Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Gig tonight – Joe’s Bar, Northern Qt, Manchester

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Hi everyone

I’m playing in Joe’s Bar tonight (Monday 6th October) as part of In the City Fringe festival… I’m on at 7.30pm… Should be a good night. More info can be found at: … Here’s the full lineup:

NUCLEAR – In The City Official Fringe Venue! Listings announced!
Current mood: artistic
Category: Music


Friday 3rd October

DJ 11pm – onwards

10pm – 11pm – Circus Animals Dissertion

9.10pm – 9.40pm – The Counter Culture

8.30pm – 9 pm – The S R Gents

7:50pm – 8:20pm – Kni9hts

Saturday 4th October

DJ – 11pm onwards – 11pm – The Huw Wilcox Band

9.10pm – 9.40pm – CrazyDaze

8.30pm – 9pm – El Policia

7.50pm – 8.20pm The Fayre

7.10pm – 7.40pm – Strange Ways

6.30pm – 7pm – Tori Bragg

5:50pm – 6:20pm – Disco Jane Doe

Sunday 5th October

DJ – 11pm onwards

10:30pm – 11pm – The Strands

9:50pm – 10:20pm – Strange Ways

9pm – 9:30pm – Purlin

8:20pm – 8:50pm – Tidal Fury

7:40pm – 8:10pm – Calvinball

7pm – 7:30pm – Antihero

6:20pm – 6:50pm – The Project

Monday 6th October – Acoustic

10:30 – 11pm – The Perrys (Electric)

9:50pm – 10:20pm – Dys

9pm – 9:30pm – Paddy O’Hare

8:20pm – 8:50pm – Gareth Wandless

7:40pm – 8:10pm – Tom Kerswill

7pm – 7:30pm – Jonny Dobbs

6:20pm – 6:50pm – Oliver J Brooke

5:30pm – 6:10pm – Troubadour

New York Photos

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Finally got round to putting up some photos of the New York Tour!

Back in Manchester

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

I’m back in Manchester after a good Christmas break in the South West, including a really good new year and a couple of trips to Taunton and Exeter, though I didn’t quite get as far as Totnes. It was good to get a bit of countryside… and now I’m looking forward to enjoying Manchester again. I’m playing over in Sale on February 20th (at the excellent AcousticAmp night) and we’re running the usual Songs for the Bath Tub nights on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays (at Trof) and Thursdays (at Fuel)… starting again 17th January!

Acoustic New York

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Really looking forward to the New York shows… we’ll be doing a lot of small gigs and open mics over there. I’ll also be playing at the Living Room, New York
on December 2nd, with Lisa Redford. Do drop us a line if you’re in the area…


Adventures in Slovakia and Prague

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Well it’s been a few days since I got back from Slovakia and the Czech republic, so I thought I’d assemble it all into some kind of account…

It all started off with a night in London… then off from Stansted to Brno, in the Czech republic, for the first night in Czech. Then a long train ride across the border to Slovakia, where I met up with Iwiss, Katke and Ivana and stayed in the slovak cottage. After a night in Puchov, we headed to the Pohoda festival, which featured Prodigy, Roots Manuva, Asian Dub Foundation, Roni Size and Garbage, amongst others…

Afterwards a day of chilling then travelling, and a late arrival in Prague. Then a day alone in Prague

Before finally meeting up with loads of lovely people for the final days in Prague… and before I know it, back in England again, to the Funky Raw festival in Cornwall.

19th – Prague with friends

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

The next day was much better. Blazing hot. I got a text message from Nina saying she was in Prague too. So we arranged to meet up in the evening.

During the day I crossed Charles bridge and went to look at the Prague Castle, after a very leisurely stroll up the hill and a really good traditional Czech lunch. It’s touristy up there of course, but you get a great view over the whole of Prague.

On the way back down I stopped for an iced coffee in a trendy little café. Inside was a group of English people who were trying Absinthe for the first time. But they weren’t quite sure how to drink it… I tried to help but couldn’t really remember either. In the end we worked it out, and they set fire to it all and it looked great.

It was a leisurely walk down the hill, and eventually I got back to the hostel. Later on I got the tram to Ujezd to meet Nina in a really cool little bar. The walls were covered with sketches of strange, tortured-looking figures… sort of reminiscent of the Scream. There were also some weird brass sculptures hanging above the bottom floor, a bit like one of those warhammer models that people make, but on a much larger scale.

