It's not a punchy title granted but at least you know what I'm going to waffle on about now! First up, Hartland Abby. Wow. I had never been before but it was a bank holiday and what with the weather being a bit iffy we decided to pay the extra and head inside the house before trekking around the blanket of bluebells that smothered the grounds.
At first it was very much like Tiverton Castle (if memory serves at least) there were swords and deer on the wall and things felt very medieval. Then we stepped into the main living areas - as the house is still used - and it was a different mood entirely. I won't describe each room in detail but it you're a fan of rare and unusual 1800 houses check this one out. The drawing room was my favorite, it had an intricately painted ceiling that reminded me of a deck of cards and arthurian paintings lined the top of the walls and it was there where we spotted a piano...
now I wasn't going to say anything, I mean you guys know how iffy my self confidence is on keyboards, but Ben couldn't resist and started plugging me to [what we thought was] one of the stewards. Turned out it was in fact Lady Stucley and she insisted I play the piano. Horrified I'd embarrass myself I dawdled up the staircase racking my brains for anything to get me started - what songs would go down well? What could I start with? I stepped over the blue rope, sat on the embroidered stall, rested my fingers on the keys and as if by magic they began to play the best they've ever played. You have to remember I've had no lessons in piano and I rather feel it's one of those instruments that you really should have lessons for so if someone springs these kinds of things on me my hands normally loose all composure and make blatant mistakes. Regardless it was a privilege to play this piano especially as there was a bit of a story to it.
There was a photo on a gentleman facing me on top of the piano, along with a girl - a daughter who had died in the house many moons ago of polio. The gentleman had returned annually to visit her grave and was the last to play the piano aside from visitors. I didn't sing but I felt compelled to play the song I had written about my Father's death, 'Too Soon,' and it was a very moving experience. I just felt like I connected to something and there was a great empathy between it and me. I am hoping to return to the Abby in the future as they were so welcoming - they insisted I come back and play again so stay tuned, who knows what Ben will concoct
Onto Okehampton acoustic then and I had a lovely time! We headed down Saturday evening and made our way through a mini maze of patio and tree following two suspected band members and the sound of singing. In we went and I was immediately hit by the sweet smell of incense - my kind of venue! I was greeted by Phil who was more than lovely throughout the evening - what a mood inducer! His music made me ooze lyrics. When it came time for me to play I was a little nervous - that's what you get for wearing wedges - but it went really well! I was throwing songs into the set off the top of my head hoping they would go down well as it was suggested, and then eventually requested, that I do a bit longer than 20 mins. I tried to give a good mix of brand spanking new material and golden oldies and I really felt comfortable on stage. That probably sounds a bit weird but I don't always feel at ease behind the mic, lately though I've felt better behind it - probably because I've been more myself and shared more stories of how things were written and why. It was great to hear, "I liked what you did as Roholio but this is better" - or words to that effect from Phil! So naturally I left Okehampton on a natural high feeling very grateful that the good people of the club not only donated money towards diesel but also bought some of my albums. A great night all around!
Oh and for one final positive note... I finally have dates for recording!
and on that bombshell....