Monday, 15 October 2012

On the road again....

Back in July I was lucky enough to go out on the road again with Catherine Feeny. The last time I headed out on tour with her was the rather epic trip at the end of 2010 which took in various venues across the UK. This time was a much smaller affair, a mini tour if you like, to showcase exciting new material at some rather exciting and unusual venues which almost require full on blogs themselves.

In the time between 2010, and Catherine's return to the UK, she has been busy writing a new album "America" which was very much inspired by the time she spent at Occupy Wall Street in New York. After hearing about the protest, Catherine travelled from her home in Portland, Oregon and spent 5 weeks in a small park as part of the Occupy protest. This rewarding roller coaster experience ended on November 15th 2011, in the well publicised eviction of Zucotti Park, where Catherine found herself arrested. Recordings from her time in Zucotti park can be found on the first single and video from the album, a track called United. The dates in July were a great opportunity to unveil this track and others from the album.

The first date on this tour took us over to beautiful Hay on Wye, to play The Wild Hare Club at The Globe. Hay is a lovely place, I'd been told about the many book shops, and indeed the place was full of them. It was this place next to the venue which caught my eye however!

Carpenter and Joiner, Hay on Wye
The Globe is a lovely venue with plenty of ground floor space, and an upper balcony, giving many different angles to enjoy the music from. There was also a basement area, which doubled as a "dressing room" for the purposes of the evening.

Down in the dressing room...

Writing the set list

The gig was really intimate with an attentive audience giving a great reception to the new material. Catherine was accompanied on the tour by husband and singer/ songwriter/ producer Sebastian Rogers.

After the gig, we stayed with host Richard and his family and were looked after very well, not leaving until the next afternoon! I am always delighted by the kindness of the people I meet on tour, and have met some brilliant folks this way. 

Next stop on the mini tour was a bit of a homecoming at The Bicycle Shop, Norwich. The place was packed to the rafters and again a really appreciative audience was in attendance. Catherine played two sets, as it was so warm (it was the one week of summer we had this year) we all needed a chance to cool down. This venue is becoming a firm favourite in the city, with many artists liking the intimate and friendly nature of the shows here.

Norwich breakfast at The Belle Vue

The next day saw a sweltering trip down to London, to one of the most unusual venues I have ever been to, The Brunel Museum. The cool of the venue was very welcomed that day. The gig was in the Rotherhithe Shaft, which was built in 1825 and key to the building of the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel to be successfully constructed under a naviagable river. Essentially, it is a giant underground shaft, accessible by a small entrace. And I mean a small entrance - you have to crawl through.

Steps leading to the entrance to the shaft.
Once at the top of the steps, you can see the entrance.

Through the door on hands and knees.
Inside, looking out.

Once inside, you still have to descend down to reach the bottom. A scaffolding staircase is in place to ensure safe passage to the base of the shaft. Here is the view from the top.

As you can see, quite a way down!

The space is entirely unique, and the acoustics were really interesting. The gig was entirely unplugged and as the audience arrived, I noticed if you were close to the wall, you could very clearly hear a conversation from the other side of the room. There was also the regular eerie creaking and rumbling of the tube network as the trains moved along the tunnels.

Candles were dotted around, and the gig began with Catherine making her entrance at the top of the shaft with a performance of Hide You Here, which was a beautiful way to start. See for yourselves in the video, which also shows the venue from the top of the forementioned staircase.

It was really different hearing all the songs unplugged, a unique gig in so many ways.

The final gig of the mini tour was at a venue I'd been wanting to visit for a very long time, House Concerts York. This venue is again unusual in that it is a private home, with all gigs also private. House concerts are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and give a unique opportunity to see live music in a setting outside of a normal music venue. The hosts at House Concerts York have the house gig concept down to a fine art, with a lovely space in which to hold their events and a system that works like clockwork. They manage to deal with inviting an audience of people into their home with great calm, and make everyone feel very welcome.

We arrived early and made the most of more marvellous hospitality.

The beautiful setting of House Concerts York

Then it was time for the gig, with the place packed - a sell out audience again.

Once more a really different experience to all the other dates, and another great reception for the new material.

And all too soon it was over and normal life had to resume. Don't you hate it when that bit happens?

A massive thank you to Catherine and Sebastian for having me along on another unforgetable experience.

Catherine is back in Europe and the UK shortly for a series of dates to promote the album "America" visit for details of shows and tickets.

The new album is also available from Bandcamp as a download for just $7. Visit for more details. From listening to the tracks at these gigs, and subsequently the album in its entirety, "America" marks a new and exciting direction and I thoroughly recommend it.

For the full set of photos from the tour visit Flickr

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