Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hard Rain tour has started…..

A rare Sunday evening at home after the first week of Hard Rain which has been - for the first time - out in the world. We started, Simon Wallace and I, in Tunbridge Wells at Trinity Theatre, which was so welcoming, and as the songs were sung live all together for the first time, I thought "yes"to myself -  this is going to work. The dressing room, I have to say, was possibly the coldest you can be outside Siberia at this time of year, in fact at any time of year, but the management were so lovely and brought out, through the course of the evening, a selection of heaters. By the time we left it was toasty. There was also an amazing array of lovely teas and nice clean cups and a pristine sink. But no kettle. I stood in the centre of the room and called "kettle" several times, but none appeared. When another heater came in with the management I mentioned that the kettle couldn't hear me and had remained hidden and the lovely man kindly found it for me. It was in another room. But finally we had tea. Herb tea is very good for singing political songs by Dylan and Cohen. Its somehow very connecting. Lemon and ginger. Tunbridge Wells also had a wonderful Thai restaurant. My general feeling about Tunbridge Wells is  very positive on all counts. I didn't die from the cold, the tea was finally made, I had Som Yum soup and a lot of garlic and chillies, and the audience and staff of the theatre couldn't have been lovelier. In fact there was a couple in the audience that night whose wedding I had sung at some years ago, and they were still married - which is unusual, as I've sung at a lot of weddings were people subsequently divorced. I don't think its me. Nonetheless it was nice that these two were still together and had had a lovely little boy.

The next night was our launch at The Purcell Room on the South Bank. Of course the weather was absolutely rubbish with high mad raging and hair destroying Heathcliff winds and a tide so high ships could have come to the show, yet most people managed to arrive on time and we premiered the work in London to a near packed and wonderful house with the super smart Davide Mantovani on double bass and the uber talented Simon Wallace on piano. The queue for CDs was massive afterwards. I had a new pen from my Nigerian stationers which was marginally worse than the one I bought the week before, so all my signatures looked as though they were in Chinese characters. In a way that was rather gratifying. No one's names were legible - thats a great leveller, isn't it? The night  went in such a flash - it flew by - so many wonderful friends were there - I salute them all - and the final Brel encore went down like hot chocolate at an after ski chalet party. Ryan and Iain took my sister in law Akiko and I to Delauney's for supper afterwards - and though its insane to eat that late at night I did and be damed and so on, because you live once and you might as well have had a nice supper if you were lucky enough to be offered one.

The Sunday show was in Warwick Arts Centre, which is cunningly concealed inside the University grounds. I know that because in order to find it I drove around the entire campus more than once. At the singing queue afterwards was a young man and his girlfriend and he had seen me sing when he was aged 8 in someone's house in east Anglia and had grown up listening to my CDs and yet had turned into a perfectly nice human being. Go figure. I managed to make the entire motorway journey with only one bag of chocolates. This is a huge step forward for womankind.

A week later and I found myself giving a masterclass in Leeds, at the College of Music there, with 4 lovely singers who gave so much of themselves and were just a joy to work with. The trip up and down on the train was pretty effortless, and then before I knew it we were driving to Devon to play at Otterton Mill. This was the view from my bedroom window at the B and B at Quentence Farm the next morning which was sunny and clear and wondrous in that way that sea views in fab weather in Devon, are and make you think you should relocate. Then you remember that the train line's been destroyed by the recent gales and reconsider.

We were off like the wind - which scrambled eggs on home made bread can do for you - and up the motorway to Altrincham to one of the best music venues in the country (apart form Otterton Mill where we just were). To the Cinnamon Club at Bowden Firs. The journey went by easily largely because during it we discussed music, life, politics, film and art and then we were there. Checked in to the Mercure and then headed, after a feet up type rest scenario to soundcheck with Nat and a lovely dinner before playing to a jam packed house. My mum came with her friends as did the fabulous Dylan Lancaster and Roger Perrin, and Simon's sister and my school friend from Stockport Convent for Girls days, Catherine Fitzwilliam Pipe, with her husband Tony and sister Geraldine. I love the Cinnamon because its my old manor, being very close to Stockport, and the audience are absolutely on the ball. You could have heard a pin drop, and people were very kind afterwards.

A great Steven Seagal film on the TV back at the hotel put me right to sleep and bang to rights and I was back in London to do a bunch of admin Saturday and still have time for a long walk by the Thames.

This coming week we're in Stowe at the Cricket Club. Cricket is a total mystery to me but as I'm singing and not playing I think we'll be fine.

And here's the fabulous Matt Lynch film of the making of the CD, which is perilously close to being released, hence my increased blogging.

Feel free please to share it with everyone who might like it and want to share it o further and pre order the CD and all that jazz.

I live in hope.

Aloha, Ciao and ta ta.

And Namaste.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Hard Rain - in all ways…..

So exciting to be at stage 1 of the new Hard Rain release, but I'm writing as rain pelts down on the Water Tower in Brigstocke because tonight its the Deep Roots Tall trees show in Corby, the first of three which winds up saturday night at Gretton Village Hall, so its a brilliant opportunity for the Choir and Head of Snakes to do 3 nights of shows in a row. There's a fab flier for the shows, here -

Then this week the gloriously talented Matt Lynch finished editing the short film he's been making about the album, Hard Rain - the Making of, and that went online all over the place, and with any luck people will share it and come to the Purcell Rooms and our dates and order the album. The film is here

Meanwhile storms continue to batter our friends on the south coast - I find it desperately sad to watch the train lines at Dawlish hanging over the sea - how many times have I taken that train journey to and from Devon? The sea - so serene on those journeys - last summer the people on the beaches with sand castles and spades - now there's a raging Shakespearean torrent. And as we read the articles and watch the videos of the waves smashing against our frail buildings and sea defences, surprise surprise we see more fracking licences granted - no dots connected. Gaia is on the trail of us mere mortals, demanding vengeance. We move forwards with all this at our peril.

I've spent days and days learning the words to the amazingly long and complex songs that make up the Hard Rain album, which is now available on Amazon - I know I know, Amazon, but as the Sweet Honey and The Rock song says, Are My Hands Clean? And they're not. I know. But here it is for pre orders

and here it is on iTunes for the download lovers -

and for the lovers of super master quality we're on Linn, here -

so that's the news thats fit to print for today - its yoga time.

Salut and Namaste, and most of all to all the people in the floods here and in the fires in Australia where my poor friends are sweltering -

All Love,