UK 2011 Blog V
August 28th, 2011
Hello England! We’re the Hot Seats! Nice to meetcha!
Yes, that’s right folks, PF Hot Seats here, reporting from, where else, the van; a different van, in fact. We’re currently being piloted by our new driver/road manager, David, south from the Scottish Borders, on our way to the first in our final week of gigs, all of them in the large and bucolic suburb of Scotland . . . England. We’ve literally just crossed into the country and are on our way towards Hadrian’s Wall, erected because the Scottish folk were just too much for even a great conqueror to handle, so he just . . . built a wall. Does that work? Can I stop the postman from delivering me bills in the same way?
Yet another week of activities have passed by since my last missive, but, as often happens to me at this stage in blog entries, I am a bit tired of recounting the days and gigs one at a time (I wonder if you’re not tired of hearing about it, too. Nonetheless, let’s just account for our actions, eh? Wouldn’t want you to think that we’ve been slacking around or not making the best of every minute of every blessed day! And so, here we go . . . oof, we’ll take a momentary pause to allow the road to get a little less curvy. Ever driven over here? There’s a severe lack of straight lines in this country. Don’t they know that cars have to drive on these roads, and some of us are typing? Hello?
August 21st, 2011
We had a fun, if not very well attended, gig in Aberdeen at the Blue Lamp. While of course we always want to have a full house of audience members, it is always a nice reminder that we can muster the energy and enthusiasm to rock a small house too. Highlight from the night: after the show, a friendly Scot came up to me and imparted the following band comparisons:
Graham – “Cooter” from the Dukes of Hazzard (AKA, Ben Jones, an old friend of the band)
Ed – Donald Sutherland’s charcter from Kelly’s Heroes
Ben – “a shrunken down Jason Bourne”
Josh – “the guy from Harry and the Hendersons that was always trying to kill the Bigfoot.” (WHAT? )
Jake – “I just picture him like Little Miss Muffet, sitting on a tuffet.”
soooooooo . . . there’s that! Accurate? Yes indeedy!
Aberdeen is definitely an industrial town, but there is a really cool old building which is apparently being turned into a Council building. According to Andy, our host, it’s the 2nd largest granite building in the world. A lot of Scots have assured me about the various “world’s largest” this and “world’s oldest” that. Not sure if the amount of old and large things is most interesting, or the level of knowledge your average citizen has about their country, and the pride with which they impart said knowledge. It’s like every person takes a course in “How to Be a Tour Guide for Your Average Gawking American Stringband” in secondary school.
August 22nd, 2011
As has been our custom on every trip over here, we dedicated this night to the Alamo Bar. If you’ll recall, the Alamo Bar in Paisley is owned and run by Chaddy, who is fairly well obsessed with Texas and the American South. The pub is covered with cowboy art, flags from every southern state, American Indians on horseback, cowboy hats, belt buckles. You know . . . American Stuff! Chaddy himself had returned not long ago from his first ever trip to the States. Along with Lawrence (Gerry’s older brother) and three other guys (the “Alamo Five”), he had visited a Dude Ranch in Texas and also spent some time in San Antonio. As you might imagine, he was pretty excited about the whole thing.
It was a great evening, to be sure. We set up in a corner and proceeded to play it fast and loose, as drinks were handed to us at every convenient moment. The audience, as expected, was ready for a good time from the first moment. Hooting, shouting, dancing, and egging us on before, during, and after each song. Their leader in this was Elaine, Gerry’s wife, who is a lovely and superfun person. She compliments his acerbic character with an energetic and wry positivity. Always nice to recognize that the man is not just a vehicle for insults and condescension towards “the Colonials,” as he likes to call us, but also a family man.
You may imagine that we were had all reached a certain level of gregariousness by the end of the evening, and, after making a pit stop at the flat of some local musicians for a little post gig boozery, arrived safely back at our hotel, engaging in some very typical post-gig bickering and eventual teary renewing of vows (yes, it’s basically like being married folks, if you hadn’t gotten that yet) before retiring to our rooms for the kind of deep and angel-like sleep that we know you picture us engaging in.
