England felt downright balmy after the blustery bite of Berlin. Jean jacket weather. I was giddy and ready for a walkabout.
My British manager, Lee Williams, had booked some shows in London and throughout southern England and I dubbed it The Blood Pudding Tour, named after that breakfast delicacy pretty much unknown to us Yanks.
No need to recount each show but some highlights shine more than others.
The Halfmoon Putney is a wonderful, old pub in South London and it was my first stop there. Artists who have plugged in there are folks like Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Kate Bush, Dire Straits, Van Morrison, U2 and a ragged clump geezers we know as The Rolling Stones. There has been a legendary live music scene going on there consistently since 1963 and, incredibly, the brewery that owns it almost shut it down at the beginning of this year. Fortunately there was an uprising from the customers and neighbors so good sense prevailed and saved the Halfmoon from becoming another ‘gastro-pub’ devoid of live music. Google them and when you’re next in London, go there. You won’t be disappointed. The tradition continues.
A couple of hours southwest of London lies some of the prettiest countryside that you will find in England, the Devon and Dorset seaside, and I was thrilled to take in that beauty. My new friends, Steve Black and Alan West, greeted us when we arrived. The village was named Beer so I felt at home immediately.
Alan and Steve make fantastic, hand crafted music and are kind and generous hosts. Here’s how generous they are. One of my gigs near London had cancelled because the club’s roof had caved in during a rain storm. Alan and Steve, better known as Blacky, said, “No problem. We’ll just find you another one down here.” And they did! Google The Alan West Band and buy their newest record. It’s GOOD music.
Those days that I spent with them were so memorable. Blacky and I walked down the street in his home base village of Axminster and he took me inside the parish church that was built in….the year…700! No, I did not leave out a 1 in front of the 7. It was just the local church. Unbelievable.
We filmed a pilot for a tv show there and in Lyme Regis, which was the setting for Meryl Streep’s ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, a breathtakingly gorgeous town complete with wind swept water front and hills to make San Francisco’s look like the Bonneville Salt Flats. I can’t wait to get back there…huffing and puffing past the shops.
Video From the TV Pilot
Video From the TV Pilot
Back in London, I had a fab time playing Stephen Ferguson’s “Home Cookin'” show as well as Alan Tyler’s “Come Down And Meet The Folks”, two regularly scheduled showcases that feature the best in Country, Folk and Roots music there in Londontowne. London has a thriving roots music scene and lots of really interesting bands.
And, of course, I had a blast meandering through the streets. London is one of Planet Earth’s most exciting cities, great to get lost in. That I happily did. Under the advice of Lee, I took in a play, “Blood Brothers”, which was quite good but, I must admit, I really just enjoyed stomping around, seeing what I could see.
I’ve been home for a few weeks now and I’m enjoying my breakfasts here but I’m indeed a bit wistful for a certain blob of Britishness to sit beside my egg and roasted tomato.
Stay tuned next year for The Blood Pudding Tour II !!!!