet On The Ledge. Shrewsbury tomorrow and can’t wait to see lovely Miss Jo :o) xx’

Peggy! Lincoln

Ric and Chris, Lincoln

Peggy onstage, Lincoln

Band onstage, Lincoln

Band onstage, Lincoln

Band onstage, Lincoln

Ric ‘Ooo Matron!’ Lincoln :o)

Thursday 6th February, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury

‘After a lovely show in Lincoln last night, the Fairport Convention Tour rolls on to Shrewsbury today and on into the North West this week.’

It was yet another rainy but smooth drive to Shrewsbury and I parked up next to the big blue lorry outside the Theatre Severn early! Having booked a hotel for the next three nights due to the gigs all being in the North West, I had a car packed to the rafters with things! I had my ‘hotel’ bags and my ‘gig’ bags and after pulling up I was about to get out and unload my ‘gig’ bags when a man knocked on my car window. I wound it down found it was a little elderly man in a trilby hat who told me his name was Alan and asked if he could please have my autograph. It was raining again and he handed me an autograph book through the window so it wouldn’t get wet while I was still recovering from the shock of being asked for my autograph! I managed to say that I was only the support act, but it didn’t put him off, and after flipping over a page that had Bill Wyman’s signature on it and finding a blank page, he handed me a pen so I signed his book.  He said he was going to wait for the band and asked me if I knew what time they were coming, and I said any minute now, and told him that they would be coming out to sign autographs after the show, as they always do which I think is lovely, but he was set on waiting and so I got my bags and guitar and headed on in.

The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the venue was, so lovely. The theatre and the foyer, and all the staff were simply wonderful and I knew right away it was going to be a lovely night and it really was.

During soundcheck Simon switched out my mic for a really posh one that he had just had repaired which was quite an honour, although I was more than happy with the SM58, and I decided to start using my in line tuner on stage at this gig, rather than my clip on one, as after playing my set I thought it would be good idea to tune up to a plug-in tuner same as the band, with all of us playing together on Speed of the Sound. Being a solo artist for so long, I usually only ever have to worry about being in tune with myself as a rule, but having a Boss in line tuner at home, I decided to bring it along and give it some use for a change! I was pleased to hear Owain say that soundmen always like it when artists use one, as it takes away the need to do the whole thumbs up ‘is it safe to unplug?’ meemo-ing after your set!

Poor Simon had a cold and was definitely going through it that night but was a trooper and very philosophical about it all, saying you just have to put up with them for a few days till they go away, and his performance and the bands was faultless as ever.  We left going through the song for another night and soon it was showtime.

I really enjoyed my set and playing with the band, and went off to join Martin and Peggy ahead of the interval and got chatting to a lady who was asking me all about the history of the band. I didn’t know some of the answers to her questions, and so I asked Martin, and he told me some amazing stories which were followed by Peggy telling me some stories too. I really loved chatting with them both and Peggy gave me one of his Peggy and PJ albums which was lovely. He recommended I get a CD by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, as I’ve never heard their music, which I have since ordered on Amazon, and it was just a real treat to sit and hear such wonderful tales. I also loved seeing my old friend Jo at the gig, a lovely girl I met in Australia in 2003 who has been a dear friend ever since. Jo is from Shrewsbury and her family grow the potatoes for Smiths crisps which I have always thought was brilliant! We had a good old natter after the show along with her sister and adopted Mum, and they met the guys in the band too and had a lovely time, as did I.

So, after a lovely night, and a cheery round of goodbyes which included a sleepy hug from Andy as he emerged from his pre-drive nap in the lorry, a lovely wave from Owain as he and the venue crew loaded up the lorry, and assisted once again by Mick to my car with all my things, I headed off up the road to find the Holiday Inn Chester West, which was right in the middle of the next three nights gig locations, and which was to be my home for the next few days.

On arrival I was greeted by a warm and friendly reception staff who confirmed that the smoking room I had booked was indeed available (!) and I made my way up to room 308 to find it was an executive suite! Small but perfectly formed with a fridge and a lovely en suite, a lounge area with table and chairs, an office area complete with Mastermind chair and an ashtray! It was room heaven! It was a luxurious feeling to know I was only 38 minutes from the next night’s gig in New Brighton, and that I didn’t have to check out. I think the checking out at Hitchin and the subsequent hanging about threw me off a little, so I was hopeful that my plan of booking the same hotel for three nights in a row would work much better! Being so used to driving home from gigs, I rarely stay in hotels, as I find getting home late and lying in much more preferable to lying awake all night and checking out early after not enough sleep, and I do all of my admin and emails and gig bookings and post in the afternoons, all of which is easier to do at home, so I have got used to driving home late and a four-hour drive to a gig and the same back has never fazed me as I gear up for it. But doing such a dense run of gigs like this is a whole different ball game and a very new thing for me, and even though I gig all year round, and have opened some big shows in the past, I have never done so many nights of such big shows, all in a row, for so long before, and I realised this week that I simply can’t drive home from them all as I had thought I could beforehand. As Alastair said, welcome to proper touring!

Anyway, very happy and completely over-excited with my executive room I swiveled about in my chair for hours and after accidentally running over my own slippered toes while wheeling myself over to the fridge to get a complimentary Kit Kat, I decided it was probably time to go to bed.

