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Uk Tour #7, Väsen and Laundry!

Yesterday evening we had the incredible experience of sharing a bill with Väsen at the Kilbarchan Performing Arts Centre; but first we had to do laundry. If an army marches on its’ stomach, a touring band band marches on clean clothes. We spent a few hours in downtown Paisley getting the washing done, then it was back to the hotel for a short break before it was time to head to Kilbarchan for the nights’ show.

If you don’t know them Väsen is a Swedish band of the very highest caliber. They play original and traditional  Swedish tunes, as well as some older obscure ones, with really exciting arrangements and a sparkling level of musicianship. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of musicians so in tune with one another. They’re a very friendly bunch of guys and it’s clear that their good nature and generosity help make it possible to do what they do.  It was an absolute pleasure to share a bill with them and to get to know them a little bit over the evening! Our set was fun, but it was a little distracting to see Väsen silhouetted at the back of the hall (All three of them are huge!) watching us play. As usual, the crowd was fantastic. It was a great night!

Thanks for reading!

JD

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UK Tour Blog 6, Glasgow!

Today was a day off for Front Country, and we got to spend it in Glasgow! Gerry picked us up at our hotel and drove us into town, dropping us right in front of the stunning Kelvingrove Art Museum. Before the museum, we darted into a cafe for breakfast. Most of us have taken to drinking tea over here (when in Rome!) and I was shocked by the jolt delivered by my americano! It was more than enough to propel me through to lunch. After a quick bite we walked across the street to the museum. Kelvingrove has a great collection of art and historical artifacts, hosts a daily organ recital at 1, and is free to the public with a suggested donation. The collection is heavy on Scottish artists, but does have a portrait by Van Gogh and the powerful Dali painting  Christ of Saint John of the Cross, which is the jewel of the entire collection. It’s one of those works that demands attention and will speak to you if you know how to let it. It’s smaller that I expected it to be; for some reason I was expecting it to be as big as some of the Rothko’s I’ve seen. Nonetheless, it’s impact is big.

We sent a couple of hours in the museum before heading out to lunch. A fan in Saltburn told us that we had to visit the Mother India curry house for the best curry in Glasgow. We did and it was all it had been made out to be and more. The curries were served tapas-style so we split several. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better Indian meal; I’m going to be dreaming of the Chicken Korma for a long time! Fed and warmed up, we strolled around town in the rain for a while until we found the Ben Nevis, a whisky bar that Gerry had mentioned to us specifically. It was nearly empty but still snug as could be, the Scott’s are perhaps more adept than the English at making cozy places. Beers and whiskys were had, then it was back out into the rain. A tea and a train ride later and we were once again in Paisley, not far from our hotel. We walked around a little more (still raining) and found a place to dart in for a pint. Restored, it was time for food and a taxi. It was just Jacob and I at that point; Jacob ordered takeaway to bring back to the hotel while I successfully located a steak pie, doused with salt and vinegar, which I ate while walking in the rain. It seemed like the most appropriate thing I could do at the time.

Now, we’re back at the hotel, looking forward to doing laundry tomorrow and a sold-out show in Kilbarchan with Vasen tomorrow night. Tickets are still available for upcoming shows on this tour, including Wednesday at Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline and the Birnam Arts Center in Perthshire on Thursday. More tour dates can be found on our Tour Page.

Now, it’s time to dry off and get some rest. There are a few pictures from today below; take a look.

Thanks for reading

JD

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UK Tour Blog 5, Scotland!

We’re in Scotland!

Today we made the rainy drive from Saltburn to Irvine for our first show in Scotland. Irvine looks on the north Atlantic and is as starkly beautiful place as I have been. We played at the Harbour Arts Center, a small and really great-sounding venue (Special thanks to tonight’s soundman, Jordan.)  to a fantastic crowd. Scotland is quite a bit more rugged that England is, and I think we’re just getting started. Tuesday we’re playing with Vasen in Kilbarchan, but tomorrow is a day off and Gerry is going to drop us in Glasgow in the morning. I’m really excited to see Glasgow for the first time, we’ll start at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and go from there. I’ve heard a bit about the whisky and the curries here and I think I’ll give both a try.

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Thanks for reading

JD

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UK Tour Blog 4

Yesterday we played in Saltburn by the Sea. As you’d guess, it’s a seaside resort town. Most of Saltburn sits on a cliff overlooking the North Sea; the first thing you’d hit sailing directly out would be the arctic ice pack I was told. We had time to walk around and even though it’s unseasonably warm, we got our first taste of English cold. It’s no wonder the English are good at making cozy pubs; you need lots of places to take refuge from the cold and the damp. We met some new friends at, of all things, a surf shop (There is a large surfing community in Saltburn, apparently.) and they sent us to a pub named the Vaults of Alexandra, the locals call it the Back Alex because it’s tucked in an alley in back of a row of Victorian buildings which overlook the sea. Inside we found a fire, New Zealand v. England Rugby on TV, and pints. It was a great place to make a stand for a while.

