Tales from the Road – Tours r Us
Pretty soon after my return from Prague I was getting ready to hit the road again, this time for my first tour here in Albion. I have played here many times, of course, but most of the gigs I’ve played have been at camps and festivals, and those that haven’t been have been one-off gigs organised by people who wanted to bring me to their area for a concert. This time I had organised the venues, the ticket sales, and the promotion.
Last year I did a post on my Facebook page asking if people wanted me to come to their area, and if so could they suggest a venue that might be suitable. I got a lot of good feedback, and I chose one of the venues from those suggestions from this tour – The Grove Inn in Leeds, one of the oldest folk clubs in the UK. I wanted to play in Yorkshire, Devon, Sussex and the West Midlands this time round, plus a return to the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms. I figured that if a venue hosted a folk club, that would be about the right size for a Damh gig. So I searched the web and found the Tower of Song in Birmingham, and the Westward Inn near Plymouth. The gig in Hastings was organised by a friend of mine who runs a PA company, so I went along with his venue suggestion of The Fountain Music Bar. So I had the venues!
Well by the time I hit the road the entire tour had sold out and there was a real buzz about the shows out on the social networks. First up was Hastings. I had decided that I wanted to donate all profits from the gig to the anti-fracking campaigns that are springing up across the country. Without doubt the venue is more used to punk rock gigs than folk concerts, walls covered in posters of The Clash, UK Subs, but 70 people packed out the room, including a group that we’re over from Prague. I also had a support band for this gig too. The wonderful Portcullis Minstrels played and danced, and people joined in. It was a great gig and it raised £450 for the protest campaign so I was very pleased with that.
Next was the Westward Inn near Plymouth. This was a brilliant venue, loads of space, plenty of seating, and a dance floor too. Most of the people there were regulars at the Pagan Federation Devon and Cornwall conference, so it was great to see old friends. I’ll definitely be returning to do another concert there.
Last November I did a concert at the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms with my good friends Spiral Dance who were over from Australia. They always organise a wonderful tour in Australia, so I wanted them to have the same experience
here in the UK. The gig last year was a sell out, and a brilliant night. This one was just the same (but without Spiral Dance). People were queuing down the high street by 7pm, and by 7.30 everyone was inside ready for the gig to start at 8pm. There were 150 people all in magnificent voice. It was an incredible and magical night, and I can’t wait to come back again next year!
I had a few days at home before we set off up north for my gig at The Grove Inn. A packed and intimate venue with one of the loudest audiences I have ever played for! My old friend from my Spiral Castle days, Rob, also joined me on stage for Spirit of Albion, a brilliant moment. I hadn’t played on a stage with Rob for about 14 years! By the end of the gig my ears were ringing. Leeds was the first gig to sell out, so I think a bigger venue is on the cards next time.
The final gig of the tour was in Birmingham at a venue called The Tower of Song. Again a brilliant intimate venue filled with a lot of people from The Mercian Gathering. But here as with all of the other gigs it was obvious that there are a lot of people who don’t go to festivals and camps, and this tour was the first time they had had the chance to see me play live. The walls were filled with pictures of the rock greats. The owner was brilliant and he and a cello-playing friend played in the break.
The atmosphere at every gig was amazing and I just can’t wait to hit the road again in early 2014 and bring my music to other areas that I’ve not been before. Keep an eye on my concert page on my website at www.paganmusic.co.uk for details.
So it’s Witchfest International this weekend, and then I’m off on the road in Australia with Spiral Dance. This time I’ll be there in their Summer, yum.