Tales from the Rails – homes away from homes away from homes and stormy nights

Last year I created my record label and named it Nomad Songs. It’s uncanny just how much you can shape your own path; I feel I’m growing into the name more and more. Last week I played shows in Stratford upon Avon, Liverpool and London, which are all places I’d consider home, if there is such a place.

The week started with a show supporting Irish Singer / Songwriter Eleanor McEvoy in Stratford upon Avon. I took the bus up from London, you know, to save cash and all that, also I’m pretty sure that Chilten Railways still have a picture of me with the words ‘WANTED’ stamped across it… but that’s a different tale. The picture-postcard village of the bard is bursting at the seams and it appears that new box-shaped houses appear along the outskirts every time I visit. The only music venue around now is the Chapel, located above a gentrified pub called No. 1 on Shakespeare Street. Eleanor described the venue as being a half-way house between a church and a brothel… concluding in her thick Irish accent: “either way, I’m in trouble”.

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It really was cool to see such an experienced SOLO musician tour on her own. Eleanor McEvoy is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, acoustic- and electric guitar as well as the fiddle. It was a real joy to share the bill with her… She’s also super nice! A clear highlight for me, other than seeing all my Stratford friends again (here’s what you call a ‘shout out’ to Dan and Wayne, former Stratcast presenters and self-professed fans of my blog), was this chap Alan, who made his very own ‘Red and White Blood Cells’ T-shirt… how cool is that?!

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After drinking tea from a Pepperland cup very early the next morning, I made my way to the real thing, aka Liverpool. I traveled via Birmingham, where Big City Radio had invited me to do an interview and live session. I’m pretty sure that 9am is the earliest I’ve ever had to sing… went well though, even sans coffee, without which I was sure I couldn’t function at all.

After the radio session I had about an hour spare, so I sought refuge in the hideous Bullring shopping center. Sitting in the illuminated isles of a chain coffee shop, it occurred to me just how many times I’d been there – time to kill, tired and dazed in this strange building in the center of England, traveling to and from shows. For a moment I wondered whether the Bullring shopping center was perhaps only a figment of some weird corner of my imagination… the one where high street shops and coffee chains and different coloured faces blur into one weird ball of consumerism.

Leaving slush, grey and rain behind in Birmingham, I caught the train up to Lime Street, where the sun was shining. That evening I played at Leaf.. if you have a beard, waxed mustache or pointy shoes, it’s kind of the place you want to hang out in Liverpool.. Johnny Sands was the host and started off the night with a couple of his own songs. All musicians in Liverpool (and everybody is one) is just so talented and modest about it… I love it. One of my favourite comments from a bearded chap in the audience was: “I never thought I’d hear a girl sing about Bill Hicks”.

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The next day I was supposed to head back to London, but alas, apocalyptic winds changed the plan. All trains were cancelled from Lime Street and I had to stay in town another night. There are far worse places to be stranded, so I wasn’t too bothered. I was really tempted to got walk about the docs and drink whiskey, but police men had blocked off most of L1. Skies were clearer the following day and I caught a packed train back to London town, just in time for show number 2 with Eleanor McEvoy at Surya. Thanks to everybody who came along, it felt like a great end to a great week. I hope you liked my new piano songs, it was super scary to play keyboards on stage in London for the first time!

Eleanor McEvoy

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