Broadstairs was brilliant! Allow me to explain...
After a six hour drive (saw Stonehenge at sunset, love it!) to get up there we snuggled, gratefully, into bed ready for a day of dodging flash flooding and thunderstorms although we weren't really aware of the imminent madness on the horizon... until a lightning bolt hit the bay the next day and Ken scarpered at the sound of thunder. I'm the kind of girl that grew up in awe of thunder and lightning but still retained some primal fear of it too so although it was pretty epic it was also a bit frightening, especially when the rain began to fall... but we'll get to that! Gig first :)
We had a quick look at an angry sea whipping waves over the small market on the front, checked out my first board walk and walked it (their sand is very yellow compared to ours) and then after we loaded up on an oreo milkshake - and heard the weather warning first hand - we headed over to the Sailing Club for my acoustic hour slot. What a great crowd! I think we packed that room out and it was so much fun. I'd been wanting to try out some new material and figured this was the set I'd try it in, thank goodness I did! The crowd were very warm and appreciative which has given me some confidence in my new banjo tunes. (Banjo tunes always make me nervous)
I couldn't resist opening the set with 'Red Sky' to suit the weather but half way through 'Seafaring Stranger' the sky literally went black and it felt like we'd been enveloped in chaos. Down came the rain, hard and heavy and soaked us instantly as we made a run for the car. I'd hoped to wear the same outfit for my evening slot but after that it was impossible! I was drenched! So we went back to our house-on-loan, someone had very kindly let out their house to artists for the festival, and I wrote two new songs on banjo and piano although I think I like the latter more. I never get to play piano enough as I don't own one so that was an absolute joy.
Fast-forward and night fell, time for the final main stage gig. Unfortunately the rain hadn't stopped falling and that thunder and lightning that had shuffled through the bay and rumbled away earlier had returned with a vengeance. Multiple powercuts later and we were told the electrician doesn't think it's safe to start yet, would I mind delaying the set. To which I replied, 'I don't think it's safe either!' I remember horror stories in college about the singer in big country being propelled backwards across the stage from a fault in the system so I didn't fancy that. Strangely though the sound engineer still looked on in amazement at my compliance! Anyway it got to a point where it was now or never so with a quick line check I got on stage and delivered my set. The standout moment for me was having us all sing Amazing Grace together, especially in that weather, it was as if time had stopped and we were just in that moment together. Magic.
Awoke the next day to the softest cat lolloping on my arm which put me in a good mood. After an 8 hour drive home the weekend went very slowly for us as we lazed around trying to regain some normality! Although I've left the roads behind I am hitting the trains next week to sheffield to try and finish the new album - which has been being mixed in the background this whole time. I'm hoping I can still make an October launch date but we'll see. Watch this space and wish me luck, been a long time since I've been on a train for that long so I'm expecting cabin fever...
Finally to everyone who came to see me, to everyone who bought an album and to the lovely people who gave us a roof over our heads for two days, thank you!!! You made the final folk festival of the season very special indeed and I hope to see you all again :)
That sounds like a punchy duo doesn't it? Last week I had two festivals to play, 171 miles between them and a whole lot of road. Ben did his usual routine with Wickham... "oh it'll only take us 3 hours" which of course jinxed it.
There was sadly an accident on the main road which extended it to four hours (okay not as bad as it could've been) through back roads but that did mean we cut it very close to our contracted sound check time; arriving with 20 mins to collet wristbands, tune up, go to the toilet and get on stage. Luckily they didn't need us right away so we could chill... IN MY DRESSING ROOM! I know, right! In my cool, portable dressing room there was a bucket of ice and in the bucket of ice (I feel like I'm writing a funny bones novel by the way) there were cans of fanta, pepsi and bottles of beer! I can honestly say we felt like we'd made it haha So I unpacked, relaxed and began tuning up. Outside I could hear Carlos Nunez warming up and I jammed slightly, and by all accounts anonymously, on my banjo to the pipes. He has no idea of course as I remain chronically shy...
