Updated: Feb 1
And so I return to London... As soon as I stepped off the plane from Lisbon I was greeted with a heavy downpour, the typical British summer. But things aren't all that bad. The sun has now returned to London and although it's not quite as hot as Portugal I return with a new resolve for the challenges ahead, and a few more contacts in the little black book. It's been a rewarding experience this tour, and I can't help but feel that I've stepped up to another level on my journey as a musician and solo artist. In just over four weeks I will be returning to Lisbon to play at the MuDanca Festival on the 9th of September. Which last year drew audiences of up to 8000, which will be a first for me and I'm pretty psyched for the challenge of playing to such a big crowd. I also will be returning to Ravens Ait Beer Festival on Saturday 26th August which will be a great night as long as the weather holds out! So it's not all bad I guess...
In my last blog post I had made it as far as Hamburg, and Amsterdam lied ahead of me where I had a lot to fit in for the week I was there. It all started off with an interview with a journalist from the Dutch magazine 'Blues Magazine' who had given my album 'City of Streets' a great review a few months previously. This was a first for me so I was chuffed at how well the interview went and I felt I answered the questions that were fired my way in a suitably rock and roll manner. I then played a gig at the hostel were I was staying which gave me a discount on the cost of my accommodation which is just as well as Amsterdam is a pretty pricy place when your on a budget. Another first was playing live on a radio show an hour out of Amsterdam. I did a little interview on air before playing a few songs from my new album which hopefully helped to promote the release.
By this point I was feeling quite the rock star so it was a bit of a reality check when it came to the gig I had lined up on the weekend. I was expecting a good turnout because of the extra promotion I put in, but the venue in question (a pink ex gas station in Nord) was far out of town and the only people who showed up were some old friends I had met on the road last year in Chicago. Never the less they showed be some great Dutch hospitality and the rest of my time in Amsterdam was a bit of a drunken blur.
By the time I made it to Antwerp I was in a bit of a state so decided to take couple of days out in preparation for the gig I has lined up on the weekend. Antwerp had been a bit of a last minute leg of the tour so the gig that I had lined up seemed a bit of a let down as I was only able to get a Saturday afternoon matinee. But the venue turned out to be a well known and pulled a great crowd. I also made a good contact there with the owners who loved my show and as long as I contacted them far enough in advance would happily give me a Saturday or Friday night slot next time I was in town.
It was then on to Paris, an old haunt for me and somewhere I'd been several times in my life, but somehow I was unprepared for how much it seemed to have changed since I was last there two years ago. The first thing that hit me was how bloody expense it was! Even in a cheap neighbour hood bar it was €6 a beer, and I had also made a bit of an error in booking to stay at a hostel with no kitchen, so I was forced to each out for every meal, a costly mistake indeed. I was also unprepared for how the music scene had changed.
The venue I was booked to play at, I had played two years previously and there had been some big changes since then. Namely the introduction of a volume monitor. And I spent the first half an hour there making everything as quiet as I could to fit into the stringent permitters laid down by the local authorities. Quite frankly it was a joke. I was playing so quietly that if the place hadn't been so empty no-one would have been able to hear me anyway! And all this because the neighbour had just had a child and had called the police twice because of the noise. He was obviously some kind of big deal in the area and was doing his best to get the bar closed down completely.... sad times indeed.
After Paris came Barcelona were things had a turn for the better... and I had one of the best gigs of the tour. At the time of booking I was able to get a slot at the Harlem Jazz Club which as I found out had a reputation as one of the best live music venues in Barcelona. So when it came to the night of the gig I was not only treated really well but there was a large attentive audience who hung on my every word and really loved my set. It was one of those nights that made me realise if I can get my music in front of the right people very big things are possible...
After the high of Barcelona came Lisbon and although I really loved visiting this city as a tourist the gig I had there was untimely a disappointment. For some reason the venue had decided to have an entrance fee in a part of town were all the other venues had live music on for free and unfortunately the turnout suffered because of this. It still baffles me how some owners still get it completely wrong when it comes to running a venue... but anyway the gig lead on to some good contacts for the future as did the house concert I had in Ericeira, a fishing town about and hour away from Lisbon, which will defiantly come in handy next time around.