Thursday, October 4, 2012
Pete was already setting up when Bob and I arrived but it took a little longer for Dave and Homer to get there ... M1 shenanigans as ever. There was a healthy, well turned out crowd for the show ... we care how well our audiences are fairing. A fun night was had, followed by a lovely sleep at our friend’s Diane and Bryan Ansell in East Stoke ... always a joy.
I’ve often wondered what a ride on the Settle to Carlisle train would be like ... and though I still have to wonder, I now know at least, that Settle is a delightful and music loving place ... our next show was at the marvelous Victoria Hall, Settle; a wonderful, old Methodist’s Citadel turned, delightful Arts Centre. It’s now a fab venue in a pretty well loved town in North Yorkshire. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly and looked after us brilliantly. It was a joy to play there. Fingers crossed they’ll invite us back.
The following day had us driving back down the country to the Cinnamon Club, Altrincham in Cheshire. Bob and I managed to find a fabulous Gastro pub en route and enjoyed a leisurely, delicious lunch. Unfortunately, Dave and Homer faired far worse ... their car broke down 5 minutes from the hotel in Burnley, where we stayed the night before.They had to wait to be towed to the nearest garage and then again for a replacement vehicle to be delivered. It wasn’t a very promising appraisal of the broken down car either. Ouch! Still it was all sorted out and they made it to the gig with time to spare. We played upstairs in the club room - a great atmosphere and a fabulous gig. There were 2 people though, sat right at the front ... who apparently didn’t enjoy the evening at all. What little applause they were able to muster, was sparse, to say the least and they were up and out of the room before the rest of the crowd - including their enthusiastic friend who obviously dragged them along - had finished clapping at the end of the night. Why do they always sit at the front?! We, and the rest of the audience, had fun none the less.
Our last show, in a row of four, had us traveling north again; this time heading for Barton-on- Humber and a new venue to me: The Ropewalk. Bob and Peter and I were booked into a B&B on the outskirts of town, which unfortunately had many cats - Bob’s allergic! Oops. Should have asked beforehand and forgot - bad wifey! Sorry Bob! Our landlady was very pleasant and our rooms clean and well appointed, if a little on the small side however the animal smell (there were many small, yapping dogs too) that pervaded the downstairs dining room, was overwhelming! I brought Bob’s breakfast up on a tray to spare him the experience and the awful coughing and sneezing that’s brought on by the close proximity of cat ... stuff. Too much information? Hey-ho. The gig was fine and dandy and the venue very interesting ... apparently it’s a quarter of a mile from one end of the building to the other!
Bob and I stayed with Jo, Mike and the girls for a few days making up for lost ag-ooing and cuddles. We love being grandparents ... sorry ... have I mentioned that already!
We traveled south again on Sunday afternoon and headed for a wonderfully sociable evening with Peter Filleul and his lovely wife Sian Wynne. There was a time, many years ago now, when I used to frequent their delightful home but it’s been ages since that treat was possible. It took 2 hours to reach the centre of London and another hour to finally arrive in Sydenham - c’est la vie n’est pas? Mais oui! Pete is an exceptional cook! We loved the delicious food and drink Pete served up and the wonderful company too.
Bob had meetings in London the following day and decided to meet us in Putney later. I whiled away the day with a late entrance and a frenzy of writing before setting off to brave the south circular. Which, miraculously, was empty! Who knew? The Half Moon Putney is a legendary gig and one we’ve all played many times over a large expanse of time - eek! Joining us tonight with his unique electric guitar flare, was gorgeous Peter Emery - another Traveling Gent if ever there was one. It was delightful to share the stage with him again. Much to our surprise the gig was very well attended and the super cool London crowd were incredibly warm and enthusiastic - hurrah! A very, very late night ensued.
With not nearly enough sleep between us, it was a later than usual start to the day. Bob, bless him, had more meetings in town and trained it out to Aldershot where we were playing that night, at the West End Centre - one of my faves. Our delightful friends Martin, Pam, Phil, Pat and Wendy all sat close to the stage and cheered loudly - hurrah for fab friends. I sang Who Knows Where the Time Goes as a birthday pressie for Phil ... I made him blush! We enjoyed Peter Emery’s playing and presence so much the night before, we invited him back for this show too - what a joy!
Bob and I stayed with Martin and Pam and tired though we most certainly were, enjoyed a gorgeous midnight feast back at their place after the show - Phil, Pat and Wendy came too ... so lovely to find great friends around and about a touring route :-)
Getting close to the end of the tour now. The drive down to Torrington in Devon was absolutely wonderful ... it was a perfect day ... warm, bright sunlight and undulating, lush, green, landscapes with just a hint of Autumn in the turning leaves - stunning. When we turned up outside the Plough Arts Centre, I was sure I saw an old friend just walking in but it couldn’t have been. Once inside I realised it really was John Eels! I’ve not seen him for far too long and it was an absolute delight to see him again - he was our soundman for the show! All is well all shall be well. We didn’t have what you could call great ticket sales for this show but we did have a fabulous reaction from the quality crowd who came. It was a great show. We’ll be back ...
And so we reach our last show of the tour. Another breath taking drive through Devon’s wonderful coast roads on an unseasonably, warm, September day. Bob and I ended up in Lyme Regis for lunch and were amazed how many people were sunbathing on the sweeping, stony beach. How fab! Our final show was at The New Forest Arts Centre in New Milton. I’ve played here once before and remembered how well run it was. The technical staff were, to a man ... very young, and very good. All in all, the tour was a great success and we’re already thinking about doing something next year. I’ll keep you posted about our plans, as and when they become more solidified.
Thanks to all of you who managed to come to a show we truly appreciate it!
I started with a stinky head-cold the following day - my timing’s impeccable! I had 10 days off before a couple of rogue solo shows with Rob Cross in October and filled that time in between sneezing and sleeping, adoring our gorgeous, growing, grand daughters ... I’m getting pretty good at it now. We actually had an entire day when we were in charge! Hurrah!
