Tales from the Road – Lightning, powercuts and encores

After being shown some of the wonderful sights in the city Cerri, Siggy and myself found ourselves under a glass shelter on Friday evening caught in the most violent thunderstorm I’ve ever seen. When we got home we heard that it knocked out the electrics in Vienna blacking out the transmission of the Turkey/Germany football game. It was awesome to be outside, the raw power of Nature constantly roaring overhead. Lightning and thunder nonstop.

The night of the concert arrived and Siggy took us to the venue. Cenario is a great little cabaret theatre, and the perfect location for an acoustic performance. When I saw inside I was so pleased, and couldn’t wait to see how many people arrived. We have a venue very similar in Brighton called the Komedia. I’ve seen Show of Hands play there and it has a great atmosphere. The seating is around tables, not the usual rows you find in most music halls. I was due to start playing at 7.45, and with about an hour to go people began to arrive, and by 7.45 when I took the stage the place had reached capacity, which really took me by surprise.

I’m used to having three instruments on stage with me. One guitar in regular tuning, a mandolin, and another guitar in DADGAD tuning. This means I don’t have to keep retuning the guitars. I’d only brought one guitar with me (my Taylor), so the two sets had been split into one set of regular tuned songs, and the second set of DADGAD tunes. I’d tried this once before and it hadn’t quite worked, but I have a lot more songs now, so I was more confident. I opened with Song of Awen, then went into Pipes of Pan and by the third song I could hear people singing along with me, and that set the scene for the rest of the evening.

I opened the second set with Hills they are Hollow, and ended it with the new live favourite, Wild Mountain Thyme – it’s a great song to sing, and everyone knows it. Two lovely encores followed – I’m sure I could have played all night! When I suggested a return concert next year the response was a very positive “Yes!” To be so far away from home, and find people who knew my songs was amazing. What a ride this is!


Tales from the Road – Tourguides, mistrels and the Black Plague

After safely landing thanks to the magical powers of Alan Hanson and Gary Lineker we were met by our friend Siggy. Siggy is the main reason I learned to play the harp. I remember being beside a campfire at an OBOD camp, stars twinkly and doing their thing, just chilling, when I heard a voice say, “Can I play my harp by your fire?” At that moment I fell in love with the instrument, and when Siggy said people could have a go at playing the harp the next day, well, I jumped at the chance!

It was 31 degrees in Vienna, so the only real choice was to head straight to a bar on the banks of the Danube for an ice-cold beer. On the way we passed a few massive video screens where the football was shown, and then we were sitting by the river, supping on some lovely Austrian llllllager.

The next day we went on a wonderful tour of the city led by Siggy, who not only is a fabulous musician, but is also a qualified Vienna tour guide! There were two highlights for me. The first was seeing the house where Strauss, Beethoven and, my personal favourite, Mozart, met together. The other was a wishing well in honour of an Austrian minstrel who used to play his music in a bar, but during one of the times of the plague nobody came to see him play, so he got completely drunk. The next morning as he lay in a stupor, he was collected with all of the other plague victims and thrown into a mass grave. Luckily (I guess!) he came around before the grave was filled in (can you imagine what that must have been like!) and he crawled out, and back to the city. Amazingly he never contracted the disease, and this gave the people of Vienna their hope back. If you look closely through the grate in the picture, you can just about see him looking up at you. I dropped him an offering asking for a blessing for my concert, and it landed straight in his bucket. What a lovely bloke 🙂

More tomorrow!

Tales from the Road – How to feel safer on a plane

Back from Austria after a fabulous time, both at the pub moot, and the concert on Saturday night – where to begin? At the beginning and end of course!

I’m not a great fan of flying. Well, it’s not the flying that’s the problem, it’s the potential plummeting that’s the issue for me. But on this past trip I found my secret safety blanket. It was the European Cup Semis and Final over the weekend in Vienna and as I was sitting on the plane ready to fly out I heard a familiar Scottish accent. I looked around and there was Alan Hanson sitting just behind me, and there a little further down the plane was Gary Lineker. Suddenly I knew that the flight would be completely safe. The plane could never crash with these two famous people on board! Could you imagine the tabloid news?!

As Cerri and I sat waiting for the plane to take off on the return flight there they were again. Alan and Gary, our Guardian Angels 🙂

More of my Vienna trip soon!

Congratulations Wayne and Coleen

How can a footballer spend £5,000,000 on their wedding? This just shows that there is enough money, it’s just in the wrong place. How can it be that someone who plays a game, and kicks a football for a living, can earn more money than a surgeon who saves lives?

I saw this on the news this morning (by accident). £50,000 on fireworks, £400,000 for Westlife, and £500,000 for some rapper called Diddy (which was always slang for tits when I was a kid).

In the mean time people are still in trouble in China after the earthquake, are still starving around the world, are still homeless here.

A total spoiled waste of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish them well in their married life together, but that kind of excess just sums up so much of what is lousy in this modern world.