Leaving the lap of luxury at the Saunders home in Syston was bittersweet. After it being our homebase for nearly two weeks having our evening and Sunday meals cooked for us, private rooms, peace and quiet during the day while they were at work, AND a hot tub, we drove away to begin the series of north midland gigs and some nights at Dominic’s house with his lovely wife Christina who is a seamstress. Also part of their household is their white rabbit Charlie whose diet consists pretty much of cardboard and some greens that Dom brings back with him on his morning walks…and the edges of my moccasins which Charlie loves to chew on! Life is simple for Charlie. Oh to be a rabbit.
Last night’s Liverpool Art Centre gig went smoothly in the beautifully refurbished centuries-old building. Downstairs, by coincidence, was the art exhibit of my pal Pete Flowers whose wife, Sue, had put on a concert with me some years ago and with whom I’ve been friends with since then. It was nice to see them and to hear Pete give a talk to a room full of artists on his paintings inspired by a Liverpool writer named Lowry who wrote Under The Volcano. Afterwards we went upstairs to the 100 seat theater and did our show. The songs are really sounding good, and our humor is beginning to uhm… take shape? Well, we’re enjoying it anyway. I’ve brought out my old rap about a big study that was done here in England discovering lots of asbestos in these old buildings and the further discovery that asbestos absorbs humor…so if any of the jokes don’t seem funny to the audience, we blame it on the asbestos. Pretty funny, huh?
Dom organized and promoted the Liverpool gig and the two gigs in the Chorley area in very nice “function rooms” as they are called…large, comfortable rooms for any sort of event. Considering the two Chorley gigs were within a few miles of each other, both did very well turnout-wise and CD sales. The first had people coming from miles away to the show, and the second, being much more of a Dominic home crowd, was perfect for us to lean heavy into the real goofball humor Dom and I are finding very entertaining. Apparently there wasn’t’ much, if any, asbestos in the room for the second Chorley gig, and the gags “went down a storm”. Doing support for the last three shows was a fine, young singer/songwriter from Liverpool called Lizzy Nunnery whose English folk-style songs were really well written and confidently delivered. Dom has been doing his support set each night and has quickly rounded off the rough edges of what is his first tour doing all his own songs. Remember that he is also bassist for Cutting Crew who plays at least one long tour each year.
Christina has been fixing us wonderful lunches and dinners daily and sandwiches to take along to the gig. She gets a gold star for her culinary efforts and another one for the work she’s doing in an opera group that meets weekly and puts on performances. She also plays harp and piano and is the perfect elegant compliment to Dom’s unshaven, road-dog self. My kind of folks.
Here are a couple uhm…strange facts for England:
1-The only vehicle that can drive through a red traffic light in England is a post man…working under the Queen’s image…the Queen’s realm.
2-Its still legal to kill a Welchman in the centre of Cheshire with a bow and arrow. I’m sure in Wales, there must be some old laws on the books about sheep shagging…hmmmm…better stay out of Wales.
Our journey took us next up into Scotland where men are men and sheep are scared 🙂 Its a different world up that way, and they see England as a different world as well. Still lots of lingering “feelings”, shall we say…not unlike attitudes in the South of America. Old habits and feelings die very very hard in some parts of the world. I love Scotland though and have many great friends for life up that way.
Our first gig was at Glasgow’s The Liquid Ship…a kind of underground music venue which featured us sandwiched between a cool singer/songwriter name Jim Byrne who, as so many singers over here do, sang in a perfect American accent. The room was jammed packed and, as it turned out, most of the crowd including all the beautiful young girls, had come to see the act that played last…a beautiful 19 year old guy named Alex Gardner whose youth and cool songs had landed him a major label deal with management and the works. He had two publicists in tow and a great little band of Glasgow mates that were very cool to listen to and watch. Ah to be young again! Their Cold Play-esque songs were just what the young girls came to swoon to while I finished off my pint of Kronenbourg at the bar.
A lovely night off for us at The Ashoga Indian restaurant in Glasgoe for my 66th birthday with about ten of my great mates there was very nice. Thanks folks! A 3 hour drive “up the hill” to Inverness where we played a rowdy show for the folks at Hootanannys where I’ve played half a dozen times. The next day was a 4 hour drive to the top of Scotland to the Kenlochbervie Hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with Canada but a mere 4-5,000 miles away. On a clear day…
For that gig, over a hundred people anxiously awaited the American who had toured with Johnny Cash. The room was totally abuzz with excitement, as I stepped up to the mic, everyone went “Shhuuuuuuu”. You could hear a pin drop. Love that sound. By the end of the first song though, the entire room was talking loudly and proceeded to talk through the entire two hour set. I guess they were all talking about how excited they were to actually be sitting there is the presence of a “legend” 🙂 Or not!!!