After a day’s rehearsal with gorgeous Roblet Crossington - I love calling him that! - in Cardiff, we made our way to Jagz, a well established music venue, next to the train station in Ascot. I’ve known about this place for a number of years but this is the first time I’ve actually got to perform here. The place has been around for decades but for the past 2 years has been run by a lovely man by the name of Graham Steel, who used to run another wonderful venue in Windsor for many, many years.
It was great to play a different set of songs hot on the heels of another show and reminded me just how much I love variety. Rob played a few of his great songs from the first Snow in June album,(now available for download!) before the first set and warmed our small but fabulous crowd to a delightful, pliable, heat. It was a wonderful night and we can’t thank Graham nearly enough for his warmth, support and enthusiasm. There’s a very good chance we’ll play there again next year. Hurrah.
Pam, Martin, Pat and Phil came to this show also - hurrah! Bob, Rob and I are always keen to stay at Martin and Pam’s delightful home, as there’s always a warm welcome and a fine, party atmosphere. It was a relatively early night - for us. Rob, bless him had to drive back to Cardiff the following day. Bob and I stayed on at Martin and Pam’s for 2 days and indulged in several wonderful Gastro Pub lunches, followed by beautiful, nature walks in late autumnal sunshine - delicious on all counts.
On Saturday night we all went to see Show of Hands! Wow ... they were fab-u-lous, as Craig Revel Horwood might say.
And so we reach Hitchin Folk club on Sunday October 16th. This was always going to be a special show as Maureen Jones, the long running club’s wonderful organiser had only recently come through serious health issues and it was a complete joy to see her looking so radiantly healthy again. Bless you darlin’. It was a lovely show and great to end this latest outing on such a high.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support us ... in either combination ... and hope to see even more of you next year.
As a heads up: I’ve been invited to sing a song from Oliver! on a Radio 3 show, The Verb being recorded live in London and broadcast on December 9th. The show’s based around the wonderful works of Dickens and marks the beginning of a year of celebrating his work - it will be the 200th anniversary of his birth next February. I’m thrilled to be asked and working on a version of Pick a Pocket for the show.
I’ll be back with further adventures as I go. Thanks as ever for stopping by to read my musical meanderings and hope to see you out there again soon.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Now where did we leave off? Oh that’s right ... I had a couple of days with the girls! I love being grandma :-) but then I had to get serious again and travel down to Cardiff Wednesday May 9th. The trip was fairly easy though the heavens opened just as I arrived - I got thoroughly soaked walking through town to meet Rob, who was playing one of his regular gigs at the Live Lounge. I just caught the last few songs - hurrah!
Our drive down to Otterton Mill the following day was uneventful ... not even a drop of rain though it definitely threatened - ominous, dark clouds gathering all the way. We love this place! We knew several weeks beforehand that the show was sold out - yay! And Caroline - our delightful hostess for tonight’s proceedings, was thrilled. As were we. We were, once again, treated royally and fed the most delicious food so far. All was well in our touring world. Sigh.
Otterton Mill from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
After a great gig Rob drove us back to Cardiff where a good night’s sleep was ordered and gratefully received. Back up north on Firday to Maltby and the ever rocking, Rock. We had hoped to see several friends at this show but some were unexpectedly ... thwarted. Diane and Bryan Ansell, for one reason or another, have not been able to get to a gig for a number of years, so we were thrilled to learn they were going to break that trend tonight! We’d arranged to stay with them after the show so we could celebrate in style their return to the gigging experience. Half an hour before showtime Diane called to say their car had broken down! After several phone calls and head scratching they limped back home and awaited our, late, arrival after the gig. Ah bless!
It was another great show and even had a delightful opening set from Rob - hurrah! We still enjoyed Diane and Bryan’s generous and enlivening hospitality afterwards but felt less joyous than we might have done had they actually managed to get to the show. Hey-ho.
Maltby Magic from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
I trained it down to Pam and Martin Dury’s the next day and enjoyed their wonderful company along with our mutual friends Phil and Pat Chappell - much laughter ensued. I’m a very lucky grandma! Sunday night saw us return to the infamous Half Moon Putney with a newly refurbished gigging space. It looks fabulous! They’ve somehow managed to update the place without taking any of the accumulated atmosphere the old place was drenched in ... and talking of drenched - the new (easy to clean!) black and white floor tiles really add a certain something to the overall feel.
It was a great gig with a number of lovely friends come down just for us - we felt very special in deed! Dave Kelly, Gilly Tarrant, Lily Kelly-Tarrant, Pete Filleul and Sian Wynne ... joined us for a little repast beforehand and we were treated to Evie Kelly’s scrumptious tenny-weeny freshly baked mini meringues ... which magically disappeared before the show even began! Thanks Evie!
Morning Light Half Moon from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
I was also thrilled to see my great friend Abi Grant in the audience too. It was a super show. My thanks to Martin Dury for his footage - my little Flip flapped out this night and refused to work - doh!
The Big Screen Half Moon from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Bob came down to join us on Monday and enjoyed a rather delicious Indian take away with everyone that night. Oh yeh ... Martin, Rob and I went to see The Avengers in 3D that afternoon! A guilty and much appreciated pleasure.
Bob joined Rob and I on our next outing this time to Northampton and a brand new club and venue for everyone. It was a thankfully uneventful ride up; the PA was just being set up as we arrived. A quick and painless sound check ensued followed by surprisingly lovely food in the dining area downstairs. Chris Howarth arrived as we were preparing ourselves - he’s so lovely! And a great night was had by all. The club was run efficiently and with great love and we felt very much appreciated. Thanks Northampton.
Northampton from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
The drive back was more like a game out of “It’s a Knock-out”! I’ve never seen so many cones before and they were laid out in such an imaginative, slalom-like way - for no apparent reason! Bob had to leave on Friday so he missed out on one of our favourite gigs: The West End Centre Aldershot. We always love playing here; the staff and technical facilities are never less than perfect.