August 23rd-24th, 2011
It was a slow morning, full of regret and remorse, head holding, gnashing of teeth, etc etc. Given that we had a few days off, we figured we’d spend it back in Edinburgh, hanging with our friends, old and new, enjoying another little stint in the wild and crazy world of the Fringe. Additionally, we were expecting the imminent arrival of Esmerelda Volcano, the little saucy (not my words, the description of a Border Scot last night) wife of our very own Heironymous Volcano (Ben Belcher to those who are less initiated into the multi-leveled world of Hot Seats nicknames and lore), who would be joining us for our last stint, serving as merch girl and Ben-wrangler.
It was a whirlwind two days. We had a great dinner with Douglas and JaneAnne back at his flat with Leonie and also a fellow named Nicholas Oddy, heretofore unmentioned in the blog. Nicholas and Douglas were classmates at art school in Edinburgh back when, and were responsible for any number of acts of mischief, including getting the Principle of the whole school removed through the publication of an underground comic strip featuring pigs and dogs. Nicholas is a hilarious and super-intelligent person who has a huge collection of ~100 year old bicycles and also the world’s largest collection of Hornby trains, for those of you interested in the world of auctions and EBay. We’re quite lucky that we’ve managed to meet a nice clutch of interesting people over here. I suppose we should be flattered, though, of course, everyone is interested in staring at a spectacle, just ask PT Barnum.
On the evening of the 24th we ended our night with a great get together with Leonie and Vanda and all of our pals, eatomg mediterranean food, drinking, and talking talking talking. We also swung by the pub where our pal Stephen was playing with his Band Old Dollar Bill (which is a duo – Stephen on guitar and mandolin, Ed on percussion). We had a lot of fun picking some great bluegrass tunes with them, mostly at pretty high speeds. I think there were some pics or vids taken of it, hopefully we’ll get some posted. There was a table of Spanish women there who were really into it. I wondered what they thought of our ragtag collection of Scots and Yanks, playing Appalachian music? Had they ever heard such a thing before? Had there ever been a sound like that? Do questions make me seem introspective?
August 25th, 2011
We had a great time in Glasgow at Laurie’s Pub. You may recall this pub from one of our very first days on our very first tour over here. Cy Laurie, the proprieter of this establishment, is a great balladeer and all around nice-guy who fed us soup and beer in exchange for tunes on a rainy day of busking. Needless to say, it was nice to finally get to play at his bar. The small room was jam packed with people, having a great time. We got to see our pals Graham and Howie from The (now defunct) Shed Inspectors, a bluegrass-y band from Lochwinnoch. By the end of the night, the room was jumping and hot enough to the point where, in the words of Esmerelda, water was condensing and dripping from the ceiling.” That’s right folks, The Hot Seats create our own weather patterns!
Speaking of weather, we understand that the East Coast is undergoing some hard times in our absence. We understand that it’s hard everyone. We know you’re bound to suffer some separation anxiety when we leave, but earthquakes? Hurricanes? Really? Now you’re just acting up. If you don’t cut it out, no special return home gifts for you! And we’ve been saving morsels from all of our favorite meals just for you! Now what are we gonna do with all these chips, doners, and black puddings?
Oh, back to the main point . . . our night in Glasgow was the 30th birthday of our very own Edward Brogan. He goes by many names: Beach Week, Two Dews, Two Dogs, Two Flush, Two Squish (his own name for himself), Short Pants, the Duke of Dooks, the Sultan of Stink, Nashville Eddie, Brooklyn Eddie, Doner Slayer, and the most recent nickname, Lilac. He is, as you know, an indispensable band member, a fabulous and unique guitarist, a natural songwriter, a born crooner, a gourmand, a glutton, a worker and a sloth, and, by FAR, the most bizarre member of this band. Here’s to you Edward, welcome to the sad days of your 30′s! Clowntime is over, let’s get serious!