So then we headed into the city, stopping by at some small student bars, that were really cheap although quite quiet because it was out of term time. This was really cool – a good chance to see some bits of Prague that were more tucked away. And I tried some of the herby Czech cheese that people talk about… I think it’s called hermony or something like that. It was very nice indeed.

I think we wandered over Charles bridge a bit too, and eventually ended up near Wenceslas square, where we just found a bench and watched life going past. Then we looked at all the modern art there. Including a line of very scarey iron men. But the impact was taken away when you read the introductions to each of the pieces… it wasn’t just bollocks, it really didn’t make any sense at all, even allowing for bad translations…

Nina tried crawling under one of the pieces of modern art, through the undergrowth, but I’m not sure it made any sense up that way round either…

18th Prague alone

Monday, July 18th, 2005

On the 18th, I had a day of wandering around Prague, and doing fairly touristy things – like sightseeing. I didn’t really have a guidebook, so I just used my intuition a bit. It was incredibly hot. I can’t really remember much of what I did – just wandering I think. Prague was busy and touristy, and today, Monday, I wasn’t very impressed with it. Seemed more expensive than Slovakia, and a bit less friendly. And overrun by sightseers like me!

In the evening I decided to explore Prague by night. Again, it was really hard to find anywhere interesting, because the most obvious bits to go to are the touristy bits. And because I was walking on my own, about every five minutes I was offered drugs, sex, or strip clubs. It all seemed a bit seedy.

Eventually at about 11.00 I gave up and walked along the river towards Charles Bridge. The atmosphere here was much nicer, and suddenly I realised that the bridge was full of people – sitting down listening to buskers or watching fire-breathers. So I went to a little stall and sat down and just watched everything unfolding. Suddenly Prague was a good play to be.

After that I walked to the new square. I wandered for a bit and then sat down next to a group of Saudi Arabians who were sitting in the middle of the square just singing. Slowly other people came up to them, including an American who wanted to know how to sing in Saudi. More people joined in and it became really cool. Suddenly I was talking to a couple of people from Marseilles, and playing their guitar. Later we were joined by a group of Austrians, who were doing a tour of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Their next stop was Budapest.

And later there were some lads from Darlington who had come over on the plane for a couple of days (amazing that there’s an airport near Darlington… quite scary really). Plus lots of other people.

Then the police came over to the assembled group, with lights flashing, and I think they wanted to tell everyone to be quiet, but didn’t speak any English. They stood there for a bit and then drove off. Very strange. Maybe they just wanted some money.

Anyway – turned into a really good evening, and I went away feeling that I’d finally found the real Prague.

17th July – Prague

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

The train to Prague took a bit longer than I’d expected, and I arrived in the city at 10.30pm. I wasn’t quite sure how easy it would be to get accommodation, but I needn’t have worried. As soon as I got into the station, I saw huge signs directing me to the travel centre, which was still open – and they booked me a room in a hostel there and then. Really easy – you can tell that Prague is really geared up to travellers.

I didn’t have time to do that much that evening. Just went out to get some food, then returned to the hostel, pretty knackered!

15th July – Pohoda festival

Friday, July 15th, 2005

After spending a night in Puchov itself, at Katke and Iwiss’s dad’s house (where I also got to see the wedding video from the first time I was in Slovakia – and watch my set in the castle captured in full technicolour 😉 ) the four of us left for the Pohoda festival.

The train to Trencin was jam-packed. We squeezed on, standing in the space between the carriages. At one point, the train door flew open and we had to hold onto each other to try and close it again.

Everyone on the train seemed to be going to Pohoda. We got off the train in Trencin, and spent quite a while just sitting on the grass in the park and relaxing a bit. Eventually, we got on one of the buses that was going to Pohoda… and after ages of queuing for tickets, we were finally inside.

The festival was good. While everyone was setting up the tents I went and bought beers for everyone.. and it still cost less than one beer in London.

Pretty much the only food you could buy there was meat – whether chicken or pork – drenched in mustard and mayonaise. Perhaps with a bit of cabbage, but – and this is the important bit – always washed down with a lot of beer.

The first night’s big acts were Asian Dub Foundation, Garbage and Roots Manuva. The latter – bless him – seemed to dedicate every song to the “beautiful ladies of Slovakia”. He really did seem to be enjoying himself.

Crowds here are different from your average UK gig too – nobody’s bothered about rushing to the front. There’s always space to dance. Everyone is happy and just up for having a good time.

