Well, this is later than I thought, but I’ve been busy (no change there)! Before I finish my US tales, a quick reminder of my fabulous Christmas EP launch coming up in Stroud this Thursday, don’t miss it! http://www.subscriptionrooms.org.uk/whats-on/christmas-hats/
The EP will be out everywhere online on Friday!
Where did I pause, oh yes, Washington DC...
So Washington DC is stunning. And I’ve never seen so many ginormous and beautiful monuments in such a (relatively) small area! After walking around for 2 half days, I still have so much to see next time I visit! I played 2 gigs in Washington, one of which was one of the stand out gigs of the tour - David’s house gig. This was a relatively last minute affair as David was hoping to come to another gig of mine in Washington, but happened to have tickets for Elvis Costello the same night, oh dear, priorities! Anyway, it worked out so much for the better as David (who happens to be from Cheltenham, UK) decided that since I was only in Washington for 2 days, he’d better seize the day and put on a house show himself! Having worried about the size of his flat and the number of people he could fit, we ended up with 23 people including the British Ambassador (!) and his lovely wife, who works at the same school as David, all sitting on the floor in the living room (except the Ambassador and a couple of others, who got chairs :-)). This is why I love music so much! It brings all sorts of people together who wouldn’t necessarily meet/mingle in any other situation, and levels everyone out, breaks down social barriers and creates amazing memories and stories! Since David’s a Brit, there were also lots of guests speaking the Queen’s English, which was actually quite a relief so many weeks into the tour and deluged in election madness! What a delightful audience this bunch was :-) Thank you David for hosting such a wonderful gig! The other highlights of the Washington stop included catching up with an old friend and having a private tour of the Capitol Building, not too shabby!
We then caught the train to Raleigh, North Carolina, but were shocked and saddened when our train hit and killed somebody walking on the tracks. We were held up for about 3 hours and got chatting to the guy opposite us. Turned out he also works in the Capitol building and knows the guy who gave us the tour! His wife was picking him up from where we’d stopped as they didn’t know how long the delay would be. They kindly offered us a lift to Raleigh as they were heading there themselves Thus we ended up in beautiful Raleigh. The gig I played in Raleigh at Sola Coffee House was another favourite of the tour. Such warm people and such chatty people! I hope I relieved a little of the election stress!
We also checked out Durham while we were in the area and then drove to Asheville for a couple of days. Yes, Asheville, not Nashville - saving that for next time. Really cool place Asheville, if you ever get the chance to visit. Lots of regeneration going on and a fantastic music scene. I didn’t have a gig booked in there but couldn’t resist an open mic night at Ben’s Tune Up. It was actually the first open mic they’d done there and it was just the host and I who signed up so I think I played for around an hour in the end. Before leaving Asheville we had to check out Biltmore Estate as we’d heard rave reviews from so many people. It was well worth the visit! Built by George Washington Vanderbilt ll from 1889 to 1896, this French Chateau style palace set in the breathtaking scenery of North Carolina was unforgettable, especially around Christmas time - I have never seen so many Christmas trees in one room, let alone one home!
We headed back to Raleigh for a bit more exploring and to hear the results of the election. Our poor hosts were distraught by the result. Then it was back on the train south to Charleston, South Carolina. To go South, we first had to head North to Wilson, stop over for 3 hours and then change trains. It was Veterans day that day and the place was like a ghost town - nothing much open on a national holiday and it’s a struggling town as it is. We wandered about and then headed into one of the only restaurants in town that was open. We were the only souls in there and got chatting to the hostess who was extremely friendly. Somehow we got onto talking about how on our way down our train was delayed when we hit someone on the track. It turned out that it was her first cousin who got hit by our train and the burial was the next day. I didn’t even realise that Wilson was the town where we’d stopped - small world, sad world. The man (her cousin) had been out drinking with a lady friend and both were drunk as they were crossing the tracks. They didn’t hear the train. He managed to push her to safety but was killed himself.
On to happier subjects! Charleston was one of my favourite city’s of the tour, probably because it feels very English. Cobbled streets in places, multicoloured Georgian houses, courtyards, a high street, pedestrian market place, need I say more? We were just passing through, but checked out a couple of potential venues for next year, yes please!
The tour came to an end in Florida where I ended on a high of two fabulous gigs! Arlene’s house gig in Coral Springs and then Sofar Sounds in Miami. I think the audience at Arlene’s clicked with my music the most of any gig of the tour, and that’s saying something as I was blown away by the reaction at all the gigs. The hospitality was incredible and I feel extremely lucky to have met such kind, open hearted people. Arlene even hooked me up to play on Michael Stock’s well known acoustic/roots radio show in Miami the next day, which was an added bonus! The Sofar Miami gig was also brilliant. Set in a Yoga studio near the beach and with a pro sound engineer sorting the sound/recording on the night, it was the best quality sound I’ve ever had at a Sofar gig and the audience was lush, totally into the whole thing. What a fabulous gig to end with!
The next day was our final day before flying home, so the obvious thing to do was to go and hang out with the alligators in the Everglades - alligelfie?
And then it was time to say goodbye. Alfie looked pretty upset about it. Hard to believe I played 21 gigs, visited 11 States in 9 weeks, took 5 flights, 5 cars, 4 trains, 2 buses, 2 bikes, 1 boat and 1 hitch!! I had the most epic and amazing time, did some crazy things, made wonderful memories, spent time with family and old friends, made new friends, lost faith in humanity, got it back again, and witnessed history in the making. A truly unforgettable two months that I fully intend to repeat next year. I'd like to thank anybody and everybody who had any involvement in the tour, from suggesting good venues, to hosting a living room gig, to housing and feeding complete strangers, to advising me where the best fish tacos are in town. Your generosity and kindness blew me away and it is you, the people, that I will remember most about the trip. Keep safe, keep smiling and keep in touch.
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