There were many friendly faces in the crowd - including Chris Howarth (again! :-), Pam, Martin, Phil, Pat and Claire and there was even a birthday song sung before the end of the show. All was well. I even received an Isle of Man pen from someone fresh back from a trip :-) people are so lovely!
Another gorgeous gathering at the Dury’s after the show had us going to bed fairly late but we all had a day off on Thursday so all was well. In fact we arranged with Phil and Pat to join them for a spot of luncheon at a wonderfully old Inn: The Crown Inn at Pishill. http://thecrowninnpishill.co.uk/. Foloowed by a saunter round Grey's Court' in Henley! It was a particularly delightful day out with wonderful friends in two fabulous locations. I left my camera with Bob inadvertently so couldn’t take any pics which I would have loved to do, but Phil took some great shots: take a look here It was a perfect way to say thank you and fare well. Till next time!
Rob and I drove up to Southport Friday afternoon and headed for the local golf club - not to play golf you understand - but to perform at one the UK’s longest running folk clubs: The Bothy Club. I haven’t played for Clive Pownceby’s delightful club for decades! I don’t know why it took so long for us to reconnect but now we have I think we’ll be making it a regular occurrence. It was an exciting and raucous event with much laughter in between bits.
A small Southport sampling from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
My great friend Lynda Turner came to this show and drove me back to her place to enjoy her wonderful company and a comfy bed for the night. It took us much longer than expected to get there due to some motorway exit shenanigans but we got there in the end. Phew! Bob collected me the following day and we enjoyed the next 5 days together in the company of friends and family - enjoying every precious minute.
Joy! from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Friday May 25th was our return to The Met in Bury. A delightful and long time favourite venue. This time we were performing in the studio room in the basement. We all thought the sound at this show was the best we’d ever encountered! It made for a wonderful show - the best this tour? It’s a contender for sure. Rob left oodles of time to get here after the last escapade where he was half an hour late and basically arrived, plugged in and played! Believe it or not it was a close call again ... taking 7 hours for a 3 and a half hour journey! Gulp.
More West End - Love Again from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Rob and I headed for Heysham after the show and hopped on the 2.15am boat to Douglas, falling asleep in the cafe area almost as soon as the boat pulled out into the Irish sea. We were not a pretty sight when we docked at Douglas harbour around 5.45am. My mum - bless her - came and picked us up! After a few short hours kip, back at the ranch, I gathered what wits I had left and made my way to The centenary Centre in Peel.
I’d completely ignored the fact that it was the beginning of Practice week for the TT and that the roads would be closed between 6 and 9pm! Doh! There was a flurry of pleas via Facebook to encourage would-be spontaneous ticket buyers to get to Peel - EARLY! Whatever the result of our frenetic encouragement the house was packed! Well done Manxies you made me proud! It was a great even all round and exciting for several reasons:
a) Dawn Hamer and Gemma Wasley of Interior Rehab had offered to “dress” the stage with their glorious creations ... I was beside myself with glee at their wonderfully camp and ingenius display! Thank you gorgeous women! And:
b) Anna Goldsmith and Christy DeHaven had kindly consented to join me for a short but sweet, opening set using some of the songs we’d performed at our Live From The Living Room internet shows last year but we’d had absolutely no time to rehearse. So ... after a quick reminder of the songs we thought we knew at sound check, we walked down to the harbour and ate fish and chips; at the same time, we sang through the bits we discovered weren’t exactly in our collective memory banks. eating and singing at the same time is, in and of itself quite a talent! Do NOT try this at home kids - without supervision! It seemed to do the trick anyway ... we all love singing harmony together! The audience showed their appreciation in no uncertain terms. We had hoped that the gorgeous and gifted Katherine Crowe could join us for our set but her son was suffering with asthma and it wasn’t to be - next time Katherine!
When Rob and I stepped onto the beautifully dressed stage we were welcomed by an already happy crowd. It was a lovely show and everyone was incredibly generous with their praise. we love playing to a home crowd! My mum and dad were ... very proud. Hurrah. Rob actually stayed for a few days family-and-friends time, before sailing back to Cardiff and his regular life/gigs.
But there was one more show before the tour was officially at an end. June 4th had us back together once more for our final gig this year. We’d been invited to play at Cambridge Folk club’s jubilee mini festival day and were honoured to be the headline act! It was a beautiful day and an easy drive for Bob and I who were staying in Kings Lynn for a week’s rest and recuperation. Rob, bless him, had to drive from Cardiff but he got there with time to spare. We were joined by Trevor and Maureen Dann for dinner and unexpectedly David and Jean Suff! I’m always delightful to see such lovely friends! Thanks guys. The show was up beat and fun and we were definitely what you might call ... a hit! A great way to round off what has to be our most successful tour to date.
It might be 18 months before we get going again but I’m hoping to have a studio album under my (ancient!) belt this time and would love to see you all then. Thanks as ever for dropping by to read my musical meanderings and if you came to a show, an extra special thanks! I can’t do any of this without you!
As a little extra thank you here’s a snippet from a short set Anna, Christy and I did at this years Garden Party in the Isle of Man.
Garden Party Girls from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Much love to you all and enjoy!
Christine xx :-)
Monday, June 18, 2012
Our first gig of the tour was at Biddulph Folk Club on May 2nd and greeting me as I walked up the fire escape with my guitar,was a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my girls! You could have knocked me down with a feather! They’re so clever to have worked out how to order flowers and write a message of love and support to their dear old Grandma - I was very excited as I’m sure you can imagine! Eric Cox who’s been organiser for the club for many years, surprised me with a couple of old photos of me with Howard Lees - from too many years ago to actually put in print but it was a fun reminder of just how long I’ve been doing this :-)
Biddulph beginnings from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Biddulph bits ... from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
The gig itself was also cause for excitement not least because Bob was able to join us. All our hard work paid off and each song took on a new lease of life and I remembered all the words! Nearly. A delightful young artist: Heidi Browne opened the show and captured the audiences heart’s easily making it even better for us to begin with. Thanks Heidi! The audience were - as always - fabulous! We stayed with Vanya and Graham in their delightful home that night and were treated with love and respect - a beautiful combination. They became the recipients of the girl’s gorgeous flowers - a fitting place for their loveliness - I kept the card though!