I got to bed reasonably early, actually. I woke up at 10am to find that no-one else had really gone to bed. I was dragged back to the beer tent a couple of minutes later by three of the Slovakian lads – all of whom were called, rather confusingly, Yanick (=John). They didn’t speak much English but *did* buy me lots of beers and force me to admit that Slovakia was the best country in the world, Slovak beer was the best beer in the world, and Slovak women are the most beautiful in the world. Which to be honest I didn’t really have a problem agreeing with.

So by 11 I’d had quite a lot of beers. We also got talking to a couple who spoke really good English (he was from Italy, she was from Brno)… they acted as a bit of a translator for the Slovaks, and were also really nice.

On my way to get some more beers, I bumped into Nina, from Brno. It was really great to have bumped into her again (I’d had this horrible feeling I wouldn’t meet up with her at all, because my phone had run out of batteries and I think hers had broken too)… so she came back and drank even more beer with us and all was great – a good way to spend a morning.

Until eventually we all managed to loose each other in a crowd around one of the stages and went our separate ways.

I spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of the festival. Pohoda means – roughly – calm or peace. And it was certainly a laid-back atmosphere. The event is held on Trencin airfield – so it’s a large, flat, space – ideal for a festival really. There were about 8 stages, all with music on most of the time – and quite a varied range of music at that. Certainly a good chance to learn about the more traditional slovakian, gypsy, hungarian, and other folky musics.

The Prodigy were fantastic. Except I didn’t quite make it for the start of their gig. I got waylaid by a German band in one of the small tents. They were a fascinating mix of live dance music – a three piece with bass, drums and rhodes, who were just fantastic. Everyone was dancing to these crazy tunes – a mixture of Kraftwerk with Fischer Spooner and full-blown electronic pop. They finished with a massive medley of pop tunes. And rather than being cheesy it was, well, great.

Then I grabbed a big cup of coffee in one hand and beer in the other and charged towards the main stage – where Prodigy had just began their set.

As I got into the crowd, two things happened. First, the heavens opened and it began to pour. Second, Prodigy launched into “Breathe”. Everybody went mad and the rain added too it.

As the band launched into Minefields, it began to thunder. Forked lightening began to appear in the sky… with Keith Flint screaming “this is dangerous”… and I suppose it was, but it was also an amazing experience. It was big, warm drops of rain, and everybody was dancing like mad. A really fantastic gig.

After that I chilled out a bit by watching Roni Size before – as the sky began to clear – just wandering around and soaking up the last bits of festival atmosphere. And kind-of hoping that I might bump into Nina from Brno, though it wasn’t to be. Eventually I walked back to the tent, as the sun was beginning to come up again. It had been a great festival – really quite different from its English counterparts. Highly recommended… Go here for more info.

The next day, woken by an incredibly hot sun, I emerged from the tent, packed everything away, serenaded everyone a bit with some of my guitar tunes (they seemed to like them!) and then said goodbye to everyone. Before long I was on the bus back to Trencin.

And… after spending far too much time lying on the grass in Trencin Park… enjoying the last remaining atmosphere from the festival and using up the last of the Slovakian money, I got on the next train towards Prague.

13th July – Puchov cottage

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Far too early the next day I had to get up and catch the train from Brno into Slovakia to a small town called Puchov.

It was a lovely journey – most of the time you’re winding through Czech countryside, before finally ducking in towards Puchov. I didn’t actually have a ticket for the very last bit of the journey, and so had to blag it without speaking much Slovak when the final ticket inspector came round. I then had to sneak of the train at Puchov and pretend to start with that I didn’t know the three girls that had come to meet me – until the train left and it was all okay again!

It was great to see Iwiss, Katke and Ivana. First of all we went for a beer in the station – in a converted railway carriage which was a little strange because I’d been sitting in a real one for the last two-and-a-half hours. We drank lovely dark beer… a bit like Guiness but lighter and…. well, I think nicer.

Then we got picked up by Iwiss’s and Katke’s mum and went to their appartment. Puchov is an old communist-era town in every way. All the buildings are huge, monolithic high-rise blocks of flats. Concrete everywhere, connected by pot-holed roads. The apartment was nice, and I was able to have a shower and drink coffee. Then we went to the shop to buy beer, wine, and food for the barbecue. Finally, Iwiss and Katke’s dad drove us to the cottage where we were to stay the night.

Puchov is small – and soon we were out into the countryside. A very small road led us up a hill, through a small village, and out into the wilds. At the end of a dirt track stood the cottage. It was really nice – just a single storey. Surrounded by fields of apple trees, pears and plums. And there were raspberries and strawberries everywhere.