The gig happened in a converted church and it felt really intimate for us. As has been the case, the crowd was warm and got loud at all the right times. Thanks to everyone in Saltburn who came to see us! After the gig we paid a visit to the kebab shop for some late-night food, which is always the best kind, and got down the road a bit to our hotel. IMG_2627IMG_2629IMG_2630

This morning it’s cold we’re about to get underway to Irvine and our first concert in Scotland. I’m told the weather is about to get a lot colder; I’m looking forward to taking refuge in more snug pubs in the coming days.

Thanks for Reading

JD

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UK Tour Blog 3

A great gig, a late night pub hang, an early ferry trip, another great gig later and we’re back in England, in Yorkshire. Last night we played to a packed house at the Centenary Center on the Isle of Man and again the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic. We didn’t have time to see much of the island but our host, a band manager turned B+B proprietor named Shazz, took us to the local pub, The White House. The place must have been hundreds of years old and was quiet and cozy as could be. We had a pint or two or three of the local favorite and great chats with some new friends. It was a bit of a late night but we managed to make to the 8:00 AM ferry back to England and caught a few extra winks after hiding ourselves away in some of the quieter areas of the ship.

Once we got off the boat we zipped across the country(!) to a sold-out show at the Selby Town Hall and once again the crowd was fantastic! Selby is a lovely little town and the town hall is converted church built in the 1860s. The sound and vibe in the room were wonderful, once again we felt right at home from “go”. We played two sets and finished up on the floor with an acoustic encore of Family Band and the crowd nearly drowned us out with their singing. Thanks for being amazing, Selby!

After the gig we went back to the hotel, where I’m writing this, and Gerry, our tour manager, put on BBC 4; now we’re blissfully watching vintage highlights from Top of the Pops. It’s been a great day, we’re on to Saltburn by the Sea tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

JD

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UK Tour Blog 2

We’re at sea in the the middle of travel to the Isle of Man after a fantastic show at The Atkinson in Southport last night. The venue is housed in a beautiful old clock tower-topped building that also holds an art gallery, library, cafe as well as a larger theatre. We had been warned that the crowds here would be good, but wouldn’t be demonstrative during the show. Happily that turned out not to be the case! The Southport crowd erupted during our songs and made sure that we didn’t feel like we were playing there for the first time. It was a spectacular way to start the tour.

Leif and I were left to our own devices for after-gig eats. Most restaurants and pubs stop serving food early but kebab shops open late and stay open until early in the morning. So, kebabs it was. We found our way to a shop run by a Turkish man who immediately asked what we were doing in Southport. He hadn’t heard of the venue where we had just played, even though it was practically across the street from his shop, but as soon as we told him we were musicians he pulled out his phone and started playing a video of himself singing in Turkish. I have no idea how Turkish songs are supposed to sound, but I told him I thought it sounded good. The words hadn’t gotten out of my mouth before he said “Hang on, I’ll play you a better one!”. Several videos of heart-rending Turkish love songs later we had our kebabs.

We had been settling in back at our hotel room for a few minutes when our driver, Gerry, arrived. We’d been watching Mitchell and Webb videos on YouTube, so Gerry, being Scottish, naturally suggested we take in a bit of Scot’s humor (…humour? Whatever.) We watched a few clips before Gerry told us to listen to a particular Billy Collins bit. I’m a fan of Billy Collins, so I thought it would be great. As it turned out, this was from an early album and Billy’s accent was…let’s call it challenging. Gerry began to chuckle immediately while Leif and I sat quietly and awkwardly. It took Gerry a couple of minutes to notice we weren’t laughing. He asked if we were having trouble with the accent and we admitted that we had barely understood a word, Gerry said something about listening to it several times in a row to get it in our ears. That was never going to happen, so we called it a night. The Scotland gigs should be interesting.

Centenary Centre on the Isle of Man tonight, I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading.

JD

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UK Tour, Day 1.

It took a day and a half to get here, but here we are in Southport, UK, to play at The Atkinson tonight. All of our luggage and gear arrived with us relatively unscathed, a minor feat. An old crack in my travel bass reopened, I hope it will be stable enough to make it through the tour. Once I’m back in Nashville it will be easy to get it fixed. Otherwise, we’re in fine shape.

Southport is a pretty charming place by the sea, it’s a resort town with a few small amusement parks and a pier. Leif and I went for a nice run this morning in an effort to blow out some of the cobwebs of travel and to help get through the jet lag faster. That’s the result we’re hoping for anyway. So far, so good.

We have a driver/tour manager working with us named Gerry. He’s an old-school road guy and has worked with some pretty great bands, he dropped the name Fishbone on us yesterday and that got my attention. He had worked with them on an earlt Lollapalooza tour where he was responsible for wrangling the giant fish they had on stage every night. I think ol’ Gerry is full of stories and I’m looking forward to hearing them.

There’s a lot more ahead, we ‘ll take a ferry to the Isle of Man for a show at the Centenary Centre  for an 8PM show. You can see the rest of our tour itinerary over at the Front Country Tour Page.  

Thanks for reading,

JD

JD