Second gig of five in a row was JAGZ in Ascot. We only played there for the first time in October last year and Graham Steel, our lovely promoter at this wonderful venue, insisted we come back as soon as possible to garner more fans. Which we did - double the audience from October! Yay. Our good friends Martin, Pam, Pat, Phil and Wendy brought a whole bunch of “Collister Virgins” for musical sacrifice - luckily they enjoyed the experience! So did we.Thanks to Phil Chappell for standing in for Bob this night and being Flip monitor. We stayed with Martin and Pam for the next 2 nights and enjoyed their fabulous generosity as always. It was good to be back in the bosom of their delightfulness - we came back for more ... and more, as you’ll see!
Jumpin' JAGZ from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
A brief glimpse of Ashcroft Arts Centre from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Water Yeat what a treat from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Water Yeat ... neat! from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Moon- Man- Mystery water Yeat from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Hello Halifax from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Halifax II from Christine Collister on Vimeo.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
It’s been 4 years since Dave Kelly, myself and some fine Travelling Gentlemen took to the musical road. It seemed like a good idea to get back together again but in a smaller, more acoustic version. Cue: Collister, Kelly and Filleul - we’d make a fine Firm of Lawyers n’est pas?
Dave’s regularly asked me to set aside some time for another tour and I finally succumbed to his delightful request. It’s difficult to find exactly the right set of circumstances, where everyone needed is available, so we grabbed the chance to put a run of dates together this September - 2011.
After working out a long list of possible songs long-distance, we finally got together for a week’s worth of rehearsal’s at Dave’s delightful family home near Kingston, the week before the tour began. Fortunately for Dave, Pete and myself, Dave’s youngest son Homer, wasn’t due to start University until October 3rd, so we roped him in to play bass and add his rather lovely, dulcet tones to our collective harmonies. Hurrah ... our trio became a quartet, just like that.
After such a long absence it was hard to remember exactly what it was we used to do. It took ages to whittle down the old songs to a manageable bunch of 10 and we took it upon ourselves to add a further 10 new songs to the mix! Given our gathering years, we found it hard to take on board everything all at once but somehow we managed it. It took a few gigs to find our musical stride but find it we did. We also added to the mix, a few nights with guest appearances at 4 separate shows!Bursting the seams of our 4 piece Trio to five - go figure. We like a challenge.
We travelled down to Exeter the night before our first date in order to do a live performance and interview with the effervescent Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon. We sang Nancy Griffith’s Gulf Coast Highway and a passably raucous version of Chris Smither’s Love Me Like A Man ... not bad for 11.30 on a Wednesday morning - even if I say so myself.
So here they are one by one: Our first date was at the lovely St David’s Hall in South Petherton in Somerset, which someone very kindly reminded me I’ve been playing at for over 25 years! Mm thanks for that! I was in too much of a dither to even remember to Flip the audience that night, let alone any musical interludes but caught the before and after tensions momentarily:
Our next port of call was the Tivoli Theatre in beautiful Wimbourne for lovely promoter Charlie, who has supported all our tours - bless!It was a gorgeous, bright, sunny day. Perfect for enjoying the fabulous countryside thereabouts ... ah touring is a wonderful privilege. Peter Filleul and I travelled together for these first few shows and allowed ourselves a rather lovely late lunch near the theatre. Delicious on all counts.
Our first musical guest joined us for this show and we were very happy to have Richard Brunton on board. He and Pete and I go all the way back to 1986 and The Life’s and Love’s of a She-Devil! He and his lovely wife had that very day spent time with Faye Weldon no less!! She would have come to the show but for a prior family do. Wow. That would have been fabulous. The show was great fun and Richard played brilliantly on half a dozen songs. Thanks Richard - let’s do it again!
With 2 shows under our belt we were getting a little less nervous and a bit more at ease. Look out Wavendon here we come! The Stables is a favourite venue of ours and one of the 2 places our “Live” cd was recorded at, way back in 2006! It was lovely to play there once more. There were friends and family at this particular performance. Bob and I had been apart at this point for 2 weeks. He’d been out on the creative road with young Mr Knowles - who was on this side of the pond for a change, writing up a storm for his next cd, with Steve Chrisanthou. He also performed at the closing ceremonies for the Youth Commonwealth Games, held this year on the Isle of Man. I had a small part to play in co-writing the Anthem for Games with Davy. Sorry I wasn’t able to be there for the opening and closing parties but I know it was a great success. Of course it was great to see Mr Miller again too! he made sure there was some Flip taken - bless!
The next show on our first run out, was at The Mill in Banbury. Hurrah. I love it here. Our techy for the night was Carl and he did a sterling job in accommodating a 5 piece Trio! We swelled our musical ranks with Mr PJ Wright! PJ introduce Pete and I way back in 198. Thereby hangs a tale and without that meeting none of this would be possible - who’d a thunk it all those years ago eh? PJ brought along a plethora of instruments - guitars, pedal steel and harmonica ... playing up a storm on loads of tunes - thank you!
Our next gig and the last of five in a row - was at the Corn Hall in Diss. I misread the information for this show when giving the details to Christy DeHaven for my website and wrote: Diss Cornwall! Oh well my geography leaves a lot to be desired but how many of you know where Ramsey is in relation to Port St Mary? Exactly - more than I’d care to admit no doubt. Anyway ... Corn Hall in Diss - Norfolk - is a fabulous venue and a pretty picturesque place with only one coffee shop open of a Sunday ... no prizes for guessing which chain of caffeine flogging establishments that might be - costa fortune more like. We were treated royally and with great respect by the Hall’s volunteer staff and enjoyed a fairly relaxed performance - practice makes perfect. And then 2 days off to see our glorious twin grand daughters - bless and rapture (They're actually called Isabella and Chiara but Bliss and Rapture sound good too).