There was also slivovich everywhere. This is homemade slovakian spirit. We went for an exploration and found the room where it is made – a huge still. Strong slivovich is 80% alcohol. Eek.

So there was lots of food, and lots of slivovich. And they kept giving me much bigger shots than they poured for themselves. Because I’m a man apparently. Which meant eventual drunkenness and much amusement.

We had a good barbecue too. Though at the end of the evening (after eating all the meat) I did unfortunately manage to destroy it by (ahem) slightly loosing my balance and falling backwards on the barbecue and the whole thing collapsed. Luckilly I did jump up pretty quickly and didn’t get too badly burnt…

Amazingly, no hangover in the morning (good stuff that slivovich). I was woken up really early by the sun at about 7am. Katke’s beautiful dog, named Stoovey (sp.) woke me up too, wanting to go outside. I now the Slovakian for “fox” – it’s lishka – because I think Stoovey looks just like a small fox.

12th July – Brno

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

The flight to Brno went really quickly. Before long I was walking down the ramp from the plane and into a really small airport. There was a tourist info centre there, and they were great – they booked a cheap hostel for me, and sold me the transport tickets to get there. A few minutes afterwards, I was on the bus to the city centre. And from there I got on a tram out again – towards my hostel.

Okay – so when I got off the tram I was in a world of communist-era high-rise, and I wondered which one the hostel would be. Eventually I found it – a huge block, quite similar to the others. But very posh inside – at least at the ground level. I managed to communicate with the lady who ran the hostel… without either of us speaking the same language. The room was pretty reasonable actually. I had a really quick shower and then decided to head out again.

There was a girl in the lift and we didn’t talk at first, probably coz it wasn’t that likely we spoke the same language, and also because in my typical shy songwriter kind of way I’m… well, shy sometimes.

Stumbled out into the sunlight, wondering which way to go to get into town, and also whether to get some money out, and also whether the girl from the lift was going. Eventually decided I would walk to the tram stop and the girl was there. So eventually we started talking and realised that we both spoke English very well – actually she was Danish, studying in Prague for 6 months. So then I realised that travelling alone to a new country is actually a great thing to do, and really easy. Especially if you’re not shy. So already I’d made a friend in Brno. And it turned into a really good evening. Because neither of us new the town and we stuck together and went to some random bars. Then we found a nice place to eat, had a huge meal with lots of beer. It went far too quickly and before long it was 12 o’clock and we realised our hostel was closing. We considered staying out all night and getting back to the hostel really early in the morning. In the end though we jumped on the nearest tram and just about made it back by 12. Up early next morning for train journey to Slovakia…

11th July – Stansted

Monday, July 11th, 2005

On Monday, I set off from Totnes with rucksack and guitar, all packed up for 10 days in Slovakia and the Czech Rebublic. Problem was, I was going out on a Ryanair flight from London Standsted. My main luggage was the guitar, and all the clothes and everything else I had to live on went as hand luggage.. so it was a bit of a squeeze.

Anyway, the train journey to London went well and before long I was in Paddington. Guru, who I was planning to stay with that night, was still in work, so I got a day tube ticket and went to Canary Wharf. It was a little strange being on the tube so soon after the London bomb attacks on Thursday. Definitely a different atmosphere – with more people making eye-contact, and more people being aware of what was going on. Actually, it made an interesting change, because usually tube-travellers avoid eye-contact. Here there was more of a sense of mutual awareness – of membership of the group of people travelling together in one carriage. I’m sure a sociologist could do a good study on it!

It was my first time in Canary Wharf and I was impressed. 1 Canada Square, the orginal Canary Wharf high-rise, is where Guru works – and it’s quite an amazing building – together with all the other high-rise that make up the Docklands. Just next door you can see the millenium dome. And the whole area is nicely laid out, with trees, a river, and lots of bars. Complete with large scrolling banner that shows the values of all the markets 😉

So first I went to Waitrose’s to buy some small pressents for the girls I was to be staying with (the best I could find was tea and some marmalade!). We had a drink in one of the bars, then headed to an American-style restaurant, which served a ridiculously huge plate of steak fajitas, at a similarly huge price. Nice though. And very filling.

Stayed at Guru’s in Brixton that night, and woke up fairly early the next day to catch the flight from Stansted. I even arrived at the airport early, which is a bit of a first for me!