Eventually a soundcheck sort of went out of the window as 5pm was quickly approaching and it was time to start so a quick line check and I stepped out onto the main stage in front of about 500 people and gave it my all. What a euphoric and surreal experience to have that many people applauding and whistling with video cameras whizzing from side to side watching you at the foot of the stage as you sing. Incredible. I had an amazing time in that brief 40 mins and when I came off Ashley, one of the team of sound engineers backstage who kindly removed my instruments from the stage - another novel experience for me! - said, "just think... you've opened Wickham." I can tell you now that feeling of "YEAH!!!!" doesn't go away for at least a week and a half, I'm still buzzing from it!
After the set we had celebratory ciders then made the mistake of pitching our tent. Sorry Ben. I believe I spent the entire time laughing my head off and rolling around on the ground sheet. Whoops... we then went exploring around the site. Whilst buying a vest a rather inebriated fellow in pink fluffy attire slurred, "you were great!" and then as I made my way to the mechanical bull - you heard me - for another round of let's-humiliate-ourselves a little girl with a voice straight out of Oliver said, "You're Roseanna Ball!!" "..er..errr... yes I am" I stuttered back. "You were amazing!" She continued, as did my awkward replies. One day I might be articulate, maybe when I'm not so shocked at being recognised at a festival full of huge names where I'm in no way 'known.' Oh and by the way I lasted 30 seconds on the bull, 10 seconds shy of the trophy, and my thighs are still paying for it.
After a very lumpy sleep, where I was sure I was woken up by the Beautiful South's (now known as the South) tour bus arriving in the early hours of Friday morning, we hit the road and headed back in the direction of Barnstaple where we crashed for the night at Nev's before attempting Croyde the next morning. I tell you an air bed can feel like a king size memory foam mattress after sleeping rough camping! So after that glorious rest we went on to locate Croyde View and had a lovely chilled out time in the sun waking up the campers and warming them up for Chris Millington. It was a humbling, chilled out way to end a crazy week and I have the say the hog roasts were out of this world! We decided we should make the most of the epic weather and what little energy reserves we had left by going for a swim in the sea, unfortunately I was stupid enough to wear my jellies into the breakers and off one flew, never to be seen again. New look must love me, I keep the orders coming in!
So there you have it, two awesome festivals in one rollercoaster week.
Next week: Broadstairs!
Well I packed up the curls and my four horsemen and hit the road to roll with the big kids at Warwick. First off, how bad was the weather Friday?!?! 3 accidents in North Devon I later learned, countless others as we travelled up the M5 and M40 and a whole tonne of breakdowns on the hard shoulder. The rain just fell and smeared and sprayed and alarmingly people still drove around without their lights on doing 70mph. Fearing-for-our-lives aside we were happy to rest up friday night ready for two shows on Saturday and I am very grateful we didn't have to do that drive Saturday morning as we had originally planned! It took about 7 and a half hrs going up and about 3 and a half hrs going back... I'd say never again but we all know that's not gonna happen...
Warwick itself was a beautiful little town that I wish I'd had more time to explore. Very Tudor-esque, lots of wood and stone - the way I like it - and the festival was the largest I've come across so far. Always bear in mind I'm a newbie with this stuff and quite the social-phobe so everything is pretty much new and news to me. It was a good vibe though and I got lots of compliments on my outfits, what every girl wants to hear ;) , and a few "great set"s along the way so I feel like I did alright. The first gig was at the Bridge House Theatre and I got to meet Granny's Attic - a very modest bunch of hugely talented trad folkies - and Stylus who is every bit as stylish as he sounds but I really enjoyed my final set in the lecture theatre. I admittedly designed a punchier set expecting more of an audience but in typicalmurphy's law it wasn't to be and I was up against Nancy Kerr on the main stage. Damn. You can imagine the tumbleweed that blew across my mine haha Oh well I did get to debut a few new songs and covers which seemed to work nicely it's always good when a new banjo tune goes down well, and I did meet some lovely people.
I'm feeling absolutely knackered today though and I know the day job tomorrow is going to feel so much harder than normal but I think it was worth it. I had a great experience, some cracking festival food, listened to some fab acts - Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar got the blood pumpin' - and drove a very long way into the mist!
There's a song in there somewhere....
ps. Thank you to Heather Louise Kincaid for taking this shot in the Bridge House Theatre, couldn't resist popping it in the blog.