I’ll leave you here for now and return with 2 more installments - 4 shows apiece for your further endorsement. Thanks as ever for dropping by. Hope to see you soon.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Rob and I set sail ... well we Steam Packety boated it ... to Liverpool on Saturday May 21st and after meeting back up with Bob near the famous Liver Buildings, headed on up to the Lake District. Penny and Paul who run “The Acoustic Tearooms” in Kirkby Stephens, normally include delicious 3 course meals with their concerts but due to an unusually high volume of gigs in April and May, they’d put on a concert-only gig and hoped enough people weren’t music fatigued. With a last minute huge promotional push they managed to fill the place! Hurrah for hard working, conscientious promoters!
The Acoustic Tearooms - now held in the local Masonic Hall in Kirkby Stephen - was one of our first gigs in 2009 so we were very excited to make a return visit, not least because Penny and Paul make us all feel very welcome. We were still able to sample Penny’s delicious homemade food in the form of heart-warming soup before the show and enjoyed homemade cake after - what’s not to like?!
The show was great fun and everyone made us feel very loved ... believe me when I say the feeling’s mutual! The party atmosphere continued back at Penny and Paul’s delightful home above their “Antiques” shop on the High Street. Cake, wine and good company followed us into the wee small hours. Next morning after delightfully strong coffee and a quick look round the shop, Rob drove off in the direction of the Cairngorm mountains and Bob and I made for Gainsborough, Worksop and impending grandparenthood! Our next gig was in Scotland 6 days ahead.
Meanwhile we spent time with Bob’s sister and husband and we all made as many visits as possible to see Jo, Mike and their incubating twins. The level of excitement and anticipation was high to say the least. We even put bets on when the girls would enter the world ... which none of us got right! While we were soaking up the love of family and relishing looming big changes, Rob was lounging by the pool and enjoying quality time alone in the lap of 4 star Hilton Hotel luxury, via the generosity of our mutual friend, Paul Leitch. Paul’s been a fan of mine for many years and over that long stretch has become a dear friend who happens to be in the hotel management business. When we first met, he was manager of The Lamb hotel in Ely and then of The Sun Hotel in Hitchen - which is still home to Hitchen Folk Club, and for the last year or so has been back in his homeland Scotland, where he now runs the smallest Hilton in the world. He very kindly offered to accommodate us for the length of our Scottish tour - so called but which turned out to be 2 gigs ... it wasn’t for the want of trying; originally the plan was to do half a dozen dates but in the end after many emails and phone calls ... and stupidly thwarting circumstances ... it was whittled down to just 2 shows: Strathpeffer on May 29th and Edinburgh on the 30th ... with several days beforehand in Paul’s delightful company, hotel and breath taking countryside included. Life is good n’est pas?
The drive up through the borders and into the stunning Cairngorm National Park is absolutely gorgeous and even grey voluminous cloud cover and drizzling rain couldn’t dampen (pun intended!) our rising spirits the closer we got to Ballater and thesmallest Hilton on the planet. Apart from the delights of socialising with Paul and catching up on each other’s live’s, Rob, Bob and I had time to drive around and explore the delights of some local villages but our favourite experience has to be the local Royal LochnagarDistillery right next door to Balmoral Castle. Rob’s a bit of a whiskey nut and Bob hates the stuff ... I used to like a dram or 6 in my youth but haven’t drunk Scotch for many years, so we were an odd bunch to entertain however we all thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the anecdotes of our very knowledgeable guide. The best bit was the smelling test at the end, where we were asked to sniff a dram close to our noses and then again with the shot glass at chest level; we were informed we would detect the smell of apples ... WE DID! Amazing.
Before we left Paul and his 4 star friendship, Rob and I decided to do an impromtu personal performance in a cosy corner bar tucked away from the general hubub of the other hotel guests ... it’s amazing how quietly we can play when needed. Paul was delighted and we were happy to reciprocate a little and say thank you for his wonderful hospitality. Thanks Paul ... we’ll definitely be back!
Our gig in fabulous Macenzie House,home of Steve and Clancy Square Wheels House Concert production in Strathpeffer,is also home to several lovely cats, Bob couldn’t accompany us due to an allergy, so Rob and I left him watching football in another Hilton near Aviemore - bless. It was only an hour’s drive to the gig from there and we arrived in good time. Our hosts couldn’t have been more welcoming or helpful. We were joined by Rob Ellen, our PA provider for the night and the man most responsible for making anything happen this trip - I’m indebted to his diligence and enthusiasm.
It’s amazing how many people one can squeeze into what looks like a fairly small living room. The atmosphere was brilliant and we both felt very much appreciated. I hope we can make a return trip some other time and maybe string a few more shows together then.
Our last gig of the tour was Edinburgh city centre the following day. We didn’t hold out much hope for a big audience and we weren’t disappointed! A handful of people turned up to the show despite the last minute radio interview I did just prior to sound check ... it was worth a try. Despite the low turn out it was actually a good gig and the guys who turned up were delighted ... ah bless them. Thanks Edinburgh ... we’d like the chance to try again ... please bring a friend next time huh? We said goodbye to our “favourite nephew” Rob and drove down opposite sides of the country to reach our very different destinations - Rob back to Cardiff and Bob and I to Gainsborough once more ... where we waited ... and waited ... and on June 21st at 5.58pm and 6pm respectively, Isabella Roberta 4lbs 3oz and Chiara Anna 6lbs 7oz were finally born.
Little Isabella had problems breathing on her own and after several hours supervision was brought to Leeds St James Neonatal unit with mum and Chiara in another ambulance right behind and dad following in his car behind them ... both sets of grandparents left in Worksop and Gainsborough holding our own breath and silently praying for good news. We all arrived at Jimmy’s the next day to meet our grand children! What joy! Chiara is utterly beautiful and we were given her to hold as soon as we stepped into Jo and Mike’s tiny family room. It was hard giving her back to her mum so we could meet her equally gorgeous sister Isabella in the neonatal unit 2 floors below. Oh bless her little newborn self! She was hooked up to all sorts of monitoring equipment ... poor little mite. Because of her lack of oxygen in the first moments of life, she was undergoing a relatively new medical process whereby her tiny body is kept at a very low temperature for 72 hours with the necessity of being sedated to help her deal with the discomfort;the whole procedure minimises any damage that might have occurred in those first traumatic minutes of her life.