‘Made it to my Holiday Inn after a lovely show at possibly my favourite venue of the tour so far, and am over the moon with my room! I requested a smoking one with 20 per cent hopes of success as a lot of hotels still have smoking rooms listed on the booking websites but when you get there they tell you its old info and they’re now ‘none smoking throughout’, but not here, its a smoking friendly place and my room also has a dressing gown and slippers and a fridge, that has sparkly water, diet Pepsis, Kit Kats and two chilled glasses in it! And the en suite has a boxed in sink, my favourite kind as you can put all your things on the side, and its hotel room heaven! This will be my home till Sunday and I’m very happy with it indeed. There is free wi-fi and am thrilled to find that my laptop has come on okay as its taken to resetting itself to April 2008 this past week, in protest at being taken out of the house I think, and its been a really big pain but it seems to be behaving so very happy about that too. Im still on a high from having a lovely chat with Peggy about the history of the band tonight and from Simon giving me his gorgeous microphone to use for my set and I absolutely loved seeing Jo, one of my dearest and oldest friends. It was a wonderful night and am now going to set about using the ashtray and having a JD and diet while my glass is still chilled :o) xx — at Holiday Inn A55 Chester West’

Holiday Inn Mastermind Chair

Holiday Inn Smoking Room!

My Page in the Tour Programme (which is also a calendar!)

So that has been Week One! Its been an incredible week and I have loved every second. I have learnt a lot of things, heard loads of amazing music and wonderful stories, met some wonderful people, seen some fantastic places and been humbled, inspired, looked after, terrified, delighted, worried, relieved, high, low, and everything in between. I have fallen a little bit in love with every single one of the band and crew and am having the most wonderful time, and one I know I will treasure always.

Thankyou so much for reading and I will post Week Two next Monday. Being three gigs ahead of the blog in real life, I can already tell you there are lots more lovely things to report that have already happened and I know there are lots more that are yet to come!

See you next week,
Love Edwina xxx

Introduction

Hello! My name is Edwina Hayes and Im very honoured to be the support artist for Fairport Convention on their 2014 Wintour. I am a solo singer/songwriter based in Driffield, East Yorkshire from where I whizz about all over the UK and beyond playing gigs which I absolutely love doing.

My introduction to Fairport live in person came in 2005 when a lovely manager called Paul Loasby asked his friend Rob Braviner if he would give me a whirl on the bill at their annual festival Cropredy Convention.  He very kindly said yes and I went along and had the weekend of my life!  I have been going along to Cropredy ever since when possible and in the meantime have crossed paths with Peggy and the band at various gigs around and about and have always found them brilliant company and loads of fun.

My being chosen as the support artist for this year’s Wintour came about Thanks to Peggy, Fairport’s bass player Dave Pegg, who invited me to apply a year ago.  I immediately sat down and wrote an email to the band, not stopping for an hour.  I then went out for dinner and while out I remembered loads of things I hadn’t mentioned, so when I got home I wrote a PS.  And a PPS.  And then a PPPS.  And then I waited, and worried that I had overdone it with all my PS-ing!  Not having a manager, agent or record label, I was thrilled to have been invited to apply, so when Peggy replied shortly afterwards with just two words, ‘yer on’, I was over the moon.  I can still remember how wonderful it was to read those two words, the two reasons I am writing this today!

And so, over the next 12 months I began to receive information about the tour, first the tour dates, then the itinerary, and very excitingly I was then asked to choose and send a song for the band to play with me at the end of my opening set each night.  Peggy suggested it be a song from one of my albums so I decided on Speed of The Sound of Loneliness by John Prine from my Good Things Happen Over Coffee CD, as it is one of my favourite songs and very good for singing and playing along to.  Even more excitingly I was asked also to learn verse two of Meet On The Ledge to sing with the band as the finale number each night, an incredible honour indeed. Then, to round off a hat trick of excitingness, I was told I would also be playing at Cropredy 2014, nine years after first playing there.  Well I almost fell of the settee in happy shock the day I got all of that lovely news on the telephone!  By January this year, with the start of the tour only weeks away, there was lots of liasing with Mick the tour manager, Nigel the band’s manager, Stevie and Andy the PR team, Owain the sound man, Ellen and Martin the merch team and the band members themselves, Dave, Simon, Ric, Chris and Gerry.  All the final bits and pieces to do with the 31 upcoming shows were sorted out and confirmed and it was ‘see you in Tewkesbury!’

Lovely Simon Nicol, Fairport’s rhythm guitarist and one of the two lead vocalists, suggested that I write a tour blog from the road, so over the next 5 weeks I will be keeping a journal of the experience of being on tour with this wonderful band and posting weekly about it all. A few days before the tour, poor Peggy severed a tendon in his hand, in what is fast becoming known as the legendary ‘dishwasher injury’ and so his son Matt Pegg has stepped in to play bass on the tour and Peggy will be singing and doing merch with Ellen and Martin and generally doing any things you can do with only one hand!

For more info about Fairport Convention and their incredible musical history spanning more than 45 years, do look in at their website www.fairportconvention.com and for more info about me I have a website too which is www.edwinahayes.com

My next post will be called Week One in which I shall endeavour to report all the comings and goings of the opening week of the tour from my support acts-eye view, while at the same time keeping in mind the old rock and roll saying ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour!’

Thankyou for reading and see you then!
Edwina xx

Edwina Hayes Advert

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