Summer comes, summer goes…

Wow! Turn your back for a minute and it’s already November. No doubt I’ll be taken to to task by my friends in the Blogoshere for dropping the ball. Oh well on with the motley…

End of May

Posh outdoor wedding gig near ShrewsburyThe MoonLighting gig near Shrewsbury after the Salisbury Live gig was interesting. We were playing out doors in the gravel drive to a small stately home (see photo) which is always slightly worrying in England due to the possiblity of rain. It was also educational as to how public transport is useless on a Sunday – especially in rural areas. Our fantastic percussionist – Emily Ward had to travel by train from Manchester. Thankfully our caller for the gig – Cate Bannister, who lives over that way – came to the rescue by delivering Emiliy to and from the station and providing overnight accommodation. Many thanks and a round of applause to Cate…

Flaming June

medieval babes...June started out with another open air gig, this time for the Hoedown Band. It was a wedding / hand fast with a medieval theme which was slightly odd gig for a country band. We made an effort to dress for the occasion – some with more success than others as the photo shows. A great time was had by all and I ended the evening jamming with Leatherat and Ric Sanders from Fairport Convention was a guest at the wedding. When I noticed him watching the band I reflected that I probably would have prefered to be playing something other than Achey Breaky Heart. Anyway it was a great gig and led onto at least one more booking later in the year. We also found out that country music is very big in France – though I’m not sure how we can capitalise on this…

Horrors of WhiskeyThe rest of the month was pretty busy with seven more gigs including an afternoon one at Sandown Racecourse with Sian’s acoustic trio Horrors of Whiskey which was  another mainly open air gig, and then entailed a dash down to Wincester for an evening MoonDance function gig.

Lost Arts logoOn the 15th I went into London to attend the launch of the FEU (Federation of Entertainment Unions) Lost Arts initiative and then afterwards to lobby my MP – Andrew Selous – about the damage the cuts will have on both the UK Arts scene and the economy as a whole. It turns that for every pound put into the arts generates £2 of income for UK PLC. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face… I imagine that the coalition won’t take any notice of this as they are more interested in the spin that the economics of the cuts.

Cromwell's statue outside the Houses of ParliamentThis was the first time I’d actually been inside the Houses of Parliament. I hadn’t realised that anyone can get in to the public galleries to see the action on days when the house is sitting – which is indicated by a light on the top of Big Ben. The security was pretty robust as you might expect and I had a small pen knife taken off me in case I ran amok (I got it back on exit). Inside the security area I could wander around and look at the great hall, though various flunky’s kept on telling me to take my hat off. Mr Selous was in the chamber as he is the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to The Iain Duncan whole is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and they had business in the chamber. I sat up in the viewing gallery which seperated from the main chamber by a huge sheet of bullet proof glass.

I spoke to Andrew after this in the atrium of Portcullis House which is across the road – accessed via a tunnel so you don’t have to go through security again. He listened to my points about the cuts and some further stuff about the proposed changes to the public entertainments licencing legislation. His comments were that while he appreciated the points I had made everyone had to endure the cuts to balance to budget (aside: presumably this doesn’t apply to bankers!). He then had to go back to the chamber again so I was escorted back to the palace, where I retrieved my dangerous pen knife and went home.

Towards the end of the month I went down to Barnstaple to premiere the two hander version of “The End of the World Show…” with Bob Harding-Jones at the annual Fringe Theatre Festival down there. This is the alternative name for the “Thinking about our World…” show. This version of the show is much more portable than the version with the band, with me on acoustic guitar and some additional sound effects played by Bob’s iPad. This went down pretty well though there was a lot of competition from other productions.

Venue for the show with Bob Harding-JonesI could only do the first day of the three day run, so I left Bob with pre-recorded version of the songs so that he could do the show as a solo. The festival coincides with a music festival of the same name and we caught the end of a set from a a jazz funk outfit called the Rural Jazz Alliance. I blagged their EP (CD) which is produced to look like a vinyl record and is the first completely black CD I’ve ever seen – very cool – still it played OK in the van CD player.

At the end of the month I got Mike Vishnick into the studio and put down some Dawn and Brian working the hats...drums for a Hoedown Band demo CD. the rest of teh Hoedown BandDepending on the quality of the final results I might release these so we have something to sell at gigs. We had to cut the last day to do a gig down at the RAC club in Epson which went down very well, and they treated us pretty well as well. Was a good end to a busy month.

Next blog will cover July….

About Brian Heywood

Brian Heywood is a free range musician who specialises in edgy roots / country / celtic fusion music. Previous work has received comments such as "... aggressive, top notch fiddling set off by periodic guitar explosions." - Tom Nelligan, Dirty Linen Magazine (USA), "Just when it seemed as if newer electric British roots bands were getting thinner on the ground - Very welcome and very good." - fROOTS Magazine (UK) and Steve Barnes Fairbridge Festival Artistic Director (Australia) - "... a rocking band - I was delighted with the audience response."
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