Without going into more detail, I’m delighted to tell you that she is doing brilliantly. As I type she is now 6lb 4oz and Chiara 8lb 4oz! And we are totally besotted with our beautiful grand daughters and our new role in life. We couldn’t be more proud or in awe of Jo and Mike’s love, fortitude, delight and sheer ability in their new roles as super parents! It’s a miracle any of us are here on this planet ... life is wonderful ... it’s a wonderful life!
Since becoming grand parents we’ve also been back to the Island in between cuddles with our lovely girls. I was very happy to take part in The Garden Party as guest backing vocalist alongside Christy DeHaven (who did a fabulous set on the Friday night) and Davy Knowles for Davy Knowles, which was a wonderful and exciting experience for all concerned. At the end of his set before an inevitable encore, he was surprised with a very special presentation by the crew of one of NASA’s space shuttles! Now that was a moment.
Back to visit the wee ones a week later, we also used the opportunity to visit our marvelous friends Rob and Jo Selbourne at Prebendal Farm for a celebratory birthday bash in honour of their great friends Nick and Sarah ... I won't disclose the giddy heights of their combined years but it was well worth celebrating. With Helen Watson and I in the same place with a plethora of music lovers we were strong armed (OK it didn't take that much persuasion!) into singing a couple of ditties ... in between the bell ringing! Twas a very fun weekend. More birthday parties please.
A couple of weekends later I performed with Rob Cross once more, at Folk in the Barn in Kingston near Canterbury. I’ve tried for a few years to coincide with their diary and this was the only date we were able to come up with unfortunately outside of our May touring schedule but it was well worth the wait. It’s a fantastic venue run by a brilliant woman with a small core of wonderful volunteers who all help to create a great atmosphere. I think I can say with some conviction - we’ll be back!
That’s all for now dear reader. Thanks as always for dropping by and perusing my musical musings - I really do appreciate it. Next on the musical horizon is a tour with Dave Kelly and Pete Filleul starting September 14th! There’s a fair amount of song learning to do between now and then and I’m hankering to finish my Art Songs project ... watch this space. Right ... back to more baby cuddles ... watch out girls here comes Grandma! XX
Monday, June 20, 2011
When last we met dear reader, I was happily ensconced at my lovely friend Helen Watson’s delightful home in Burnham-on-Crouch. I spent a relaxing few days in her wonderful company and while packing the car ready for my journey to Bristol for the next gig, became enamoured of a brilliant display of bright poppies leaning artfully against the house next door. I couldn’t resist snapping away with my camera to try and capture their beauty, then proceeded to capture Corvax the cat as he posed for me in a warm pool of sunlight at the back of Helen’s fairytale garden, only then did I feel ready to drive westward.
Rob Cross was back in Cardiff in the mean time and met me at the Future Inn, in the centre of Bristol, scene of that night’s show. We were met by the Jazz@The Future Inn’s promoter Ian Storrer, downstairs in the performance area; light from above, screened out by a very complicated but well arranged series of black-out sheets - a weird but effective procedure! Unfortunately Ian had been told that very day, that our show could be the last at the venue due to economic circumstances and the considered opinions of a faceless accountant’s short term business projections. What a shame.
Bob came down from London with Steve Lima - hurrah - and our lovely friend Paul Dodgson - co-writer of Ashlands and author of Famous, the Radio 4 play (ooer missus!) from 2001- also made a much appreciated appearance. Unfortunately it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig ... my daft banter didn’t really hit the mark and I felt a little off kilter with the monitoring system being off to one side ... so I didn’t hear clearly what was being projected through the PA. All excuses I know ... we forged on non-the-less and by the end of the night had a fairly excited audience response - phew! It just felt like hard work at times - hey-ho.
The following morning, Bob and I were up earlier than we'd have liked as I’d arranged to meet Helen Watson at Jacqui McShee’s lovely home, an hour from Martin and Pam’s, for our one and only rehearsal for that night’s performance - eek! Julian Lewry, promoter and all round good egg of the Farncombe Music Club, had suggested many months before, that I might like to invite some talented pals to guest with me on a couple of songs, as it would be the last concert at St John’s Church before much needed renovations began and he loved the idea of going out with a bang. He’d already set up for the Guildford Community Vox Choir to be the support for the night and for them to also join Rob and I on our final song in the second set - all very exciting!
Bob, bless him, drove with me to Jacqui’s and then left us to our hurried practice. We were attempting to perform 2 songs we’d recorded for my Songbird album on Fledg’ling records way back in 1999: "Cornfield" - a haunting and wonderfully strange Lal Waterson song, followed by Christine McVie’s beautiful "Songbird". We’d never sung them live - and were a little apprehensive about wether we could pull it off! I think you’ll agree that we did pretty damned well in the end.
Anna Tabbush had taught them. I had a lump in my throat the first time we tried out our collaboration. What a joy to sing with so many wonderful voices!
To say we had a wonderful show is a fairly ridiculous understatement ... we had a FABULOUS show and were thrilled by the Choir’s own performance at the beginning of the night and again when Jacqui and Helen joined me for our 2 songs ... everything went amazingly well ... we made a beautiful and moving sound between us and were ridiculously happy we’d pulled it off! So when the Choir took their positions at the end of the second set, immediately after Helen and Jacqui’s appearance, I was already on a high.
When all were in place and Rob and I began Guy Garvey’s brilliant One Day Like This ... we were more than ready. The Choir began to sing and I thought I might not be able to carry on as a huge well of tears threatened to undo me but I somehow managed to get on top of my emotional wobble. Rob and I were both fairly taken aback by the wave of euphoria that swept us up at the end of the performance. It was a truly memorable and breath taking experience. The audience went wild! Yes!!! A great BIG heart-felt thank you to the marvelous Guildford Community Vox Choir and their brilliant Choir Mistress Anna Tabbush - hurrah! More of this please.
