A drink (or two…) too many the previous night, made our early start even more difficult (I’d managed two hours’ sleep max)! My trio, Dave Brons and friend Chris Walton had been booked to play for students at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), in a masterclass setting – answering questions between tunes. By the time we arrived at 8.30am I wasn’t feeling great, and was starting to suspect the Q&A might turn into a session on why musicians should avoid the perils of alcohol!
Chris and Dave delivered great sets, then my trio played – we answered some good questions about life as a musician, the industry and how we came to be doing what we are today.
After we’d finished at the college, Steve the head of music took us for a meal at a local health spa restaurant.
After our meal, Simon and myself headed back to my parents’ house for a very rock n roll afternoon nap before we left for our second gig of the day.
I woke up feeling refreshed, and it was soon time to head to the venue for tonight’s gig – The Three Wise Monkeys in Todmorden (the birth place of none other than Keith Emerson)!
When we arrived we found a great venue – there was a bar downstairs (which offers THE widest selection of beers I’ve ever seen under one roof) and an amazing Thai restaurant upstairs.
After some discussion of how and where all of our gear was going to fit, we set up and soundchecked.
First up was Chris Walton, who played a set of original material with Simon on bass and Chris B on drums.
I had thought I was having a busy day, until I found out that Chris Billington (percussion) had a THIRD gig after we’d finished tonight. His regular job is playing at nightclubs, jamming to a DJ – something I’d get to experience a week later, when he invited me to play guitar at a club in Blackpool– if all nightclubs were like that, then I’d be a regular! So, when Chris Walton had done his set, my trio played our set of classical music. It was a lot of fun – having two gigs under our belt, we were able to relax a little; also, no time constraints meant that we could try a piece we hadn’t had chance to perform in the previous shows – Chopin’s Etude #4 (Op. 10).
In the audience was BBC DJ Andy Kershaw – he seemed to enjoy what he heard (but his dog was clearly a little distracted by the people who kept petting him)!
When we’d finished, the owners of the restaurant made Chris a plate of Thai food for the journey to his next gig, and we said our goodbyes before Dave performed a great set.
After his last tune, I joined him on stage to play the Iona piece we’d learnt for the B3 gig in Leeds – a great end to a great night.
The owners of the venue were lovely people, and as soon as we’d finished, they were keen for us to go upstairs for our Thai meal before they closed the kitchen for the night.
Ordering at The Three Wise Monkeys is an experience in itself. The first thing you’ll notice is that all the menus are made from old children’s books and annuals.
After a lovely Thai meal we packed our gear away and said goodbye to our wonderful hosts at The Three Wise Monkeys.
The previous evening, after the pub quiz, Simon and myself had watched a Derren Brown documentary about Luck, which is set in and around Todmorden. If you haven’t seen the show, you NEED to check it out! Here it is – sit back, relax and enjoy 47 minutes of informative, entertaining, poignant, beautiful and moving television:
Simon and myself decided we didn’t want to let our mini tour end without one final adventure; and so it was, at 2am, that we set off in the pitch black to find Todmorden’s lucky dog! It took us about half an hour of stumbling around blindly in mud and puddles, but eventually we got lucky…
It was a happy end to a fun few gigs. Thanks to everyone who helped make it the great experience it was – in many ways I feel it was the beginning of a new chapter for me, and I’m looking forward to doing more of the same very soon! :o)