I’ll Take the High Road

So, it’s first thing in the morning and still dark outside Southampton Airport, and my flight to Glasgow is delayed. What better to do than pen another missal updating you, and myself, on recent and forthcoming activities? Whilst propping my eyelids open with a bacon sarnie? I’m off to Scotland for the mighty Celtic Connections, and two performances of Made in the Great War, which, having ‘rested’ since September, has required no little practice to refresh the memory. In fact, it seems like a lifetime ago since we embarked on the 21-day run, since which I’ve done three further tours – New Year’s Eve was my 100th gig since August. On that note, got to dash as the flight towards gig 101 is up….

…. and that was the worst and most harrowing flight I’ve ever taken. Even worse than the transatlantic one squeezed next to the glutinous body mass of a fat American (partial tautology), or the overnight card-playing return from Japan in a plane packed with lay clerks at the tail end of a three-day diet of garlic and gin. Whilst the turbulence (not my own) approaching Glasgow was enough to send my intestines both upwards and downwards at frequent intervals, it also triggered the air supply panel of one poor lady, which as a result, was released down onto her head in emergency mode. The manicured air hostess kept her smile and her hair perfect throughout the drama; in the circumstances, this had the opposite of a calming effect. Next time, I’ll get the train. Nevertheless, the landing was near perfect, and once on terra firma I headed off down Saughiehall Street, only to be nearly swept off my feet and under a car by a huge gust of wind outside the Savoy Centre.  For the rest of the day I shall be mainly holed up in my hotel room…

…actually I tell a lie. In between hours of gruelling practice I have ventured forth from my room to the sauna on the 6th floor, for a chance to unwind and meditate (sorry, no pictures of this). Of the many and varied thoughts that crossed my mind, this is most apt considering my location: if the first homophone in ‘Donald where’s your Troosers?’ were to be replaced by its alternative, it would give the song a whole new meaning. Back to the narrative.

Following Made in the Great War, I went on Faustus‘ ‘Oktoberfaust Tour’, our most successful one yet, enhanced by beer and sausage hilarity and japes. Then it was off on Bellowhead‘s longest tour ever, promoting our new album ‘Revival’ all over England, Wales, and here in Glasgow. ‘Longest’ not only in terms of dates, but also due to the after-show pub music sessions that took place on most nights. No sooner had that finished, with one day in between, than I began Belshazzar’s Feast‘s ‘Stocking Fillers 2014 Tour’, again a great success, thanks to venues, audience numbers, and the star of the show, my new credit card reader. On one of the rare days off I slipped in a session at Wild Goose for young and upcoming singer and songwriter Niamh Boadle. And when the tour was over, I finished off the year by conducting the annual Great Whitchurch Carols Tour, and a New Year’s Eve Belshazzar’s Feast ceilidh with caller Gareth Kiddier, also in Whitchurch. Gig number 100…

….which, barring a brief interlude just now whilst I did my ironing, gets us to 2015. And what a miscellany the year holds in store. Once back in Albion next week, Hutch and I are off on a Belshazzar’s Feast ‘Health and Well-Being Tour’; not our own I hasten to add, but a week’s worth of visits to hospitals, day centres and care homes in Bristol under the guidance of our old friendsSuperact. Then it’s back to Hampshire for the county music service for some song-writing with Benji and two primary schools, as the creative part of a project about the legendary ‘boy-captain’ Lempriere who was killed in the Crimean War. March is given over to another Faustus tour, whilst April incorporates some time with NYFTE, a Bellowhead excursion, and a one-off concert with Jon Boden at the Sage Gateshead‘s English Fiddle Convention curated by Eliza Carthy. Then it’s straight into Belshazzar’s ‘Coming of Age’ May Tour – are you keeping up? Any gaps may well be plugged by work on a couple of prospective publications, in the wake of Faber Music‘s ‘Bellowhead Songbook’ and Superact’s ‘The Last Post Songbook’. After that – who knows? Or cares?

And as for tonight, it’s time to hit Glasgow on the first night of Celtic Connections. A couple of pints of Heavy and some Scotch snaps, and I shall ponder on regarding Donald’s troosers…

Upcoming Gigs
  1. Faustus in the Fall – Broken Down Gentlemen

    October 25th: 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
  2. Faustus in the Fall – Death and Other Animals

    November 1st: 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
  3. Sartin and Sons – Live to your Living Room

    November 21st: 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm
  4. Bellowhead Hedonism 10th Anniversary

    December 5th: 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
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