The night ended with a little maudlin moment as we bid farewell to Gerry for this tour. He’s having a 4 day respite before heading back on the road with our good pal Pokey LaFarge. I could tell he was upset as there was a quaver in his voice as he told us, for the last time, to “Get The Fuck Out of the Van.” Gerry, we’ll see you sooner than you like (in the words of Gerald, “If it wasn’t for musicians, club owners, bookers, and other drivers on the road, I’d be just fine!”).
August 26th, 2011
We were picked up from our lodgings (Glasgow Airport Travelodge, of course. Always a Travelodge. Well, or a Premier Inn) by David Rollo, our man with the van for our last 10 days. We packed up the van and headed for Hawick (“Hoick”).
This is the second time we’ve played in Hawick. The Heart of Hawick is an excellent venue, built overtop of a river. It was a sold out show (again, yes, we KNOW, only 100-some seats, but still), and it was a pretty hearty success. After the show, we retired to the pub with Loudon and David for some light refreshments. There were some very heavy drinkers at this pub, and Jake, Graham, and I had to repel the advances of a quite impaired woman with some very unfortunate high heels (note to selves, ladies: when you’re going out on the town for a bit of boozing, keep it to flats, eh?) who, apparently, was in possession of a very jealous and punch-willing ex-boyfriend. Ah the excitement never ends with the Hot Seats, eh?
August 27th, 2011
Saturday was another day in the Borders, which meant we didn’t have to move from one lodging to another. Always a plus. The touring life can make a man feel like some kind of Bedouin or other Nomad, with the exceptions that we don’t have the liberty to carry sheep or camels with us, we have more ample access to water and hot dogs, and our clothing isn’t generally as clean.
We bummed around town all day before heading to the small village of Lanton and the Lanton Village Hall. Our host that night was a woman by the name of Anne Rae, an artist in many media. The hall itself is a typically wonderful little space with great, boomy acoustics. By showtime, the place was packed to the gills and was, in fact, spilling into the corridor.
We were treated to a support slot by Eryn, Anne’s 10 year old daughter, on the fiddle, supported by two fellas, both named Graeme (or Graham) on guitar and bass. She was fantastic, playing a variety of Scottish tunes, and even a couple of old time tunes and a great version of Orange Blossom Special. You can see some video of it right here.
August 28th, 2011
And here we are, sitting in yet another Travelodge, getting ready to head to Saltburn-By-The-Sea for what we hope will be another great gig.
Oop, and now I’m back, it’s the morning after our Saltburn gig, and I’m watching the Volcano family as they snooze (creepy? maybe, but also quite pleasing. They hang from their feet from the ceiling and wrap their vestigial wings around them like duvets, and coo like doves). It was a great gig last night. First of all, Saltburn-By-The-Sea is the site of the world’s oldest cliff-lift – a funicular railway. Pretty neat. It’s a lovely town with some impressive cliffs overlooking the ocean and a nice pier. We stood at the top of the cliffs and watched some surfers. Graham, our resident ten-hanger (well, ok, he did it once) looked on with a special amount of enthusiasm. He kept flashing the “hang loose” symbol, and calling all of us “bra.” Not sure, but I think old GFD has secret dreams of moving west, buying himself a camper van and an australian shepherd, and infiltrating a secret gang of surfer bank-robbers! You heard it here first, folks.
Saltburn Community Theatre (back that those “re’s!”) is an old Methodist Church that’s been converted into a hall for music and performance. High ceilings, lovely windows, and movie theater-style seats. The place was, once again, jam packed with enthusiastic folks who cheered after each song. Yes, our heads are officially too big, dear readers. We clearly need a dose of USA-brand apathy/drunks talking overtop of us in order to regain some sensible footing. Soon enough, I imagine. Yet another great show, and hopefully a sign for what our upcoming English shows will be.
We’re off to Norwich today, which stands for, as I was informed last night by a friendly older woman, “kNickers Off Ready When I Come Home.” What do you think, should I mention that on stage?
OK, this is your penultimate blog entry. Only one left, and it will be a report from Heathrow Airport. Hope yer well!
PF Hotseats, over n out.