A rainy morning followed that gladiator gig as we drove back to Coatbridge outside of Glasgo and a fabulous gig at The Georgian Hotel promoted by my good friend Lain Streford who always makes a gig memorable…white table cloths with candles and a totally listening audience.
The next night was equally as satisfying but in a completely different way. The Greyfriers in Perth is a small but energy-filled room of colorful and very supportive friends and fans. Last year’s gig there was at the very top as was this one so far. Pauline the landlady is a dear as is Pete who made sure our pint glasses were always full and that pictures were taken constantly. He’ll be getting me his pics, and I’ll add them next time.
After a four hour drive from Perth to Dom’s house in Chorley, England, we’ve just had two nites and a day off. We went to see he new Michael Jackson movie yesterday night which was fabulous. It really put me in a different world and made me sad that the show they were rehearsing for never made it to the stage. Simply amazing.
So that’s what I know for now. This is the first tour I’ve really disconnected from America. I feel like I’m a truly free spirit on the planet and have just not been keeping up with any of my US friends. One reason is that wifi here is so sparse. I bought one of those devices that’s a phone line which is suppose to give me internet access anywhere…but it works about a third of the time and is really frustrating…won’t give me internet or IM capability…only send and receive emails when it lets me do that. Life in the 21st century sure can be tough.
Below is a live review and a URL for lots of pictures. Hope you enjoy all this stuff. I sure am. We are off today to begin a long stretch of England gigs again. Ciao for now…
Live Review Bob Cheevers, Dominic Finley, Jim Byrne, Alex Gardner live at The Liquid Ship, Glasgow
“Ah, rapscallion!” said the voice in my head “go forth into the citadel of Glasgow and seek out yon chap that goes by the name of Bob Cheevers and write some words upon him. Forget not the socio-political context either, while you’re at it or I shall slap thee about thy head with a pair of women’s panties. They might be new but, then again, they might not”. That guy in Mission Impossible got his instructions via a cool, self destructing tape recorder. I’m not so lucky.
All due haste was therefore made and, upon my arrival, Jim Byrne was on stage. He displays much in the way of respect when he covers songs by John Prine and John Martyn but saves his best for his own songs. Those songs – particularly “Tell Me You Love Me Again” – highlight a strong sense of melody and a whimsical outlook on life. A most honorable performance.
Dominic Finley takes to the field of musical combat next. He’s got a musical pedigree that goes back to the eighties. He marks his territory as a songwriter of note with “Love and Farewells” and whilst much of his repertoire is sentimental and reflective, you can’t fail to notice that wry sense of humor either.
Bob Cheevers is musical royalty in my book. For a start, he survived many a decade writing songs in Nashville before decamping to Texas. Treating the audience to selections from his current album “”Tall Texas Tales” would have been more than enough reward but to that he added stories of his adventures. Adventures? That’s the right word. He seems to get more from life than most and clearly still has affection for all that he has experienced. Accordingly, his performance is both warm and infectious. Dominic Finley accompanied him on bass and harmonies and they both seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Bob Cheevers has been around a long time and he’s still having fun. There’s a lesson to us all in that. Oh, and he wiped his guitar clean with a pair of women’s panties. Nearly forgot to mention that.
Last on was a young gentleman called Alex Gardner. I’m not sure what to make of him. He certainly knows his way around a song but, unlike the other honorable gentlemen performing tonight, he made no attempt to involve what was clearly an adoring audience of young women. In fact, quite the opposite as the audience ended up trying to involve him by shouting out requests. Nevertheless, he is young and, if he sticks at it, he might last as long as Bob Cheevers. I doubt he’ll ever have as much fun though.
Nearly forgot the socio-political context. A nedette starts an argument with another member of the audience because she hadn’t been told not to talk when the acts were playing. Yes, because she hadn’t been told! That’s the first time I’ve seen that and I’ve no idea what it means. No idea what socio-political context means either, for that matter.
Review date: 10 November 2009
Author: Matt the Handsome Bluesbunny