After our joyous goodbyes with Jacqui, Helen and Julian too, we packed up and headed for Pam and Martin’s where a delicious celebration awaited us ... fab food, chilled champagne, good company and great music made for a wonderously delightful time. Thank you guys we love you too!
I was treated to a wonderful day at Savill Gardens near Virginia Waters in the gorgeous company of Pat and Phil Chappell the following day. Pat works at the award winning Visitor’s centre and absolutely loves her job, so it was a real privilege to be escorted round the beautiful gardens by someone so passionate and knowledgeable. I took a ridiculous amount of photographs, mainly of flourishing foliage, fabulous flowers and ... some beautiful, fluffy baby ducks. Bob and Martin stayed behind to watch football - ah bless.
On Sunday the 15th we said goodbye to Pam, Martin, Phil and Pat, and Bob dropped me off once more at Helen and Clea’s tiny but perfectly formed home in Burnham. He continued north and I settled in with the girls for another sociable couple of days, including an educational visit to Helen’s lovely allotment.
Our next concert would be at the Hoy at Anchor Folk Club in Leigh-on-Sea - always a great experience. I had to train it from lovely Burnham and had quite a dizzy making journey but eventually found my way to The Ship where Rob had recently parked.I learnt from the Landlady that he'd taken a walk up the hill so I in turn walked across the railway bridge, thinking I'd catch him on my way back but missed him! We eventually caught up with one another, set up, sound checked and walked the bridge again for a tasty dinner before returning for our show. We had mighty fun that night and were treated to a wonderful response from the sell out crowd. I'm sorry to say that I forgot to Flip on this occasion.
Rob and I were booked on the 3pm Liverpool boat to the Isle of Man the following day and so had a Travelodge near Birmingham booked that night to help us on our way. We arrived at 2.30am - very tired. We left at 11.30 next morning and arrived at the sea terminal for 2pm exactly on time for our journey. Having parked the car at the hotel next to the quay we trundled down the gangway with guitars, stage clothes and cds for the show, to check in for our journey. We both commented on how few cars there were ... and then that there was no boat yet ... funny that. On entering the reception area a young woman looking rather quizzical, came out from the office and asked ... “Can I help you?” ... “yes we’ve come to check in for the boat ...” (der ...) “Which boat would that be?” ... “The 3 O’clock” ( hello!) ... “There isn’t a 3 o’clock boat ” ... “What?!!!” ... “The 3 o’clock boat leaves the Isle of Man and arrives here at 5.30 ... “ “S**t!”. Ok so the internet is a marvellous thing but is a nightmare when booking travel ... I’ve made too many mistakes not to understand that but I really wish it didn’t happen so often. We paid a little extra to get on the 7pm boat to the Island and headed into town for a good meal. All is well all shall be well.
We made it to Douglas for 9.30pm. I stayed with Dave-Why-I-Armstrong and Christy DeHaven for our 3 night sojourn and enjoyed catching up on their various and exciting creative endeavours. On the day of the gig I met up with Svetlana Cameron for the first time - what a delightful woman! She was just hanging her marvellous artwork for her joint exhibition alongside Jim Duggan at the Sayle Gallery, when Christy and I turned up. We brought with us a mastered copy of my song demo inspired by her beautiful drawing “The Morning Light”, so she could have it playing during the exhibition. It was a delightful meeting and bodes well for future connections. Hurrah for extremely talented people!
Our concert at St Ninians was a very exciting affair. For one thing we were the first ever non religious performers to play in this beautiful church and for another we had professional lighting ... I mean PROFESSIONAL LIGHTING! Dave Armstrong had arranged all the technical necessities for the show and had invited a friend of his Justin, to provide good lights for the occasion. Justin took him at his word and brought a HUGE amount of gear to set the atmosphere good and proper. The place looked amazing though it had a disturbing effect on my performance ... I was just so distracted by it all. Hey ho ... the audience absolutely loved the colourful and mesmerising display.
We also had local instrumental duo Strengyn support us and they were simply marvellous. I’d asked Dave and Christy if they could film the whole show and they in turn had asked Simon Rae of Truman Falls to help them out, so we had 3 cameras trained on us and one static camera behind... no pressure there then! Unfortunately Rob and I were less than satisfied with our performance but for reasons we couldn’t fathom - apart from the lights show of course - the audience were ecstatic.
This seems like a good place to leave my musical musings for now but I’ll continue with the last 3 shows - Kirky Stephens, Strathpeffer and Edinburgh with a marvelous few days in Ballater thrown in - as soon as I’ve edited the Flip footage and written up my reports.
Thanks as ever for dropping by and hope to see you with the next instalment soon. I think it only fair to warn you that I’m eagerly waiting to become a Grandma in the next few weeks!! My gorgeous husband’s beautiful daughter Jo, is pregnant with twin girls and they’re due anytime now! I can’t tell you how thrilled we all are but rest assured I’ll be sharing my thoughts and feelings with you here :-) well maybe a few pics here and there?
Monday, May 16, 2011
So ... a short but varied tour, once again with Rob Cross, began last week on the outskirts of Sheffield at the Beehive Folk Club. This delightful place has been running many, long and successful years and is organised by a very lovely man in the shape of Peter Garrett. When we arrived and started setting up so did the nearby Campanologists! They rang their - varyingly tuned - bells for a very long time but thankfully stopped by the time Rob and I stepped up to perform.
Considering we haven’t done a gig for over 6 months it was great. We’d had several stints of rehearsals in Cardiff beforehand and re-jigged the set so as to make it more interesting for us if no one else. Rob - bless him - learnt a brand new song I wrote with Mike Slamer in Santa Clarita a few short weeks ago: “Skin and Bones” and is going down remarkably well. Plus we’ve re-learnt a couple of songs from a while back to keep us on our toes.
