Of Running and Knees

We're nearing the completion of our third week of the tour and it's time for a quick update from Islington, East Central London! Since my last post, we enjoyed seeing Boise's Hill Folk Noir at the Green Note in Camden Town, London, near the end of their three week UK tour and had a great time last Friday here at Sandra's flat during a performance-rehearsal for a few of her friends.

Malcolm, Ned and Todd working the song list at the house party.

Up early Saturday, Ned and I made a quick day trip to Lydney via train on Saturday, June 23, to play at the Taurus Crafts Blues Festival. Lyndey, 125 miles directly west of London, is situated near Gloucester, Bristol and Wales. The festival is typical of the hundreds that take place in the UK each summer. It's relatively small, is family oriented and attracts people who prefer a simple afternoon outing. Though rain threatened, the skies cleared a bit for us and our set went well. It seems the "strummer and drummer duo by train" will work fine.

The stage, tent and hay bales are ready - Taurus Crafts Blues Festival, Lydney, England.

Back in London, Ned and I make a Sunday trip to the House of Parliament/Westminster Abbey area to see the sights. Tourists are everywhere. We, of course, are not tourists. We queue up with the tourists to enter Abbey. Inside it's a procession of hundreds of people slowly walking about with handheld audio players guiding the them from point to point. It's slow motion chaos as we jostle with others and walk on dead people's graves. Note to self: Next time, attend a free of charge church service to appreciate the ambience of the Abbey.

The House of Parliament on a perfect sunny day.

Monday morning and I'm up and running along the canal near the flat. Now here's the thing about running: When your right knee starts sending pain signals, DO NOT continue running. STOP running and walk home. However, being a manly man, I ignore the pain and power through. That afternoon Ned and I take the bus/tube to the Tower of London. The Tower's an impressive place. I imagine way back when, it was a good or bad place to be depending on one's status with the rulers of the time. Our Beefeater guide gave us and our closest 100 tourist friends some background on the Tower. I thought one of the more interesting things was about the Beefeaters themselves. There are 37 of them, they all have at least 18 years active military service and live with their families inside the walls of the Tower where they enjoy their own medical clinic and pub (although perhaps not necessarily in that order). The Crown Jewels are the highlight of the day but, to keep you moving along, you step on to a conveyor belt for the viewing. After coffee and a snack, we head home. Remember that right knee? Oh this isn't good... now it really, really hurts. A bag of frozen corn, two Alieve and Stella Artois beer are administered.

The Tower of London seen through the entry arch.

Tuesday evening we play the "interval," a.k.a. "intermission" at a monthly meeting of a skeptics club. A skeptics club is comprised of individuals who enjoy discussing and debunking myths, mostly from a science based perspective. The evening's guest is Rhys Morgan, a 17 year old who, in search of solutions to his Crohn's disease, has made quite a public impact in battling pseudoscience in medicine.

While a bum knee has put off London walkabouts for the time being, it has not prevented Ned and I from enjoying afternoon practice sessions at the flat working on new songs and a bit of brush up on others. The cajon has turned out to be a very satisfying percussion instrument to play and explore.

Last night the trio played at The Good Ship here in London and all went well. We locked in as an emsemble right away and the crowd seemed to enjoy the two-set performance quite a bit! On the way to the venue we passed right up Abbey Road in front of Abbey Road Studios. It was amazing to see the crosswalk the Beatles used for their Abbey Road album cover. Our driver said it's common to come around the corner and have to stop or slow down while someone takes a photo of four friends crossing the street a la the Beatles. Stay tuned...  I'll get that shot later. In the meantime, If you'd like to see photos from the tour to date, please visit this LINK

Ned? Come on now... Put the Crown Jewels back where you found them!

Team Ned Evett Departs for the 2012 London Olympics

It's time once again to Tour Along with Todd, and this time it's the London Olympics Edition. Let the games begin, shall we?

Just over a week ago Ned and I departed Boise for a two-month UK tour. With work permits in hand, we arrived London Heathrow on June 11, made a quick pass through immigration and on to Sandra's flat in Islington in East Central London. The next two days were spent adjusting to the time change and doing some shopping for a cajon and washboard.

Our Welcoming Committee at London Heathrow

Cajon? Washboard? Here's the deal: Ned's latest album, Treehouse, is a fine work of Americana/Roots music and during this tour we'll be playing small venues and the occasional festival. So Ned suggested a cajon may be just the trick for the trip. A cajon is a Peruvian percussion instrument that looks like a wooden box. This is not a coincidence. It IS a wooden box! However, it's a highly resonant one which, with wires inside, becomes a drum-set in a box! Depending on venue, Ned and I will be playing as a duo or as a trio with the help of bassist Malcolm Bruce. As for the washboard, it's a percussive addition needed for one song.

Part of settling in is getting to know the surrounding area. Islington is just a mile or two from the heart of London. It's a busy place, but very comfortable with many shops, restaurants, quick access to buses and the tube and people from all over; many languages are heard on the street and in the cafes. Islington reminds me a lot of Montreal.

OK, so with shopping and settling in accomplished, it was time to perform. Our first two nights were in Portsmouth,a two-hour train ride to the south/southwest. Thursday night's performance was at the RMA Tavern. The RMA is a typical pub in many respects. It's small, frequented by neighborhood residents and families-young and old alike-and features live music on a regular basis. You can view a webcast of the performance HERE. Home for the gig, I made a Skype call to Natalie to celebrate our 26-year anniversary!

After breakfast Friday morning at our B&B, I went on a walkabout to the Old Port to view the HMS Victory, visit the naval museum and take a harbor cruise. Friday night we played another neighborhood pub, The Old House at Home. Lucky for us, and unlike the two opening acts, we didn't have to compete for attention with the England football game at the European Cup taking place on T.V. (England won, by the way).

Inside the The Old House at Home Pub

The train delivered us back to London Saturday afternoon. After a jog and a nap, Sandra treated us to a night on the town by taking us to London's West End to see the musical Sweeney Todd. It was absolutely great! And what better way to top off such an evening? Why with a couple of pints at a nearby pub, of course!

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday fall into a fun pattern for me: Get up and jog and then take the tube to visit one of the many museums. The cool thing is that admission to most museums is free. This means there's no rush to see everything in a single session. See what you want and come back again another day. There are hoards of school kids running about, but hey!, it's free!

Monday night we had a special treat by rehearsing with Malcolm in preparation for the trio performances. It's going to sound AWESOME!

Stay tuned for the next installment as we go through final training for epic Olympic performances!

What we'll be winning in August - Currently on display at the British Museum