After getting back from Canada on the Tuesday, I was straight back to work teaching the following day. Having been influenced hugely by my experience in Edmonton, I was completely inspired and keen to get back behind my teaching kit. I had three days booked with a mixture of lessons at home and at Intersales Music before heading for show number five in Norfolk.
The Norfolk show was to be in Fakenham, it was a charity event for Help The Heroes. This was purely the effort of some local people who believed in this charity. Some of the stories that they were telling us certainly made me think and I was very happy to have been invited to play. From the moment we started the dance floor was full of lots of energetic Rock ‘n’ Roll dancing. The gig was fantastic and what made it even better was that they raised over £1500 for a great cause. I headed home that night feeling very tired, but happy about my playing and what I had achieved.
Sunday was spent relaxing before another day of teaching on the Monday. Organising any kind of tour requires a lot of planning, but this time everything dropped into place. We were due to catch a ferry from Liverpool on the Wednesday to Belfast, but first we had to play a show in Bury near Manchester. Everybody had dressed themselves in 50s style clothing because the bride a groom were Rock ‘n’ Roll fans. The show started on time and once we started blasting out “Shake, Rattle & Roll”, I knew it was going to be a great night. By now the jet lag was certainly hitting me, but I still couldn’t help getting excited about what the next few days would bring.
Next stop, Northern Ireland.
After spending the day exploring Manchester, it was time to head to the ferry port in Liverpool. We arrived about 8.00pm and luckily they boarded us early, even though the ferry wasn’t due to leave until 10.00pm. As with past years, this became the annual meet up with other musicians playing at the same festival. After a few beers and many conversations about the music world, it was time to get some sleep.
6.00am arrived very quickly and after some breakfast, we were soon on our way to Derry. The drive takes about two hours from Belfast, taking in some of the most gorgeous countryside you’ll ever see. Northern Ireland is so beautiful, if you have never visited this part of the world, I can highly recommend it. Around half eight we arrived at the Tower Hotel in need of some rest, but as with all Derry Jazz festivals we have done in the past, it was not to be. Firstly our rooms weren’t ready, so the lovely people of The Tower Hotel arranged for a second breakfast. No sooner had we sat down for food, Paul’s phone immediately started to ring. It was BBC Radio Foyle asking us if we could play live on the radio in a few hours.
Of course we could, so discussions quickly started as to what songs we would do. The phone then rang again, this time it was to inform us that the live radio session has now turned into a TV broadcast for the BBC lunchtime and evening news. I had a feeling this was going to be a busy day. Our plans of relaxing before that evenings show were soon shattered. Shouldn’t complain though, that’s what we were over there to do. After a few conversations, we were told that we were to perform the introduction to a news story promoting the Jazz festival with The Jive Aces. The Jive Aces have always been a major part of the festival and are a brilliant act playing early 40s and 50s swing. Although we don’t share some of their views on life, I was quite honored to be involved.
So just to put things straight, we were told to arrive at the Guildhall Square for 11am to meet the film crew. The live performance on the radio was still happening, but it wouldn’t be until 2pm in the afternoon. At this stage, we hadn’t even got a room, so I shot off to reception to see if they could allocate us a room for getting changed and ready for the TV Shoot. Bearing in mind, we hadn’t had much sleep, too much beer the night before and we had been travelling for a few hours already. Did we ever need to make ourselves look good?
An hour later we arrived in the square and were told what to do. As agreed earlier, we played the introduction whilst they interviewed the organizer of the festival and then the Jive Aces would play their new single after that. It wasn’t the biggest exposure in the world, but we were there. The whole thing was well organized and soon was complete. It was great working with the Jives Aces and they are a great bunch of guys. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w6drbytfhM&w=425&h=349]
After the TV shoot it was time to get a coffee, then straight to BBC Radio Foyle for the radio show. We had decided to play two songs, “Oh Boy” and “Sheena is a punk Rocker”. The sound equipment was all set up, but we had to organize a different setup considering it was an acoustic session. No amps at all and just me playing a snare drum with brushes. We came out of the studio wondering what it sounded like and thankfully having heard it a few times after; we were all pleased with the result.
By this time it was around three in the afternoon, could we at least go and relax for the rest of the day? Apparently not, we just sat down and the phone rang again. Could we be in the square again for a photo shoot for the evening paper? Being the kind of band that likes to say yes, off we went again. That evening we found ourselves on the evening news and in the paper, could we have ever asked for a better start to the Derry Jazz festival?
In the following days we played five shows for the festival and I can honestly say each one was brilliant. Over the past seven years we have experienced a wonderful time in Northern Ireland, but I think this was the best one so far.
The following Tuesday morning we arrived back in the UK. I shot off to one of my schools where I teach and completed the rest of the week with more lessons. There was just one more show to complete this run of eleven gigs. That Saturday we played at Kings Langley. To say I was underwhelmed would be an exaggeration; it was an average wedding with not much excitement. Maybe I just expected more having been in the limelight for over a month and having so much fun during my travels. I arrived home for some much needed rest and feeling I must be the luckiest guy in the world.
Thanks for reading, see you again soon.