Tales from the Road – On Yer Bike!
After the Pagan earthiness of the Oakleaf camp, the next weekend Cerri and I went off to Druid camp in the Forest of Dean. It had been three years since I last played this event and last time it was in the most glorious (but flood-prone) location, complete with a grove of Oaks drenched with mistletoe. This time the camp was being held on the top of a hill, so it was pretty windy all weekend. There was the same marquees, including a lovely cafe marquee complete with sofa, a very nice touch.
We had been told to look out for the pirate flag and quickly found the rather large gathering of our friends who had also ventured up the hill. it was almost a camp within a camp, and great fun. We had arrived early with the plan to make this camp a mini holiday, and it was so nice to just be able to relax with friends. Much music was played with Paul Newman, Paul Mitchell and others who joined in the jams. During one of these Paul Newman played his interpretation of Telling the Bees’ The Worship of Trees. It went so well that I joined him on stage to play it during his performance spot – completely trippy experience too, I got so into the song that I only landed again when I opened my eyes and remembered that we’d been playing to an audience!
My performance was on the Friday night, before the band Seize the Day. Being a groovy eco-camp their PA system was peddle powered, and it’s really surreal to be playing music with a cyclist peddling either side of the stage! Well the soundcheck went well, and the time for my concert arrived. I jumped on stage, burst into the first song, and then noticed the faces of a few of the people in the audience. The sound was fine on the stage, but the looks from the audience suggested otherwise. So I did something I’ve never done before – I stopped playing, and asked, “Is there a problem?” It was the right thing to do. Apparently out front of house the sound was distorted, and echoing. There seemed to be a problem with the compatibility of my preamp with the eco-sound rig. Simon the sound engineer quickly pushed an instrument mike towards the sound hole of my guitar, and we were off again.
I must admit that it took me a couple of songs to get back into the gig. In the end it doesn’t matter how much you’ve practiced, how many times you’ve played live, unless you play completely acoustically, the final sound is down to the house sound engineer – ALWAYS learn their name, and make friends before you begin to play!