Right, where did we leave off last? Thaaat’s right, the computer starting up hassle free the morning after Solfest.
Fast forwarding 5 or 6 hours will see us arriving in Shrewsbury.
What’s that? You want stories from the ROAD!?
OK, so the conversation in the back of the van consisted mostly of “zzzZZZZZzzzZzZzzz”, and in the front Mark was driving and I was navigating, and playing DJ on the iPod.
Long time readers will know that I lurve my Nano. It stores everything I need for my own personal music requirements. BUT it’s hard to cater to everyone’s desires when you just have 1000 songs to play with. Mark and I, being the only ones in the car with really any appreciation of traditional folk music, were working our way through my recordings of Solas, Lunasa, Trouble in the Kitchen, and some old 1968 recordings of Andy Irvine & Paul Brady.
This had been going on for perhaps 15 or 20 minutes, when I start to hearing grumblings and moanings from the back. I turn around to see Jamie with a manic expression on his face, bobbing his head around going, “diddle-ee-dee, diddle-ee-dee”, rolling his eyes and actually looking slightly scarily insane.
This would be a good time to remember that Jamie doesn’t appear to be the biggest fan of trad folk. It makes up half my iPod collection, so perhaps, we thought, it was time to change the tune – there’s only so much trad folk that non folk players can handle (come to think of it, there’s only so much folk that *I* can handle, and I was brought up on the stuff!!).
“What to listen to?” – that’s the hardest decision to make on a rock n roll road trip. Well, that, and “Is this the right turn off for the festival?” It’s hard when you have a bass player and guitarist who love 80s rock (I know SO much more about Van Halen now than I did before… and it’s a GOOD thing! Honest!), a bagpiper who digs electronica, and a sound engineer who’s about as picky as they come, cause he’s heard lots of shit music along with the good stuff.
At least there’s one thing we can all agree on, one genre which will NEVER be played on a Mark Saul Band roadtrip – R&B will forever be boycotted in OUR car!
Anyway, on with the story.
Shrewsbury is our last gig, and we only got slightly lost in the town – it can be a bit of a confusing town in terms of one way streets and twisty bits. Those mediaeval folk didn’t know how to build a straight road if their lives depended on it! This was the only festival where we had 2 gigs in the one place, and we were quite looking forward (or at least, I was!) to playing an afternoon gig, and then just chilling in Shrewsbury before our final farewell UK show that evening.
I’d have loved to. I swear. But following our first gig that afternoon (thankyou, Shrewsbury!), the need for a shower won out over the desire to stroll around a twee historic town on a gorgeous sunny day, where the willows are weeping over the river. Even the enticement of Morris Dancing in the streets was not enough to lure me away from the promise of a shower.
Dave and Simmo, proved themselves to be the only True Blue Dinky Di Aussies amongst us, and stayed in Shrewsburty to do the Aussie Backpacker touristy thing. Seriously – I wasn’t naturalised as an Australian until I was 11, and Mark’s technically a New Zealander, though counts himself as Australian – and both of us have UK/Ireland passports. Jamie doesn’t count at all. So we pseudo poms made a beeline for the hotel, the brand new hotel which had JUST opened that weekend. It was your typical Holiday Inn style place, with none of that pesky personality to ruin your stay. Or so I thought. That weekend though, it had personality by the bucket-load.
It started with parking spaces which would have usually been reserved for handicapped people, but which were instead sign posted with, “ladies parking only”. What are they trying to say? Ahem.
Then when we got in, a large group of indian belly dancing, sword swallowing festival performers were loitering in the lobby (that’s really all you CAN do in a lobby though, isn’t it?)
We get to the front desk, and finally realise the depths of our exhaustion when we almost fall asleep at the counter as our room keys are being gathered up. When I say, the earth moved under my feet, I don’t mean metaphorically. It was seriously feeling like the ground was lurching to the left. What does that mean, that it was lurching to the left?
At this point, I had to make a choice. Shower? Sleep? Shower? Sleep? Hurry the f*ck up and make a decision. Too tired, can’t.
Finally I settle on a compromise: I’ll shower, THEN sleep! Genius! How did I get so smart!?
So up I toddle to the room. First thought is, goodness, “that’s a shoddily made bed.”
But, new hotel and all, I put it down to teething problems.
So I went about my dastardly plan for shower, THEN bed. I went into the bathroom, and my next thought was, “those are shoddily folded towels. And they’re on the floor. And they’re… still wet?!”
Teething problems indeed – sending someone to a room which had not been cleared out from the previous guest. Poor thing at the front desk, she was so embarrassed when I told her what had happened. But by the time it took me to go to one of the other rooms allocated to us, my window for Plan A was shattered. *Sigh*
The gig that night, as it turned out, was possibly the most fun I’ve had onstage in years. The crowd loved us, we loved the crowd, there was lots of dancing going on, and not just onstage. The power stayed on during the whole gig, AND the computer kept working! Can’t get much better than that! These photos were on the Virtual Shropshire site, who I hope will forgive me for filching them:
So we finish the set, bang on 11.30 (Shrewsbury council had imposed a noise curfew, alas), run offstage, but the crowd noise doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets louder. We’ve been told we’re not allowed an encore, but I swear, the crowd by this point was louder than anything we could have played. They were banging on the stage in the front, practically rioting, and the stage manager had to send Mark back onstage with a microphone to apologise and explain that we couldn’t play any more, and that the festival had to clear the pavilion.
So to everyone who was there, our sincerest thanks for you incredible support, and our deepest apologies that we couldn’t play for longer – we’d have dearly loved to, I can assure you!
And this, dearest readers, brings me to the end of the Mark Saul Band Summer Tour 2006. I’ve been procrastinating finishing this blog entry, cause that would require me actually admitting that it was all over and it was time to get back to the real world. The other boys in the band have headed off to exotic locations.
Simmo and Dave are travelling around Europe. Mark is holed up in a log cabin somewhere in Sweden with Miss Sweden. Jamie’s back in Edinburgh, pimping himself out to those who need his stellar skills, and I’m back in Edinburgh as well, recording my fiddle parts for the new album and trying to settle back into my work/gym/social routine. Some bits of that routine are more problematic than others, as evidenced by my rolling over and going back to sleep this morning when I should have gone to the gym.
But there are many more photos that I need to share with you all, so stay tuned, keep checking in, and I’ll get them posted as soon as I find a decent gallery plug-in for my blog software!
Sianora for now,
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