The Beehive audience were delightful: attentive yet rowdy in all the right places. We did have a few technical hitches entirely of our own doing ... well not entirely but there aren’t many shows where the audience accidentally unplugs the loop station before the second half! Oops. Or was it deliberate?:-) It was great to see a few friendly faces too ... especially Chris Howarth whose unmistakable laugh warms the cockles of this performers heart. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to Flip the ecstatic response at the end of the night (was that because we’d finished?) thankfully, tho' Bob used his little Flip camera to capture a few moments which I’m happy to share with you here:
Bob’s sister Chris who normally resides in New Zealand, is over visiting family and friends and was able to come to the show also ... an honour for me to have her there. Hurrah.
After the gig Rob stayed with Peter and his lovely wife, while Bob and I went back to Chris’s temporary place in Gainsborough a 30 minute drive away. The daft thing about all of that was that Jo and Mike - Bob’s daughter and her husband - live 5 minutes from the venue. Hey-ho.
The following day we had to drive to the Lake District - which of course is never a chore, even though it was a very grey, overcast day, the greenery and loveliness of the area could not be hidden. Though the venue itself:Water Yeat’s Village Hall Water Yeat’s Village Hall, has been around for 80 years, having concerts there is a relatively new venture. John Willis and his delightful wife Maggie certainly know how to make a travelling performer very welcome and also how to promote a gig ... given this is a new experience for them both they do a brilliant job.
They don’t sell tickets up front and the audience brings their own beverages ... many of them in wicker baskets; they’d managed to get a real buzz going about our show and when it came down to it, had to turn away 15 basket laden people. Wow ... more of this please. Obviously no one likes turning someone away but having a hall full with expectant punters is a joy.
We had an exceptionally good gig with a few mishaps mostly due to my ridiculous lack of memory - the most memorable (oxymoronic pun intended) was when I completely forgot some chords and Rob - bless him - had to put my fingers in the right place before we could continue. It’s not going to get any better either I suppose? My memory that is not the shows ... A fabulous time was had by all despite my varying lapses ... we definitely would love to play here again soon. Maybe next May? We’re working on it.
I’m now in Burnham-on-Crouch once more, with gorgeous Helen Watson for a couple of days R&R. We also need to brush up on a couple accappella songs we recorded in 1999 with Jacqui McShee, as all three of us are attempting to perform them live (something we’ve never done!) on Friday - May 13th Gulp. It will be wonderful I’m sure. Flip footage guaranteed!
So as promised, I’ll now regale you with tales of my recent visit to Santa Monica ... well I’ll try to explain why I was feeling so creative at the very least. Before I left the Isle of Man I had a very interesting conversation with local, talented artist Juan Moore about an idea he had last year. He explained to me that he decided to approach the local Arts Council for a grant and knew he had to have an original idea to get their attention. He came up with creating art pieces for various unusual exhibition sites: the first was at a wonderful Fish Restaurant “Tanrogan” and all his works included images of fish. The second was in a pub ... all artwork drink related and the third he called a “Gighibition”. He invited 5 local singer songwriters to submit 4 or 5 of their songs and then Juan painted original pieces inspired by each writer’s work. Then ... he exhibited the paintings while the bands/performers performed the songs in the same space ... a “Gighibition” .What a fab idea huh?
So I decided to reverse the idea and look at artworks by artists living or coming from the Isle of Man and writing songs inspired by their images. There are 2 websites I used for this purpose: The Sayle Gallery and Artworkx of Mann .Each has a plethora of very talented visual artists and I was VERY inspired! Who knew? Given the visual focus, I found myself tuning into a very rich seam of lyrical and musical ideas. I used my trusty program Logic on the computer to create musical landscapes and draped my intuited lyrics across the sounds. I do of course see the the irony of doing all this while thousands of miles away in sunny California.
The very first song I attempted was using Svetlana Cameron’s brilliant drawing “The Morning Light” which is now in an exhibition at the Sayle Gallery till the end of May. I emailed Svetlana to explain what I’d done and on hearing the song she immediately suggested using the demo I’d created, alongside the original drawing at the exhibition. I can’t tell you how utterly thrilled I am at this sudden and unexpected collaboration with this extremely talented young artist; in fact we’re both very happy about it. As illustration to what I'm trying to explain here is Svetlana's beautiful drawing and the song I was inspired to write:
Morning light - new mix by cc.sings
I’ve so far written 7 songs using 7 different artist’s work and had positive feedback from all of them. I’d like to have another stint at writing more and then perhaps selecting the best of the crop and putting them together - possibly with images of each piece? - on a cd and then one day touring the whole thing complete with projections of the artwork so I can talk about the artist and how I came to the songs? It’s an idea ... I’ve certainly enjoyed the process and learning more about art in general. Hurrah for motivating ideas and the courage to have a go!
I also finished writing 2 songs with Mike Slamer this time round, one of which Rob and I are now performing on tour. It’s always a joy to work with Mike. I did one other strange little musical piece inspired by an email from Mike’s wife Susan. She’s a music supervisor at Sony TV in Los Angeles and has suggested my songs on occasion for various tv shows ... as yet no takers but you never know. Anyway she emailed to ask if I had a song that would work for one of her shows. She described the scene which included the main character losing everything, including 2 of her sons dying and being found out by the police for murdering a man for stealing some of her drugs! Sue said ... I’m sure you’ve got something that would work ...? Er ... not that I could think of but I did no more than create something then and there. I had no idea I could be so responsively creative. As far as I’m aware my experiment isn’t being used but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to have a go ... who knows what else might show up?
We met and socialised with many of our lovely friends in LA and I indulged in as many Kia Miller Yoga sessions as I could fit in while I was there. Her style and enthusiastic teaching are so inspiring ... I’m now yoga-ing daily and loving the feeling it brings. I highly recommend it!
I'll leave it here for now and hope to up date with more gigs and touring adventures very soon. Thanks as ever for stopping by ... if you manage to make it to a show please do come and say hello.
Take care ... much love
Christine xx :-)